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Thursday, September 30, 2010

A Bill to Protect Women and Girls Around the World

Yesterday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was scheduled to mark up the IVAWA - the International Violence Against Women Act - a bill to identify and address the increasing acts of violence both domestically and as political tools around the world.  This meeting has since been canceled.  Read the article below and then read Gail's thoughts on this bill and its current status.
I never met my grandmother. She was burned alive with kerosene doused on her sari and lit on fire. Some think it was suicide, some think it was a dowry murder since her mother-in-law was not pleased with what my grandmother brought into her new husband’s family. She had four children; one of them my mother, the other my uncle, who was just a few months old when she was killed. I cannot imagine her shock, grief and pain in the moments before she died. It makes me sick to even think about it.

Regrettably, her story is not uncommon. Consider the young couple whom the Taliban stoned to death for adultery and the young Afghani woman whose nose and ears were cut off because she tried to escape an unbearably abusive husband and his family—it happens every day.

We all read those stories, cringe at the grotesque pictures and then feel that empty pit in our stomachs because we think there’s nothing we can do. But finally that could change.

Five years ago, Women Thrive Worldwide partnered with the Family Violence Prevention Fund and Amnesty International USA to find out what our country could do to meaningfully help women stop violence in their lives. We interviewed over forty women’s groups in poor developing countries and consulted more than 100 experts and organizations working in the field. The result is IVAWA, the International Violence Against Women Act (H.R. 4954/S. 2982), introduced into the Congress by Senators John Kerry (D-Mass.), Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine). It was introduced into the House by Representatives Bill Delahunt (D-MA) and Ted Poe (R-Texas).
Read more at Fox News

Monday, September 27, 2010

Randall Terry Planning Koran Tearing For Tea Partiers

Right Wing Watch:  Randall Terry, founder of the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue, has begun a new crusade - this time against Islam.  He has put together an instructional video aimed at Tea Party members on how to rip up passages from the Koran in protest of the proposed Park 51 Islamic center on October 6th and 7th, and says he wants to call attention to "our need to defy sharia law."
Anti-abortion activist Randall Terry is upping the ante on his as-yet widely unknown campaign against Islam by creating a video instructing Tea Party leaders how to pull their own Koran-tearing stunts and garner media attention.

"To my fellow Tea Party activists, listen to me: you're about to see instructions on how to get into real battles, not just in front of our computers, not just blogging, but to go to the public square like Samuel Adams and like other great patriots did," Terry says in the video.
Read more at Talking Points Memo

Friday, September 24, 2010

Amendment 62 Debate - Term 'Fertilized Egg' Compared To The N-Word

As the election draws nearer, both sides speak up about Amendment 62 in Colorado - the so-called "Personhood" Amendment that would grant full rights to a fertilized egg, effectively banning abortion altogether.
It’s the second time Colorado voters will see an abortion-related measure on the statewide ballot.
Opponents of Amendment 62 held a rally Thursday afternoon to speak out against a measure they feel aims to overturn Roe v. Wade. Proponents of the measure went out to make sure their voices were heard too.

Amendment 62 seeks to amend Colorado’s constitution and ban abortion and emergency contraception. It’s a measure that both sides describe very differently.
Read more at KRDO.com

Texas education board to consider rule on Islam's portrayal in textbooks

Following the previous controversy raised by the new Texas school book standards earlier this year (including amending the teaching of slavery, the Civil Rights movement, and inclusion of the "conservative resurgence of 1980s and 1990s," the Moral Majority, Phyllis Schafly, and the NRA), the Texas Board of Education is meeting next week to address what they call "Muslim propaganda" in world history books.
Just when it appeared the State Board of Education was done with the culture wars, the panel is about to wade into the issue of what students should learn about Islam.

The board will consider a resolution next week that would warn publishers not to push a pro-Islamic, anti-Christian viewpoint in world history textbooks.
Read more at Dallas Morning News

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Michael Oren's Warning to American Jews

Ambassador Michael Oren gave a short sermon that he delivered at 3 synagogues on Yom Kippur in Washington, DC.  It is a very powerful and empowering speech in-which he discusses the role of an Israeli Prime Minister, Israel's place in the world and the power of decision.  Some are calling it a warning, saying the Ambassador is alerting American Jews that a difficult patch is ahead on numerous fronts and Israel needs the full support of the American-Jewish community.  Others are saying it is to alert us of coming conflict with Iran or a failure in the peace process.  Whatever you decide after reading it, you will be glad you did.

On Yom Kippur we read the Book of Jonah, one of the Bible's most enigmatic texts. It is also one of the Bible's shortest texts, weighing in at a page and a half, which is quite an accomplishment for this holiday. And it features one of our scripture's least distinguished individuals. Jonah--a man whose name, in Hebrew, means dove--not dov, as in Hebrew for bear, but dove as, in English, pigeon.

