Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew at the 2014 American Israel Public Affair Committee Policy Conference
The reason we are all here is because for more than 40 years, AIPAC has been the indispensable leader in keeping the alliance between the United States and Israel unbreakable. And you have done that through your powerful example of advocacy and activism-you make your voices heard, you take your case to your representatives here in Washington, and you stand up for what you believe in. This is not just your right as Americans. It is your responsibility. It is the essence of our democratic system.
And as everyone here recognizes, the future of the United States is tied to the future of Israel. This is something that every President since Harry Truman has understood.
Secretary of State John Kerry at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee Conference
Today, as Israel faces serious challenges to her future, it is America that will stand firmly by her side.
I will tell you that with the leadership of President Obama — and you can look it up, you can measure it; this is not an exaggeration, it's a matter of fact — there has been a complete, unmatched commitment to Israel's security. The record of this Administration in providing aid and assistance, consultation, weapons, help, standing up in various international fora, fighting, I am proud to tell you, is unrivaled. And the bottom line, pure and simple, has been making sure that Israel has the means to defend itself by itself and defending Israel's right to be able to do so. That is what we've done.
Security. Security is fundamentally what President Obama is committed to. And so too is he committed to using the full force of our diplomacy to resolve the two great questions that most matter when it comes to ensuring the security of Israel: preventing a nuclear Iran and ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Earlier this week, undercover police in northwestern Iowa busted a man for illegally trying to get a handgun on Facebook.
As a convicted felon, the suspect wasn't allowed to own or buy guns. And Iowa law blocked him from buying handguns without getting a background check and a purchase permit. So he turned to his next best option — Facebook — where users can buy and trade guns with zero oversight.
The top 1 percent of Pennsylvania earners took home more than half the total increase in income over the past 30 years, and saw more than 10 times as much growth in income as the bottom 99 percent, a new report from the Economic Analysis Research Network (EARN) found.
The report findings reinforce the need for a new policy direction in Harrisburg and Washington, D.C. to restore broadly shared prosperity and widespread opportunity, including a much-needed increase in the minimum wage.
Students write letters of appreciation and encouragement to soldiers presently serving in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), and Connections Israel delivers the letters on Purim together with Mishloach Manot. The letters are a way for us to feel personally involved with the soldiers, and the soldiers really appreciate knowing that they have our support and gratitude.
The wife of a Reform rabbi, Adler left a career in law to pursue a calling in nonprofit fundraising and management. She currently serves as president and CEO of United Way in Westchester and Putnam counties in New York, a post she has held since 2008.
Though new to Philadelphia area, home to an estimated 214,000 Jews, Adler said she was honored, and excited at the idea of moving her family.
"I am extremely excited to partner with our leadership to set a vision for the future as this work is essential to so many in the community," she said in a prepared statement.
Adler will reportedly take over Federation in early May.
This article originally appeared at forward.com, February 3, 2014.
Reproduced from here by permission of the Forward.
Update: Daylin Leach garnered the official endorsement today of the 16,000 MoveOn members in Pennsylvania's 13th district with the support of over 55% of MoveOn members.
Official campaign video.
— by David S. Broida, William Epstein, Burt Siegel and Jill Zipin (steering committee of Democratic Jewish Outreach Pennsylvania)
State Senator Daylin Leach is the candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives in Pennsylvania's 13th congressional district who best reflects democratic as well as Jewish values. Senator Leach's long and unwavering record of support of women and families is well known, and he will continue to work to uphold and defend the civil rights of all people.
He supports increased funding for our public schools as he believes all children need and deserve a good education. He understands, as do we, that the path to economic prosperity lies in providing our children with the best education possible.
The President's agenda — environmental responsibility, protection of voting rights, educational excellence, immigration reforms and financial security for all — speaks to the proactive values the Jewish community embraces, especially providing a livable minimum wage and pursuing gender equality in the marketplace.
The National Jewish Democratic Council's will promote the values espoused by the President, with particular emphasis on promoting the landmark Affordable Care Act.
