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Agenda for Public Affairs 1997-1998

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Agenda for Public Affairs 1997-1998 Powered By Docstoc
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                                                                                    .. Union of •____!""'_··U_L_.~
                                                                                _ution • (R( of the Greater                        .
                                                            AIIIUIIIM iii_kit Fiadarntinn of Orange (ourity. Jewish· FtiIarattIn~:_
   nmlbHhal'allimUln. ..." ......", _.......... Alameda and            (ounties • JCRC of Greater Son Jose • Jewish F8daraIion -
   .ration of Greuter           • Jewish Federation of Greater New Hoven • United Jewish Federation of Stamford • Jewish
   ater Washington (includes Northern Virginia and Montgomery and Prince George's (ounties, Maryland) • Jewish Federation
   arlotta Counties • Graater Miami Jewish Federation • Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando • Jewish Federation of Palm
    Federation • Atlanta Jewish Federation • Savannah Jewish Federation • JCRC of the Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan
  Illey • Jewish Federation of Greater Des Moines • Cenfral Kentucky Jewish Federation • Jewish Community Federation of
  n• Jewish Federation-Community Council of Southern Moine • Baltimore Jewish (oundl. JCRC of Graater Boston • JeWish
  Jewish Federation • Jewish Community Council of MetropolHan Detroit. Flint Jewish Federation • JCRC of Minnesota and _
 ( of the Jewish Federation of Omaha. Federution of Jewish Agendes of Adantic (ounty • United Jewish Community Bergen
 ish Federation • Jewish Federation of Greater Middlesex County • J(R( of Greater Monmouth Counly • JCRC of the Jewish
 on of Greater Albuquerque. Jewish Federation of Broome County • Jewish Federation of Greater Buffalo • Elmira Jewish
[• Jewish Federation of Greater Orange (ounly • Jewish Community Federation of Rochester • Syracuse Jewish FederaIion
IVeland Jewish Community Federation. (R( of the Columbus Jewish Federation • J(R( of .he Jewish Federation of Greater
ireater Oklahoma • Jewish Federation of Tulsa • Jewish Federation of Pordond • (R( of the Jewish Federation of Allentown
:R( of the United Jewish Federation of Pitlsburgh • Scranton-Lackawanna Jewish Federation • Jewish Federation of Greater
 ration • JCRCof the Memphis Jewish Federation • Jewish Federation of Nashville and Middle Tennessee • Jewish Federation •.. .
'-:0£1 Worth-and Tarrant Counly • eR( of the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston • J(R( of the Jewish Federation of San
ration                  ..
 JCPA Constituent Organizations, Continued
. Minnesota                                         Oregon
  JCRC of Minnesota and the Dakotas                 Jewish Federation of Portland
  Missouri
  Jewish Community Relations Bureau/American        Pennsylvania
  Jewish Committee of Greater Kansas City           CRC of the Jewish Federation of Allentown
  St. Louis JCRC                                    Erie Jewish Community Council
                                                    CRC of the United Jewish
Nebraska                                               Federation of Greater Harrisburg
ADL/CRC of the Jewish Federation of Omaha           JCRC of Greater Philadelphia
                                                    CRC of the United Jewish
New Jersey                                             Federation of Pittsburgh
Federation ofTewish Agencies                        Scranton-Lackawanna Jewish Federation
   of Atlantic County                               Jewish Federation of Greater Wilkes-Barre
United Je",;sh Community                            York JCRC
   Bergen County/North Hudson
Jewish Federation of Central New Jersey             Rhode Island
Jewish Federation of Clifton-Passaic                eRC of the Jewish Federation
MetroWest United Jewish Federation                    of Rhode Island
Jewish Federation of Greater Middlesex County
JCRC of Greater Monmouth County                     South Carolina
JCRC of the Jewish Federation of North Jersey       Charleston Jewish Federation
JCRC of Southern New Jersey                         Columbia Jewish Federation
Jewish Federation of Mercer and Bucks Counties
New Mexico                                          Tennessee
Jewish Federation of Greater Albuquerque            JCRC of the Memphis Jewish Federation
                                                    Jewi.h Federation of Nashville
New York                                              and Middle Twnessee
Jewish Federation of Broome County
Jewish Federation of Greater Buffalo                Texas
Elmira Jewish Welfare Fund                          Jewish Federation of Austin
Jewish Federation of Greater Kingston               JCRC of the Jewish Federation
JCRC of New York                                       of Greater Dallas
United Jewish Federation of Northeastern New York   JCRC of the Jewish Federation of EI Paso
Jewish Federation of Greater Orange County          Jewish Federation of Fort Worth
Jewish Community Federationof Rochester                and Tarrant County
Syracuse Jewish Federation                          CRC of the Jewish Federation
Utica Jewish Federation                                of Greater Houston
                                                    JCRC of the Jewish Federation
Ohio                                                   of San Antonio
Akron Jewish Community Federation
Canton Jewish Community Federation                  Virginia
Cincinnati ]eRC                                     United Jewish Community
Cleveland Jewish Community Federation                  of the Virginia Peninsula
CRC of the Columbus Jewish Federation               Jewish Community Federation
JCRC of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dayton        of Richmond
CRC of the Jewish Federation of Greater Toledo      United Jewish Federation of Tidewater
JCRC of Youngstown Area Jewish Federation
                                                    Washington
Oklahoma                                            Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle
Jewish Federation of Greater Oklahoma
Jewish Federation of Tulsa                          Wisconsin
                                                    Madison Jewish Community Council
                                                    Milwaukee Jewish Council


'eRC- (Community Relations Committee or CouncW;         'JeRe- Oewish Community Relations Council)




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Israel and Other International Concerns . . . . . . . . . . .1
       Preamble . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
       Middle East Peace Process . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
       U.S.-Israel Relations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .s
       Israel and the International Community ...... ...6
       International Terrorism .....................7
       American Jewish-Israel Relations .............. 8
       Arms Control ........ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 10
       Human Rights and Bosnia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .10
       Jews in the Former Soviet Union ............. 10

Equal Opportunity and Social Justice . . . . . . . . . . . . .13
      Preamble . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14
      Poverty and Economic Justice ............... 16
      Immigration and Refugees . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
      Race, Gender and Intergroup Relations ......... 20
      The Status of Women . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
      Public Education . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
      Health Care . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25

Jewish Security and the Bill of Rights ............ 27
      Preamble . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28
      Anti-Semitism . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29
      Religion in America . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30
      Constitutional Protections ................. .35
      Interreligious Relationships ................. 36

Summary of 1997 Plenum Resolutions ............ 39

Appendix . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43
     The JCPA Mission Statement ................ .43
     The Role of the JCPA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .44
     Purpose of the jewish Public Affairs Agenda .. .. .45
     How the Agenda was Formulated ............46
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                              ISR~fl ~no OI~fR
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                       I'n I f RnRliOn R Lon C Rns
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                                "PRAY FOR THE PEACE OF JERUSALEM."
                                                           - Psalms, 122:6




                The organized Jewish community feels a profound identifica-
                 tion with Israel, and a deep commitment to its suroival and
                  security. Americanjews, and Americans generally, under-
               stand that the long-term national interests of the United States
                    and Israel coincide- a premise underscored by Israel's
                 important role as America s only politically stable and mili-
                tarily effective ally in the Middle East, and reinforced by the
                unique cultural and political affinity between the two coun-
                 tries. Reflecting this recognition, all American governments
                  have been committed to Israel's security and to facilitating
                   Israel's ongoing search for peace with its Arab neighbors.
                  HOWever, the vigilant involvement of the organized jewish
                community has been a vital factor fostering such policies by
                              past administrations and Congresses.

                Moreover, Americanjewry's unique andfortunate POSition,
               combined with its deep sense of Klal Yisrael, has allowed it to
                respond quickly to the needs of other jewish communities in
               difficulty or danger. Similarly, American jews are concerned
                 about the rights of individuals throughout the world and,
                therefore, support the vigorous application of human rights
              principles in the pursuit of American foreign-policy objectives.

                                                                                                             -
             iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiliiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii'iiiiOi'iJewish   Public Affairs Agenda   1
 MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS
 Elected as Israel's Prime Minister in May 1996, Benjamin
 Netanyahu has continued the peace process within the frame-
work established by the Oslo Accords. Israel and the
Palestinian Authority (PA) reached agreement in early 1997 on
the details of Israel's redeployment in the ancient city of
Hebron, on the timetable for further redeployments in the
West Bank and on a number of other important issues that
collectively provide a roadmap for future progress in the
peace process. Strongly supportive of the peace process, the
JCPA will continue to work in partnership with the Israeli gov-
ernment in efforts to bring about the successful conclusion of
that process.

Despite the Hebron agreement, relations between the
Netanyahu government and officials of the PA at times have
been burdened by a deep sense of mistrust. Such an atmos-
phere is making already difficult and sensitive discussions
even more complicated. The parties are attempting to address
this problem by establishing lines of communication at all lev-
els and seeking to implement their agreements by fulfilling
specific responsibilities to which each side has committed
itself. For example, the Palestinians should implement their
commitment to complete the process of revising the
Palestinian National Charter. In addition, recognizing the
pressing needs of Palestinians living in the West Bank and
Gaza, the Israeli government is stressing the importance of
economic development projects to lift the standard of living
for everyone.

