January 16, 2009
20 Tevet 5769
This is a weekly e-mail to enable the leadership of the Dallas Jewish community to stay well informed on current agenda items and issues of the Federation's Jewish Community Relations Council. Please feel free to pass this e-mail on to your constituency and associates.
The Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas is the central umbrella organization for public affairs that brings together Jewish organizations and religious institutions in Dallas
Remember to visit the JCRC at www.jcrcdallas.org.
FEBRUARY 28-MARCH 3, 2009
2009 JCPA PLENUM
The Jewish Council for Public Affairs Plenum is the first major Jewish conference to take place following the historic 2008 presidential election. New leaders and new ideas are emerging on the political scene. How will these new policies impact our work on social justice, human rights, and Jewish security at home and abroad?
Attend the 2009 JCPA Plenum February 28-March 3, 2009 in Washington, D.C. and meet with Jewish leaders from across the nation who share a passion for activism. JCPA is the public affairs arm of the organized Jewish community which serves as the national coordinating and advisory body for the 14 national Jewish agencies and 125 local JCRCs comprising the field of Jewish community relations.
For additional information visit the JCPA web site at http://www.jcpaplenum.org/.
MARCH 22-24, 2009
JCRC STATEWIDE LEGISLATIVE CONFERENCE
Mark your calendar and join Jewish leadership from across Texas at the 2009 JCRC Statewide Legislative Conference in Austin, Texas from Sunday, March 22-Tuesday, March 24, 2009. This statewide policy conference is held every other year when the Texas State Legislature is in session.
The conference agenda includes (but is not limited to):
- policy workshops with panels of experts that include elected officials, government officials and subject matter experts;
- meetings with the Governor and Lt. Governor;
- and a breakfast with the entire state legislature.
Registration materials will be available in January 2009. For additional information contact the JCRC at JCRCDallas@jfgd.org and stay tuned for additional details.
FROM GAZA TO TEHRAN: THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION AND THE MIDDLE EAST
On January 9, 2008, at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy’s first briefing of 2009, David Brooks, Peter Beinart, and Robert Satloff took part in a briefing on “The Obama Administration and the Middle East.” David Brooks is a columnist for the New York Times and regular commentator on PBS's Newshour with Jim Lehrer and on National Public Radio. Peter Beinart is editor-at-large and former editor of the New Republic, a columnist for the Washington Post, a contributor to Time magazine, and a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. Robert Satloff is executive director of The Washington Institute and host of al-Hurra television's weekly talk show Inside Washington.
Click the title above to go to the web page of the Washington Institute and then click on “Listen to audio” to hear the experts on the Obama Administration and the Middle East.
THE FALSE SYMMETRY OF UN SECURITY COUNCIL RESOLUTION 1860
The following is an excerpt of a briefing prepared by Dore Gold and published by The Jerusalem Report on January 11, 2009. Dore Gold previously served as Israel's Ambassador to the United Nations and today is president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. Click the title above to read the complete report.
There is also a disturbing symmetry between Israel and the Palestinian side, which appears in Resolution 1860. Despite the language of the resolution, most international observers agree that Israeli civilians should not have to face rocket attacks from Hamas in the future, and hence Hamas must halt this activity. But in Resolution 1860 there is a demand of Israel in parallel, "to ensure the sustained reopening of crossing points" between Israel and Gaza. It is as though the cessation of rocket fire and the opening of the crossing points are symmetric demands that are increasingly mentioned in the same breath by commentators. This is like asking for a quid pro quo for Hamas stopping terrorism.
GAZA’S WAR OF INDEPENDENCE
Below is a selection of an Opinion piece by Aluf Benn which was published on Bitterlemons.org on January 12, 2009. Aluf Benn is the editor-at-large of Haaretz. Click the title above to read the entire article.
The current conflict in Gaza should be seen as Hamas' war of independence. At the time of writing, three-and-a-half years after Ariel Sharon's disengagement, Israel is deterred from reoccupying the Gaza Strip. True, Israel has been using considerable force against Hamas in Gaza, but stopped short of overthrowing its regime in order to replace it with a friendlier force like President Mahmoud Abbas' Palestinian Authority. And as expected, there are no volunteers to succeed Hamas in caring for the densely populated, poor and violent chunk of land on the eastern Mediterranean.
