Mar 19, 2013

JCPA: Senate Prepares for Gun Violence Vote

 Plenum Recap

Vote on Guns Buenos Aires
Plenum Recap 
Senator Elizabeth Warren in conversation with members of the Boston Jewish Community Relations Council during the JCPA Plenum
The annual JCPA Plenum wrapped up last week with representatives from the JCPA's 125 Jewish community relations councils and 15 national member agencies meeting with Senators and Representatives on Capitol Hill to discuss guns, the budget, Iran, and immigration reform. The meetings in Congressional offices and at the JCPA reception came at the conclusion of a three-day symposium where Jewish community leaders met with national experts and policy makers to discuss these issues and other Jewish community priorities.

In addition to the Members of Congress on Tuesday, the JCPA Plenum heard from Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano – with a special video introduction by Vice President Joe Biden – on the need for immigration reform and the Administration's proposals. Earlier that day, JCPA President Rabbi Steve Gutow sat down with Sister Simone Campbell, Executive Director of NETWORK, a National Catholic Social Justice Lobby, and Reverend Jim Wallis, CEO of Sojouners, a national Christian organization, for a discussion of how our shared faith can motivate our communities towards social action. And as President Obama prepared for his arrival in Israel today, Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren and the Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg had an interview-style conversation about the itinerary and the US-Israel relationship. These are just a few of the highlights from Plenum, which also included seminars and workshops on social media and Israel advocacy. Plenum delegates also voted to welcome Jewish Women International as our 15th national member agency and approved new resolutions on fair pay for women and the need for comprehensive gun reform.  
Gun Violence Bills Move to Senate Floor 

The Senate is preparing to consider a package of gun violence bills recently approved by the Judiciary committee, including a bill on gun trafficking, universal background checks, a measure to increase school safety, and a ban on assault weapons. Each of these is important to the comprehensive approach we have called for, but already one of these pieces – the assault weapons ban – is facing serious challenges. Sen. Diane Feinstein (CA), the assault weapon ban's sponsor, has said that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (NV) will only allow the bill as an amendment to the gun violence package that will be sent to the floor next month. This is an extra hurdle that will make the ban less likely to pass and weaken the comprehensive approach we have called for. In speaking to the JCPA Plenum last week, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (CT) warned of the uphill battle comprehensive gun violence legislation will face and encouraged each of us to take the lead in building support for this legislation in our states. Join us and take action by encouraging your Senators to support the assault weapons ban, "like" us on Facebook to help spread support and information on gun violence, and if you're on Twitter, send a message to @SenatorReid to ask for a comprehensive #VoteOnGuns.

Anniversary of Buenos Aires Embassy Bombing 
The Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires after the bombing
Last Sunday, March 17, marked the 21st anniversary of the terrorist bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Among the 29 people killed in the attack, widely believed to be the responsibility of Hezbollah, was Deputy Chief of Mission David Ben Raphael. Thus far, no one has been brought to justice. Nor has anyone been brought to justice for the attack that took place two years later in Buenos Aires on the AMIA Jewish community center building that resulted in 85 deaths. The JCPA and others have strongly condemned a so-called "truth commission" recently established by Argentina and Iran, and Interpol is not dropping its arrest warrants for Iranian officials wanted in connection with this atrocity.

You are encouraged to communicate with the Argentinian embassy in Washington, DC and local consulates to urge that authorities continue to investigate both of these terrorist attacks in an effort to bring all the perpetrators to justice.
March 19, 2013
in the news
The Case for Incrementalism: Ahead of President Obama's trip to the Middle East, JCPA's Martin Raffel says the best hope for peace is not all or nothing, but the incremental state-building of PM Fayyad.  
Violence Against Women Act: Last week, President Obama signed an expansive reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, with Jewish leaders, including the JCPA, in attendance.  
Jews and the New Pope: Jewish groups welcomed the selection of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio as Pope Francis. JCPA President Rabbi Steve Gutow said he saw in this Pope the opportunity for deeper cooperation on social justice issues.   
This is Our Homeland: The Baltimore Jewish Times reports on Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren and The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg's conversation about the President's trip to Israel at the JCPA Plenum last week. 
happening now
Hunger Seders: This Wednesday, the 5h annual JCPA/MAZON Hunger Seder mobilization kicks off. With 28 events around the country, including at the US Capitol, the Hunger Seder ties the Passover message of freedom from oppression to the ongoing problem of hunger in our country. 
Monarch in the Middle: Jeffrey Goldberg talks to Jordan's King Abdullah, the most pro-American Arab leader in the Middle East, in this excellent profile in The Atlantic. 
Remember the Triangle Fire: Labor Unions, the NYC Fire Department, the NYC public schools, and others are holding an event in New York to remember the 1911 fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory.   
about us

The Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) is the united voice of the organized Jewish community.

For more than sixty years, the JCPA has identified issues, formulated policy, developed strategies and programs, and given expression to a strongly united Jewish communal voice. JCPA's has an unparalleled capacity to mobilize grassroots activism, through our network of 14 national and 125 local member agencies. The JCPA serves as a catalyst that heightens community awareness, encourages civic and social involvement, and deliberates key issues of importance to the Jewish community.

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Chag Sukkot Sameach, dear friends.