The National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) today expressed concern over the appearance of controversial religious broadcaster Pat Robertson at a fundraiser for GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Monday. Robertson is known for his offensive and outlandish remarks and the Romney campaign's decision to host him confirms that Romney is just one of many extremist candidates seeking the GOP nomination. NJDC President and CEO David A. Harris said:
"Mitt Romney -- the ultimate political chameleon -- has strived to be known as one of the more moderate among this field of Republican presidential candidates. Yet by associating with Pat Robertson he has chosen to pander to extremists who refuse to separate church and state, and worse. If associating oneself with Pat Robertson is the Republican Party's version of 'moderate,' let alone a litmus test for Evangelical support, their field of 2012 candidates stands precious little chance of winning the Jewish vote."
The United States and Israel will participate in a large-scale joint military exercise in 2012 to strengthen the coordination between the two countries' missile defense systems. The defense exercise, called Operation Juniper Cobra, will prove to be "one of the most complex and extensive yet" between the United States and Israel. The Obama Administration's commitment to participate reinforces the already strong ties between the United States and Israel and reiterates to the world that the Obama Administration is fully behind Israel.
Governor Corbett really likes Commissions. In his short tenure he has appointed several to deal with issues such as Transportation, Marcellus Shale, and the role of Government.
Commissions can be very useful, particularly if you, like Governor Corbett, stack them with people who are already committed to recommending what you have already decided to do. For example, the Marcellus Shale Commission was composed largely of administration officials, energy executives and advocates from groups like "People for a More Noxious Tomorrow".
I adopted a similar strategy recently when I had a dispute with my friend Walter. We were having a fight over which one of us is the bigger Dufus (it is a fight we frequently have). So I appointed a Commission to explore the matter composed of me, my mom, and 3 dudes who owe me money. Oddly, the Commission still found that I was the bigger Dufus (the evidence was compelling).
I am particularly intrigued by his new commission on privatization. The purpose of this commission is to find the "core functions" of government and to privatize everything else. I worry that the Commission will find that there are no core functions of government, particularly since the Chair of the Commission is also the President of the "There Are No Core Functions of Government" Foundation.
But I always try to be a "when-in-Rome" kind of guy. So I have a suggestion for the new Commission on something we can privatize, Let's privatize the legislature!!!
Director Keenan Wilcox's three-minute short film features a poignant story of Nazi Germany and the genuine human connections that can transcend devastation. It received the grand prize in the "Tell It Your Way" short film contest and was a Cannes Lions award-winner.
With today's certification of the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, our civilian and military leaders have confirmed that the United States is ready to end this discriminatory policy once and for all. In 60 days, no patriot who is willing to fight and die for the country they love will be required to live a lie. This action will improve our military readiness and provide greater equality for all Americans. As the author of the bill repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell, I am incredibly proud that our nation is so close to this historic accomplishment. When I was in the Army, we didn't care who you wrote home to, just that you were a good soldier. I look forward to the coming day when our law finally catches up.
B'nai B'rith International condemns in the strongest terms possible the terrorist attacks perpetrated against the citizens of Norway. The first attack occurred at 3:30 local time on July 22, when a vehicle bomb exploded outside of the office of Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, killing seven people and leaving an unknown number injured.
A second attack occurred on the island of Utoeya less than an hour later, when an unidentified man dressed as a police officer opened fire at a youth camp, which was set to host the prime minister on July 23. Reports indicate that between 25-30 people were killed.
The New York Times reported that Ansar al-Jihad al-Alami (the Helpers of the Global Jihad), a group that says it is connected to al-Qaeda, has claimed responsibility for the attacks.
Members Acknowledged for Standing Together Against Recognition of a Unilaterally Declared Palestinian State
--by Sharon Bender
B'nai B'rith International praises members of the European Parliament for joining together to send a letter to Baroness Catherine Ashton, high representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, urging rejection of a Palestinian initiative to achieve unilaterally declared independence at the United Nations General Assembly in September. The letter goes on to push for the 27 European Union member states to stand against such recognition.