Moreover, UN Security Council Resolution 1860, which presented the international community's opinion of the crisis, does not challenge the political reality in Gaza beyond expressing hope for intra-Palestinian reconciliation. Hamas is not mentioned specifically, but neither is Abu Mazen, the PLO or the PA. In other words, the Security Council is standing on the sidelines of the Palestinian dispute, not showing preference for the eventual winner.
POLL SHOWS AMERICA STANDS WITH ISRAEL
A new bipartisan poll commissioned by The Israel Project (TIP) shows that Americans blame the Palestinians for the current conflict in Gaza (56%-18%). By a wide margin (66%-17%), Americans blame “Hamas leaders who control Gaza” for the current humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip. Nearly half of Americans say they have seen, read or heard “a lot” about the military conflict in the Gaza Strip. Despite the ongoing operations in Gaza, Americans side with Israel over the Palestinians by a 57%-8% margin, virtually unchanged from the pre-Gaza War November 2008 polling (57%-6%).
The Israel Project is an international non-profit organization devoted to educating the press and the public about Israel while promoting security, freedom and peace. Click the title above to view results of the entire poll.
SECURITY FIRST: U.S. PRIORITIES IN ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN PEACEMAKING
Security First: U.S. Priorities in Israeli-Palestinian Peacemaking is the report of a three-person team of independent experts commissioned by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy to examine security issues in the Israeli-Palestinian relationship and published in December 2008. Authors include J. D. Crouch II, former deputy national security advisor in the Bush administration; Walter B. Slocombe, former undersecretary of defense for policy in the Clinton administration, and Gen. Montgomery C. Meigs (Ret.), former commander of NATO forces in Bosnia. Click the title above to read the entire report.
A DEFENSIVE WAR
The following is a portion of an Op-Ed written by Eric Cantor and Steny Hoyer and published on January 9, 2009 in The Washington Times. U.S. House of Representatives Republican Whip Eric Cantor represents Virginia's 7th Congressional District. U.S. House of Representatives Majority Leader Steny Hoyer represents Maryland's 5th Congressional District. Click the title above to read the entire article.
During this difficult war in the Gaza Strip, we stand with Israel. Prior to military action, Israel tried a number of other options to stop the rockets, all to no avail. Like most Americans, we identify strongly with Israel's ongoing, elusive quest to achieve peace and security in a dangerous part of the world. We recognize that by arming and training Hamas, Iran has made this latest Israel-Hamas war a key front in its effort to remake the region in its own radical image.
America would never sit still if terrorists were lobbing missiles across our border into Texas or Montana; and just as we assert our right to defend ourselves, Israel has every right to protect its own citizens. Support for Israel in her time of need, from both Democrats and Republicans, is not just the logical choice. It is both a strategic and moral imperative.
ISRAEL’S TRUE DISPROPORTION
Below is a segment of an article by Carlos Alberto Montaner which was published on January 12, 2009 by Newsweek magazine. Carlos Alberto Montaner, a Cuban-born former professor, is one of the most widely-read columnists in the Spanish-language media. Click the title above to read the whole article.
Israelis are being accused of suffering too few casualties in their confrontation with the Hamas terrorists. Until this conflict began, history books everywhere always expressed great satisfaction and a certain chauvinistic pride when a nation's army inflicted on the enemy a large number of casualties. Israel is the only country expected to behave differently and, in fact, it does; I know of no other nation that announces where and when it will drop its bombs, thus enabling civilians to evacuate the territory.
In turn, Israel has not the slightest interest in causing casualties. All it wants is to stop Hamas' attacks the only way it can: by eliminating the terrorists and destroying their arsenals. There's no other way to deal with them.
'WE WILL ACT AGAIN’
Israel’s purpose in invading Gaza has been to root out Hamas and remove their capacity to fire rockets and send bombs into Israel. Newsweek magazine reporter Lally Weymouth interviewed Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni to discuss the conflict between Israel and Hamas. A portion of the interview can be found below. Click the title above to read the complete interview that was published in the magazine issue dated January 19, 2009.
In spite of a U.N. ceasefire resolution passed late last week, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni was talking tough in an interview with NEWSWEEK's Lally Weymouth. She appeared confident that Israel had dealt a setback to Hamas, the Islamist group that governs the Gaza Strip and has been firing rockets into Israel. She warned that further provocations would be met with force. Excerpts:
WEYMOUTH: How does Israel respond to the pressure for a ceasefire from the global community?