The parties have agreed to move ahead expeditiously with
negotiations on permanent status issues, including Jerusalem.
These talks, which formally began in May 1996, are scheduled
to be concluded by May 1999. The Palestinians charged that
Israel's continued building of largely Jewish neighborhoods in
certain sections of Jerusalem - including in the area known as
Har Homa - violated the Oslo Accords. The Israeli
Government countered that such building activity did not

iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii_Jewish Public Affairs Agenda   3
PREAMBLE
Conflicting trends in international affairs have characterized
the post-Cold War period. In the Former Soviet Union (FSU),
Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa, there is uncer-
tainty about the ability of many countries to adhere to demo-
cratic principles, to remain politically moderate and to pro-
mote economic development. Hopeful signs are muted by old
religious and ethnic enmities, extremism and terrorism, gross
violations of human rights, the spread of weapons of mass
destruction and an increasing disparity between rich and
poor. These unstable and dangerous conditions threaten fun-
damental u.s. interests and the interests of all freedom- and
peace-seeking peoples.
Despite the many global challenges facing this nation, foreign
policy issues received very little attention during the 1996
Presidential and Congressional elections. In recent years, as
the danger of a nuclear confrontation with the Soviet Union
receded, the American public increasingly has focused its
interest on serious domestic concerns. Over half of the mem-
bers of the U.S. House of Representatives who will serve in
the 105th Congress were elected in the last four years, during
which time some isolationist tendencies have arisen.
The ]CPA strongly supports efforts by the American govern-
ment to address problems on this country's national agenda.
The field also affirms, as one of its core principles, that the
U.s. should not and cannot choose between engagement in
domestic or international affairs. It will continue to press the
Administration and the Congress to provide leadership in the
world as an active force on behaolf of democracy, respect for
human rights and peace. The traditional Jewish mandate of
tikkun olam (mending the world) is not limited to the borders
of the United States. In the year ahead, the field will be called
upon to convey this message effectively to U.S. policy-makers
(especially new members of the l05th Congress) and to the
American public - independently if necessary, in coalition
with like-minded groups in the general community whenever
possible.

2      Jewish Public Affairs Agenda -----------------------
affect the status of Jerusalem and, therefore, was not pro-
scribed by these agreements. While there are differing views
in regard to the timing of the Har Homa project, the organized
American Jewish community supports Israel's right to build in
all parts of Jerusalem. The community also strongly supports
Israel's ongoing commitment to maintain Jerusalem as its eter-
nal, undivided capital and urges the Administration to imple-
ment fully the Jerusalem Embassy Relocation Act of 1995,
which calls for the transfer of the U.S. embassy in Israel from
Tel Aviv to Jerusalem no later than May 1999.

Palestinian leaders, with the backing of Egypt and much of
the Arab world, are seeking to mobilize international pressure
--especially from the U.S., Western European states and the
United Nations - to achieve concessions from Israel on
Jerusalem and other issues in the peace process. Some
Palestinian leaders, including officials of the PA, also have
threatened violence - directly or indirectly - if insufficient
progress is made in the peace talks.

The JCPA expects that President Clinton will continue to resist
these Palestinian negotiating tactics. As he and key members
of his administration consistently have stressed, it is up to the
parties - and only the parties - to make peace. This funda-
mental approach to the peace process led the Administration
to veto a one-sided, strident United Nations Security Council
Resolution condemning Israel for the Har Homa project. The
field, which has strongly supported reconciliation between
Israel and the Palestinians, also must reinforce the message to
the Palestinians and the rest of the Arab world that the effort
to achieve a political settlement must go through Jerusalem,
not Washington or the European capitals. In addition, it must
be made clear to the Arab parties that violence or threats of
violence can have no place in the peace process.

 At the same time, the U.S. continues to playa crucial facili-
tating role in the peace process by encouraging the parties,
offering constructive ideas and tangible incentives and - par-
4     Jewish Public Mfairs Agenda ;;;;;;;;;;;;;;__;;;;;;;______;;;;;;;;;;;;____;;;;;;;;;;;0
.................-----------------------

          ticularly in Israel's case - offering to minimize risks associated
          with any peace agreement that may emerge from the negotia-
          tions. Such active U.S. involvement in the peace process is
          strongly supported by the JCPA. Other world powers, such as
          Russia and key European countries, are encouraged to sup-
          port the peace effort, particularly in the economic develop-
          ment arena. However, these countries should avoid diplomat-
          ic initiatives which complicate U.S. efforts.

          Terrorist violence - especially by Hamas, Islamic Jihad and
          other Islamic totalitarian groups dedicated to Israel's eventual
          destruction - remains the greatest threat to the peace process.
          PA Chairman Vasser Arafat and his security establishment must
          demonstrate a deep and sustained commitment to fighting
          these Palestinian extremists, as well as a readiness to work in
          close cooperation with Israel. Palestinian officials should
          denounce acts of violence and take assertive measures to dis-
          arm and otherwise restrain terrorists operating in areas under
          the jurisdiction of the PA.

          Syrian President Assad continues to refuse to enter serious
          bilateral negotiations with Israel. There has been a deteriora-
          tion in the situation on Israel's northern frontier, with Syrian
          troops engaging in menacing military maneuvers and an esca-
          lation of Syrian-supported Hezbollah activity in southern
          Lebanon. As the primary sponsor of the peace process, the
          U.S. will be challenged to help diffuse tensions between Israel
          and Syria, to press Syria to desist from its sponsorship of ter-
          rorism and to encourage negotiations that can lead to a per-
          manent political settlement.

          U.S.-ISRAEL RElATIONS
          The close, mutually beneficial alliance between the u.S. and
          Israel, firmly rooted in shared democratic and moral values as
          well as strategic interests, will continue to flourish. President
          Clinton's exceptional friendship toward, and understanding
          of, Israel is expected to be reflected again in his second
          administration, even as Secretary of State Madeleine Albright
          ________________________     ~ewish   Public Affairs Agenda    5




                                                                          " .. ;. . :.!
and a number of new foreign policy leaders replace Warren
Christopher and others who gave so much of their time and
energy to Israel and the caus~ of peace.

The organized American Jewish community will work to
assure that the members of the l05th Congress demonstrate
their commitment to meeting Israel's fundamental security
needs --thereby enhancing U.S. strategic interests in the
volatile Middle East - by maintaining the current level of for-
eign aid. The JCPA will continue to oppose further cuts to the
international affairs function of the budget, and will seek to
persuade the l05th Congress that a robust foreign aid pro-
gram - which promotes democratic institutions and free mar-
ket economies around the world and strengthens U.S. allies -
is in our national interest.

Strains in the U.S.-Israel relationship may emerge periodically
over policy differences in the peace process or other matters.
Certain Christian denominational bodies, Arab American orga-
nizations and other Middle East advocacy groups - many of
which have harshly attacked Israeli policies in past years, par-
ticularly with regard to Jerusalem and settlements - are likely
to step up their activities as the permanent status talks thrust
these matters into the forefront. The Jewish community rela-
tions field will be challenged to provide context and perspec-
tive in interpreting specific controversial issues, while keeping
policy-makers and the American public focused on the broad
consensus which undergirds the U.S.-Israel partnership. The
field also should fulfill its obligation to report accurately to
Israeli leadership the reactions, by the American Jewish com-
munity and non-Jewish influentials, to the policies and actions
of Israel's government as well as developments in the region.

ISRAEL AND THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNIlY
Some     Arab leaders have begun to advocate a slowdown, if
not a    complete halt, to the process of normalization with
Israel   because of policy differences with the Israeli govern-
ment.    There is some concern that the United Nations, which
6        Jewish Public Affairs Agenda ____________________;;;;;;0;;;;
        had been making steady progress toward a more responsible
        posture on Israel and the peace process, may again become
        an arena for one-sided criticisms of Israeli policies and
        actions. The lack of balance in the UN's response to the Har
        Homa controversy reinforced this concern. Such initiatives
        might have a chilling effect on diplomatic and economic rela-
        tions between Israel and a number of Third World countries in
        Asia and Africa. The U.S., with the active support of the
        Jewish community relations field, will be challenged to per-
        suade the Palestinians and the rest of the Arab world that such
        a course of action is contrary not only to important U.S. inter-
        ests but also to their own interests and prospects for peace.
        Israel's full acceptance into the community of nations, includ-
        ing as an equal participant in all UN forums Cbased on mem-
        bership in one of the geo-political groups) should not be
        linked to progress in the peace process.

       INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM
       Terrorism, whether by rogue states or extremist groups, con-
       tinues to pose a serious challenge to the entire civilized world:
       Of particular concern are radical Muslim regimes and move-
       ments which use a combination of violence, politics and
       social services to gain power and to send a message of hatred
       toward Israel, the United States and the West. Iran provides
       encouragement and tangible assistance to many of these
       groups. The 104th Congress passed important initiatives
       intended to isolate and punish Iran and other supporters of
       international terrorism. The Jewish community relations field
       will urge the lOSth Congress to continue developing countert-
       errorism legislation that does not violate fundamental civil lib-
       erties principles.

       With the exception of Israel, the response of America's allies
       to the call for a coordinated and unified campaign against ter-
       rorism has been disappointing. Western European countries in
       particular have chosen economic expediency over the coun-
       terterrorism effort by maintaining trade with Iran and other
       outlaw states. The field encourages the U.s. to step up its

      iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii_:Jewish   Public Mfairs Agenda   7




~;.
efforts to build an effective worldwide coalition and an inte-
grated strategy to combat the forces of international terrorism,
particularly their access to nuclear, chemical and biological
weapons.

AMERICAN JEWISH-ISRAEL RElATIONS
The 1996 Israeli election resulted in a dramatic strengthening
of the religious parties and their entrance into the governing
coalition. A controversy erupted in the American Jewish com-
    I
munity when the religious parties sought to pass legislation in
the' Knesset blocking advances made by non-Orthodox move-
ments in Israel. At the Seattle General Assembly in 1996, the
Council of Jewish Federations' Board of Delegates adopted a
resolution urging Israel's Government not to change the cur-
rent situation with respect to recognition of conversions or
any aspect of the Law of Return. The JCPA reaffirms its long-
standing position that legislative efforts to change the religious
status quo in Israel may jeopardize the principle of Jewish
unity and weaken the sense of solidarity that binds the Jewish
people. The complex and delicate issue of religious status in
Israel is fundamental to the American Jewish-Israel relation-
ship, and must be addressed with civility, comity and in a
spirit of mutual respect. The JCPA ad hoc Committee on
Religious Pluralism in Israel will continue to address concerns
in this area with sensitivity to all segments of the organized
American Jewish community.

Despite the shocking assassination of Yitzhak Rabin in 1995,
strident rhetoric continues to plague relations among Jews in
Israel and within some sectors of the American Jewish com-
munity as well. The Jewish community relations field must
continue to press for civil behavior as enunciated in the 1996
JCPA Plenum statement on Jewish Extremist Rhetoric and
Violence, and Civil Dialogue.