The letter's signatories call for direct, bilateral negotiations-affirming agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians as the only way to create lasting peace.
"The European Parliament members' support of direct negotiation strengthens the argument against a unilateral declaration of independence by the Palestinians," B'nai B'rith International President Allan J. Jacobs said. "We are hopeful that the nations of the European Union and around the world will heed this call to deny this initiative."
The letter also outlines the invalidity of a unilateral declaration in the United Nations, citing the Oslo Accords' requirement of negotiation between the Israelis and the Palestinians to form the basis of a resolution on the statehood issue.
The National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) today hit the dim efforts by the House Republican caucus to overturn light bulb energy efficiency standards found in the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act that was signed into law by President George W. Bush with Republican support. NJDC President and CEO David A. Harris said:
"The House vote today on lowering efficiency standards for light bulbs is nothing more than the latest instance of the Republicans failing to stay focused on job creation and wrongfully attacking programs and regulations that American Jews support. The bill that contained the increased standards, which was signed into law by a Republican president after receiving bipartisan support, was supported by prominent American Jewish organizations in addition to most of American Jewry. High efficiency light bulb standards are among other common-sense solutions that are roundly supported and used by our community. One need not look further than the average synagogue to see crucial steps towards higher energy efficiency and green living.
"It seems that the reason for the vote today is that a number of Republicans who initially supported the higher standards caved to the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and others instead of sticking with a wise public policy. Since taking office, the House Republican caucus has proven that they are not committed to job creation and that they simply cannot be trusted to protect programs and policies that are enthusiastically supported by most American Jews. This effort on light bulbs is just the latest dim idea pursued by the House GOP caucus."
Reprinted courtesy of Yaakov (Dry Bones) Kirschen www.DryBonesBlog.blogspot.com.
As a political cartoonist I'm supposed to present my explanation of current events. The problem is that trying to explain the motives behind America's current inconsistent "Arab Spring" policy is REALLY difficult. So, baffled, I decided to comment on my plight!
Today's cartoon features a TV Middle East Expert answering questions that have been "tweeted in" to him.
We wanted to make sure that you saw the growing consensus -- now from JTA's Ron Kampeas, The Washington Post's Polling Manager Peyton Craighill, conservative blogger Jennifer Rubin, and ThinkProgress -- regarding the discredited McLaughlin and Cadell poll that falsely claims American Jews are abandoning President Barack Obama and the Democratic Party.
JTA refers to this as "an expensive push poll;" the Post's polling manager describes it as "a clear example of advocacy polling;" ThinkProgress http://thinkprogress.org/secur... a fascinating conflict of interest, in which the pollsters are themselves founders of the organization that commissioned the poll; and even conservative blogger Jennifer Rubin notes, "I share criticism that some of the questions in the recently released Caddell-McLaughlin poll were quite tilted, shedding doubt on the utility of the poll."
[Q]uestions are almost as grievously skewed: 'Should Jerusalem remain the undivided capital of Israel or should the United States force Israel to give parts of Jerusalem, including Christian and Jewish holy sites, to the Palestinian Authority.'
Who has proposed that, precisely? Not Obama -- not anyone serious.
That makes this an expensive push poll.
The other problem is this question:
Would you vote to re-elect Barack Obama as President or would you consider voting for someone else?
B'nai B'rith International once again marks the anniversary of the bomb attack on the Argentine-Israelite Mutual Association (AMIA) building. The July 18, 1994 terror attack on the heart of the Argentinean Jewish community killed 85 and wounded 300. Seventeen years later, no one has been brought to justice, though Iranian officials have been tied to the attack.
Iran's ties to the attack are well known. Five years ago, an Argentine prosecutor detailed how top Iranian leaders including Hashemi Rafsanjani, Iran's president at the time, ordered Hezbollah to kill Jews in Buenos Aires.
This makes the embrace of Tehran by some of Argentina's neighbors all the more troubling.
"Iran is more dangerous now than it was in 1994," B'nai B'rith International President Allan J. Jacobs said. "AMIA should serve as a cautionary tale to the far too many Latin American nations seeking closer ties with Tehran."
