3/22/2010: Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren Headlines JAC Meeting in Washington

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3/22/2010 -- Michael Oren, the dashing American-born and ivy-league educated historian who became Israel’s ambassador to the U.S. in 2009, addressed the  JAC Annual Meeting in Washington, DC. He was received with enthusiasm by an audience of 50 Jewish leaders from all parts of the country. He described the newest wave of threats to Israel:  Iran with its nuclear ambitions and a worldwide campaign to delegitimize Israel -- culminating in the UN Human Rights Council’s investigation of Israel’s conduct of the war in Gaza known as the “Goldstone report.”  He charged Conference attendees with spreading a positive, and often neglected, message to the members of Congress with whom they would be meeting that afternoon. The message was that even in a worldwide recession, Israel’s economy was growing, its universities were making significant contributions in science and medicine, its high-tech sector was booming, and it was the first on the ground with humanitarian help in Haiti, as it had been in other natural disasters.  He also touted the strength of the US-Israel relationship.

Other items on the JAC agenda were reproductive choice, on which the fate of health care reform could turn, the Supreme Court’s decision expanding corporate influence in election campaigns and a follow-up on last year’s commitment to address international violence against women.  Donna Crane, Deputy Director of Government Relations at NARAL Pro-choice America, discussed amendments to health care reform bills that would make abortion, even though legal, inaccessible.  Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) spoke about the damage done by the Supreme Court campaign finance ruling that defines corporations the same as individuals where free speech is concerned.  He noted that during confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary committee, John Roberts, now the Chief Justice, promised “judicial restraint,” but once on the Court became a judicial activist.  Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) expressed her commitment to a health care bill that she described as having “much to offer women.” Freshman Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) talked about the failure of the Senate to “do the people’s business” and the immediate need for government reform.

JACPAC President Gail Yamner expressed a sentiment shared by many of the attendees. “The JAC Conference is different from other advocacy group Washington events. We meet in small groups with members of Congress from all over the country, not just our own representative or senators, and before we enter the offices we are thoroughly briefed on the latest developments on our issues. In this way, we ensure that our message is both clear and widely disseminated. These days, when there is so much misinformation about everything from Israel to health care reform, we are an articulate and informed voice from the Jewish community. Members of Congress appreciate the authenticity of meetings with JAC and the intelligence our members bring to discussions of complex issues.”

Joint Action Committee (JAC) is committed to the United States-Israel relationship, separation of religion and state, reproductive freedom and social policies consistent with the core concerns of the American Jewish community. To promote this agenda, Joint Action Committee enlists the participation of its members in advocacy with elected officials.