The challenge of absorbing Ethiopian immigrants in Israel was
the subject of a number of JCPA deliberations in 1996. It was
decided that the field would advocate to the Israeli govern-
8       Jewish Public Mfairs Agenda __________;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;__;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;0
ment on behalf of additional programs and services to the
Ethiopian immigrant community, particularly in the area of
education. In addition, the field committed itself to look for
ways to become more directly involved with this absorption
effort. The ]CPA also is urging the Israeli Government to
resolve expeditiously the problem of the Falash Mura com-
munity living in dire conditions near a compound in Addis
Ababa.

The field continues to explore new and innovative techniques
for building a deeper, more meaningful relationship between
the American Jewish community and Israel through programs
like Partnership 2000. This United Jewish Appeal/federation
system initiative links American communities with Israeli cities
and regions for a two-way exchange of people, ideas and pro-
grams. The 100th anniversary of the Zionist movement will be
observed in 1997, and Israel celebrates its 50th anniversary in
1998. These occasions provide opportunities to plan not only
ceremonial events, but also substantive programs that explore
the future relationship between Israel and the American
Jewish community.

  Dissent: The jewish War Veterans of the U.S.A. (fW'V)
   considers the topiC of religious pluralism in Israel to be
   well outside the puroiew of the secular jCPA.jWV believes
   that any discussion on this issue by jCPA is divisive to the
   entire jewish community.

  Dissent: The Union of Orthodox jewish Congregations of
  America (UQ/CA) has never joined in the jewish Public
  Affairs Agenda discussion of "democracy and pluralism"
  in Israel. We consider this topiC to be outside the appror-
  iate puroiew of the jCPA. We have long believed that pub-
  lic debate among North American jews on questions of
  Israeli foreign poliCY, domestic political structure and
  religious integrity are divisive both to our own communi-
  ty and to the people of the sovereign state of Israel.


====--=--====~:Jewish                Public Mfairs Agenda         9
ARMS CONTROL
Iran, North Korea, Libya, Syria, and even Iraq (which has been
subject to intense scrutiny since the end of the Gulf War)
reportedly continue to develop weapons of mass destruction.
The ]CPA urges the U.S. to place a high priority on developing
and enforcing more stringent international controls on the sale
and transfer of advanced weapons and technology. The field
also urged the Senate in the 105th Congress to ratify the
Chemical Weapons Convention which was signed by the Bush
Administration and is supported by the Clinton Administration.

HUMAN RIGHTS AND BOSNIA
The ]CPA will continue to stress to President Clinton and to
the 105th Congress that protection of human rights must be an
integral part of U.S. foreign policy. Having for many years
urged U.S. leadership to forcefully respond to the tragic situa-
tion in Bosnia, the field supports continuation of US involve-
ment in the international effort to implement the Dayton
Accords as well as full cooperation with the work of the War
Crimes Tribunal. The field also supported a strong U.S.
response to the humanitarian crisis in Rwanda and encourages
full international cooperation with the War Crimes Tribunal set
up to address brutal crimes committed in that country.

JEWS IN THE FORMER SOVIET UNION
(Developed by the National Conference on Soviet Jewry)
Efforts to maneuver for power --which have escalated since
Russian President Boris Yeltsin's heart bypass surgery - have
combined with widespread uncertainty regarding the Russian
military to further destabilize the country. Disturbing develop-
ments in the past year include a near return to totalitarian rule
in Belarus, continued economic crisis in Ukraine, and a rapid-
ly deteriorating situation in Afghanistan that threatens to
spread Islamic fundamentalist guerrilla warfare further into
central Asia.

Jews throughout the Former Soviet Union (FSU) continue to

10    Jewish Public Affairs Agenda __ =========;;;;;;;;;;0
 suffer from various forms of popular anti-Semitism. In April
 1996 the Jewish Agency for Israel temporarily lost its accredi-
 tation in Russia, but continued to operate without reductions
 in a/iya while difficult negotiations dragged on for six months.
 It is still unclear if the restructured Jewish Agency will be able
 to fully carry out its mandate in the FSU or if new restrictions
 or impediments will be imposed in the future.

 In spite of the serious obstacles, a spectrum of Jewish com-
 munal institutions and organizations have begun to develop in
 hundreds of cities and towns across the FSU, based on the
 cooperation of local activists with Israel and world Jewry. In
 January 1996 several prominent Russian Jewish businessmen
 created the Russian Jewish Congress, attempting to unite the
 financial and spiritual leadership of an emerging Jewish com-
 munity. The Jewish community relations field should: Actively
 continue to tangibly support the aliya movement from the
 FSU and the reunification of families to the U.S.; press the
 governments of the successor states to combat the rising tide
 of popular anti-Semitism; urge government and community
 leaders in the successor states of the FSU to adopt and imple-
 ment legislation which restores Jewish property to Jewish
 communities and provide documentation which shows prop-
 er ownership of those properties; continue to advocate to the
 U.S. and other western governments to insure the protection
 of the Jewish minority in the FSU; and participate in Kehilla
 projects and other revitalization efforts to strengthen Jewish
 identity and communal welfare in the FSU.

 Finally, the organized American Jewish community supports
 annual waivers of the Jackson-Vanik legislation - which links
 trade benefits to a country's respect for the right of its citizens
 to emigrate if they so choose - for eleven out of the twelve
 newly independent states of the FSU based on their current
 emigration policies. For similar reasons, the community also
 supports the exemption of Russia from the annual review
 process itself due to its ongoing compliance with the require-
 ments of this legislation.
=;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;--~:Jewish   Public Affairs Agenda   11
                                                                    · 'q
                                                                       1




    fOU~l OPPORI~nll~ ~nD
        SDCIHl JIJ~II[f
     "LET JUSTICE WELL UP AS WATERS, AND
     RIGHTEOUSNESS AS A MIGHTY STREAM."
                                                 - AMOS,    5:24




   The fundamental premise of the field ofjewish community
  relations is to foster conditions conducive to jewish security
  and creative jewish living in a free society. Such conditions
require a society committed to equal rights, justice and oppor-
 tunity. Their denial breeds social tensions, conflicts, and dis-
locations, leading to threats to the democratic process in gen-
 eral and to the jewish community in particular. The stake of
    the organized American jewish community in a strong,
   democratic society is reinforced by the moral imperative of
  the jewish community to pursue social justice. This commit-
ment flows from jewish religious mandates, tradition, and the
           millennial experience of the jewish people.
PREAMBLE
Efforts to address problems of persistent poverty --in inner
cities and rural enclaves - will play out against the backdrop
of the major federal welfare overhaul which passed in the
closing days of the 104th Congress. At the same time, ongoing
attempts to eliminate the deficit and balance the federal bud-
get will increase pressures to further reduce federal spending
for entitlements and other human service programs. Within
that context, the organized Jewish community will struggle to
meet the needs of immigrants and refugees denied access to
public benefits. Work with coalition partners to address broad
anti-poverty concerns will continue as well, especially the
need to protect children whose parents may lose benefits and
to encourage job creation programs and support services to
facilitate successful transitions from welfare to work.

Meanwhile, despite reports of declining rates of violent crime,
there is still concern about the potential escalation of already-
growing violent crime rates among teen-agers. Debates
regarding appropriate strategies to deal with the situation will
continue between those who argue for increased enforce-
ment, more prisons, and stiffer penalties, and those who favor
early intervention to deal with poverty-related root causes of
crime. Recognizing the complex factors contributing to vio-
lence, and consistent with established policies (see JCPA
Policy and Guidelines for Addressing the Causes and
Prevention of Crime and Violence, Adopted June 12, 1995),
the JCPA will urge approaches which balance innovative
policing techniques and enhanced control of firearms with
comprehensive prevention strategies for effective longterm
crime reduction.

Notwithstanding these conditions, increased worldwide
mobility, unrest abroad, and America's promise of a better
life will continue to draw millions of people to these shores,
increasing pressure on social services and sparking further
immigration policy debates. As immigrant populations are
absorbed, questions of race, ethnicity, and gender will con-
14     Jewish Public Affairs Agenda ------______________;;;;;;;;;;
tinue to challenge our nation. New attempts to eliminate or
reform affirmative action programs may be launched, even as
events continue to remind us that the nation has yet to
resolve persistent problems of discrimination based on race
and gender.

At the same time, our health care system continues to fall
short of meeting the needs of many Americans, particularly
the poor. Rising numbers in managed care, increasing finan-
cial pressures on the Medicare and Medicaid systems and the
continued growth in the number of inadequately insured peo-
ple indicate enormous challenges ahead. The country will be
called upon to protect Medicare and keep it solvent without
harming beneficiaries and to explore steps to expand cover-
age to individuals who are currently uninsured while preserv-
ing access to care and quality of care.

Finally, opinion polls have shown that schools rank first or
second on the priority list of a nation facing surging enroll-
ments and persistent questions about educational quality.
With President Clinton determined to make improving educa-
tional opportunity and standards the hallmark of his adminis-
tration, education may become a major legislative issue in the
next Congress. However, budget-cutting pressures and a con-
servative Congress may create difficulties for the President in
realizing his education goals. Growing support for alternatives
to public schools, including charter schools and voucher pro-
posals, are prompting some analysts to question whether
Americans have lost touch with the role public schools have
played in forging American democracy. Questions about pub-
lic education are coming from within and outside the system,
as schools struggle to meet the challenge of educating stu-
dents for the information age. The societal commitment to the
public school as an institution which binds diverse groups -
charged with preparing children from all backgrounds for full
participation in mainstream American life - appears to be
weakening. Diminishing support comes just when support is
needed most, as social and economic changes make it
______________________     ~Jewish   Public Affairs Agenda   15
increasingly imperative that public schools become more
effective in educating all children from increasingly diverse
backgrounds. In response, those who cherish pluralism and
are committed to equal educational opportunity, including the
American Jewish community, will be pressed to focus their
energies ever more intensely on improving public e,ilucation.