The National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) congratulates Janice Hahn on her successful bid to represent California's 36th Congressional district. In the special election held today, Hahn defeated her Tea Party-backed Republican opponent, Craig Huey, and dealt a blow to the hopes of Republican leaders who had hoped to send another extremist candidate to Washington, DC. NJDC President and CEO David A. Harris released the following statement in response to Hahn's victory:
"On behalf of the National Jewish Democratic Council, I wish Representative-elect Janice Hahn the best of luck as she continues her career in public service by representing her community at the federal level. We look forward to working with Hahn and continuing the fight for the progressive values she shares with the vast majority of American Jews. After two special elections in this off-cycle year, the growing trend is clear: Americans want leaders to fight against the increasingly extremist agenda of the Republican Party. Hahn has demonstrated that she is ready to do just that."
Throughout her race against Huey, Hahn distinguished herself as the only candidate that represented the values of most American Jews.
American TV News shows proudly reviewed NASA's achievements, and the NASA website proclaimed "The end of the space shuttle program does not mean the end of NASA", but I could only feel that yet another part of America's "specialness" is gone. Another piece of the dream has been let go. Is America giving up? Is her leadership role really over? Is it really the start of China's century?
Is Obama responsible for America's shocking decline, or is he simply recognizing facts and bowing out gracefully?
Reprinted courtesy of Yaakov (Dry Bones) Kirschen www.DryBonesBlog.blogspot.com.
The Kaiserman Jewish Community Center in Wynnewood is still seeking both host families and volunteers for its Maccabi Games August 14-9.
On the volunteering end, the JCC is hoping to fill over 3,000 volunteer shifts. You can register to become a volunteer here. These include positions such as medical tent volunteers, greeters, sporting event assistants, and meal helpers.
If your family is interested in hosting an athlete for the Maccabi Games, you must live within a 45-minute drive from the JCC. The JCC included a list of the following responsibilities for host families:
Each Host Family will be asked to take a minimum of two visiting athletes. Your responsibilities are to pick them up on Sunday August 14 at the Kaiserman JCC and get them settled in then bring them that evening to Opening Ceremony and stay to enjoy the show. On Monday morning the week of competition begins. Hosts may either bring their athletes to the JCC or directly to their venue (TBD on Main Line) for the day. Athletes will stay with us at the Games until after the evening activities conclude each night (approx 9:30pm).
B'nai B'rith welcomes the Republic of South Sudan as the world's 193rd country as it formally declares independence on July 9. South Sudan's independence is a peaceful outgrowth of a political negotiating process years in the making.
Decades of brutal civil war between the North and South, followed by a 2005 ceasefire and a January 2011 vote, have led to this moment.
The achievement of independence is truly noteworthy. The civil war left more than two million people dead and millions more displaced.
Israel has announced that it plans to recognize the new nation in the coming weeks. More than 8,000 Sudanese refugees live in Israel.
We hope that South Sudan will live up to democratic ideals and principles and that it will have good relations with fellow democracies around the world.
B'nai B'rith extends wishes of peace and prosperity to the fledgling nation.
Anne Ewers, President and CEO of Kimmel Center, to be Honored
--by Bonnie Squires
Parlez-vous Francais? If so, then you will want to be part of the fabulous Alliance Francaise de Philadelphie annual Bastille Day Celebration on Thursday, July 14, at 6:30 PM at the Independence Seaport Museum on Columbus Boulevard in Philadelphia.
And even if you don't speak French but love French food and French wine, then the Alliance Francaise Bastille Day Celebration is the place you want to be on July 14!!
Diana Regan, president of the Alliance Francaise, announced that Anne Ewers, the President and CEO of the Kimmel Center, will be honored with the inaugural Ambassador of the Arts Award, to recognize her leadership of this spring's three-week Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts, focusing on France.
Nancy Gabel, vice president of the Alliance Francaise, and chair of the Bastille Day committee, said there will be a cocktail reception, a buffet dinner, music and dancing under the stars, fabulous silent auction items, including round-trip tickets to Paris, and exciting raffle prizes.