Yet this same everyman, this Jonah, is tasked by God with a most daunting mission. He is charged with going to the great city of Nineveh and persuading its pernicious people to repent for their sins or else.

Not such an unusual task, you might think. Twenty-first century life is rife with people who warn of the catastrophes awaiting us if we fail to modify our behavior one way or the other. Today we call them pundits, commentators who, if proven correct, claim all the credit but who, if proven wrong, bear none of the responsibility.
 Read more at The Atlantic

Remarks by PM Netanyahu to the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

Prime Minister Netanyahu addresses the Conference of Major American Jewish Organizations on September 20, 2010.  He discussed the ongoing direct peace talks with the Palestinians, his goals, and the importance of recognition of Israel as a Jewish State.  Here are his remarks:  
A few weeks ago, we began direct negotiations on the final status issues. Now I'm eager to continue them, and eager to complete them. We've been calling for direct negotiations for 18 months. We have asked that these negotiations be conducted without preconditions, so we were very pleased when they began, and hope they'll continue without preconditions.
There are two things that I think made a great impression on me. One is the commitment of President Obama and Secretary Clinton to assist in the process in our quest for peace. And I share that commitment. We want peace. We know what peace would mean for our people. We know what it would mean for our neighbors. We know what it would mean for the region. The second thing that made an impression on me was what I said a minute ago: the fact that there was an understanding that we don't turn our disagreements into preconditions for talks. Because if we do, we'll never get anywhere. After all, we've been trying to solve this conflict and it's being going on for over 90 years, and we disagree on quite a number of things. Believe me, every day the Palestinians do things I don't like: whether it's incitement in the schools or media, or an international campaign that they back to delegitimize Israel.
 Read more at the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Monday, September 20, 2010

Candidates pledge to fight abortion

During the Faith and Freedom Coalition conference in Washington DC this past weekend, candidates promised to fight against abortion if elected.
Two Republican House candidates took a break from campaigning in their states – and a hiatus from talking about jobs and the economy — to promise Saturday that they would adamantly fight abortion if elected.

Indiana state Rep. Jackie Walorski and Minnesota law professor Teresa Collett told a receptive crowd at the Faith and Freedom Coalition conference in Washington that they would put their anti-abortion views into practice if elected.
Read more at Politico  

Why Israelis care about peace

Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren makes the case for why Israelis do want peace.
Imagine that you're a parent who sends her children off to school in the morning worrying whether their bus will become a target of suicide bombers. Imagine that, instead of going off to college, your children become soldiers at age 18, serve for three years and remain in the active reserves into their 40s. Imagine that you have fought in several wars, as have your parents and even your grandparents, that you've seen rockets raining down on your neighborhood and have lost close family and friends to terrorist attacks. Picture all of that and you'll begin to understand what it is to be an Israeli. And you'll know why all Israelis desperately want peace.
Read more at LA Times

Life Begins At Conception, Says New Mo. Law

A new law in Missouri now declares that life begins at conception.
It's a question that has perplexed philosophers, theologians and scientists for thousands of years.
Pythagorean Greeks, early Christian church fathers, Talmudic rabbis, Sunni and Shia scholars, Hindu Brahmin and modern bioethicists have grappled with the fundamental, ultimately unknowable, mystery: At what point in our biological development are we infused with a soul?
At what point do we become human?
Missouri lawmakers have declared their answer. By withholding both his signature and his veto, Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon signaled that he agreed and recently allowed the legislative answer to become state law.
Read more at Huffington Post

Friday, September 17, 2010

CDC: One-third of sex ed omits birth control

A new study by the CDC shows that most teens have had some form of sex education, but almost 1/3 have not been taught anything about birth control methods. 
Almost all U.S. teens have had formal sex education, but only about two-thirds have been taught about birth control methods, according to a new government report released Wednesday.
Many teens apparently are not absorbing those lessons — other recent data shows that after years of steady decline, the teen birth rate rose from 2005 to 2007. It dipped again in 2008, to about 10% of all births.
Read more at USA Today

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

'Tea party's' Dick Armey: A GOP majority would take up abortion fight

Tea party advocate Dick Armey, chairman of Freedom Works, rejects the notion of a truce on social issues like abortion if Republicans take control of Congress. The former House majority leader says 'issues of the heart' will be on the GOP agenda.

Read more at CSMonitor.com

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Michael Oren, making the case for Obama

Michael Oren outlines what may be his toughest assignment: Making the case to a skeptical public for a leader who's hard to pin down.

Pitching Bibi to the Americans?