POVERTY AND ECONOl\HC JUSTICE
Passage of "The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportu-
nity Act of 1996" ended 60 years of guaranteed cash assistance
to poor families and children, shifting from federal to state
control programs serving more than 40 million Americans.
While there is broad agreement that past welfare policy need-
ed to be reformed, the JCPA, along with others, believes that
the new law goes too far, increasing the number of poor fam-
ilies likely to find themselves with neither work nor welfare.
The legislation mandates tough work requirements and five-
year time limits on access to aid, regardless of whether jobs
are available that pay enough to enable sustained family self-
sufficiency. Moreover, the bill allows deep cuts in funding for
food stamps, while failing to ensure support programs - such
as job training, child care, and healthcare - needed to help
families leave welfare. In addition, the broad denial of most
benefits to legal immigrants, including elderly Jewish immi-
grants and former refugees, accounts in large measure for pro-
jections that one million more children, many in immigrant
families, will be pushed further into poverty. The JCPA has
vigorously opposed denial of public benefits to immigrants
and will work in coalition with other groups to support initia-
tives which mitigate the deleterious effects of these measures.

Since the late 1980s, a significant number of immigrants
admitted as refugees have been Jews from the former Soviet
Union. Of these, many are elderly and disabled and often
quite dependent on government programs. In the Jewish com-
munity alone, an estimated 28,000 elderly and disabled
refugees who arrived between 1987 and 1992 have not
acquired U.S. citizenship, unable for the most part to master

16    Jewish Public Affairs Agenda   ;;;;;;;;;;;=========;;;;;;;;;;
 the English, history, and CIVICS required. Many other Jews
 from the FSU, who came as refugees or legal immigrants in
 the decades prior to the 1980s, are in similar circumstances.
 More generally, the u.s. Immigration and Naturalization
 Service (INS) has estimated that only nine percent of immi-
 grants over 65 ever naturalize. Nevertheless, the new law
 makes these individuals ineligible for public aid - often their
 only means of support - after five years in the country.

 Along with other service providers, Jewish agencies will be
 challenged to find the funds with which to meet increasing
 needs of these and other population groups in the face of
 welfare cuts. Since private philanthropy cannot make up the
 difference, agencies will have to continue to seek whatever
 government resources are available. At the same time Jewish
 organizations struggling to sustain services may find a difficult
 environment of increasing intergroup tensions as groups com-
 pete for limited public dollars. The Jewish community rela-
 tions field will work with Jewish federations, federation gov-
 ernment affairs offices where they exist, and service providers
 on effective advocacy as well as on maintaining strong inter-
 group relations.

The President promised to revisit the welfare reform legisla-
tion's shortcomings in the 105th Congress, but a divided gov-
ernment and continued budget pressures made significant
reform politically difficult. Nevertheless, fueled by a growing
consensus in Congress regarding the need to mitigate the
harsh impact of the immigrant provisions, a proposal to
restore access to some public benefits - affecting large num-
bers of elderly and disabled immigrants - did emerge as part
of a five-year balanced budget agreement between the White
House and leaders in Congress. While the agreement became
the guide for a budget resolution passed by both houses of
Congress, enactment of final legislation will depend on the
work of a number of congressional committees with responsi-
bility for various aspects of the appropriations and budget rec-
onciliation bills.

------;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;-l1ewish Public Affairs Agenda   17
Meanwhile, state legislatures are moving to adopt state wel-
fare plans and determine how block grant funds will be spent.
States should be encouraged to appropriate sufficient state
funds in order to receive full federal funding for welfare pro-
grams and to appropriate any additional state funds necessary
to ensure that an adequate safety net is maintained for low-
income children and their families. States can also improve
upon the new law by adopting specific state "options" like
that for family violence, which temporarily exempts welfare
recipients who are victims of domestic violence from federal
block grant requirements and allows transitional assistance to
battered immigrant women and children who are fleeing
domestic violence.

The new welfare law will require a concerted focus on help-
ing people find and keep jobs. Concerns are therefore espe-
cially acute regarding the ability of families to "make it" in
inner city areas with high unemployment. The disappearance
of decent work options within easy access of the inner city
poor creates serious barriers to success. Incentives to help
cities create jobs for welfare recipients and to encourage pri-
vate companies to hire former welfare recipients will be criti-
cal. Efforts by businesses and communities to provide job
training and support services for low income working parents
will also be important. The )CPA has long maintained that
effective welfare reform requires an initial significant invest-
ment in support programs such as job training and child care
to move people successfully from welfare to self-sufficiency.

The problem of joblessness is not a failure of our economy to
generate jobs. In part, it is a problem of access to new jobs
located far from inner city workers. More serious, analysts
have noted, is the mismatch between available jobs and qual-
ified workers. The U.S. economy now creates more new jobs
than all other industrial countries, and most pay wages above
the median income. But most welfare recipients and working
poor are unqualified for these new, higher-skill jobs. At the
same time, the economy is generating low-pay, service sector
18    Jewish Public Affairs Agenda --__________________;;;;;-.
jobs with few prospects for long-term security. In these cir-
cumstances, the middle class has continued to shrink, while
income disparities between rich and poor have grown. The
diminishing of the middle has been seen by some as an indi-
cation that the social fabric of the nation may be at risk.

Meanwhile, attempts to pass a proposed Constitutional
amendment requiring a balanced federal budget failed again
this session. The ]CPA has consistently opposed this measure,
introduced in each of the last several Congressional sessions,
arguing that deficit reduction should be achieved not by per-
manent codification in the Constitution of one economic for-
mula but rather through a legislative process which ensures
that budget cuts do not harm vulnerable people. Requiring a
balanced budget within a defined time-frame, regardless of
the general state of the economy, could produce massive cuts
to anti-poverty programs serving individuals with the least
political clout and the greatest need for government support.

IMMIGRATION AND REFUGEES
While efforts were defeated in the 104th Congress to restrict
drastically admissions levels for immigrants, refugees and
asylees, proponents of these measures have promised to con-
tinue their fight. Issues for debate include whether the overall
number of legal immigrants should be reduced and whether
certain family preference visas should be curtailed. In response
to the increase in legal immigrants seeking to become natural-
ized citizens (in part a reaction to the new welfare law), mea-
sures may also be advanced to make the process more difficult,
extending the waiting period from the current five years to a
period of 10 years and increasing the difficulty of civics exams.
Meanwhile, the impact of the Hispanic vote - 30% higher in
1996 elections than in 1992 and heavily against candidates per-
ceived to be anti-immigrant --may convince restrictionists to
refrain from additional reform at this time. The ]CPA continues
to oppose reductions in immigrant admissions, restrictions on
family preference visas, and any cap on refugee admissions.
The ]CPA will continue to advocate for extension of the

===========o=i:J'ewish Public Affairs Agenda                  19
Lautenberg Amendment, which grants refugee status to mem-
bers of certain groups with a history of persecution if they can
demonstrate a credible fear of persecution. Further, the orga-
nized Jewish community will press for expansive approaches
to increasing ease of, and access to, the naturalization process.
The JCPA welcomes newly revised INS regulations making it
easier for certain disabled individuals to naturalize, including
those with mental impairments such as Alzheimer's disease.

At the same time, the public is troubled by the nation's seem-
ing inability to enforce laws against illegal immigration.
Experts dealing with the problem have said that the only way
to stop the flow is to switch off the main attraction - jobs -
-by imposing steep fines on employers who repeatedly break
the law and hire illegal immigrants. Congress, however, chose
a different course, establishing three voluntary pilot projects
to test the effectiveness of electronic workplace-verification
systems through which employers could check the immigra-
tion status of job applicants. The organized Jewish commu-
nity has expressed concerns about such programs, which if
enacted nationally would require exhaustive computer
records on every worker in the U.S. Such programs eventu-
ally could require some form of tamper-proof personal iden-
tification, such as a national ID card, which the Jewish com-
munity relations field has long opposed. The JCPA is con-
cerned that such programs might violate privacy and civil lib-
erties protections, increasing the possibility of discrimination
based on the color or appearance of job applicants.

RACE, GENDER AND INTERGROUP RElATIONS
Affirmative action has recently returned to the forum of polit-
ical debate. Oppqnents are now challenging not only specific
programs but the fundamental validity of the concept itself,
suggesting that affirmative action is no longer a defensible or
necessary mechanism in the fight against discrimination.
However, supporters of affirmative action, including the JCPA,
argue that while a review of some programs may be warrant-
ed, a general assessment will show not only that properly

20    Jewish Public Affairs Agenda   ==========---
implemented programs work well, but that discrimination and
barriers to equal opportunity continue to require these reme-
dies. In Congress, legislators have proposed various measures
to end preference programs for minorities and women, while
rulings in the courts have severely restricted the parameters
within which affirmative action programs can be legally
implemented.

In 1996, legislation was introduced in 26 states and Congress
to repeal or significantly roll back affirmative action. While
Proposition 209, the California Civil Rights Initiative (CCRI) ,
was the only bill to pass (by a vote of 54% to 46%), success
there has led su pporters in other states to promise renewed
efforts in the year ahead. However, varying political dynamics
may make passage of similar measures difficult. Although a
federal district judge initially blocked implementation of
Proposition 209 on constitutional grounds, the law was subse-
quently upheld by a three-judge panel of the u.s. Court of
Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. A motion for re-hearing by the
full Court of Appeals is pending. Whatever the outcome of the
legal battle over the CCRI, members of Congress who initiat-
ed measures in the last Congress to end or limit affirmative
action programs have pledged to introduce similar legislation
in the new session. Recently, serious flaws have been noted in
CCRI and similar proposals: CCRI will end not only preferen-
tial hiring and contracting policies, but all programs that vio-
late the colorblind imperative or that reach out to address
gender imbalances. This would include recruitment, outreach,
and training programs which most people would accept as
legitimate race- and gender-based initiatives.

