March 24, 2017
Join JAC in Washington May 3-4

JAC's Lois Frank delivering support to John Ossoff, candidate for GA-6.
Week In Review Commentary
There were no surprises nor illuminating moments during Neil Gorsuch's Supreme Court hearing this week. But don't be fooled. President Donald Trump nominated Gorsuch to be a smooth-talking advocate on the bench for a far-right ideology. If Gorsuch is appointed, he will unravel the social, economic, and political progress our country has made over the past 100 years. He could be the decisive vote shifting the Supreme Court to the right for generations on issues ranging from civil rights to corporate power to women's rights.

Gorsuch, who has ruled against Planned Parenthood, will play a pivotal role in trying to overturn Roe v Wade - the main reason Trump selected him. Gorsuch argued in favor of allowing bosses to deny their employees birth control coverage ( Hobby Lobby) and wrote that he would have gone even further. He will be a strong voice on the court limiting women's reproductive freedoms. Just as frightening, all three branches of our government could be dominated by extreme, anti-choice ideologues.

He has a well-documented record of voting against the rights of women, workers, children with disabilities, and LGBTQ individuals. Clearly, Gorsuch is on the side of special interests and big money, not on the side of everyday Americans.

Keep the pressure on your Senators. Call them and urge them to vote NO on the Gorsuch nomination. There is too much at stake with our rights and liberty to allow Gorsuch to have a lifetime seat on the nation's highest court.

Click here for more information on Neil Gorsuch.

Join with JAC as we work to stop this dangerous appointment.

Source: Nan Aron, president Alliance for Justice
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U.S.-Israeli Talks Conclude with No Agreement on Settlements

The White House expressed its "concerns" with settlement construction after talks with senior Israeli officials in Washington ended Thursday night with a joint statement showing the two governments unable to agree on a settlement policy that could pave the way to peace talks resuming.   
Deeply Divided Senate Confirms David Friedman as Envoy to Israel

The U.S. Senate confirmed David Friedman, a confidante of President Donald Trump who outraged some Jewish groups with his broadsides against liberal Jews, as ambassador to Israel. The 52-46 vote on Thursday afternoon hewed mostly to party lines. Only two Democrats - Sens. Robert Menendez of New Jersey and Joe Manchin of West Virginia - backed the nomination among the 48 senators who caucus with the party.
U.S. Boycotts U.N. Rights Council Debate on Israel, Palestinians

The United States boycotted a Human Rights Council session focusing on Palestinian areas, saying the regular review shows the council's "long-standing bias against Israel" that threatens the credibility of the U.N.-supported body.  Israel is the only country that faces an examination of its rights record at every one of the council's three sessions each year under a standing agenda item - known as Item 7 - on "Palestine and other occupied Arab territories."   U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, denounced how Israel was the only country that is a permanent fixture on the 47-member body's calendar.
Analysis Israel-Syria Clash: With Missile Fire, Assad Is Trying to Change the Rules of the Game

The serious exchange of missile fire between Israel and Syria last week reflects the Assad regime's attempts to change the unofficial rules of the game. Israel's relative military advantage over Syria is clear, and it's doubtful whether Damascus is interested in dragging Israel into a war - one that from its perspective would wipe out all the achievements the regime has chalked up in recent months.
Continued Reading

JCC Bomb Threat Suspect, Named Michael Kaydar, Reportedly Used Bitcoin, Google Voice      

The Israeli-American teenager suspected of perpetrating more than 100 bomb threats against Jewish institutions used technologies including Google Voice, a call forwarding service, and Bitcoin, a digital currency, to make the threats. He also is accused of a series of threats made in Europe, Australia and New Zealand in the past six months, according to reports in Israel, and is reported to have called in threats to the Israel Police two months ago regarding Israeli educational institutions.   
Trump Immigration Lawyer On Travel Ban: "What Happens to Muslims Can Happen To Jews"     

While Trump's revised travel ban is 'miles away' from its original version, it is still 'not a good reflection' of the United States.  Immigration attorney Michael Wildes, who has represented Trump for years, said  "If we have a problem we shouldn't be picking on six countries to make our point, we should be doing it across the board."       
Jewish Groups Urge Congress to Preserve Anti-Semitism Monitor

Representatives from several Jewish defense groups made the case for preserving the special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism. A report last month said that Trump's administration was planning to scrap the position. Speakers suggested - sometimes gently, sometimes less so - that Trump's team needed to exhibit more sensitivity to the issue of anti-Semitism.  
Continued Reading

Bill Would Make Abortion Pill Available at State College Campuses
The abortion pill would be on hand at virtually every public college in California under legislation introduced in the state Senate.  The bill's inception comes amid renewed attempts to slash funding for Planned Parenthood, which would no longer receive Medicaid reimbursements under the Republican-backed American Health Care Act.  State Sen. Connie Leyva, D-Chino, who put forth the bill, said "Women in 2017 shouldn't be fighting for access to their bodies."   
Beyond Roe v. Wade: Here's What Gorsuch Means for Abortion