Sponsors include St. Gobain Corporation, Arkema Inc., Lillet, Trois Petits Cochons, and Delta KLM Air France Alitalia.
B'nai B'rith International is deeply disappointed by a White House willingness, as reported by The Washington Post among other news organizations, to include cuts to Social Security benefits in addition to potentially devastating cuts to Medicare and other programs in deficit reduction efforts. Social Security does not contribute to the federal deficit-by law, it simply cannot. Social Security benefits come from payroll contributions. By law, it's a self-funding program which cannot touch general revenue or, therefore, drive the deficit up. Including it in these deficit talks could make an already disturbing set of options even worse.
Social Security is a vital, irreplaceable safety net for seniors and people with disabilities. Benefits are already slim, with the average beneficiary receiving just $13,000 a year. By reducing the already badly calculated and insufficient cost of living adjustment (COLA), the program would be less effective even for current beneficiaries. And the damage would be compounded annually, hurting future retirees and the very elderly even more.
"That these rumored COLA cuts would be piled on top of expected changes to Medicare that could shift costs to seniors is especially worrisome," Allan J. Jacobs, B'nai B'rith International President said. "Eventually middle class retirees could find their most reliable income stream consumed by their rising health care costs."
THE PRESIDENT: Hello, everybody. I'm going to make a very brief statement.
I just completed a meeting with all the congressional leaders from both chambers, from both parties, and I have to say that I thought it was a very constructive meeting. People were frank. We discussed the various options available to us. Everybody reconfirmed the importance of completing our work and raising the debt limit ceiling so that the full faith and credit of the United States of America is not impaired.
What we decided was that staffs, as well as leadership, will be working during the weekend, and that I will reconvene congressional leaders here on Sunday with the expectation that, at that point, the parties will at least know where each other's bottom lines are and will hopefully be in a position to then start engaging in the hard bargaining that's necessary to get a deal done.
If Pennsylvania signs a contentious new bill into law, the process of voting is about to become very difficult for over 700,000 of the state's residents.
On June 24, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed the controversial voter ID proposition also known as House Bill 934.
House Republicans had forced the vote on the bill, which, if passed by the Senate, could potentially disenfranchise about 700,000 otherwise eligible Pennsylvanians.
House Bill 934 would require all voters to show a valid, unexpired photo identification to prove citizenship.
While advocates of the voter ID bill assert that it would prevent voter fraud in polling booths, those opposed to the idea point out that, as state Rep. Ron Waters (D. Phila/Delaware) noted, the bill is a "solution without a problem".
In the same statement, Rep. Waters continued, "The bill's sponsor claims that it is needed to fight voter fraud. But in the past 10 years, there have been fewer than two dozen voter fraud convictions in Pennsylvania, according to the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing; and that's out of 39.4 million ballots cast."
How many Jewish heroes of the Revolutionary War (or earlier) can you identify? You probably know that Haym Salomon was a key figure in financing the Revolution. Did you know that Francis Salvador was the first Jew to die in the American Revolution, on August 1, 1776, following the signing of the Declaration of Independence? You might know that Philadelphian Rebecca Gratz founded the Female Hebrew Benevolent Society and other relief organizations. Did you know that her family was prominent among revolutionaries here?
It is well known that Benjamin Nathan Cardozo (1870-1938), was a member of the United States Supreme Court. His family already had a glorious record in America: David Nunez Cardozo (1752- ?) was a hero of the Revolution. He led the assault on British-held Savannah, Georgia, in which Count Pulaski was killed. Cardozo was taken prisoner by the British while defending Savannah, but was released at the end of the British stay in that area.
Forty-seven Jewish heroes of the Revolution and other major events in American history are listed and their achievements memorialized on the web site of the Florida Atlantic University Libraries, with credit to
Rabbi Saperstein: "The Union for Reform Judaism will continue to support the federal government, states, and localities in exploring new and innovative ways to ensure the viability of public financing programs."