While Proposition 209 scored a decisive victory statewide,
Jewish voters rejected the measure by 74% according to an
exit poll conducted by the American Jewish Congress. Among
those Jews who expressed concerns about the current status
of affirmative action programs, there was a greater preference
for modifying rather than jettisoning the entire effort, along
the lines of President Clinton's "mend it, don't end it" policy.

------------------------:Jewish Public Mfairs Agenda         21
On the broader intergroup relations agenda, the JCPA has
urged continued participation in broad coalitions, working
with all ethnic groups to address shared concerns.
Partnerships with Asian Americans, Hispanic Americans,
African Americans, and others have deepened as groups have
joined forces to respond to attacks on affirmative action, leg-
islative efforts which threatened traditional U.S. immigration
policy, and welfare overhaul measures.

THE STATUS OF WOMEN
Maintaining commitments made at the U.N. Fourth World
Conference on Women, thejCPA will continue to monitor U.S.
implementation of principles articulated in the conference's
final action document, as well as to support initiatives by its
own member agencies. Further, the JCPA will pursue its long-
standing commitment to Senate ratification of the U.N.
Convention to Eliminate Discrimination Against Women.

In the area of reproductive choice, notwithstanding President
Clinton's veto of a late-term abortion bill in the last
Congressional session and the failure of the Senate to over-
ride, the issue was reintroduced in the 10Sth Congress. In
March, the House passed The Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act
of 1997 by a margin sufficient to override an expected presi-
dential veto. However, while approval was also expected in
the Senate, it is believed that Senate proponents are several
votes away from a veto-proof margin. Although chances for
final enactment therefore remain unclear, anti-choice forces
see political value in the debate. Both sides in the debate view
the measure as a first step in a renewed assault on the land-
mark 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision, which estab-
lished a woman's right to reproductive choice. The annual tra-
dition whereby many choice-related issues are fought through
the appropriations process is also likely to continue. Periodic
incidents of clinic bombings and other violent acts against
reproductive health facilities has also been deeply troubling.
The organized Jewish community has condemned these
attacks and called upon law enforcement agencies to increase
22    Jewish Public Mfairs Agenda   iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii
 their efforts to protect providers and recipients of reproduc-
 tive health care. The ]CPA has longstanding positions sup-
 porting a woman's legal right to reproductive choice, access
 to the full range of reproductive services, and adequately
 funded family planning programs both in the u.s. and abroad.
      Dissent: The Union of Orthodoxjewish Congregations of
      America (UOjCA) does not, as a matter of long-standing
      policy, join in the jewish Public Affairs Agenda discus-
      sion of "reproductive choice." We cannot endorse a pub-
      lic policy that does not reflect the complex response of
      halacha ljewish lawl to the abortion issue. In most cir-
      cumstances the halacha proscribes abortion but there
      are cases in which halacha permits and indeed man-
      dates abortion. The question is a sensitive one and per-
      sonal decisions in this area should be made in consulta-
      tion with recognized halachic authorities.

 PUBUC EDUCATION
According to the National Education Goals Panel, 13 years
after publication of A Nation at Risk, public schools have
improved only slightly, and many urban systems have sunk
even deeper into crisis. The President has called for the estab-
lishment of rigorous academic standards and has proposed an
education agenda that includes tax breaks for higher educa-
tion, creation of a volunteer reading corps, and financial
incentives to renovate and rebuild old schools. The proposed
$1,500 annual tax credit - which enhances affordability for all
Americans of 14 years of education, including at least two
years of community college - would assist in reducing finan-
cial obstacles to state-supported post-secondary education at a
time when Virtually all the fruits of economic growth are
going to Americans with college degrees. Three education
proposals were included in the President's budget bill that will
increase federal spending on education by almost $50 billion
over five years. Although measures will be suggested to cap-
ture savings in other areas, Congress may oppose these
spending initiatives.
iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii____iiiiiiiiiii__________;;;;;;_iJ'ewish   Public Affairs Agenda   23
While innovations continue within public schools, public
attention has seemed more drawn to alternatives outside pub-
lic schools. Charter schools - new pUblicly-approved and -
funded ventures that are freed from most bureaucratic rules -
are already developing innovative ways to implement tough
standards. Nearly 500 charter schools now operate nation-
wide. Some 25 states have already passed charter school leg-
islation and more states are conSidering such laws. Charter
schools tend to be small; most are elementary schools; and
several state charter laws give preference to schools designed
for at-risk students. The U.S. Department of Education is fund-
ing a large-scale study to determine whether academic perfor-
mance is improved in these schools. The JCPA will monitor
the use of public funds to ensure that they are used for pub-
lic education only, that charter schools operate within consti-
tutional boundaries consistent with existing jCPA interpreta-
tions regarding the separation of church and state, and that
such schools do not violate state and federal anti-discrimina-
tion laws.

 Demands for voucher programs to serve low-income students
 are increasing among leaders in inner city communities. In
 response to state-funded pilot voucher programs for poor
 children in Milwaukee and Cleveland, legal challenges have
 begun and are expected eventually to reach the U.S. Supreme
 Court. Both the Cleveland and Milwaukee programs allow
 funds to go to parochial schools, and both are currently being
challenged in state courts. The jCPA opposes voucher pro-
grams that provide aid to sectarian schools as violating the
 First Amendment's "Establishment Clause." Further, the jCPA
opposes programs that provide public dollars directly to pri-
vate elementary and secondary schools, whether secular or
sectarian, believing this diversion of precious resources away
from public education will undermine the public school sys-
tem. The question of public funding for jewish education will
continue to fuel debates within the Jewish community. The
jCPA has long held a position favoring Jewish communal
rather than public support for Jewish day-school education.

24    Jewish Public Affairs Agenda ;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;----------------
  HEALTH CARE
 Debate on Medicare reform will focus on how deep the cuts
 must be to ensure solvency. The Administration has suggest-
 ed that financial problems could be dealt with in the short
 term with minor adjustments - like cutting payments to doc-
 tors and hospitals - to lengthen life of the Medicare Trust
 Fund for 10 years, while a bipartisan commission deals with
 long range solutions. However, Congressional leaders may
 resist a bipartisan commission, leaving the prospect of a
 return to ideological debates. Regarding the issue of Medicaid,
 while spending on this program has slowed significantly, calls
 for reform continue from the nation's governors, for whom
 Medicaid is a major expenditure. Republicans - who believe
 the President, having ended welfare entitlements, will not
 agree to do the same with Medicaid --have hinted at a will-
 ingness to drop their block-grant strategy, and possibilities
 exist for a compromise involving limited spending cuts.

 Although the Administration and Congress agree on the need
 to expand health insurance, the scarcity of federal dollars for
 new programs will limit options. While the President has tar-
 geted uninsured children and workers between jobs for
 increased coverage, helping workers is considered more
 achievable than extending coverage to children. According to
 the National Center for Health Statistics, gaps in Medicaid --
 which provides many poor children with medical coverage -
 left approximately 10 million children under age 18 uninsured
 in 1994. To address the problem of children's health needs,
 Congress is considering a number of proposals, one of which
 is an Administration measure that would extend coverage to
 half the children currently without health insurance, including
 those currently eligible but not receiving Medicaid. The )CPA
 supports initiatives to address the needs of 10 million unin-
 sured children under the age of 18 and supports appointment
 of a bi-partisan commission to study the 5hort- and long-term
 solutions for the Medicare system .
                                                                                                         .---
;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;~Jewish   Public Mfairs Agenda   25
        JfWIS~ SfCURll~ Rn~ l~f
             Hill OF RIG~lS
        "PROCLAIM LIBERTY THROUGHOUT THE LAND
                     UNTO ALL THE INHABITANTS THEREOF."
                                                                                                                              - Leviticus, 25: 10


     The organized jewish community has long been profoundly
      aware that maintaining a firm wall between church and
    state is essential to religious freedom and to the creative and
      distinctive survival of diverse religious groups, such as our
   own. Given the historic ebb and flow of attempts to challenge
   the principle of strict separation between church and state in
     America, vigorous efforts to protect that cherished constitu-
        tional right must continue. Similarly, our community
   remains actively engaged in the struggle to protect the right of
     each American to follow the dictates of his or her own con-
     science in matters of religious belief, free from government
                                 intrusion.

   A long-held principle of community relations is that the secu-
    rity ofjews in America depends not only on the nature and
       extent of overt anti-Semitism, but on the strength of the
      American democratic process and of those traditions and
        institutions that foster and protect individual freedom.
    Therefore, in addition to our abiding concern with manifes-
     tations of anti-jewish attitudes, the jewish community rela-
   tions field is committed to a vigilant defense against any and
      all threats to an open, democratic and pluralistic society.




;;;;;;;;liiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiliiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiOiiiiiiiiiiJewish   Public Affairs Agenda    27
PREAMBLE
One of the great challenges facing our government and our
country is that increasingly we are a nation whose common
values and traditions have been diffused by individual and
group cultural diversity. The organized Jewish community is
committed to working with others to maintain a vibrant and
meaningful civil society in America, one that reflects the core
values of the nation within the framework of our most cher-
ished constitutional protections. However, the hunger for
common values need not - indeed cannot - be satisfied by
undermining constitutional rights, including the bedrock prin-
ciple of church/state separation. That principle has assured
individuals the right to full participation in society while pre-
serving for all religions the unfettered right to observe the
tenets of their faith. Our constitutional system thus ensures
that the religious culture and beliefs of the majority are not
imposed on other faith communities.

By any measure, Jews in America have achieved full and suc-
cessful participation in mainstream American life, with overt
anti-Semitism limited by and large to fringe elements in soci-
ety. Nevertheless, prejudice and bigotry, directed at Jews and
others, continue to threaten societal unity, undermining our
national search for common values. The Jewish Council for
Public Affairs is committed to working with like-minded indi-
viduals and groups to combat all forms of racism, bigotry, and
anti-Semitism in our society.

In the year ahead, the JCPA will vigorously monitor and
oppose misguided attempts to restrict constitutional protec-
tions. Whether in the area of school prayer, freedom of
speech, or the provision of social services in a manner con-
sistent with constitutional prinCiples, the jCPA and the field of
Jewish community relations will be guided in its efforts by its
commitment to individual freedom, religious liberty, and
democratic pluralism.


