July 9, 2010
27 Tammuz 5770
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 by using the “forward email to a friend” link at the bottom of the page.
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.
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SUNDAY, AUGUST 22, 2010
PARTY ON THE PLAZA:
A Celebration of Israel
12noon – 5pm
AT&T Plaza at Victory Park
(In front of the American Airlines Center)
The event is sponsored by the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas and JCRC member organizations. More information to come.
REMARKS BY PRESIDENT OBAMA AND PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU OF ISRAEL
Below are a portion of remarks given by President Obama on July 6, 2010 after his White House meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu. To read the remarks in their entirety, click on the title above.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, I just completed an excellent one-on-one discussion with Prime Minister Netanyahu, and I want to welcome him back to the White House.
I want to, first of all, thank him for the wonderful statement that he made in honor of the Fourth of July, our Independence Day, when he was still in Israel. And it marked just one more chapter in the extraordinary friendship between our two countries.
As Prime Minister Netanyahu indicated in his speech, the bond between the United States and Israel is unbreakable. It encompasses our national security interests, our strategic interests, but most importantly, the bond of two democracies who share a common set of values and whose people have grown closer and closer as time goes on.
During our discussions in our private meeting we covered a wide range of issues. We discussed the issue of Gaza, and I commended Prime Minister Netanyahu on the progress that's been made in allowing more goods into Gaza. We've seen real progress on the ground. I think it’s been acknowledged that it has moved more quickly and more effectively than many people anticipated.
Obviously there’s still tensions and issues there that have to be resolved, but our two countries are working cooperatively together to deal with these issues. The Quartet has been, I think, very helpful as well. And we believe that there is a way to make sure that the people of Gaza are able to prosper economically, while Israel is able to maintain its legitimate security needs in not allowing missiles and weapons to get to Hamas.
LESSONS FOR AN ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN SUMMIT
LA Times published the following Op-Ed written by Aaron David Miller on July 7, 2010 about why he thinks Jerusalem, borders, security and refugees are important issues for President Obama to address during his meetings with Prime Minister Netanyahu. Mr. Miller, a public policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, served as an advisor on Arab-Israeli negotiations to Democratic and Republican secretaries of State. To read the entire Op-Ed, click on the title above.
We were lost. The road to the presidential retreat at Camp David was winding and narrow; it was dark, the way it doesn't get in the city. We had clearly missed a turn somewhere. I kidded Dennis Ross, the lead U.S. negotiator for the imminent Israeli-Palestinian Camp David summit, that if we couldn't even find the president's compound, how were we going to help Bill Clinton negotiate an agreement between Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat once we got there?
My gallows humor turned out to be all too prescient.
Ten years ago this month, a risk-ready Israeli prime minister persuaded a risk-ready American president to convene a historic summit with a risk-averse Palestinian leader. The ascent to the mountaintop in search of a conflict-ending agreement and the ensuing descent into a valley of broken trust, bitterness, violence and terror that followed traumatized the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. It has yet to recover.
ISRAEL READY TO DEAL FOR SHALIT RELEASE: NETANYAHU
Below is a portion of an article written by Ori Lewis that was published by Reuters on July 1, 2010 about Prime Minister Netanyahu’s pledge to release 1,000 Palestinian prisoners if Hamas releases Gilad Shalit. To read the entire article, click on the title above.
Israel would free 1,000 Palestinian prisoners if the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas releases Gilad Shalit, the soldier its militants captured four years ago, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday.
In a live address to the country, Netanyahu said Israelis wanted Shalit back safely but the nation could not "pay any price" because past experience showed many Palestinians released had returned to carry out attacks on Israelis.
"The German mediator's offer which we agreed to accept called for the release of 1,000 terrorists. This is the price I am prepared to pay to bring Gilad home. I said yes to the deal and it is ready for immediate implementation," Netanyahu said.
He was referring to a moment last December when a deal and a prisoner exchange brokered by the German mediator, who has preferred to act out of the media's glare, appeared imminent but did not come to fruition.