LIVNI: I don't like the term "ceasefire," since it looks like an agreement between two legitimate sides. At the end of the day, this is not a conflict between two states but a fight against terror. We will continue to fight terrorism. We need to fight in Gaza because [Hamas] has targeted Israel for eight years.
ARAB REACTION TO GAZA CONFLICT: ANGER AT ISRAEL, BUT SCANT SUPPORT FOR HAMAS
The following is a selection from a policy report by David Pollock which was published by The Washington Institute for Near East Policy on January 9, 2009. David Pollock is a senior fellow at The Washington Institute, focusing on the political dynamics of Middle Eastern countries. Previously, he served as senior advisor for the Broader Middle East at the State Department, a post he assumed in 2002. Click the title above to read the entire report.
Most analyses of the Arab reaction to the Gaza Strip conflict have generally emphasized either widespread popular sympathy for Palestinian suffering and revulsion at Israel's tactics, or political divisions about how to respond. Although both points are accurate, two important developments so far have been overlooked: only a handful of major street protests have occurred, and almost no tangible support for Hamas has materialized. Hamas's apparent rejection of last night's UN Security Council resolution calling for a ceasefire will probably continue this pattern.
SPECIAL SECTION: THE IRAN REPORT
September 2007, the JCRC began a special section entitled “The Iran Report”. Due to the looming serious nature of Iran and its politics within the global world, JCRCs across the country are providing community leaders with updated materials and articles concerning Iran, which will include political matters, divestment information, etc. Both the United Jewish Communities (UJC) and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) have issued joint statements indicating that the subject of Iran should be on the top of the agenda for local Jewish communities.
The JCRC will continue to bring the community updates on the situation with Iran and its implications throughout the Middle East and the world.
JCPA RESOLUTION ON IRAN’S NUCLEAR WEAPONS PROGRAM
Adopted by the Board of Directors of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) on March 27, 2007.
ISSUE GUIDE: IRAN
While the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan dominated the campaigns, the next U.S. president will face a host of continuing challenges in the greater Middle East. Whether to improve ties with Iran and how to forestall what many in the West believe is an Iranian nuclear weapons program will be among the issues shaping U.S. policy in the region. Click the title above to be led to a cross-section of analysis, background information, and essays from Council on Foreign Relation's scholars on the topic of Iran. This information was prepared by Lauren Vriens and released on January 13, 2009.
AT CONFIRMATION HEARING, CLINTON TALKS OF ENGAGEMENT WITH IRAN
Below is an excerpt of an article written by Washington Post Staff Writer Glenn Kessler. The article was published in The Washington Post on January 14, 2009. Click the title above to read the complete article.
During her confirmation hearing Tuesday, Secretary of State-designate Hillary Clinton told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the Obama administration will seek to engage directly with Iran in an effort to persuade it to abandon its nuclear program and become "a constructive regional actor," underscoring a dramatic shift in U.S. foreign policy from the Bush administration. Clinton said that Obama's team is "very open to looking to a positive, effective way of engaging with Iran." She acknowledged that the effort represents a gamble and insisted that a nuclear-armed Iran is unacceptable to Obama.
CRISIS IN DARFUR
February 2008 marked the fifth anniversary of the beginning of the violence in Darfur, Sudan. For five years a government-backed militia known as Janjaweed (which in Arabic means, “evil men on horseback”) has continued to engage in a systematic program of expulsion, rape and murderous violence in Darfur, Sudan. Millions of people now live in displacement camps lacking adequate food, water, shelter, healthcare, and sanitation. Attacks on \civilians continue. As Jews, we have a particular moral responsibility to speak out and take action against genocide.
The JCRC remains committed in its fight to end this battle and will continue to bring you facts and articles about this ongoing genocide. (For further information on Darfur, visit the JCRC web site “International” section at www.jcrcdallas.org.)
SUDAN IN CRISIS
Explore the history, people and politics behind one of the world's bloodiest conflicts in this interactive web site by The Washington Post. Click the title above to be connected to this site.
SUDAN GOVERNMENT RESUMES BOMBING IN DARFUR
The following is a portion of an article by Derek Kilner reporting for Voice of America in Nairobi on January 15, 2009. Click the title above to read the complete article.
Sudan's military confirmed Wednesday it had conducted air raids on rebels from the Justice and Equality Movement around the town of Muhajiriya in South Darfur.