28     Jewish Public Mfairs Agenda ;;;;;;;;;____________________
                                                                    ·A ' - . ,




ANTI-SEMITISM
The security of Jews remains strong, notwithstanding disturb-
ing manifestations in some areas. According to recent annual
ADL Audits - which list those anti-Semitic incidents reported
to and recorded by that organization - anti-Semitic incidents
decreased by 11 percent in 1995, and declined another seven
percent in 1996. This represented the first multi-year decline
in 10 years. Unlike previous years, when the number of
harassment and vandalism incidents moved in tandem, 1996
saw a rise in incidents of anti-Semitic vandalism and a decline
in acts of harassment. According to the latest available FBI sta-
tistics, the total number of hate crimes rose some 40 percent
in 1995. Of crimes directed at people on the basis of their reli-
gion, over 80 percent targeted Jews, who are traditionally the
most likely targets of hate crimes committed based on the vic-
tim's religion. These numbers reflect in part increased report-
ing levels based on the growing number of law enforcement
agencies now complying with the Hate Crimes Statistics Act
(HCSA). Unfortunately, the recording requirements of the
HCSA - which was strongly supported by the organized
Jewish community and which mandates the collection of data
on crimes based on racial, religious or ethnic bigotry - are not
being enforced diligently by many states.

Although extremists remain on the fringes of American soci-
ety, the continuing growth of militias and use of the Internet
as a new vehicle for mass distribution of hate literature must
be monitored closely. Militias - a troubling "reconfiguration"
of traditional hate groups which now operate in at least 40
states - have grown in the past two years to outnumber the
total membership of most other hate groups. These and other
extremist groups thrive on conspiracy theories, many of which
include anti-JeWish elements. Although most of the anti-
Semitic and other hateful messages are not new, access to the
Internet presents wordsome opportunities for increased expo-
sure. On web sites operated by militias and other extremist
groups, virulent anti-Semitism shares space with across-the-
board glorification of violence and violent "revolution."

============:1ewish Public Affairs Agenda                    29
One of the most substantial challenges presented by rapidly
expanding Internet communications is the issue of content
control by government or private groups (see sub-section on
the First Amendment Implications of Cyberspace, p.5). The
organized Jewish community will be challenged to develop
policies which address communal concerns regarding anti-
Semitic and other hate speech in cyberspace while maintain-
ing commitment to First Amendment free speech guarantees.

While extremist-group activity continues to be disturbing and
should be monitored and counteracted, also troubling are
continued efforts to introduce extremist or "fringe" anti-
Semitism into the mainstream institutions of American life,
such as higher education, political institutions, and the media.
The organized Jewish community remains committed to strate-
gies which combat anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry in
major American institutions, including efforts to introduce into
these institutions extremist expressions of racism and hate.

REliGION IN AMERICA
Religious Equality Amendments: While disagreements
about wording among conservatives - and the vigorous oppo-
sition of the mainstream religious community - prevented a
final attempt to pass a proposed Constitutional "religious
equality" amendment during the 104th Congress, the debate
has already begun again in the 105th (although passage of
any final bill remains unlikely). All of these proposals,
although couched in benign language, clearly allow and prob-
ably require government to subsidize "pervasively sectarian"
activities and entities, authorizing such practices as state-sanc-
tioned school prayer and government recognition of religion.
The JCPA opposes all of the various versions of the "religious
equality amendment" on the grounds that such an amendment
would fundamentally compromise religious liberty. The JCPA
is particularly concerned that such an amendment would
sanction the inappropriate insertion of religion in the public
institutions of American life, including the authorization of
organized prayer in public school settings.

30     Jewish Public Mfairs Agenda -----------------------
 Religion in the Public Schools: The JCPA continues to
 oppose all forms of public prayer - including "moments of
 silence" intended as a subterfuge for state-sponsored prayer -
 -organized by any governmental entity. While students have
 the right to engage in private, voluntary prayer, the JCPA
 believes that student-initiated and -sponsored graduation
 prayer in the public schools is a clear violation of the separa-
 tion principle under the analysis of the U.S. Supreme Court in
 the seminal 1992 case of Lee v. Weisman (in which a non-
 denominational prayer led by a local Rabbi at a high school
 graduation was held to violate the Establishment Clause).
 Government sponsorship of prayer, in any form, whether spo-
 ken or silent, violates the "Establishment Clause" of the First
 Amendment at least in part because of the coercive effect it
 has on students. Such prayers often lead to harassment and
 ostracism. The Supreme Court has yet to speak on the specif-
 ic issue of student-initiated graduation prayers.

Public Funding of Religious Education: The Supreme
Court has agreed to consider a request by the Justice
Department and the City of New York to reopen the record
in its 1985 decision in Aguilar v. Felton, in which the Court
ruled that federal funds could not be used to provide auxil-
iary services to private parochial schools. This unusual
request - the case is now titled Agostini v. Felton - was no
doubt motivated by recent indications that a majority of
Justices on the Court may be ready to reconsider, and per-
haps overrule, Aguilar (based on the current Court's evolving
view that indirect aid to sectarian institutions may not violate
the Establishment Clause). When the original case was heard
Jewish groups were deeply divided over the legal and policy
implications of Aguilar. The JCPA supported the majority view
in that case, and continues to opposes any attempt to under-
mine the church/state separation principle underpinning that
decision. (The JCPA also opposes voucher programs that pro-
vide aid to parochial schools: see "Public Education," page
xx). Sensitive to those groups in need of auxiliary services, in
the spring of 1997 the JCPA joined an amicus brie/urging the

;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;o;;;;;;;o;;;;;;;o;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;o;;;;;;;o;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;o;;;_:}ewish Public Affairs Agenda   31
Court not to reopen its decision in Aguilar, but also suggest-
ing that if it were to do so auxiliary selVices could be pro-
vided to religious schools more effectively without rejecting
the Court's constitutional analysis in that case. If the Court
does take this opportunity to revisit the constitutional issues
at the heart of Aguilar, its decision could have far-reaching
implications for church-state separation in a number of relat-
ed areas.

     fH.ssent: The jewish War Veterans of the U.S.A. (fWV)
  rejects the proposition that public funding should be lim-
  ited to public education only. jWV continues to support
  the expenditure of public funds for non-public schools
  programs which are deemed constitutionally viable for
  educational essentials, such as health care, lunch pro-
  gram, remedial services for the handicapped and the
  provision of necessary educational material such as text-
  books, computer programs and other supplies.

     Dissent: The Union of Orthodox jewish Congregations of
  America (UOjCA) continues to believe that properly
   drawn educational choice programs can constitutionally
  and eqUitably provide funds for non-public school stu-
   dents and their parents as long as there is no direct gov-
  ernment funding of religious education. The education-
  al choice concept is long overdue given the national need
  for creative education programming.

Religious Freedom Restoration Act: In an important devel-
opment, the Supreme Court heard arguments on the constitu-
tionality of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) in
the case of City of Boerne v. Flores, in which a Texas church
invoked the RFRA after it was denied a construction permit to
expand (the church is in a district designated "historic"). A
broad coalition of religious groups - including the ]CPA - had
asked the Court to take the case in order to affirm RFRA's con-
stitutionality. The RFRA restored strength to the premise
underlying the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment

32      Jewish Public Affairs Agenda --------------------;;;;;;;;;;;
                     by requmng states to show a "compelling interest" before
                     allowing the infringement of the rights of citizens to practice
                     their religion. A decision is expected by the Court sometime
                     in June 1997.

                    Workplace Religious Freedom Act: Legislation to protect
                    religious liberty in the workplace --the Workplace Religious
                    Freedom Act - will be an organized Jewish community prior-
                    ity in the 10Sth Congress. The measure is intended to assure
                    that employers have a meaningful obligation to accommodate
                    their employees' religious practices. In 1972 the u.s. Congress
                    amended the 1964 Civil Rights Act to require that employers
                    "reasonably accommodate" their employees' religious obser-
                    vance unless doing so would impose an "undue hardship."
                    Unfortunately, some federal court interpretations, including
                    two important Supreme Court cases in this area, have so nar-
                    rowed this standard as to place negligible obligation on
                    employers to accommodate their employees. The new legisla-
                    tion would restore to the religious accommodation provision
                    the weight that Congress originally intended and that the JCPA
                    supports.

                   Human Service Programs and Church/State Protections:
                   Included in recently-enacted welfare legislation is a provision
                   - often referred to as "charitable choice" - which on its face
                   allows any religious institution to contract with the federal
                   government, receiving federal funds for the provision of gov-
                   ernment services. Similar provisions are likely to appear in
                   other legislation in the lOSth Congress. Current law permits,
                   and the JCPA supports, government funding of social services
                   provided by religiously-affiliated organizations (such as
                   Catholic Charities and Jewish Family Services) that are not
                   "pervasively sectarian". Conversely, the ]CPA believes that the
                   Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution prohibits perva-
                   sively sectarian institutions (Le., houses of worship) from
                   receiving these funds, unless services are provided in an insti-
                   tutionally separate manner. Jewish and other advocacy groups
                   concerned with church/state separation have argued that a
                   --;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;~Jewish   Public Affairs Agenda   33




,
~'
 ,
 -1','


     ",'
      '1;'
      .. ~


         <;.

             ,,'
clause in the provIsIOn, which stipulates that all programs
must be "implemented consistent with the Establishment
Clause," restricts participation by pervasively sectarian institu-
tions. The JCPA will continue to vigorously oppose "charitable
choice" provisions in Congress and in state capitals and will
urge that implementing regulations be written in such a way
as to prohibit participation by pervasively sectarian institu-
tions. Court challenges, if deemed necessary, will await the
creation of an actual program upon which to base legal
action.