Media reports at the time spoke of 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Shalit, although until Thursday there was never official confirmation from the Israeli side.
THE OBAMA-NETANYAHU MEETING: ASSESSMENT AND IMPLICATIONS
The following is a portion of a policy analysis written by Robert Satloff for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy on July 8, 2010 about what was disucussed between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu and what it means for U.S.-Israel relations. Mr. Satloff is executive director of The Washington Institute. To read the entire policy analysis, click on the title above.
With smiles, compliments, and a strong dose of hospitality, President Obama did his best to provide a dramatically improved backdrop for U.S.-Israeli relations during Binyamin Netanyahu's July 6 visit to the White House, compared to the climate that greeted the Israeli prime minister upon his strained April visit. This included strikingly specific commitments on key issues important to Israeli security. Netanyahu, in turn, responded with generous and deferential praise for U.S. leadership on the broad array of Middle East policy issues. Given the near-term political and policy imperatives of both leaders, the result was a meeting doomed to succeed. Lurking behind the warmth and banter, however, remain tactical obstacles on how to proceed in Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations as well as strategic uncertainty about how each side views the other's regional priorities.
From Domestic Politics to Strategic Interest
It is a mistake to argue, as have many observers, that Tuesday's meeting was a defeat for Obama or a victory for Netanyahu. In fact, both leaders came to the event with a political imperative to change the public image of their relationship.
On one side, Netanyahu seems to have understood that Israeli voters view management of the relationship with Washington as one of their prime minister's principal responsibilities, holding him accountable for maintaining warm and productive ties even with an administration that, in the view of many, might not reciprocate. On the other side, Obama seems to have recognized that the punitive spirit that added fuel to the fire of mini-crises in May 2009 and March 2010 ran counter to the deep well of popular support for strong U.S.-Israeli relations in the American heartland, in key parts of the Democratic Party, and on Capitol Hill, garnering him little political advantage in the process.
SOCIAL ACTION/PUBLIC POLICY
A BETTER WELCOME FOR OUR NATION'S IMMIGRANTS
Jeb Bush and Robert D. Putnam wrote the following Op-Ed on June 19, 2010 that was published in the Washington Post about what the United States should do to help immigrants improve their integration into our American community. Mr. Bush was governor of Florida from 1999 to 2007. Mr. Putnam is the Malkin professor of public policy at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. To read the entire Op-Ed, click on the title above.
On our national birthday, and amid an angry debate about immigration, Americans should reflect on the lessons of our shared immigrant past. We must recall that the challenges facing our nation today were felt as far back as the Founders' time. Immigrant assimilation has always been slow and contentious, with progress measured not in years but in decades. Yet there are steps communities and government should take to form a more cohesive, successful union.
Consider what one leader wrote in 1753: "Few of their children in the country learn English. The signs in our streets have inscriptions in both languages. . . . Unless the stream of their importation could be turned . . . they will soon so outnumber us that we will not preserve our language, and even our government will become precarious." Thus Ben Franklin referred to German Americans, still the largest ethnic group in America. A century later, Midwestern cities such as Cincinnati and St. Louis were mostly German-speaking. So worried were their native-born neighbors that Iowa outlawed speaking German in public and even in private conversation.
Proponents and opponents of immigration agree on one thing: Learning English is crucial to success and assimilation. Yet learning a language as an adult is hard, so first-generation immigrants often use their native tongue. Historically, English has dominated by the second or third generation in all immigrant groups. Most recent immigrants recognize that they need to learn English, and about 90 percent of the second generation speak English, according to the Pew Hispanic Center. Research by sociologists Claude Fischer and Michael Hout published in 2008 suggests that English acquisition among immigrants today is faster than in previous waves.
CLOSING SCHOOLS' ACHIEVEMENT GAPS
The following is a portion of an Op-Ed written by Heather Zavadsky that was published in The LA Times on July 7, 2010 about lessons that can be learned from five school systems across the country that have all have closed achievement gaps. To read the entire Op-Ed, click on the title above.
