March 17, 2017
Join JAC in Washington May 3-4

JAC Members in Palm Beach with Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)
(l to r: Betsy Sheerr, Debbie Stabenow, Lee Wolf)

Week In Review Commentary
President Donald Trump's newly released budget is an affront to the Jewish values we support as a community. His budget ramps up  military spending in a fashion previously seen only during wars and arms races. His attack on agencies delivers a serious blow to the  protection of our water and air, education of our children, and the work conducted in medical research. A stable, functioning and compassionate society depends on these and other necessary programs.

This budget is proof that Trump assigns no value to the human cost of his policy choices. His budget director stated that there is no proof that low income children need lunch programs or that seniors need Meals-on-Wheels. He has decimated the EPA budget saying that climate change is not real. Critical bio-medical and science research will be nearly crippled. Funding for the humanities and arts has been severely cut. Our nation's parks and recreational areas will also lose federal funding. Trump's goal is to irrevocably change the essence of this country in every way possible, while building up the military.

As a Jewish community, we have always prided ourselves on our strong sense of charity and tikkun olam -- repairing the world. Now we will need to do even more to save this country from the damage being inflicted. We hope you will join with us as we work to elect candidates that share our values and who will fight to protect everyone in our nation.
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Jewish Groups, Pols Say Trump Budget Is Bad for Israel and Other U.S. Interests

Citing the importance to Israel of a robust U.S. posture abroad, Jewish groups decried drastic proposed cuts in foreign assistance funding in President Donald Trump's budget despite assurances that aid to Israel would be unaffected. Israel's guaranteed $3.1 billion defense assistance next year is a "cutout" and not subject to proposed drastic cuts to foreign funding, the Trump administration said.  
Israel's Next Big War

Israel's next big war is almost certainly going to pit it against some combination of Iranian, Syrian and Hezbollah forces along its northern borders with Syria and Lebanon. To be sure, an additional confrontation with Hamas in Gaza could also be in the offing. The reasons have far less to do with the Arab-Israel conflict than with the ongoing civil war in Syria and the continuing confrontation between Iran and Israel. The outcome could result in considerable destruction inside Israel, but also in a strengthening of Israel's burgeoning strategic ties with its Sunni neighbors - Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates - who alongside their reservations on the Palestinian issue share Israel's concerns regarding Iran's aggressive regional ambitions.
U.N. Report: Israel Imposes 'Apartheid Regime' on Palestinians

A U.N. agency published a report accusing Israel of imposing an "apartheid regime" of racial discrimination on the Palestinian people, stating  it was the first time a U.N. body had clearly made the charge.  Israel's Foreign Ministry spokesman likened the report, which was published by the U.N. Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia to a Nazi propaganda publication that was strongly anti-Semitic.  The report concluded, "Israel has established an apartheid regime that dominates the Palestinian people as a whole." The accusation - often directed at Israel by its critics - is fiercely rejected by Israel.   
Continued Reading

The Surge In Anti-Semitism? Here's How to Stop It   

Almost daily accounts of vandalized cemeteries, spray-painted swastikas and bomb threats to Jewish agencies have naturally evoked considerable alarm. Experts on hate crimes agree: Perpetrators are not always caught, and therefore the majority of hate-crime victims may not see the culprits brought to justice. Hate crimes are "message" crimes, the public response is crucial in preventing them from happening again. Words matter. Suggestions for concrete action: the White House should convene a conference on violent extremism and hate crimes; federal security funding for vulnerable religious and other communal institutions must be increased; and the White House should dispel rumors that it plans to eliminate the State Department's special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism.   
What Happened After An Anti-Semitic Bomb Threat At My School

What happens when someone calls a school to say he plans to blow up the building while spouting a vile and sadistic anti-Semitic tirade? The school I lead received such a call. One moment smiling students were entering the campus to begin their week; the next that sense of joy and welcome was shattered and became dread and danger.  The first result was a major disruption and violation of our right to safety and security. Students received emotional shock, parents felt their hearts skip a beat, faculty showed students care and calmness.  But something wonderful and amazing happened -  countless emails, phone calls and letters from concerned citizens and local religious leaders expressing their support for our students and our community. It became clear that those responsible for threats made in hatred had unleashed an outpouring of love and support. 
Continued Reading