Race ill America: In the Supreme Court's two voting rights
decisions inJune 1996 - Bush v. Vera and Shaw v. Hunt - the
Court expressed its discomfort with the use of race in carving
out legislative districts, specifically rejecting districts in which
race is determined to be the "dominant factor." Nevertheless,
the Justices remain divided on the extent to which race can be
considered in drawing electoral districts. The Court has a
number of voting rights cases on its docket for the 1996-97
term, so it is quite likely that further clarification of this diffi-
cult area is still to come. While sensitive to the commitment of
the African American and other ethnic and racial minorities to
race-based redistricting as a means of increasing political
power, the Jewish community relations field will continue to
examine the limits of, and the need for, the use of race in
redreSSing a history or pattern of discrimination. While it
appears that the Court's most recent decisions did not affect
the ability of certain incumbent African American members of
Congress to be re-elected, the impact of those decisions on
African Americans running for office without the benefit of
incumbency remains to be seen.

Moreover, the JCPA reiterates its longstanding support for the
principle of affirmative action, and is concerned about the
legal and policy implications of the recently-passed California
Civil Rights Initiative (CCRI) and other legislative efforts to
prohibit altogether the use of race as a classification for gov-
ernment programs (See the section entitled "Race and
34     Jewish Public Affairs Agenda --____________________
Intergroup Relations" on page 8 for further discussion of
CCRI).

   Dissent: The Jewish War Veterans of the U.S.A. (fWV)
   supports all efforts to rectify violations of the Voting Rights
   Act to ensure the continu~tion of "one man, one vote."
  .fWV rejects any attempt to alter thisfundamental tenet of
   constitutional rights through gerrymandering.

CONSTITUTIONAL PROTECTIONS
First Amendment Implications of Cyberspace: The 1996
Telecommunications Reform Act (TRA) - which includes a
section making it a crime to transmit "indecent" sexual mater-
ial over computer networks to which minors have access - is
currently being challenged on constitutional grounds before
the Supreme Court. In 1996 a federal court declared many
parts of the new law "profoundly repugnant" to the free
speech guarantees of the First Amendment. While the orga-
nized Jewish community waits for the Supreme Court's deci-
sion regarding the TRA, it is clear that the burgeoning world
of cyberspace carries substantial implications for traditional
Bill-of-Rights protections.

Habeas Corpus: The 104th Congress passed an ill-advised
and draconian habeas-corpus reform measure under the guise
of the fight against terrorism. One aspect of the measure -
which drastically limits the circumstances under which habeas
corpus relief is available - was found to be constitutional by
the Supreme Court inJune 1996. Challenges against other pro-
visions have been, or are expected to be, brought. The )CPA
calls upon the 105th Congress to revisit this issue and to pass
reasonable habeas-corpus reform that is protective of the
rights of those on "death row" and of all Americans.

Civil Rights For Gays And Lesbians: The JCPA supports the
Employment Non-Discrimination Act and other legislative
efforts to bar discrimination based on sexual orientation in

--------------------=-Jewish Public Affairs Agenda               35




                                                                      I
employment, housing, public accommodation, and education,
as well as the incorporation in such legislation of exemptions
designed to protect the right of religious institutions to carry
out their religious purposes.

     Dissent: The Union of orthodox jewish Congregations
     of America (UOjCA) does not join in the sub-section on
     civil rights for gays and lesbians. We are opposed to dis-
     crimination and vigilantism against any individual or
     group. The halacha, however, prohibits homosexual
     activity, and we cannot join in a statement that could
     be misinterpreted to imply otherwise.

Campaign Finance Reform: Ongoing controversies sur-
 rounding fundraising efforts during the Presidential and
 Congressional elections of 1996 increased public pressure to
reform our system of campaign financing. The JCPA welcomes
efforts to reform an abuse-prone system of electing govern-
mental representatives and looks forward to working with our
elected leaders to ensure that appropriate and effective
reforms are passed. In particular, the Jewish community rela-
tions field has long supported: voluntary spending limits for
and/or public financing of congressional elections; the prohi-
bition of "soft money" abuses; limits on political action com-
mittee (PAC) contributions to individual candidates; and limits
on the aggregate PAC contributions a candidate can receive.
Recognizing the important functions PACs can perform for
many constituencies (including the Jewish community), the
JCPA opposes their abolition, favoring instead reforms similar
to those outlined above.

INTERREUGIOUS RELATIONSHIPS
Jewish-Catholic and Jewish-Protestant relations remain sound,
nationally and locally. The JCPA continues to enhance its
working relationship with the United States Catholic
Conference/National Conference of Catholic Bishops and the
National Council of Churches and denominational leadership

36      Jewish Public Mfairs Agenda -----------------------
on issues of common concern (including, for example, the
National Religious Partnership on the Environment). Work
continues as well with the American Muslim community on
issues regarding Bosnia and on shared civil liberties concerns,
and interfaith dialogue groups continue to meet.

Recently, some statements have been issued by mainline
Protestant groups (such as proposals to make Jerusalem a
shared city), and others are planned, criticizing the approach
of the new Israeli government to peace process deliberations,
with special attention to issues surrounding the status of
Jerusalem. Jewish leaders should be prepared to deal with
criticism and to interpret Israeli policy, ensuring that facts are
made clear and charges are not exaggerated.

The Jewish community, as well as many Christian groups,
reacted with outrage when the Southern Baptist Convention
(SBC), the nation's largest Protestant denomination, adopted a
resolution in June 1996 calling for renewed efforts to convert
Jews to Christianity and appointing a missionary to resume
conversionary activity. Follow-up communications between
some Jewish agencies and the Baptist group increased dis-
agreement. Jewish communities with Southern Baptist popu-
lations will be monitoring the emergence of possible conver-
sionary efforts, particularly through sects of "Messianic Jews"
affiliated with the SBC. Acknowledging that proselytizing
activities are protected behavior under the "free-exercise"
clause of the First Amendment, the field has nevertheless long
opposed missionary work specifically targeted at Jews as
offensive and destructive of good intergroup relations.

Today, the primary pattern of Christian-Jewish relations
emphasizes joint programmatic initiatives, theological dia-
logue, and repudiation of anti-Semitism. Consistent with that
approach, the United Methodist Church recently issued an his-
toric statement on Jewish-Christian relations, which affirmed
the spiritual vitality of the Jewish covenant; expressed remorse
for any complicity in Jewish persecution over the ages, includ-

------------------------:J'ewish Public Mfairs Agenda         37
ing the Holocaust; and condemned all forms of anti-Semitism.
Issued by a broad-based national church body, the UMC state-
ment can become a standard for other Christian groups.

Jewish, Protestant, and Catholic communities joined forces to
respond to an alarming increase in church burnings nation-
wide, particularly in rural black communities. Outraged by
any attempt to attack communities by destroying their hous-
es of worship, the organized Jewish community responded
with strong statements of condemnation, and continues to
work in cooperation with interfaith partners to collect funds
and organize volunteers to rebuild the churches.




38    Jewish Public Affairs Agenda ________________iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii
  s~mmnR~ OF RfSOlUIIOn~
      n~OPlf~ nl I~f
       1991 Plfn~m
lOOth Anniversary of the Zionist Movement and the 50th
Anniversary of the State of Israel - The JCPA, calling
Zionism "one of the greatest and most successful revolutions
in history," urged the entire American Jewish community to
join with the people of Israel in celebrating these two momen-
tous occasions.

Chemical Weapons Convention - The ]CPA "strongly
urged" the U.S. Senate to ratify the Chemical Weapons
Convention (CWC). Citing a litany of "unhappy conse-
quences" should the Senate fail to ratify, the )CPA argued that
the CWC would help to assure that "these repugnant
weapons" would be banned by international law.

Clean Air and other Regulations Affecting Public Health
- The )CPA issued a set of guiding principles regarding deci-
sions concerning pollution control and then called on the EPA
and the Congress to "strengthen air standards and to increase
funding for alternative, low-pollution energy production and
mass transit."

Domestic Violence - The ]CPA called on the field to "work
with the courts, law-enforcement agencies, legislatures and
social service agencies to develop strategies to combat domes-
tic violence and to protect all victims of domestic abuse." The
resolution then outlined a number of federal and state legisla-
tive efforts designed to help abused women that the JCPA
supported.
--_____________________:}ewish Public Affairs Agenda        39
Endangered Species and Habitats - Calling the Endangered
Species Act "the nation's most important vehicle for the pro-
tection of biological diversity," the JCPA affirmed the orga-
nized Jewish community's firm commitment to "the protection
of species and their habitats." The JCPA called on Congress to
strengthen the Act by requiring the government to focus on
prevention rather than remediation.

Ethiopian Immigrants in the State of Israel - Noting that
the "dramatic rescue of Ethiopian Jewry ... has been a source
of pride for Jews all over the world," and citing troubling
reports of absorption difficulties with these immigrants in
Israel, the JCPA urged the Prime Minister to demonstrate "per-
sonalleadership" on this issue and pledged "support for and
close cooperation with" Israeli efforts to overcome current
obstacles.

Israel's Missing-In-Action - The JCPA, noting that this was
the "tenth anniversary year of the capture of Israel Air Force
Captain Ron Arad," urged the U.S. Government "to keep the
issue of the Israeli MIAs on its foreign affairs agenda" and
called on Kofi Annan, the new secretary-general of the UN, to
"reinvigorate" UN efforts on their behalf.

Middle East Peace Process - Applauding the agreement to
redeploy Israeli troops from Hebron, the JCPA expressed its
"gratitude" to the Clinton Administration and to jordan's King
Hussein for their "pivotal role" in helping the parties conclude
the agreement. The JCPA indicated its strong support for the
ongoing peace process, while cautioning that "there can be
no peace agreement without adequate security guarantees for
Israel."

Restitution of Missing Jewish Assets in Swiss Banks - The
JCPA welcomed the establishment of a Humanitarian Fund for
Holocaust Victims by the three largest Swiss banks and the
creation of two commissions by the Swiss government to
investigate Switzerland's wartime dealings as "hopeful signs"

40    Jewish Public Affairs Agenda =====;;;;;;;;;;;=;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;~
of Swiss willingness to deal will this troubling period of its
history.

u.s. Debt to the U.N. - The JCPA affirmed the organized
Jewish community's commitment to the United Nations.
Acknowledging that the world Jewish community continued
to be concerned and sometimes alarmed by the international
body's treatment of the Israel, the JCPA asserted that the U.N.
"continues to offer the best forum for discussing global issues"
and urged that the U.S. pay all money due to the U.N.