While the Obama administration, with its federal Race to the Top program, is setting up a host of new rules for schools, five large urban school districts have raised achievement and closed achievement gaps using approaches that make such obvious sense, it would amaze parents to know that these aren't the norm everywhere.
The Broad Prize for Urban Education is awarded to large school districts that show the most progress. I had the opportunity to closely observe the innovations at five winning districts during the four years I spent working for the Los Angeles-based Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, overseeing the process for selecting winners. That included visiting schools, analyzing test data and other statistics, and conducting follow-up interviews with teachers and parents.
Two of the districts are in Southern California — the Long Beach and Garden Grove unified school districts. The others are the Boston Public Schools, Norfolk Public Schools in Virginia and the Aldine Independent School District outside Houston. As different as the five school systems are in location, funding and, to some extent, demographics, all have raised achievement notably using five common-sense steps.
MANY TEXAS FAMILIES BEGIN TO SEE BENEFITS OF HEALTHCARE REFORM
On July 8, 2010, The San Antonio Express-News published the following Op-Ed written by Leticia Van de Putte that addresses benefits to Texans from the recent health care reform legislation. Ms. Van de Putte is Texas state senator for District 26. To read the Op-Ed in its entirety, click on the title above.
While many have used the recently passed Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Affordable Care Act) as some harbinger of an ominous "federal government takeover," this new legislation actually brings many immediate benefits to Texas families.
First, Medicare covered patients who have reached the prescription drug "donut hole" have already begun receiving $250 rebate checks. Before the passage of the Affordable Care Act, seniors who had reached the Medicare "donut hole" were responsible for the entire costs of their prescription drugs, leaving many unable to afford the prescriptions that in some cases they could not live without. The "donut hole" refers to the gap between the initial coverage limit and catastrophic coverage threshold for those on Medicare Part D. As a pharmacist, I have seen first hand the hardship many seniors face when they have reached the ugly limit of the "donut hole."
Another immediate benefit of the Affordable Care Act is that health plans are now required to allow young people to remain on their parents' health insurance policy until their 26th birthday. As the mother of six children, two of whom are still in college, the assurance that children will still have access to quality healthcare even while they look for employment is a welcome relief.
Another immediate benefit in which parents can take comfort is the prohibition of discrimination against children with pre-existing medical conditions. This is a critical benefit to San Antonio parents where the rates of diabetes and other genetic disorders have prevented many parents from placing their children on their health insurance.
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.
SANCTIONS ARE BITING IN IRAN, EXILED GROUP SAYS
Below is a portion of an article written by Luke Baker that was published by Reuters on July 5, 2010 about how recent sanctions imposed on Iran are affecting the country. To read the entire article, click on the title above.
Sanctions imposed on Iran over the past four years are having a direct impact on its nuclear programme and causing widespread bank liquidity problems, according to an exiled Iranian opposition group.
Citing intelligence gathered in Iran in the last four months, The National Council of Resistance of Iran, a Paris-based group that says it has many followers in Iran, said Tehran was struggling to get equipment for its Natanz enrichment facility.
Iran is also short of fuel for domestic use and has run into liquidity constraints at several banks, it said.
The NCRI report, compiled in June, identifies problems in several crucial areas, despite President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's dismissal last week of the fourth round of U.N. sanctions, imposed last month, as "pathetic".
The NCRI, set up in Iran in the early 1980s, is regarded as a fringe faction by the Iranian government and is listed as a terrorist organisation by the United States.
IRAN ARMS SYRIA WITH RADAR
The following is a portion of an article written by Charles Levinson that was published by The Wall Street Journal on June 30, 2010 about a radar supplied to Syria from Iran that could help Tehran dodge an Israeli strike. To read the entire article, click on the title above.
Iran has sent Syria a sophisticated radar system that could threaten Israel's ability to launch a surprise attack against Iran's nuclear facilities, say Israeli and U.S. officials, extending an alliance aimed at undermining Israel's military dominance in the region.