Last, but certainly not least, NJDC is grateful for the continued bi-partisan support for the State of Israel. Once again, the Administration has been explicit about supporting Israel's security and essential national character.
Complete transcript of President Obama's 2014 State of the Union Address follows the jump.
Ariel Sharon's journey was Israel's journey. The dream of Israel was the cause of his life, and he risked it all to live that dream.
I remember reading about Arik in the papers when I was a young lawyer in Boston and marveling at his commitment to cause and country.
I will never forget meeting with this big bear of a man when he became prime minister, as he sought to bend the course of history toward peace, even as it meant testing the patience of his own longtime supporters and the limits of his own, lifelong convictions in the process.
He was prepared to make tough decisions because he knew that his responsibility to his people was both to ensure their security and to give every chance to the hope that they could live in peace.
During his years in politics, it is no secret that there were times the U.S. had differences with him. But whether you agreed or disagreed with his positions — and Arik was always crystal clear about where he stood — you admired the man who was determined to ensure the security and survival of the Jewish State.
In his final years as prime minister, he surprised many in his pursuit of peace, and today, we all recognize, as he did, that Israel must be strong to make peace, and that peace will also make Israel stronger. We honor Arik's legacy and those of Israel's founding generation by working to achieve that goal.
Arik is finally at rest, and all of us in the U.S. pray along with his sons, Gilad and Omri, the Sharon family, and all the people of Israel. Our nation shares your loss and honors Ariel Sharon's memory.
The estimate of the Jewish population in all Congressional Districts is 6,735,830, approximately 2.18% of the total U.S. population. This estimate is consistent with the 6.7 million Jewish persons reported in the 2013 Pew Research Center Portrait of Jewish Americans....
The American Jewish population is simultaneously more densely clustered geographically than the overall American population and very geographically diverse — at least a few Jews live in every one of the 436 CDs. Half of all American Jews live in just 37 CDs, and 93 CDs contain three-quarters of all Jews. In contrast, the 266 districts with the fewest Jews collectively have only 10% of the Jewish population. The most-Jewish district, New York's 10th, has as many Jews (197,000) as the 170 least-Jewish CDs combined.
There are 13 CDs with 100,000 or more Jews, nine in New York and two each in California and Florida — the three states with the highest total Jewish populations. In general, the most-Jewish CDs are in the northeastern states, California, Florida, and a few other large urban areas such as Chicago and Atlanta. The least-Jewish CDs are mostly in the rural parts of southern states.
Pennsylvania's 13th Congressional District has the most Jews in the state and is ranked 24th nationally while the 3rd, 5th and 9th District have only 1000 Jews.
Where is the Jewish vote the most decisive?
There are 27 Congressional Districts in which the Jewish population exceeded the margin of victory in the 2012 Congressional election. Heading the list is:
Illinois' 10th Congressional District whose 76,500 Jews (10.73% of the population) is about 23 times the 3,326 vote margin by which Democratic challenger Brad Schneider defeated Republican incumbent Robert Dold.
Florida's 32th Congressional District whose 32,000 Jews (4.60% of the population) is about 17 times the 1,904 vote margin by which Democratic challenger Patrick Murphy defeated Republican incumbent Allen West.
New York's 11th Congressional District whose 129,000 Jews (17.97% of the population) is about 12 times the 10,688 vote margin by which Republican incumbent Michael Grimm defeated Democratic challenger Mark Murphy.
In a letter to the president of the American Studies Association (ASA), Curtis Marez, Pennsylvania State Senator Daylin Leach (D., Montgomery County) attacked the boycott of Israeli institutions by the Association.
In the letter, that will be publicly released tomorrow (Tuesday), Leach wrote, "you did not issue a statement criticizing a particular practice of the Jewish State; you singled out Israel for an alleged widespread systematic abuse of human rights.
"Among the countries you have not chosen to boycott are Iran, China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Sudan and even North Korea, which apparently just executed a former government official on the day of his 'trial' by feeding him to a pack of starved wild dogs."