The One Thing Every Woman Should Know About AHCA
The American Health Care Act will badly hurt women living in poverty.  Birth control will still covered without a co-pay, however starting in 2020, states can redefine "essential benefits" for Medicare recipients - it's a pretty safe bet to say that poor women will have to start paying for the pill again. This change in birth control coverage is troubling, because poor Americans can least afford to be burdened by unplanned pregnancy. Poor women will lose access to their well-woman exams, STI testing and educational services.  
Millions of Women Don't Have Access to Fertility Treatments in U.S. 

Many Americans deal with fertility issues at some point in their lives, and more than 11% of women seek fertility services.  About 40% of women of reproductive age have limited or no access to assisted reproductive technology (ART).   There are about 510 ART clinics in the US -  442 are in metropolitan areas, leaving women in less-urban areas with few options.  Insurance or employer coverage of fertility treatments is uncommon, and the average cost of an IVF cycle in the U.S. is about $12,400. People who undergo fertility services need more choices in the future.
No, There's No 'War on Men' in Health Care

"What about men having to purchase prenatal care?" Some members of Congress believe forcing men to purchase health insurance that includes maternal care is unfair; it represents what some have characterized as a war on men. In-utero experience of a fetus, especially the mother's nutrition and health behavior, significantly shapes the health status, mental health and cognitive ability of offspring in early life and in adulthood. The in-utero experience of female babies, in particular, has been shown to affect not only their health through to adulthood, but also the health of future generations. Most men seem to realize that helping finance maternity care is the least they can do to thank women for their awesome contribution to the nation's future. However, there are some who are unaware of the research and linkage between maternal care and child health and consider it unjust on moral and libertarian grounds that men help pay for maternity care.    
FDA Nominee Has Fear Mongered About Obamacare's Birth Control Benefit

President Trump announced he would nominate Dr. Scott Gottlieb, who has deep ties to the pharmaceutical industry and has expressed anti-choice views, to head the Food and Drug Administration.  Gottlieb is a resident fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, served as the deputy commissioner for medical and scientific affairs at the FDA under President George W. Bush and sits on the boards of several major pharmaceutical companies. Gottlieb has often attempted to stoke fears about the Obama administration's birth control benefit, falsely claiming that under the Affordable Care Act, women "risk losing far more than they'll gain."  Gottlieb's appointment would accelerate a decades-long trend in which agency leadership make decisions that are aligned with the interests of industry rather than the patient.     
Continued Reading

Bill Would Allow Texas to Refuse Same-Sex Couples, Non-Christians as Foster Parents

On the last day to file bills this legislative session, a conservative Texas state lawmaker combined two hot-button issues into one proposal: child welfare reform and religious freedom. The bill prevents the state from taking any "adverse action" against faith-based religious organizations that refuse to provide services on the basis of "sincerely held religious beliefs." The bill's language is broad and amounts to a thinly veiled attempt to allow foster care providers to refuse to place children with same-sex couples and non-Christians.
Church Police Bill Advances in Senate

An Alabama Senate committee gave quick approval to a bill allowing a church to set up its own police force.  Church administrator said the church, home to a K-12 school and a theological seminary, needed a police force in the age of school shootings.  Similar bills have failed in earlier years. Critics said those bill would have violated church-state separation, while creating a police force that isn't answerable to elected officials.
House Passes Bill To Help Vets With Mental Illness Buy Guns

Objections that 20 veterans a day kill themselves, mostly with guns, did not stop the measure. The House of Representatives passed a bill Thursday to allow thousands of veterans who are disabled or have mental health conditions to buy guns. This is the second major move the GOP has made this year to ensure that people with mental health conditions can buy guns. 
What Is a 'Gun-Free Zone,' and What's Behind the Movement to Get Rid of Them?