The ruling that advocates on both sides of the abortion debate should be focusing on isn't Roe v. Wade, but its revision - Planned Parenthood v. Casey. In Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court found that a woman's decision to keep or terminate a pregnancy was her own to make, in consultation with her medical provider, and was legally protected by a right to privacy. The issue in the 1992 Supreme Court case, Planned Parenthood v. Casey was a Pennsylvania law that required that doctors inform patients seeking abortions of any "risks and alternatives," that parents be notified of a minor's abortion and spouses be notified of a wife's abortion.
HHS Hires Former Lawmaker Who Peddled Misinformation About Abortion

Former U.S. Rep. John Fleming (R-LA), who notoriously cited an article from a satirical site in order to criticize Planned Parenthood, has accepted a position at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as deputy assistant secretary for health technology. While in Congress, Fleming was a member of the House Freedom Caucus, a group of ultra-conservative lawmakers seeking to push the Republican Party further to the right. He co-sponsored numerous anti-choice measures, including the U.S. House of Representative's 20-week abortion ban predicated on the dubious claim that a fetus feels pain at that point in a pregnancy.
Continued Reading

Neil Gorsuch's Own Faith Is a Poor Predictor of How He Would Judge Religious Issues

Judge Gorsuch has a notably strong record on one controversial subject, that being on church-state matters. His rulings have generally supported a more "accommodationist" approach to resolving church-state controversies, a position advocated by religious conservatives. During the White House announcement ceremony for his nomination, Gorsuch remarked that he was "thankful for my family, my friends, and my faith."  His statement raises the question of whether a judge is influenced to rule a particular way on church-state controversies by his or her religious faith. 
Americans Spent an Estimated $17 Billion on Ammunition While Obama Was President

The eight years Obama served as president were a boom time for the gun industry. Obama's consistent and futile efforts to introduce new regulations restricting gun sales were whipped into rhetoric about imminent crackdowns on gun ownership - rhetoric that predated Obama's election, much less his policy efforts.  There's been some indication that gun sales have receded in the wake of Trump's election. The go-to metric for gun sales is the number of federal background checks completed during a month.  During the administrations of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, Americans spent an estimated $21.1 billion and $22.9 billion in 2016 dollars on guns and ammunition, respectively. Under Obama, Americans spent more than that total combined. 
Most Americans Disagree With Their Congressional Representative on Climate Change

According to new research from the Center for American Progress Action Fund, more than six in ten Americans are represented by someone in Congress who denies the reality of climate change.  The general public is way ahead of Congress - a recent poll found that 76 percent of Americans said they believed global climate change is occurring. Climate deniers have received $80,453,861 from dirty energy companies in the coal, oil, and gas industries. Researchers classify a denier as any lawmaker who has questioned or denied the scientific consensus behind human-caused climate change, individuals who answered climate questions with the "I'm not a scientist" dodge, those who claimed the climate is always changing, and individuals who questioned the extent to which human beings contribute to global climate change.  
As Trump Administration Grants Approval for Keystone XL Pipeline, an Old Fight Is Reignited

President Trump announced Friday morning the granting of a permit for construction of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, calling it "the first of many infrastructure projects" that he would approve in order to put more Americans to work.
Continued Reading

Amid Charges By Former Law Student on Gender Equality, Former Clerks Defend Gorsuch
A former law student of Judge Neil Gorsuch, alleges that in a course she took from Gorsuch at the University of Colorado Law School last year, the judge told his class that employers should ask women seeking jobs about their plans for having children and implied that women manipulate companies starting in the interview stage to extract maternity benefits.
While Gorsuch was Testifying, the Supreme Court Unanimously Said He Was Wrong
When Neil Gorsuch began his second day of testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, all eight of the justices said a major disability decision Gorsuch wrote in 2008 was wrong.  Both the Supreme Court's decision and Gorsuch's  opinion involved the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which require public school systems  take certain federal funds to provide a "free appropriate public education" to students with disabilities.
Al Franken's Grilling of Gorsuch Exposes the Heartless Cruelty Behind Conservative Legal Philosophy
Sen. Franken exposed the utter absurdity of an elaborate legal fiction that conservatives have spent decades constructing. It happened so quickly, and Franken's manner - as usual - was so understated, that it was easy to miss the significance of what happened. But the nation cannot afford to let that happen. The point Franken was making was far too critical to let it pass by unnoticed. Franken's questioning concerned the notorious "frozen trucker" case,
TransAm Trucking v. Dept. of Labor.  As summarized by the court, in January 2009,  Alphonse Maddin was transporting cargo through Illinois when the brakes on his trailer froze because of subzero temperatures.
Paul Ryan Just Canceled the House Health Bill Vote in a Major Defeat for President Trump