Dear Mr. Marez,
As a former college professor and current Pennsylvania State Senator and member of the Senate Education Committee, I was disappointed (although, sadly, not surprised) to learn of the American Studies Association (ASA)'s decision to boycott academic establishments in Israel.
It is my view that this decision is misguided, irrational, and a slap in the face to the very concept of academic freedom.
Cohen and Olitzky show how we can boost the Jewish population by eliminating the conversion requirement. In this way, those who are "atheists, agnostic, secular, or even committed to another faith tradition" can become members of the tribe. Instead,
Candidates would be encouraged to sample a variety of areas of Jewish civilization - such as politics, literature, music, comedy, social action, learning, organized community, Israel and texts - and to achieve a level of familiarity with and competence in participating in American Jewish life.
For those who come to desire official recognition, there could be a public ceremony and a certificate of membership in the Jewish people. Jewish cultural experts ... would constitute boards that would oversee the program and would attest to the validity of the affirmation.
Republicans control 13 of Pennsylvania's 18 Congressional Districts:Alternative map, drawn by State Senator Daylin Leach, gives Democrats control of 13 districts:
As a democracy, we are proud of our electoral system: We assume that citizens, through their vote, wield the ultimate power over our government and determine who shall represent them.
However, this is not the case in reality. Rather, legislatures, through their redistricting authority, draw electoral maps specifically engineered to re-elect themselves and their colleagues.
In 2012, the majority of Pennsylvanians (50.24%) voted for Democratic candidates for Congress while 48.74% who voted for Republicans, and 1.02% who voted for other candidates.
However, Democratic candidates prevailed in only five of the 18 congressional districts: Bob Brady and Chaka Fattah in Philadelphia, Mike Doyle in Pittsburgh, Allyson Schwartz in the Philadelphia suburbs, and Matt Cartwright in northeastern Pennsylvania.
By forcing the Democratic voters to "waste" votes in districts where they are a super-majority, the Republican politicians are able to construct 13 districts with sensible Republican majorities.
Conversely, Democratic seats in other Democratic strongholds such as Harrisburg and the Pittsburgh suburbs were prevented by cracking those areas into pieces and diluting them with outlying areas that lean Republican.
In other words, voters do not choose the representatives who share their values; rather, the legislators wielding their pens choose the constituents whose support they can count on in the voting booth.
The rest of the article, and TED Talk by State Sen. Daylin Leach, follow the jump.
By signing up, you pledge to keep your resolution to exercise more. The program's sponsors will then contribute $1 to hunger relief for every 1,000 calories you burn, as measured by your calorie tracker device.
If you do your exercises well and keep your New Year's resolution, you will be doing good in two ways at the same time: fighting both hunger and obesity.
Mayor Michael A. Nutter received a letter from Avigdor Liberman, Israel's Minister of Foreign Affairs, informing him that Israel's Consulate General in Philadelphia will remain open.
It had been reported previously that a decision to close the Consulate General was under consideration. The letter was personally delivered to Mayor Nutter by Yaron Sideman, Consul General of Israel to the Mid-Atlantic Region, at a board meeting of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia.
President Obama mourned today the former South African president, Nelson Mandela, at the national memorial service at First National Bank Stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa:
In the arc of his life, we see a man who earned his place in history through struggle and shrewdness, and persistence and faith. He tells us what is possible not just in the pages of history books, but in our own lives as well.
Mandela showed us the power of action; of taking risks on behalf of our ideals. Perhaps Mandela was right that he inherited, "a proud rebelliousness, a stubborn sense of fairness" from his father.
And we know he shared with millions of black and colored South Africans the anger born of, "a thousand slights, a thousand indignities, a thousand unremembered moments... a desire to fight the system that imprisoned my people," he said.
— by Jason Furman, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers
With solid job growth in November — in addition to strong data on manufacturing activity and auto sales — it is clear that the recovery continues to gain traction.
Today's report was yet another reminder of the resilience of America's private sector following the disruptive government shutdown and debt limit brinkmanship in the first half of October.
