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We will continue to have this blogspot location up, but new postings will be seen on the new site. Please join us there.

Monday, August 30, 2010

JAC Statement on 90th Anniversary of Women's Right to Vote

August 26, 2010 -- Even though Abigail Adams reminded her husband to remember the ladies in the Declaration of Independence, it took 144 years, one month and 22 days for women to gain the right to vote. To secure that right, many were beaten, jailed, institutionalized as insane, divorced, marginalized, shunned - and even killed.

JAC applauds the women who bequeathed us this right with their bravery and perseverance in the face of such deadly opposition.

JAC calls upon the women of the twenty-first century to honor these selfless pioneers by not only voting in the November election but also getting involved in voter registration efforts and personal one-to-one persuasion as election day nears. The 90th anniversary of women's right to vote is a reminder to women today: you have the power of the vote. Use it.

For information on the issues at stake in this election and the candidates JAC is supporting, visit the JAC website at www.jacpac.org. Also available on the website is the JAC Education Foundation's non-partisan Jewish Community Voter Guide.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Obama and Israel: The Truth By Representative Henry Waxman

Representative Henry Waxman (D-CA) has penned a thoughtful and well presented Op-Ed in the Jewish Journal.  In it, he examines President Obama, his position on Israel, and his relationship with the American Jewish community.  He examines how the President's actions have in some cases opened the door for charged (and false) rhetoric attacking his commitment to Israel, his faith, and his administration, and addresses the truth of how this administration has and continues to support Israel.

Congressman Waxman has eloquently laid out the facts as they have occurred regarding President Obama and his stance and actions regarding Israel, and dispells many of the hateful emails spreading falsehoods and divisiveness among many in our community.  Please take a moment to read this article.  Below are some excerpts.
Attacks on Barack Obama’s sincerity toward Israel date back to his candidacy for president. They were fueled by often-anonymous e-mail traffic rife with speculation that he was Muslim or that he was beholden to radical anti-Israel voices in the African American community. Ultimately, he dispelled these untruths and won the support of a large majority of Jewish voters. 

Unfortunately, President Obama got off to an uneasy start with Israel. As a result, he has faced doubts once again in the American Jewish community.
After outlining some of the areas that led to the doubts, he lays out the following facts and achievements:
Notwithstanding all the angst created by these events, this administration deserves an honest and clearheaded evaluation.
Since the recent meeting between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu, the two leaders are more clearly on the same page than ever before. Both spoke eloquently of bonds that they call “unbreakable” and “unshakable.” The peace process is also on a much steadier footing, with the burden having appropriately shifted to President Abbas to decide whether he will drop his preconditions and enter direct talks. 
On Iran, which is the primary existential threat facing Israel, both Israeli and American officials have talked openly about how our governments are closely strategizing to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. This goal has taken an enormous amount of the president’s personal attention, in talking directly to leaders in Russia, China, Europe and other key nations to advance unprecedented sanctions adopted by the U.N. Security Council in June that will block arms sales to Iran, freeze Revolutionary Guard assets and authorize searches of Iranian cargo vessels. The president also signed into law the Iran sanctions bill, which imposes sanctions on insurance, financing and shipping companies that assist Iran in developing its energy sector. This approach will inflict significant economic hardship on the Iranian regime and hopefully get them to see they would be better off not pursuing nuclear weapons.
This administration has enhanced Israel’s qualitative military edge. Joint military exercises, sales of the new F-35 fighter jet and $205 million for the Iron Dome missile defense system against Hezbollah rockets reflect our solid military ties.
The president is also leading the campaign against efforts to delegitimize Israel. At the United Nations, the United States has opposed action on the Goldstone Report, opposed calls for international investigations of the flotilla incident, and fought the anti-Israel bias at the U.N. Human Rights Council and other U.N. bodies. 
Read more at the Jewish Journal

Thursday, August 26, 2010

In a first, Israelis to serve on U.N. force

An Israeli police delegation will leave for Haiti to serve as part of a U.N. multinational force, marking the first time Israelis will serve on a U.N. force.

The 14 police officers attended a ceremony at the Western Wall on Monday ahead of their scheduled departure on early next week.  The delegation constitutes the first-ever Israeli group to serve in active duty under the command of the United Nations. The police officers will remain in Haiti for an extended period of time.

Read more at JTA

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Ken Cuccinelli's End Run on Abortion

Following in the footsteps of the former Attorney General of Kansas, Virginia AG Ken Cuccinelli has issued his own legal opinion on abortion.  In it he targets Virginia abortion clinics, stating they should be held to the same standards as hospitals, including building design.  While this is still an opinion and not a legislated law, if upheld, many clinics would be forced to close, not being able to afford the millions of dollars in retrofitting they would need to meet these new standards.  This would adversely impact not only those seeking an abortion, but the men, women and children who seek primary health care at these clinics as well.