"First you get the votes, then you take the vote," the Washington saying goes. Paul Ryan failed to get the votes for his health bill. So he's not taking the vote. Republican leaders told members of Congress Friday that the House vote on the American Health Care Act, which President Donald Trump demanded for Friday, will not in fact happen.
Donald Trump's Approval Rating Among U.S. Jews in 31 Percent

President Donald Trump's approval rating among Jews is 11 percent lower than the president's overall approval rating.  Jews appear to be reacting to Trump along party lines - some 64 percent of Jews identify with or lean toward the Democratic Party and 29 percent identify with or lean toward the Republican Party.  Gallup points out that Trump has sent "mixed signals to American Jews about their position in the country and his administration's stance toward Israel." Among the issues was his administration's perceived delay in denouncing a pronounced wave of anti-Semitism and failing to mention Jews in the administration's International Holocaust Remembrance Day statement. 
How Trump Could Change America: President Could Appoint Dozens of Federal Judges

President Trump could fill dozens of judicial seats, including several Supreme Court vacancies, during his  administration. That means Trump, who has the lowest approval rating of any incoming president, stands to wield unprecedented influence over the nation's judiciary branch and the rulings it will make for decades to come. Judges named to lifetime appointments under Trump could have a say over state gun control laws, abortion access, voter laws and immigration reform policies. 
A Jewish Candidate Give Democrats Hope in Atlanta's Suburbs  

It's politics as usual in Georgia, except that three candidates among the 18 running are Jewish. Race figures prominently in this election in the Atlanta suburbs, as does traditional values (one candidate is prominent in the right-to-life movement). But all politics is local - attracting jobs to the district and improving mass transit are major campaign themes. The election is atypical, however, in two ways: Democrats see it as their first opportunity to wound President Trump, and the presence of the Jewish candidates, notably Jon Ossoff, 30 years old, a Democrat attracting national media attention as the likeliest to pull off an upset.  
Ivanka Is Where Feminism Goes to Die

Ivanka Trump wants the public to buy her being both feminist and not a feminist at once; she is Schrödinger's feminist. She poses for girl power photo-ops, but doesn't speak up for the women's health care that's on the chopping block in the potential ACA repeal. Her brand's tagline is Women Who Work, but she doesn't fight for a living wage for all female workers and manufactures her clothing overseas in countries where workers are often mistreated. She's proud to be a wife and mother, but hasn't made a peep about this country's disgraceful maternal mortality rate, especially among women of color. 
Continued Reading

Prague's Synagogue Gets First New Torah Scrolls Since World War II

The  medieval Old-New Synagogue of Prague received two new Torah scrolls, the first ones since World War Two shattered the country's once-thriving Jewish community.  The Torahs, funded by donations to the Prague Jewish community, were written in Israel and brought into the synagogue in a ceremony that included scripting of the final letters by guests and members of the community, and a street dance.  Before WWII, there were about 125,000 Jews living in what is now the Czech Republic. About 80,000 were killed during the war and approximately 20,000 live there now.
Jewish Senate Candidate Jason Kander Hilariously Schools Neo-Nazi Richard Spencer on Musical Theater

A white supremacist unironically tweeted a clip from the 1972 Bob Fosse-directed musical film Cabaret, in which an angelic faced youth leads the denizens of a Berlin beer garden in a  singalong with the refrain "Tomorrow Belongs To Me." The youth raises his hand in a stiff-armed gesture, and the camera  reveals his swastika. So like I said, I've been expecting some idiot neo-Nazi to not understand the intent of the satirical song and to share it with his followers for some time. I just didn't expect it would be the current neo-Nazi in Chief, the indomitable Richard Spencer. And I certainly didn't expect that he would get so immediately and hilariously owned by Missouri Democratic senatorial candidate/war hero Jason Kander, who took it upon himself to point out to Spencer that the song he was touting as a prophecy of America's brave and racially pure future was written by his uncle, the legendary musical theater composer John Kander. 
The Last Word
"Today was not the end of the war. We must continue to stand steadfast against GOP attacks on Americans' health care."

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA-12)
JAC Annual Meeting 2017
May 3-4
Washington, DC
(Hotel rooms are going fast. Register today.)

An Evening with
Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL
March 30th
Chicago, IL

Lunch with
Senator Bob Casey (D-PA)
April 21
Philadelphia, PA
call JAC office for details

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.
Paid for by Joint Action Committee for Political Affairs. Contributions or gifts are not tax deductible. Contributions may total up to $5400 per individual ($2700 for the primary election, and $2700 for the general election). Federal law requires us to use our best efforts to collect and report the name, mailing address, occupation, and name of employer of individuals whose contributions exceed $200 in an election cycle. Corporate contributions and contributions from non-US citizens who are not lawfully admitted for permanent residence are prohibited. All contributions by individuals must be made from personal funds and may not be reimbursed or paid by another person.