Nevertheless, today's jobs numbers show that too many Americans who have been unemployed for 27 weeks or longer are still struggling to find jobs.
That is why the President is calling on Congress to pass the extension of emergency unemployment insurance before it expires at the end of the year, just like they have always done when long-term unemployment remains elevated.
The President also continues to work to increase overall growth while ensuring that growth is shared broadly in the form of higher wages and more mobility, which is why he is fighting for a minimum wage increase and expansion of educational opportunities.
Garrett Brann, who is about to turn 3 years old, has a form of epilepsy, known as "Dravet's Syndrome," which is robbing him of his childhood, a normal life, and much more.
The disease manifests itself primarily in almost constant seizures. Garrett routinely has more than 100 seizures, of varying degrees of intensity, every day.
Garrett's story is obviously sad, but what makes it truly tragic is that there is a treatment which could very possibly end Garrett's seizures and allow him to live a normal life. However, because that treatment is a derivative of marijuana, he is not allowed to have it.
I have not read any scientific studies that would lead me to conclude that there are adverse impacts to human beings or to animals or to plant life at this small level of climate change.
While it is absolutely galling that Corbett would have the audacity to nominate someone for the post of protecting our environment who has not read anything at all about the human impact on climate change, it is not unexpected.
However, I was the only member of the State Senate yesterday to hold Corbett's nominee accountable, ask hard questions, and vote against his nomination.
As an environmentalist, I believe it is of the highest imperative to protect our natural resources, and am willing to stand up to anti-environment politicians like Corbett to do what is right — and that is what I want to do when I am elected to Congress.
The interim agreement with Iran is not the final agreement and shouldn't be judged as such; its purpose is to buy time. Increased sanctions won't stop Iran. Military action could delay Iran and might stop Iran, but at an uncertain cost.
The diplomatic solution made possible by the interim agreement would be the best solution, but we may have no choice but to take military action. Attempting diplomacy through the interim agreement will increase the likelihood that tougher sanctions can be put in place and that military action will succeed, should either alternative become necessary.
The graph on the right shows how the United States stands out in the world of health care; we spend far more on healthcare than any other country but our life expectancy is lower than most advanced nations.
However, now that healthcare.gov is back online, many Americans have turned back their personal cost-curve on health care. Even Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) was embarrassed by his success in signing up for Obamacare during a big show he orchestrated in order to demonstrate the failure of the website. (According to NBC, a DC Health Care exchange representative actually tried to contact Boehner by phone during the enrollment process but was put on hold for 35 minutes.)
Judith Silverstein, 49, a Californian who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2007. Her family helps her pay the $750 monthly cost of her existing plan--which she only had because of federal law requiring that insurers who provide employer-based insurance continue to offer coverage if the employer goes out of business, as hers did. Next year she'll get a subsidy that will get her a good "silver" level plan for $50.
Just five minutes before noon today, I took part in a wonderful ritual. One of the members of a men's group that began 30 years ago - Jeffrey Dekro, founder of the Isaiah Fund [see below for an explanation] — called me and its other members to remind us to turn on our radios. He has been doing this, year after year on Thanksgiving Day, for almost all those thirty years.
Every year at noon on Thanksgiving, WXPN Radio in Philadelphia plays Arlo Guthrie's "Alice's Restaurant," about a Thanksgiving dinner in Stockbridge Mass. in 1967; about obtuse cops; and about nonviolent resistance to a brutal war.
Mayor Michael Nutter joined the festivities as enormous Hanukkah Menorahs were lit at Philadelphia's 30th Street Station and on Independence Mall. The Philadelphia Lubavitcher Center says the Menorah on Independence Mall is the largest menorah in the world.
Photo of the Mayor Nutter and the 30th Street Station Menorah by Gabrielle Loeb.
Videos of the National Menorah lighting near the White House follow the jump.
You have all read about the election results of Virginia, New York and New Jersey, but here is something that will not make it to the national press.
In my own little corner of Chester County, Pennsylvania, the Democrats ran five candidates: two for supervisor at large, two for school board, and one for a regional supervisor. They won four of the five races.
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