JACblog! is moving. We will be housed on the new JAC website at www.jacpac.org and we hope you will follow us there.

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

Monday, January 31, 2011

The Two Abortion Wars: State Battles Over Roe v. Wade

A NYT editorial looks at the state-based war on reproductive rights, with over 600 measures introduced to undermine Roe v. Wade in 2010, with 34 of those securing passage.  Even more such measures are in the pipeline and we must make our voices heard against these bills.
Away from Washington, another ominous anti-abortion battle is accelerating in the states. Anti-abortion forces have been trying to take advantage of the 2007 ruling in which the Supreme Court upheld a federal ban on a particular method of abortion. 

In 2010, more than 600 measures were introduced in state legislatures to limit access to abortion and some 34 secured passage, according to tallies by Naral Pro-Choice America and the Center for Reproductive Rights. November’s elections made the outlook even bleaker. 
Read more at the New York Times

Friday, January 28, 2011

U.S. Democrats and pro-Israel lobbies slam Republican Senator's call to halt Israel aid

This should not really be a surprise, as he campaigned on this issue, but Senator Rand Paul stated on air that all foreign aid should be ended, including aid to Israel.
U.S. Democrats and pro-Israel lobbies slammed on Thursday comments made by newly elected Republican Senator and Tea Party representative Rand Paul who suggested that the United States should halt all foreign aid including its financial aid to Israel.
Read more at Haaretz

The House GOP's Plan to Redefine Rape

HR 3, the so-called "Stupak on Steroids" bill offered by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), would do much more than restrict access to abortion.  It is seeking to redefine rape in order to limit just what would qualify for abortion coverage exceptions.
Rape is only really rape if it involves force. So says the new House Republican majority as it now moves to change abortion law.
For years, federal laws restricting the use of government funds to pay for abortions have included exemptions for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest. (Another exemption covers pregnancies that could endanger the life of the woman.) But the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act," a bill with 173 mostly Republican co-sponsors that House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has dubbed a top priority in the new Congress, contains a provision that would rewrite the rules to limit drastically the definition of rape and incest in these cases.
Read more at Mother Jones

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Statement on Rahm Emanuel's Candidacy for Mayor of Chicago

January 26, 2011

The jokes about Chicago politics have ceased to be funny.
A travesty is occurring in the race for mayor.  Rahm Emanuel was the frontrunner until his legitimacy was challenged by those who, for political reasons, wanted him off the ballot.  Two of three Illinois appellate judges determined that Emanuel does not meet the residency requirements to run for mayor, overturning a lower court decision that he does meet those requirements. Ballots were set to go to the printer without Rahm's name, until the Illinois Supreme Court, which agreed to hear the case, today directed the Chicago Board of Elections to print his name on all ballots until the Court makes its ruling. Early voting is set to begin next week. The general election is February 22nd. 
The facts of the case seem clear to us.  Rahm Emanuel has spent his life in Chicago except for the times he went to Washington to perform public service, first as advisor to President Clinton, then as Representative from Illinois' 5th district, and most recently as chief of staff to the President of the United States.  If he doesn't meet the standard of legitimacy, it is hard to imagine who does.  No one should be penalized for public service.Someone with his resume shouldn't be sent packing because others don't want him to succeed.
We at JAC supported Emanuel in his Congressional race.  Yes, he is a fierce competitor, but always fair and with the interest of the people -- all the people -- at heart.  And no one works harder or has more energy. He understands business and how to advance Chicago's interests in the global marketplace.  He knows that education is the key to Chicago's competitiveness in that marketplace. Whether or not one supports Rahm in his bid for mayor is not relevant.  What is relevant is that good government demands that his name be on the ballot and that politics not trump judicial independence.  We often say how important the judiciary is -- whether it be the Supreme Court or lower courts.  What is happening in Chicago proves that point.  The world is watching to see whether this city can redeem itself from this ugly episode and allow the voters to determine whether or not Rahm Emanuel will be the next mayor of Chicago.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Across Country, Lawmakers Push Abortion Curbs

This article outlines a comprehensive list of state legislatures that are aiming to reduce access for reproductive rights in coming year.  According the head of Ohio Right to Life, they see this as the "best climate for passing pro-life laws in years."
Newly energized by their success in November’s midterm elections, conservative legislators in dozens of states are mounting aggressive campaigns to limit abortions.

The lawmakers are drafting, and some have already introduced, bills that would ban most abortions at 20 weeks after conception, push women considering abortions to view a live ultrasound of the fetus, or curb insurance coverage, among other proposals. 
Read more at The New York Times

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Senators ask Clinton to oppose Palestininan resolution at U.N. on negotiations

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on Tuesday  wrote to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urging the administration to oppose a U.N. resolution that is being drafted by the Palestinian Authority (PA) in an effort to unilaterally dictate terms to Israel, enabling the PA to avoid direct negotiations.
 Read more at the San Diego Jewish World

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom

Did you know that Sunday, January 16 marked the anniversary of the enacting of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, authored by Thomas Jefferson?  This law provided for the separation of religion and state.  Take a moment to read it over.  Here is an excerpt:
Be it therefore enacted by the General Assembly, That no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burdened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in nowise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.
Read more at The Religious Freedom Page

Monday, January 17, 2011

Board won't penalize abortion pill provider

Iowa medical regulators have declined to punish a Planned Parenthood doctor for using a long-distance video system to provide abortion pills by remote control.