Virginia abortion rights advocates saw it coming. After Ken Cuccinelli, a rising Republican star known for his hard-line stances on most social issues, was elected state attorney general last year, they knew it was only a matter of time before he zeroed in on abortion.

Earlier this week, Cuccinelli issued a legal opinion advising the state of Virginia to tighten regulation of abortion clinics, holding them to the same standards as hospitals. Abortion-rights groups believe that these regulations would force the majority of the state's clinics out of business.

Read more at The Atlantic

Friday, August 20, 2010

Clinton announces direct talks to resume on Sept. 2

Direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians are set to commence at the beginning of September and within a year should lead to the resolution of all final status issues, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced Friday.

Clinton said she had invited Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to Washington on September 2 “to re-launch direct negotiations to resolve all final status issues, which we believe can be completed within one year.”

Read more at the Jerusalem Post

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Ambassador Dore Gold: Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and the issue of the 1967 border

Ambassador Dore Gold remarks on the constant discussion of returning to the "1967 borders," and what exactly those borders were.

According to reliable reports, the Palestinian Authority leader, Mahmoud Abbas, is insisting that the only basis for any future political arrangements with Israel is "the 1967 borders."

Indeed, he has made this a precondition for negotiations with Israel. And he is not the only one today talking about the 1967 lines. President Carter's, national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, co-authored with former Rep. Stephen Solarz, D-NY, an April 11 article in The Washington Post calling for a territorial solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict "based on the 1967 borders." Brzezinski had recently been invited to discuss the Middle East with the President Obama's National Security Adviser Jim Jones.

Read more at the Washington Examiner

Skip the lecture on Israel's 'risks for peace'

George Will discusses how Israel has made concession after concession in the pursuit of peace, while being asked to continually give away more, and have faith that the next "risk" will result in peace for the region.

In the intifada that began in 2000, Palestinian terrorism killed more than 1,000 Israelis. As a portion of U.S. population, that would be 42,000, approaching the toll of America's eight years in Vietnam. During the onslaught, which began 10 Septembers ago, Israeli parents sending two children to a school would put them on separate buses to decrease the chance that neither would return for dinner. Surely most Americans can imagine, even if their tone-deaf leaders cannot, how grating it is when those leaders lecture Israel on the need to take "risks for peace." 

Read more at the Washington Post

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Nebraska AG won't defend law on abortion screenings

One of the new laws passed by the State of Nebraska will not take effect and will not be defended by the state's Attorney General.  This law required women seeking an abortion to undergo screenings to determine mental or physical conditions, making any doctor who performed an abortion without performing the screenings civilly liable.  Other recent Nebraska laws may face legal challenge in the future.

Nebraska's attorney general will not defend a new state law requiring health screenings for women seeking abortions because there's little chance the controversial law will prevail in court, his spokeswoman said Wednesday.

Attorney General Jon Bruning agreed to a permanent federal injunction against enforcement of the law, which faces a challenge from Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, said his spokeswoman Shannon Kingery.

Read More at The Wichita Eagle

Celtic’s new Israeli midfielder Beram Kayal will find similarities between Glasgow and Haifa

A new transplant to a Scottish soccer team has an interesting perspective on life in Israel.  Beram Kayal is an Arab Israeli, who lived in Haifa before signing on with the Celtics of Glasgow.

He has come from a city known for having issues with sectarianism, and from a football culture where the major fixtures dominate the news agenda for days in advance. Now he is in another one. Life in Haifa and Israel has given 
Celtic’s new midfielder a head start when it comes to knowing what to expect in the west of Scotland.

Kayal is an Arab. He knows that for many who are unfamiliar with Israeli society it is surprising, even startling, that an Arab could integrate and prosper so successfully there. “People see too much television,” he said, alluding to years of coverage of cross-border violence between Israel and Palestine.

Monday, August 16, 2010

F.D.A. Approves 5-Day Emergency Contraceptive

Federal drug regulators on Friday approved a new form of emergency contraceptive pill that prevents pregnancies if taken as many as five days after unprotected intercourse.

The pill, called ella, will be available by prescription only. Developed in government laboratories, it is more effective than Plan B, the morning-after pill now available over the counter to women 17 and older.
Read more at The New York Times

Thursday, August 12, 2010

French minister calls Israeli boycott a ‘crime’

France's interior minister called boycotts against Israeli products in France "a crime."

The statement came in response to a report issued by the Simon Wiesenthal Center chronicling boycotts against kosher products in supermarkets and other stores in France for the 18-month period beginning in January 2009.