The radar could bolster Syria's defenses by providing early warning of Israeli air-force sorties. It could also benefit Hezbollah, the Iran-backed militant group based in Lebanon and widely believed to receive arms from Syria.
Any sharing of radar information by Syria could increase the accuracy of Hezbollah's own missiles and bolster its air defenses. That would boost Hezbollah defenses, which U.S. and Israeli officials say have been substantially upgraded since 2006, the last time Israel fought the southern Lebanon-based group.
The mid-2009 transfer was described in recent months by two Israeli officials, two U.S. officials and a Western intelligence source, and confirmed Wednesday by the Israeli military. Though they didn't name the system's final recipient in Syria, these and other officials described it as part as a dramatic increase in weapons transfers and military coordination among Iran, Syria and Hezbollah.
CONGRESS, SANCTIONS AND IRAN
On July 2, 2010, The New York Times published an Editorial about their views on new legislation that was passed in hopes that it will intensify the international campaign to pressure Tehran into abandoning its illicit nuclear program. To read the Editorial in its entirety, click on the title above.
The United States already bars nearly all trade with Iran. Congress tightened those restrictions even further last week when it voted to punish foreign companies and banks and American overseas subsidiaries that do business with the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps in Iran and its many front companies. Firms selling gasoline to Iran also are targeted.
The legislation, which President Obama signed into law on Thursday, is part of an intensifying international campaign to pressure Tehran into abandoning its illicit nuclear program — a goal we strongly support. Extraterritorial sanctions are always problematic. They can open American companies to retaliation and provoke a political backlash.
If these sanctions give foreign companies more reason to cut their ties with Iran, that would be good news. Unless they are used sparingly, they could strain relations and make it even harder to persuade governments of the need to isolate Iran.
Iran has ignored repeated demands by the United Nations Security Council to halt enriching uranium. After four rounds of Security Council sanctions, many governments and businesses still find Iran’s oil wealth too hard to resist. There are some signs that may be changing, but Washington will have to keep pressing.
CRISIS IN DARFUR
February 2009 marked the sixth anniversary of the beginning of the violence in Darfur, Sudan. For six 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, REBELS MUST ALLOW IN DARFUR AID
Reuters published the following news release on July 7, 2010 about how Sudan continues to block missions by aid workers and peacekeepers. To read the entire news release, click the title above.
Sudan's government and rebels must stop blocking missions by aid workers and peacekeepers in Darfur or risk breaking international law, the head of the territory's peacekeeping mission said on Tuesday.
Ibrahim Gambari, the head of the joint U.N./African Union UNAMID force, told journalists both insurgents and government forces had prevented his mission from entering areas hit by a resurgence of violence over the past two months.
"We are demanding the lifting of restrictions on UNAMID and on the humanitarian community .. Persistent restriction of such movements is a violation of international humanitarian law."
Violence spiked in the mostly desert western region after the rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) suspended participation in troubled peace talks in May.
SUDAN RENEWS PRESS CENSORSHIP
AFP News published the following article written by Guillaume Lavallee on July 6, 2010 about Sudan’s renewed attempt to censor journalists working in Sudan. To read the article in its entirety, click on the title above.
Sudan intelligence services on Tuesday imposed press censorship, which was lifted in September, six months ahead of a key referendum on independence for south Sudan, the country's association of journalists said.
"We have been notified by the intelligence services that the newspaper Al-Intibaha has been closed and that from today press censorship has once again been imposed," Mohiedinne Titawi, president of the Sudanese Union of Journalists, told AFP.
"The censorship will focus on the issue of the country's unity or separation and the security of south Sudan," he added.
Titawi's comments follow earlier reports by Sudanese journalists that the government halted the distribution of three newspapers considered critical of the authorities in south Sudan.
The three dailies, Al-Intibaha, Al-Tayyar and Al-Ahdath, which are all deemed critical in one way or another of the south Sudan authorities, were not available on the streets of the capital on Tuesday, according to journalists working for the publications.
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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