No, that's an easy one.

The real problem for the Israeli ambassador to Washington is how to make Israelis understand President Obama.

Read more at JTA

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Acceptable in Polite Society

The German word Salonfähig doesn’t have a precise English translation. The closest English can do is something along the lines of “acceptable in polite society.” Salonfähig came to mind when I got my first look at the outrageous cover of this week’s Time magazine. Against a light blue background is a Star of David composed of white daisies. “Blue and white” brought to you by Time. But in the middle of the star, in stark black letters, lies the title of this week’s cover story: “Why Israel Doesn’t Care About Peace.”

Read more at Commentary Magazine

Friday, September 03, 2010

Report: States Pass Staggering Array of Anti-Choice Laws, Policies and Ballot Measures

A new report from the Center for Reproductive Rights reviews the losses of women's rights throughout the states in the aftermath of health reform.
Live in Tennessee, Mississippi, Arizona, Missouri or Louisiana? The Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) wants you to know that, with the implementation of health care reform in 2014, you will not have access to abortion coverage in your state's health exchanges. These states have enacted insurance bans on abortion coverage. Five other states considered the bans and the CRR expects more to do so in 2011. But this is only the tip of the iceberg. The 2010 state legislative session has seen legislation forcing women to undergo "biased counseling" (and compelling health care providers to provide said counseling) which may contain medically inaccurate and misleading information, as well as mandatory ultrasound requirements. Some states have pushed anti-provider bills which seek to bar physicians who provide abortion care from a state's malpractice compensation fund, and bills which force women to return at least twice to a provider before being deemed acceptable to have a legal abortion. States have sought to define zygotes and fertilized eggs as people; and punish women by barring any insurance coverage for abortion - even if the woman became pregnant as a result of rape.

The Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) recently released its summary on the "major trends in anti-abortion legislation that emerged this year and of the onerous abortion restrictions enacted," according to a statement from the organization.  "A First Look Back at the 2010 State Legislative Session," (PDF) details alarming trends among the states to severely restrict access to legal abortion care.
 Read more at Daily KOS

Colorado Abortion Amendment Campaign Gets Going

Colorado has decided that the "personhood" amendment will be on the ballot this November, banning abortions in all circumstances as well as emergency contraception.  Voters defeated the measure 2 years ago, but anti-abortion legislators and organizations are back for another try with modified language.
 A ballot measure that would bar abortions in every circumstance and even ban emergency contraception is back before Colorado voters this fall — but the campaigns for and against it are toned down from two years ago.
That's because Colorado voters roundly rejected the measure to give citizenship rights to fertilized embryos in 2008, defeating the so-called "personhood" amendment by a 3-to-1 margin. This year, abortion opponents petitioned the idea onto ballots again in a slightly different form, and abortion-rights supporters are launching a scaled-back attack on the measure.
Read more at CBS 4 Denver

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

JAC Welcomes Direct Israeli-Palestinian Peace Talks, US Involvement

September 1, 2010 -- As a pro-Israel organization that has long supported a US role in facilitating peace efforts between Israel and the Palestinians, JAC welcomes the resumption of direct peace negotiations, with the United States hosting the talks.  There will be many obstacles to achieving peace like the terrorist attack on Tuesday. In a horrific act meant to block progress, Hamas launched a terrorist attack that killed four Israelis. The Palestinian Authority condemned the attack.

We applaud President Obama, Secretary of State Clinton and Special Middle East Envoy George Mitchell for their tireless efforts in bringing the parties together. Because of JAC's longstanding relationships with these leaders, we have confidence in the potential for a solution that will allow Israel to live in peace and security with her neighbors.

When JAC was founded in 1981, this dialogue could not have been imagined.  No one even mentioned the phrase "two-state solution" and the thought of engagement with any Palestinian was unthinkable from a pro-Israel perspective. That was the year JAC met George Mitchell and began working on his first election campaign. It was also the year JAC began its long relationship with Senator Dick Durbin who challenged Rep. Paul Findley and won election to the House, after Findley brought Yasser Arafat to the House dining room.

 JAC supports this peace process like others before it, but takes no position on internal Israeli politics or policies. In thirty years of relationships and dialogue with members of the US Congress, JAC has delivered a consistent message of support for the special relationship between the United States and Israel, a relationship built on shared values and strategic interests.

Joint Action Committee for Political Affairs (JACPAC) is a bipartisan national organization  committed to the special relationship between the US and Israel and a social agenda that includes reproductive choice and separation of religion and state. JAC provides financial support for US Senate and House candidates who uphold this agenda; JAC maintains ongoing dialogue with those it helps elect;  JAC serves as a political resource for the Jewish community, furnishing information about candidates, elections and issues.