In a recent letter to the Wiesenthal Center, Interior Minister Hortefeux wrote, “You have called my attention to the value of punishing the agitation of the group Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions in view of the acts of its members in certain foodstores. ... Just as you, I consider the campaign led by this group and their statements made on such occasions calling for a boycott of Israeli products as, arguably, constituting a crime of racial provocation and discrimination."
Read more at JTA

La. blocked from enforcing parts of abortion law

A federal judge has temporarily blocked portions of the recently enacted Louisiana abortion law that pertain to mandating ultrasounds.  The judge ruled that the language in the law was too vague to be enforceable.  Also blocked was the provision requiring doctors to provide written materials to patients prior to performing abortions, citing that the mandated materials have not yet been written by the state.

Read more at CNBC.com

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Clinics Challenge Louisianna Abortion Laws

In response to the recently passed abortion laws in Louisiana, six clinics challenging the validity of these statues, including one which requires women have an ultrasound, and one which maintains abortion providers may not be eligible for malpractice coverage in certain circumstances.

Six medical clinics have challenged Louisiana laws on abortion, including the "Ultrasound Statute," which could force doctors to make women take home ultrasound pictures of their fetuses, even if the women resist, according to the federal complaint.

 The Hope Medical Group for Women and five other clinics say the two state laws are vague, "will deter qualified, reasonable health care providers from entering the field of abortion provision," will "make it more difficult for women in Louisiana to obtain abortion services," and are "not rationally related to any legitimate state interest." 

Read more at Courthouse News

Friday, August 06, 2010

Supporters Of Colo. 'Personhood' Initiative Unveil Strategy To Gather Support

The group behind the new "Personhood" proposal in Colorado is working to gain support for their proposed state constitutional amendment.  Although the last time voters had an opportunity to decide this issue, it was overwhelmingly voted down, they are back again with changes they think will let them win this time, and change the definition of a person in the state of Colorado and, they hope,  effectively make abortion illegal there.

Supporters of a proposed Colorado constitutional amendment tha would grant human rights to a fetus have undertaken a grassroots campaign to gain support for the measure, the Boston Globe reports.

The so-called "personhood" amendment -- Amendment 62 -- is the only state ballot initiative on the topic for the 2010 elections. The measure would redefine the term "person" and grant rights in the state Constitution "to apply to every human being from the beginning of the biological development of that human being."

Read more at Medical News Today

Iran's Mini-Empire At The U.N.

Iran has received sanctions from the world community, the US, and the UN regarding human rights issues, the pursuit of nuclear weapons, and a variety of other issues.  But did you know that while being under no less than four binding sanctions from the UN security council, Iran sits on several commissions within the UN specifically aimed at resolving women's rights, human rights, children's rights, and other issues.

The United Nations has just created a new "entity" on women's rights, called U.N. Women. Elections to its governing board are now being organized. How long before Iran wins a seat?

If the question sounds absurd, the realities at the U.N. are even more mind-bending. The most recent high-profile outrage on this score was Iran gaining a seat in April on the U.N.'s Commission on the Status of Women. But that's the least of it. The reality is that Iran, despite being under four sets of binding sanctions resolutions by the U.N. Security Council, has learned to manipulate the institution in ways that make a mockery not only of the U.N. itself, but also of U.S. claims of diplomatic competence.  
Read more at Forbes

The Palestinians, Alone - Op-Ed by Efraim Karsh

An interesting OpEd that looks at how the urgency of the Mid-East Peace Process among some Arab populations seems to be waning in a recent poll.  Mr. Karsh also looks at the history of the support of the Arab world for the Palestinian people, as well as their persecution by these same countries.

It has long been conventional wisdom that the resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is a prerequisite to peace and stability in the Middle East. Since Arabs and Muslims are so passionate about the Palestine problem, this argument runs, the Israeli-Palestinian stalemate feeds regional anger and despair, gives a larger rationale to terrorist groups like Al Qaeda and to the insurgency in Iraq and obstructs the formation of a regional coalition that will help block Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons.

What, then, are we to make of a recent survey for the Al Arabiya television network finding that a staggering 71 percent of the Arabic respondents have no interest in the Palestinian-Israeli peace talks? 

Read more at The New York Times

IDF: Journalists were tipped off

It appears that prior to the skirmish at the Israel-Lebanon border this week, which has tensions on both sides heightened, journalists in the area were briefed that the Lebanese intended to ambush the Israeli troops who were trimming trees and bushes for security purposes.  This maintenance had been coordinated with UNIFIL and was done on the internationally recognized Israeli side of the Blue Line designating the border.
Journalists and photographers were briefed in advance of the intention to ambush IDF troops and were therefore present at the site of Tuesday's deadly clash between Israeli and Lebanese forces, IDF officials charge.