December 8, 2017
JAC met with Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) in Chicago this week to discuss recent developments in Israel. (l to r: Anne Oppenheimer, Hollis Wein, Sen. Kaine, Marcia Balonick)
JAC members met with Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) in Philadelphia to discuss current legislation. (l to r: Betsy Sheerr, Sen. Heitkamp, Jill Zipin)
Week In Review Commentary
Will President Trump's decision to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem 
re-energize the peace process or heighten tensions in a region that teeters on the brink of instability at a moment's notice? The Jewish community is split on the impact this decision will have on Israel and its neighbors.

JAC's concern and main priority is that the U.S.-Israel relationship remains bipartisan and steadfast. We cannot let this change U.S. policy. Neither can we allow this extremely emotional issue divide us nor hinder our ability to continue to strengthen the important bonds between our two countries.

Israel has always been a staunch ally of the U.S. We not only enjoy shared values, but also mutual security and economic interests with Israel. They are also a strong partner in the war against terror. Therefore it is critical that we continue to support candidates who will further our partnership with Israel, such as Rep. Jacky Rosen (D-NV), who is running for the Senate, and Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Bob Casey (D-PA) and others.

JAC's core issue is a strong, bipartisan U.S.-Israel relationship, even if there is a difference in approaches to policy.

The road to peace has been bumpy, trying and frustrating. But it will be up to Israelis and the Palestinians to create a solution that meets the needs of both peoples and that will lead to two independent states. The ultimate goal will be to ensure that Israel will remain a democratic and Jewish state with safe and secure borders. We must continue to work toward that goal regardless.

Also, moving the embassy cannot distract from the increasing security challenges facing Israel. There is the growing threat of Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Syrian civil war and Russia's and Iran's growing presence there, and uncertainty in Saudi Arabia.

In other news this week, JAC-friend Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) announced his resignation from the Senate amidst allegations of misconduct. Throughout his term in the Senate, Franken consistently advocated for JAC's issues. He also helped raise awareness about violence against women and helped to pass the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. JAC was always honored to meet with Franken during our visits to Washington, DC.

At JAC, we strive to provide you with a wide range of information regarding important issues such as this. We will continue to update you on the embassy move and other issues impacting the Jewish community. Please feel free to contact us with questions or comments.

Elections matter. Please support JAC and our candidates.
Take Action
House and Senate are Meeting to Finalize Tax Bill
Call Your Senators and Represenative
Tell Them to OPPOSE: 
  • Anti-Choice (Personhood) Language in the Tax Bill
  • Cuts in Medicare
  • Eliminating Medical Deductions
  • Eliminating Higher Education Tax Benefits
Trump, Israel and the Art of the Giveaway
Israeli government since its founding has craved recognition of Jerusalem as its capital by the United States. And every U.S. government has refrained from doing that, arguing that such a recognition should come only in the wake of an agreed final status peace accord between Israelis and Palestinians - until now. Today, Trump just gave it away - for free. Such a deal! 
Why Declaring Jerusalem the Capital of Israel Is So Controversial

The final status of Jerusalem has always been one of the most difficult and sensitive questions in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. For years, U.S. policy has been to avoid declaring Jerusalem the capital of Israel in the absence of an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, as the Palestinians also claim Jerusalem as their capital. It was argued that a unilateral decision would break with international consensus and prejudge an issue that was supposed to be left to negotiations.
Does Trump Have 'A Full Understanding' of His New Israel Policy?

Ordinarily when a president announces a shift in foreign policy he'll explain why the change advances U.S. interests. Several advisers said he did not seem to have a full understanding of the issue.  
House Passes Taylor Force Act Targeting Palestinian Funding for Killers of Israelis

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill overwhelmingly that would reduce U.S. funding for the Palestinians unless their official bodies stop subsidizing families of killers of Israelis. The Taylor Force Act, named for an American stabbed to death in Tel Aviv in 2016, would cut funding for all but a handful of humanitarian enterprises. This bill also would leave in place funding for Palestinian security forces, which Israel's security establishment credit for keeping the West Bank quiet. The Senate is considering an identical bill.  
Continued Reading

Anti-Abortion Language in the Tax Bill Was Taken Out - It Could Come Back
Abortion rights advocates were horrified to learn that the GOP Tax Reform Bill would legalize the ability to save up for a fetus' or "unborn child's" college funds. The  bill continues "nothing shall prevent an unborn child from being treated as a designated beneficiary or an individual under this section."  Although Roe v. Wade states a fetus is not a person, personhood language is frequently used to dangerously hurt the rights of women seeking safe reproductive health care.
Abortion Rates Hit New Low as Birthrates Fall

The number of abortions performed in the United States has fallen to the lowest levels since the Supreme Court's landmark Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, according to new federal government data that also found rates and ratios of abortions hitting new lows. Experts on both sides of the abortion debate pointed to a simultaneous decline in the birthrate, a long-term trend that has accelerated in recent years.
Court of Public Opinion Weighs Trump's Birth Control Benefit Rollback

Public comments on the Trump administration's undermining of widely guaranteed access to contraception without a co-pay poured into the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) by Tuesday's deadline. The majority of the general public, across party lines and  various polls, consistently support Obamacare's birth control benefit. With virulently anti-choice HHS officials at the helm, the administration provided religious and moral cover for any employer or university to opt out of covering contraception in their health insurance offerings. 
Continued Reading