In response to the Supreme Court's 5-4 decision in the consolidated cases Arizona Free Enterprise Club's Freedom Club PAC v. Bennett and McComish v. Bennett, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:
In a 5-4 decision issued on Monday, the Supreme Court invalidated the matching fund provisions of Arizona's public campaign financing system. These provisions provide additional resources to publicly financed candidates when their opponents or independent groups spend in excess of their initial public subsidy. In so doing, matching funds ensure that publicly financed candidates have the resources to mount effective challenges.
The Central Conference of American Rabbis resolved in 2003 to support state-level adoption of full public financing programs such as Arizona's because such policy "reduces the inherent conflicts of interest that arise when the campaigns of public servants are privately financed." The Union for Reform Judaism has supported public financing since 1984. Because of the Reform Movement's longstanding support for public financing as a key means to eliminate the corrupting influence of money from our political system, the Union for Reform Judaism submitted an amicus curiae brief defending Arizona's program. While Monday's decision is deeply disappointing, the effort to make democracy more responsive to the will of all the people, not just the wealthy and powerful, goes on.
The Conference of European Rabbis (CER) has slammed a decision by the Dutch parliament to ban Jewish religious slaughter.
CER President Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt called the ban an outrage in that it would prevent Jews from living a Jewish life in The Netherlands.
"We have passed the stage of arguing the nuances of intention of anti-Semiitsm. The practical effects of this bill mean that Jews are no longer welcome in The Netherlands. This has not happened for 70 years," Rabbi Goldschmidt said.
On Tuesday, the Dutch lower house passed a bill banning all meat which is not stunned before slaughter.
The effect of this legislation will see the banning of kosher and halal slaughter.
For more than the last generation, the new tallit of Judaism renewed has been woven of two great strands of thought and action: Hassidism and feminism. On of the most important weavers of the feminist strand has been Esther Broner.
On Tuesday afternoon, June 21 (19 Sivan), after 83 years of intense life, after the recent death of her life-long husband, and after weeks of worsening illness, Esther's life-force gave out.
She was surrounded by loving family and friends and by many prayers and messages of love and kindness, coming from many who had been inspired by her -- sometimes face-to-face, sometimes through her writings.
Many who wrote were, I am sad and joyful to say, responding to the Shalom Center's alerting us all to her illness.
We're on the verge of another "flotilla" to Gaza. Estimates of the number of ships and participants vary from day to day, tending downward, but the erstwhile organizers insist that the maritime operation will take place.
Their spokesmen have been hyperactive in drawing attention to the event. After all, without coverage, they'd be denied their oxygen. And the kind of coverage they seek - idealistic humanists and peace activists determined to aid the poor, beleaguered residents of Gaza versus stone-hearted oppressors in military uniforms determined to block them at all costs - would, needless to say, portray Israel in the worst possible light.
The International Solidarity Movement, Free Gaza Movement, U.S. Boat to Gaza, and kindred spirits want the world to believe there is a strip of land called Gaza that, left to its own devices, would create the Shangri-La of the Middle East.
Nearly five years have now passed since Hamas terrorists crossed into Israel and abducted Gilad Shalit. During this time, Hamas has held him hostage without access by the International Committee of the Red Cross, in violation of the standards of basic decency and international humanitarian demands. As the anniversary of his capture approaches, the United States condemns in the strongest possible terms his continued detention, and joins other governments and international organizations around the world in calling on Hamas to release him immediately.
Federation Early Learning Services (FELS) recently recognized the dedication of 12 honorees at its 100th birthday celebration at the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia. The 2011 gala honorees were: Sandra Axelrod, Ellen Kolodner, David Pudlin, Scott Barsky, Robert Clair, Mary Bert Gutman, Rita Lifson, Kay Lokoff, Ronald Perilstein, Gail Rosenberg, Charlotte Rosenthal and Joyce Straus, who was honored posthumously. The 12 honorees, have been an integral part of FELS' growth and development. Each received well-deserved praise at the "Love Our Kids" Gala on June 6, 2011.