Want to prevent the next mass shooting?  Give everyone a gun, allow them to carry it everywhere, and hope they fend off the killer. That's the idea from prominent gun-rights activists and politicians who insist that deadly mass shootings could have been prevented if only the victims had been allowed to bring firearms inside. The argument goes something like this: Places where guns are banned don't just leave people defenseless, they attract shooters intent on killing as many people as possible. In the past decade, states have begun allowing firearms in more places where they were previously banned, including bars, universities, and government buildings. Last year, at least six states passed laws that chipped away at gun-free zones, making it easier to bring guns into schools, churches, and workplaces.  And the movement is growing.  
Defense Secretary Calls Climate Change a National Security Risk

President Trump's Defense Secretary, James Mattis, believes in climate change and recognizes it as a threat. He said the military needs to consider the impact that climate change-related outcomes - such as open water in the Arctic and drought in contentious areas of the world - have on operations. The statement puts Mattis's Defense Department in line with that of the Obama administration.
Continued Reading

Who Wins and Loses in Trump's Proposed Budget

President Trump released a partial outline of his 2018 budget proposing billions of dollars in spending cuts to most government agencies to pay for large increases in military and homeland security spending, resulting in a 1.2 percent cut in discretionary spending over all. The proposal would also eliminate funding for nearly 20 smaller independent agencies, including the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the Legal Services Corporation, which finances legal aid groups.  The E.P.A. is among the hardest-hit agencies calling  for the elimination of about 3,200 staff positions. Trump also wants to scale back on a number of job training programs, including those aimed at helping seniors, disadvantaged young people and unemployed Americans. 
A Radical Plan for remaking U.S. Foreign Policy

The budget offers a concrete manifestation of a president's worldview, and this one makes Trump's crystal clear. The new administration has virtually no interest in maintaining the traditional diplomatic pillars of American foreign policy, like support for the United Nations. Instead, it proposes to reorient American foreign policy around its military might. The proposed increase in defense spending ($54 billion) is larger than the entire proposed State Department budget ($39 billion).
Millennials and Their Boomer Parents Will Be Crushed with New AHCA  

The Obamacare repeal could stretch many young Americans and their aging parents to a financial breaking point. Death and taxes are the only two constants, according to an adage coined by a man who never had to put a relative in a nursing home. But to those who have witnessed a family member get sick and die, death is its own tax. It's something young Americans, loathe to honestly engage with the idea of decline and death, are ill-prepared for. The release of the Congressional Budget Office analysis of the plan drove a stake into the AHCA's heart, at least in the eyes of the public - a staggering 24 million would lose insurance. It's not just the elderly who should be nervous: it's also the younger generations that will be advocating for, caring for, and helping shoulder the cost of elder care. As their parents reached their twilight years, boomers are financing care for both parents and children at the same time.
Gun Lobby to Spend Millions on Neil Gorsuch  

Mitch McConnell made a stunningly honest admission: No Supreme Court nominee would be confirmed without the approval of the National Rifle Association. The NRA is launching a $1 million advertising campaign in support of President Donald Trump's nominee Neil Gorsuch.  The $1 million campaign will place ads across the nation on broadcast, cable and satellite television through March 22 and will reportedly emphasize the impact the Supreme Court has on gun rights.
Continued Reading

Why Nazi War Criminals Are Still Being Tracked Down in the U.S.

The news that Poland will request the extradition of 98-year-old Michael Karkoc, who is believed by authorities to have been a commander of a Nazi-led unit that was responsible for war crimes during World War II, is the latest development to arise from years of questioning about the Minnesota man's past.  It is also a fresh reminder that the hunt to find and prosecute the perpetrators of the war crimes of that era, the period that gave the world the word genocide, is ongoing - including within the United States. 
Continued Reading

The Last Word
"(With foreign aid budget cuts), we cede the role as the world's champion of democracy, freedom and justice. And what happens then? Who steps into the void? Probably a country that doesn't share our values or priorities. Think Russia or some other country like that."

Rep. Eliot Engel (NY-16)
Ranking Member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee

JAC Annual Meeting 2017
May 3-4
Washington, DC
(Hotel rooms are going fast. Register today.)

JAC II Event
April 26th
Detroit Area
Details to follow
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.
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