God's Plan for Mike Pence 

Pence's presence in the White House has been a boon for the religious right. Across the country Evangelical leaders point to his record on abortion and religious freedom. They liken him to a prophet restoring conservative Christianity to its rightful place at the center of American life.  Pence's fundamentalist faith and comparative political savvy would make him an even more "dangerous" president than Trump. He has been branded a "theocrat" and a "Christian supremacist."
The Supreme Court Seems to Be Leaning in Favor of The Baker in the 'Gay Wedding Cake' Case
Analysis of the oral arguments suggests that the swing vote is leaning towards a baker at the center of the case.  The four liberal judges will side with the same-sex couple, four conservative judges will side with the baker. Justice Anthony Kennedy made it clear he was inclined to view compelling the bakery to create a same-sex wedding cake as an infringement of their religious freedom.
Scott Pruitt's Year of Environmental Destruction

As Scott Pruitt ends his first year as head of the Environmental Protection Agency year, he's amassed a stunning record of powwows with corporate chiefs, ideological groups, and conservative public officials.  And he's doing his darndest to roll back almost any public health and environmental protection he apparently finds troublesome - clean air, water, land and environmental safeguards that have taken years, even decades to build up. And no rollback, rescission or repeal is off limits.
House Passes Concealed Carry Gun Bill
Two months after the deadliest shooting in modern U.S. history, the House passed legislation that would allow people to use permits for carrying concealed handguns across state lines while also boosting the background check system.  The gun policy measures were originally two separate bills. But House GOP leaders opted to combine them so that lawmakers only had to cast one vote.  Attaching the concealed-carry reciprocity measure puts the bipartisan measure to beef up background checks in jeopardy in the Senate. 
Minnesota Senate Race Leans Democratic, but Republicans Have a Real Shot

Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton will appoint a replacement (possibly Lt. Gov. Tina Smith) who will hold the seat through the 2018 midterm elections. In 2018, a special election will take place to determine who will hold the seat until the regularly scheduled election in 2020. If Democrats can select a candidate who is able to separate her- or himself from Franken's brand, she or he will probably have a better shot than a generic Democrat. On the other hand, if the Republicans choose a strong candidate, she or he may be able to capitalize on residual anger against Franken, whose approval rating plummeted following the allegations made against him. 
The Do-or-Die Election of 2018 

Every presidential election is routinely called "the most important election" in history, however the 2018 midterm election makes a stronger case for a superlative label. Republican majorities aren't posing any serious obstacle to presidential lawlessness. According to political scientists, in his brief presidential tenure Trump has already "defied, ignored, or shredded the whole previous system of norms about avoiding financial conflicts of interest and the use of public office for private enrichment."
Read Full Article
Bipartisan Bill Eliminating Arbitration Would Break Silence in Sexual Harassment Cases

A bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced legislation that would eliminate forced arbitration clauses in employment agreements that advocates say silence women in sexual harassment and gender discrimination cases. Arbitration clauses, often a condition of employment, affect an estimated 60 million Americans. Voiding these clauses in sexual harassment and discrimination cases would aid victims and pull back the veil of secrecy on bad behavior in the workplace.
Read Full Article
Why Jewish Groups Aren't Thrilled About the Upcoming Tax Overhaul 

Staring at a massive defeat, Jewish groups dealing with social safety net issues are looking at the tax plan about to reach its final stages in Congress and hoping they can snatch a few small victories.  The hope is that lawmakers, in reconciling the bills preserve a number of elements of the Senate bill, particularly deductions for medical expenses.
Read Full Article
Continued Reading
Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks Unite to Save the Free Press in America 

Hollywood's two most revered superstars come together in Steven Spielberg's rousing celebration of the free press and warning about our country's Trumpian future.
Adolf Hitler's Neighbor Was a Jewish Boy.  Now He's Telling His Story   

Every kid grows up with a mean neighbor; for Eric Feuchtwanger that neighbor would eventually be responsible for the systematic genocide of six million Jews. The boy is now 93-and likely one of the last surviving humans to have lived in close proximity to Hitler. Feuchtwanger's book, Hitler, My Neighbor: Memories of a Jewish Childhood, 1929-1939, chronicles his 10 years of living alongside a man who would become the modern definition of evil.
The Last Word

"If we truly want to end sexual harassment in the workplace, we need to eliminate the institutionalized protections that have allowed this unacceptable behavior to continue for too long." 

Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-IL) announcing legislation: The Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Harassment Act of 2017.

JAC 2018 Annual Meeting
Washington, D.C.
Tuesday, March 13th - Wednesday, March 14th, 2018
Special Pre-Conference VIP Tour
Monday, March 12th, 2018
Smithsonian Institution
National Museum of African American History and Culture

  Talking Points with
Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL)

Monday, December 11th
9:15 - 10:45 am
Riverwoods, IL

Joint Action Committee for Political Affairs (JACPAC) is a pro-Israel PAC with a domestic agenda. We support a strong U.S.-Israel relationship and advocate for reproductive health and the separation of religion and state and incorporate other issues of importance to the Jewish community, including gun violence prevention and climate change. In addition to providing financial support for U.S. Senate and House campaigns, JACPAC educates our membership with outreach events designed to inform and activate their participation in the political process.
Federal law requires political committees to report the name, mailing address, occupation and employer for each individual who contributed to JACPAC. Maximum contribution per person may not exceed $5,000 per calendar year. According to law, JACPAC cannot accept corporate contributions. Membership, gifts, or other payments to JACPAC are not deductible as charitable contributions for federal income tax purposes.