The rebel group's Ireland-based head of Training and Strategic Planning, Abdullahi El-Tom, said that the attacks are continuing
"Over the past weeks there have been sporadic attacks without following any clear pattern. Because they seem to cover the whole of Darfur, parts of north Darfur as well as south Darfur, and it is not confined to areas where JEM forces are available," he said. "Today there have been some sort of major engagements, they were attacked by forces from the government, aided also by members of Mini Minnawi's forces and JEM splinters."
No deaths have been reported from the bombings.
CLINTON SAYS SHE WILL “SOUND THE ALARM” ON DARFUR
On January 13, 2009 U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton appeared before members of the U.S. Senate to begin her confirmation hearings to become the next United States Secretary of State. During her remarks Senator Clinton spoke of her intentions to help bring about an end to the genocide in Darfur, Sudan. Reuters released an article on this topic. A selection can be found below. Click the title above to read the complete article published on January 13, 2009.
Sen. Hillary Clinton said on Tuesday she would focus on the Darfur crisis as top U.S. diplomat and the Obama administration was looking at options including the creation of no-fly zones.
"There is a great need for us to sound the alarm again about Darfur. It is a terrible humanitarian crisis compounded by a corrupt and very cruel regime in Khartoum," Clinton said at a Senate hearing to confirm her nomination as secretary of state.
She said the incoming Obama administration was reviewing U.S. policy toward Darfur and the UN/African Union force must be fully deployed.
UN COUNCIL AUTHORIZES FORCE TO REPLACE EU IN CHAD
As fighting intensifies again in Darfur, Sudan, the United Nations Security Council has authorized a military force to assume peacekeeping duties between Darfur and the janjaweed. Below is the beginning of an article by Reuters reporter Patrick Worsnip that was released on January 15, 2009. Click the title above to read the complete article posted on the web site of the Save Darfur Coalition.
The Security Council authorized on Wednesday a 5,000-strong U.N. military force to take over peacekeeping duties in turbulent eastern Chad from European Union troops who have been there for the past year.
Rebel activity and banditry are rife in the region, which hosts about half a million refugees, including 290,000 from Chad's neighbor, Darfur, in western Sudan, where a rebellion has been under way for five years.
Chad's government agreed to temporary deployment early last year of an EU force, known as EUFOR, and has agreed that a U.N. force can take its place.
A Security Council resolution said the new force, whose mandate will initially run for a year, would contain a maximum of 5,200 military personnel and 300 police.
SOCIAL ACTION/PUBLIC POLICY
OPENING AT THE DOME: KEY PLAYERS WILL SET TONE OF TEXAS LEGISLATURE
The 81st session of the Texas State Legislature began on January 13, 2009. The following is a selection from an article by Christy Hoppe, published in The Dallas Morning News on January 13, 2009, which discusses the upcoming legislative session. Click the title above to read the entire article.
For a 140-day limited engagement, the Texas Legislature players begin their performance at noon today.
The show under the Rotunda is always a balancing act – between House and Senate, revenue and spending, posturing and policy – and this year promises to be no different.
Fans, critics and observers think this year's plot is likely to be a more traditional drama, a return from the 2007 Vaudeville-inspired show. In last season's cliffhanger, dozens of the session's biggest bills were tied to the railroad tracks and the House was being held hostage by Tom Craddick, who had replaced the parliamentarian with someone better able to read his script, including his belief that the speaker held "absolute power."
STRAUS STEPS INTO CRADDICK’S SHOES IN TEXAS HOUSE
On January 14, 2009, Joe Straus III became the 84th Speaker of the Texas Houes of Representatives and the first Jewish Speaker of the House. Below is a portion of an article by Robert T. Garrett which was published in The Dallas Morning News on January 14, 2009. Click the title above to read the complete article.
"We will create," the new speaker said, "an atmosphere where everyone's voice can and should be heard. A place where we respect each other's points of view – Democrat and Republican, urban and rural, liberal and conservative."
As one of his first acts, Straus led the House in a standing ovation for Craddick and his wife, Nadine.
By prearrangement, Craddick returned the gesture. He also made the motion adjourning the House for the day. Later, Craddick, who has been in the House for 40 years, expressed no bitterness about being dethroned.
Referring to Straus, Craddick said "he's hit the ground running, which is what you have to do. I think it'll all work out and he'll do fine."
LEGISLATURE’S TOUGH SPENDING CHORE
The economic downturn across the United States is also having an impact on the 81st session of the Texas State Legislature. On January 12, 2009 The Dallas Morning News published an Editorial regarding the financial challenges facing the State of Texas. A portion of the editorial can be found below. Click the title above to read the complete editorial.