The Iowa Board of Medicine decision clears the way for Planned Parenthood of the Heartland to continue using the controversial method of delivering abortions in rural areas, which often lack abortion providers.
Read more at the Des Moines Register

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Did you know?

As a gift for Israel's 60th anniversary, David Suissa combined his passion for Israel together with his background in advertising to create a new organization called ads4israel.com.  Ads highlighting the many contributions that Israel has made to modern society combined with beautiful graphics are definitely worth sharing to help in the fight against BDS and delegitimization.

Read more at ads4israel.com.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, friend to JAC, shot at Tuscon event

At noon (EST) today, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), was shot while at an event known as “Congress-on-your-Corner” in a grocery store parking lot in Tucson, AZ. Eighteen other people, including six members of her staff, were also shot. There were six fatalities, including a federal judge and a nine-year-old child. Giffords survived surgery at University Medical Center in Tucson. Although she is in critical condition, her surgeon stated he is as “optimistic about her recovery as it is possible to be” given the extent of her injuries.

The shooting of Congresswoman Giffords has caused shock and dismay in many quarters. One of 27 Jewish members of Congress, she is a special friend to JAC. Marcia Balonick, executive director, said the JAC contingent that attended the Congressional swearing-in ceremonies on Wednesday attended a reception in her honor. “I met and spoke with her mother and we talked about how special she is. Her mother told me how lucky she was to have such a wonderful daughter. 'With Gabby,' she said, 'life was always an adventure.' The attempted murder of any member of Congress would be tragic to me, but this is personal.”

In 2009 Giffords spoke for JAC at the Detroit chapter's membership event. She was extremely well received. Lisa Lis, chair of that event, also considers the shooting a personal matter. “This is truly heartbreaking. She is a bright star in the Congress, passionate about bringing positive changes to the country. When she spoke at our meeting, we were so impressed by her dedication to public service. She was genuinely approachable and touched everyone's heart.”

Gabrielle Giffords is a positive force on issues of concern to JAC. She is a staunch advocate for Israel, reproductive rights and separation of religion and state. She stood on principle when it came to health care reform even though it could have cost her her re-election.  As a member of the Armed Services committee, she is well respected and well liked, even by her political opponents. Gail Yamner, JAC President, said “You cannot help but like her. She is a warm, caring woman who wants only to serve her country. She is an incredible woman who believes in an America that is for everyone.”

We do not know the shooter's motivation, but Arizona’s laws that permit easy access to guns make it too easy to commit a heinous crime such as this one. His violent act is likely to have a chilling effect on the public's access to elected officials. American democracy is ill-served by a violent gun culture and by security barriers erected between the people and their government. Neither is consistent with Gabby's modus operandi.

We at  JAC send out heartfelt expressions of sadness to the family of Gabrielle Giffords, to the Jewish community and the country.  Our thoughts are with the Congresswoman, her family and all of the victims of this tragedy.   The shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is a personal affront, an affront to the Jewish community, to her Arizona constituents and to the country.

Friday, January 07, 2011

The truth about Israel beyond the failed bus ads

In a response to the recent bus ad controversy in Seattle where proposed ads for the Metro accused Israel of war crimes, Rabbi Jonathan Singer discusses how this is another attempt to delegitimize Israel.
The Big Lie is alive and well in Seattle, and this fact is ironic for a city that prides itself on having a commitment to diversity, openness and intellectual engagement.

In the past, big lies were used by fascists and dictators as a means of delegitimizing certain groups or classes, seeking a scapegoat upon whom to blame general societal disappointments. Experts at utilizing this tool understand you cannot start with an outlandish statement but must state many small lies at first. In an age of Twitter and instant messaging, our culture is ripe for domination by this political approach.
Read more at The Seattle Times

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Media Watch: Most Ignored Story Of 2010? Israel

What was the most ignored story of 2010?
Israel. Really.

Only a handful of mainstream newspapers covered the Palestinian claims to the Western Wall and Rachel’s Tomb; or that Palestinian rockets were still landing in Israel; or the 1930s level of anti-Semitism in the official Palestinian media; or the Palestinian claims that Haifa and Sderot are occupied territory; let alone not covering the transcendent beauty of daily religious life and Jewish culture in Israel.
Read more at The Jewish Week

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Women Don't Have Constitutional Protection Against Discrimination

The equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution does not protect against discrimination on the basis of gender or sexual orientation, according to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
In a newly published interview in the legal magazine California Lawyer, Scalia said that while the Constitution does not disallow the passage of legislation outlawing such discrimination, it doesn't itself outlaw that behavior:
Read more at The Huffington Post