FELS has provided quality child care and early education services to residents of the Philadelphia region for 100 years. Since its inception, FELS has expanded to eight centers and three public school sites and now serves more than 1,000 students yearly. The local centers are: the Terri Lynne Lokoff Early Learning Center in Ambler; the Mary Bert Gutman Early Learning Center in Melrose Park; Kol Ami Nursery School in Elkins Park; Kehillah Early Learning Center in Wallingford; K'tonton School for Young Children in Broomall; and Buerger Early Learning Center, Samuel Paley Early Learning Center and Lassin Early Learning Center, all located in Philadelphia.
The film shows the Nazis on the march in Europe and how U.S. Vice-Consul Harry Bingham rose to the dangerous occasion to save lives. Harry Bingham was an American WWII diplomat rescuer who defied his government to save many refugees from the Holocaust while he was posted in Marseilles during 1940-1941, and who received the Medal of Valor posthumously from the Center at the annual Awards Dinner on March 28, 2011 in NYC, where the film was first shown.
The Wall Street Journal noted: "More than 450 supporters of the Simon Wiesenthal Center gathered for the 2011 Humanitarian Award Dinner. The Medal of Valor was awarded posthumously to Sir Winston Churchill, Hiram Bingham IV, and Pope John Paul II . . . ." Wall Street Journal, March 30, 2011)
The Inquirer's music critic, Peter Dobrin, reports in Sunday's paper that the Philadelphia Orchestra's newly unveiled strategic plan offers a lot of wiggle room for future invitations to visiting artists and different kinds of music repertoire and concert formats. What neither Dobrin nor Orchestra president, Allison Vulgamore mention is that the Philly Pops is being cut off from the organization and, possibly, permanently demoored.
However, the long-time music director of the Pops, Peter Nero, has vowed to "not go down without a fight." So, for his recent birthday celebration, he and a few of his longest-serving musicians had a strategic session of their own. The Orchestra had not scheduled anything for the Pops for the fall/winter season, so they were in administrative limbo. They decided to plan, market, and perform on their own.
In our relatively enlightened times, it is the heedless individual who utters a blatant pejorative term, be it a racial, sexist, or any other challenging aspect of life. We have sensitized ears and it is unseemly to appear prejudiced. There is even an attempt to erase past grievances in the misguided campaign to replace the word, "nigger," with "slave" in Mark Twain's classic The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, although the climax of the story would be lost on the reader when the character of the black man, Jim, realizes that he's been free all along. Good teaching requires putting history and culture into context with all its flawed and malignant chronicles.
There is a companion shadow world of indirect slurs, in which terms are coined with the negative traits attributed to a particular ethnic group. Amongst linguists, this usage is called "ironyms," a compound word representing "lexicalized irony." Researching this sordid aspect of language development, I came across the fairly unfamiliar terms of Dutch courage (bravado under intoxication), Welsh rabbit (a cheese dish made without meat), and Irish twins (siblings born within the same year). The more familiar ones in contemporary usage are notably all about monetary use: to gyp (cheat) someone, to welsh (renege) on a bet, and to jew someone down (bargain hard). The terms incorporating Chinese-- Chinese ace, Chinese anthem, Chinese cigarette, Chinese fire drill, Chinese handball, Chinese landing, Chinese puzzle, and Chinese whispers-- all connote items or events that are confused, disorganized, or difficult to understand, according to the British usage of the adjective during World War I.
The National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) today chided the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) for hosting Newt Gingrich as its keynote speaker this Sunday during its Summer Bash in Beverly Hills, CA because of Gingrich's outright abandonment of the mainstream of American Jews both in his words and his actions.
"The sad irony of the RJC's decision to have Gingrich attend their Summer Bash is that he abandoned American Jews years before his campaign staff decided to abandon him," said David A. Harris, President and CEO of the NJDC. "The fact that they are sticking with Gingrich shows just how far removed from the mainstream of American Jews the RJC has become and how desperate Gingrich is to promote his badly damaged brand."
The majority of American Jews expect a candidate to adhere to high standards of integrity and civility. Gingrich has repeatedly demonstrated that he does not meet those basic criteria. The Jewish Week even reported that "many Jewish GOPers aren't betting on [Gingrich]" to increase the GOP's share of the Jewish vote because of Gingrich's extreme positions and outrageous behavior. [ The Jewish Week, May 10, 2011]
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