State legislators could not have received a more sobering welcome to the lawmaking session that begins today: Texas' claim of immunity from the national economic downturn is confirmed as myth.
The dour news, in a fiscal forecast from the state comptroller, means lawmakers will confront a falloff of new revenue for the upcoming budget cycle.
Officials had been assuming the budget would be tight. The new figures suggest the budget will be so tight it hurts.
THE RIGHTS OF JAILED IMMIGRANTS
The following is an excerpt of an editorial which appeared in The Boston Globe on January 12, 2009. Click the title above to read the entire editorial.
The United States and its undocumented immigrants are caught in an abusive relationship. On calm days, the country tolerates these men and women who clean houses, process meat, and work construction. But on other days, anger surges as federal agents raid workplaces, rounding up scores of workers and putting them in detention facilities. It's in these facilities that a range of abuses can occur, from inadequate healthcare to excessively long detentions, according to a recent report from the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts.
Among the cases reported by the ACLU is that of Oscar, an undocumented immigrant with a kidney ailment who was detained at the Plymouth County jail in 2006. Because he was unable to take his medications, Oscar become severely bloated. Fellow cellmates helped him stand to use the bathroom and brought him food from the cafeteria. He finally began receiving medication six weeks into his detainment. But Oscar's medical care remained patchy, according to the report. Detained for about a year, he was eventually deported.
A SENSE OF WHO WE ARE
Below is a segment of an editorial that was published by The New York Times on January 12, 2009. Click the title above to read the complete editorial.
Defending immigrants’ rights defends standards in all workplaces. Workers who are terrorized into submission, in families that are destroyed by deportation and raids, are more likely to undercut other workers by tolerating low pay and miserable job conditions.
Restoring proportionality and good sense to the criminal justice system also would free up resources for fighting serious crimes. Most important, repairing a system warped by political priorities into hunting down and punishing the wrong people — like those bringing their suffering to a Pentecostal church — would help restore a sense of what the country stands for, and remind us of who we are.
U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES APPROVES SCHIP REAUTHORIZATION
January 14, 2009 the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009. Created in 1997, the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) provides health coverage to over seven million low-income children in working families whose parents make too much to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to purchase insurance on the private market. SCHIP was due to be reauthorized in 2007, but after a grueling year of legislative battles, including two presidential vetoes, Congress had to settle for extending the program at 2007 levels until March 31, 2009. Below is the voting record for the Greater Dallas area congressional delegation.
Representative Chet Edwards (D-17)
Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-30)
Representative Joe Barton (R-6)
Representative Michael Burgess (R-26)
Representative Louie Gohmert (R-1)
Representative Ralph M. Hall (R-4)
Representative Jeb Hensarling (R-5)
Representative Sam Johnson (R-3)
Representative Kenny Marchant (R-24)
Representative Pete Sessions (R-32)
LILLY LEDBETTER FAIR PAY ACT
(From the Jewish Council for Public Affairs – January 12, 2009) On Friday, January 9th, 2009, the U.S. House of Representatives passed two important equal pay bills, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act. The Lilly Ledbetter bill reversed a 2007 Supreme Court decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear that made it harder for women to seek redress for wage discrimination, while the Paycheck Fairness bill strengthened the 1963 Equal Pay Act to more effectively protect women's equality. This week the U.S. Senate will consider the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009.
SUPPORTING THE JCRC
The Andrea Weinstein Jewish Community Relations Endowment Fund supports JCRC initiatives including: the JCRC Civic Leadership Mission to Israel; inter-community projects that encourage dialogue among the various populations of Dallas; education and the fostering of volunteer leadership in the area of Jewish community relations; increasing the awareness and providing assistance to Jews at risk as a result of anti-Semitism or oppression; and assisting with the immigration and resettlement of those endangered populations.
Fully tax deductible donations may be made for any occasion and are a wonderful way to let a loved one know you care. Fully tax deductible donations to the Andrea Weinstein Jewish Community Relations Endowment Fund can be made by mailing a personal check to the: Dallas Jewish Community Foundation, 7800 Northaven Rd., Dallas, TX 75230.
The Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas does not necessarily endorse any political viewpoints expressed in any advertised programs, articles or editorial pieces that appear in this weekly update.
JEWISH COMMUNITY RELATIONS COUNCIL
Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas
7800 Northaven Rd., Dallas, TX 75230