----------_____________:Jewish Public Affairs Agenda         41
                     ~pPfnOIX
              THE }CPA MISSION STATEMENT
                   ADOPTED JUNE 10, 1996


THE JEWISH COUNCIL FOR PUI3L1C AFFAIRS QCPA) serves as the rep-
resentative voice of the organized American Jewish communi-
ty in addressing the mandate of the Jewish community rela-
tions field.

That mandate is expressed in two, interrelated goals:
   (1) to safeguard the rights of Jews here, in Israel, and
       around the world; and, in order to accomplish that,
   (2) to protect, preserve, and promote a just American soci-
       ~ty, one that is democratic and pluralistic.


These goals are pursued in a non-partisan manner informed
by Jewish values. History teaches us that Jewish security is
inexorably linked to the strength of democratic institutions.
Thus, our community has a direct stake - along with an ethi-
cal imperative - in assuring that America remains a country
wedded to the Bill of Rights and committed to the rule of law,
whose institutions continue to function as a public trust.

The JCPA reflects a unique and inclusive partnership of
national member agencies, local community relations coun-
cils and committees, and the federations of which they are a
component part or an affiliated agency. It convenes the
"common table" around which member agencies, through an
open, representative, inclusive and consensus-driven process,
meet to identify issues, articulate positions, and develop
strategies, programs, and approaches designed to advance
the public affairs goals and objectives of the organized
Jewish community.


============l1ewish Public                Affairs Agenda    43
The work of the JCPA, especially in matters relating to demo-
 cratic pluralism and social justice, reflects the profound Jewish
 commitment to tikkun olam, the repair of the world. It
expresses the conviction of the organized Jewish community
that it must be active in the effort to build a just sOciety. The
JCPA has the responsibility to enhance the capacity of mem-
ber agencies to effectively pursue the public affairs agenda.
This responsibility requires the JCPA to provide coordination,
support, and guidance for public affairs initiatives undertaken
by national and local member agencies, to advocate on behalf
of the public affairs policies of the organized Jewish commu-
nity, and to respond to those member-identified needs which
strengthen their individual and collaborative capacity to
advance the communal public affairs agenda.


The Role, of the JCPA
The jewisb Council for Public Affairs aCPA) was created in
1944 by the General Assembly of the Council of Jewish
Federations, intended to be the multi-issue public affairs arm
of the organized Jewish community. Over the past half centu-
ry the JCPA - formerly the National Jewish Community
Relations Advisory Council - has proven itself to be an effec-
tive coordinating body for the diverse groups that together
comprise the Jewish community relations field. The JCPA, a
voluntary association of 122 local and 13 national agencies
throughout the United States, is the instrument through which
its members jointly determine positions on issues of priority
concern, and coordinate ways to most effectively advocate
those positions.

The ]CPA deliberative process - free and open debate, with
careful regard for the right to dissent - allows member agen-
cies to maximize their effectiveness by planning policies
together and coordinating their programs. In determining pri-
orities and allocating resources, the JCPA and its member
agencies use the following criteria: The nature and extent of

44    Jewish Public Mfairs Agenda ----------------------
threats to Jews as individuals and/or as a Jewish community at
home and abroad; the nature and extent of threats to the
American democratic process; the impact of changing condi-
tions on the goals and policies of the Jewish community; the
efficacy of remedies in resolving issues; and, the priority con-
cerns of allies.
All member agencies are autonomous, engaging in those
aspects of community relations work deemed appropriate to
an agency's goals and commensurate with its resources. JCPA
policy provides that each member agency respect the integri-
ty and philosophy of other member agencies and encourages
a recognition that the proper functioning of the JCPA depends
on proper relations between its various stakeholders.
The entire range of public affairs issues that affect America's
Jews - including Middle East peace and Israeli security, civil-
rights and -liberties, racism and prejudice, poverty and justice,
intergroup relations, environmental and public health issues,
and international human rights - are addressed through the
JCPA process. One result of that process is the annual jewish
Public Affairs Agenda, which is, in essence, the blueprint for
action by the organized Jewish community.

Purpose of the Jewish Public Affairs Agenda
The jewish Public Affairs Agenda - formerly known as the
Joint Program Plan - is designed to serve as an advisory guide
to member agencies in their own program planning. Each
agency is free to accept, reject, modify, or expand any of the
Agenda's recommendations.
The jewish Public Affairs Agenda seeks to identify and
appraise changing conditions and trends that have occurred
during the year as a basis for projecting their potential impact
on Jewish community relations goals and concerns in the year
ahead. It is in light of such assessments that priorities and
strategic goals for the next twelve months are determined.
These broad judgments allow the field to tailor a collective
national response to changing conditions.

===========-Jewish Public Affairs Agenda                      45
The jewish Public Affairs Agenda is not a statement of )CPA
policies as such, nor does it restate positions taken in previ-
ous years. Policies previously adopted by the )CPA remain in
effect until amended or superseded by the actions of the )CPA
executive committee or the plenum. In setting forth strategic
goals, the Agenda does not spell out specific programs to
achieve those goals. Such guidance is given in memoranda
that flow from deliberations and recommendations made by
the )CPA task forces during the course of the year.

How the Agenda was Formulated
In late 1996, draft propositions were prepared by the )CPA
staff. These drafts - based upon the staffs understanding of
the preceding year's deliberative processes - were then circu-
lated to all )CPA member agencies well in advance of the
February 1997 plenum. In each proposition staff members
attempted to assess the impact of changing conditions on spe-
cific ]CPA policies and to anticipate developments that would
either advance or undermine these policies. All member agen-
cies were urged to study and discuss the propositions and to
submit in writing those items they felt required consideration
and resolution by the plenum.

This year's draft document was approved at the plenum. In
order to take into consideration any changes necessitated by
new events in the months immediately following the plenum,
a final draft of the Plan was reviewed in April 1997 by the
JeWish Public Affairs Agenda Committee, chaired by Elaine
Wishner of the American Jewish Committee and Dr. Stephen
Stone of Springfield, Illinois. The Committee was comprised
of the chairpersons of all )CPA task forces, as well as lay and
professional representatives from many of the national mem-
ber agencies and local Jewish community relations councils
and committees.

The jewish Public Affairs Agenda for 1997-98 appears herein
as adopted, together with such dissents, exceptions, and qual-
ifications as expressed by some individual agencies.
46    Jewish Public Mfairs Agenda _________=   __________=;;;;;;;;;;;
               JEWISH COUNCn. FOR PUBUC AFFAIRS
EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE                           BOARD OF DIRECTORS
                                              (in addition to the Executive Committee)
Chair
Michael N. Newmark, St. Louis                 National Agencv RepcuanfallyM

Vice Chair.                                   American Jewish Committee
Susan Abravanel, Portland, OR                 Herbert Mines
Lee Adlerstein, MetroWest                     Ronald G. Weiner
Michael Bohnen, Boston
Marvin Caller. Hartford                       American Jewish Congress
Dr. Leonard Cole, Betgen County               Joel Goldstein
Dr. Jacob Kirshner, Middlesex County          Barry Winograd
Paul N. Minkoff, Philadelphia
Steven Schwarz, Wilkes-Barre                  B'nal B'rithlAnti-Defamation League
Alan Sieroly. Los Angeles                     Hugh Schwartzbetg
Elaine Wishner, American Jewish Committee     David H. Strassler

Treasurer                                     Hadassah
Ronald Abrams, Louisville                     Ruth Cole
                                              Judith Palkovitz
Secretary
Frederick N. Frank, Plttsbutgh                Jewish Labor Committee
                                              Lenore Miller
"'stCha/rs                                    Emanuel Muravchik
Albert E. Arent, Washington, DC
Jordan C. Band, Cleveland                     Jewish War Veterans of the U.S.A.
Lewis D. Cole, Louisville                     Herb Rosenbleelh
Aaron Goldman, Washington, DC                 Robert M. Zweiman
Jacqueline K. Levine, MetroWest
Lynn L15s, National Council of Jewish Women   National Council of Jewish Women
Theodore R. Mann, Philadelphia                Nanei Bobrow
Michael A. Pelavin, Flint                     Nan Rich
Arden E. Shenker, Portland, OR
Maynard I. Wishner. Chicago                   Union of American Hebrew Congregations
Bennen Yanowitz, Cleveland                    Rabbi David Saperstein
                                              Evely Laser Shlensky
Executive Vice Chairman
Lawrence Rubin                                Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of
                                              America
Associate Executive Vice Chairman             David Luchins
Martin J. Raffel                              Richard Stone

Associate Executive Vice Chair                United Synagogue of Conservatl".
Karen Senter                                  Juda/smIWomen's League for CotlllWntlve
                                              Judaism
Executive Vice Chair Emeritus                 Dr. Marilyn Wind
Albert D. Chemin                              Evelyn Seelig

                                              Woman's American ORT
                                              Sandra Isenstein
                                              Ruth Taffel




----------------------~Jewish Public Affairs Agenda                                      47
                                                                                             r




Community RepresentllUve.                JCPASTAFF

Marie Abrams, Louisville                 Dr. Lawrence RubIn
Stephen Black, Dallas                    Executive Vice Chairman
Irving Blank, Richmond
Dr. Frank Boehm, Nashville
Mitchell Cohen, Southern New Jersey      Mertln J. Raffel
Ruth Cole, Bergen County                 Associate Executive Vice Chairman!
Sheila K. Derman, Baltimore              Director, Task Force on Israel and Other
Roben Eiseman, Milwaukee                 Intemational Concerns
Theodore Eisenberg, MetroWest
Edward Fox, Chicago                       Karen Senter
Bobbie Ghitis, San Antonio               Assistant Executive Vice ChairIDirector. Domestic
Lawrence Go/d, Atlanta                   Concerns
Judah Gribetz, New Yolk
 Barry Gross, Oakland
Anhur Hoffman, Harrisburg                Rebecca Balm
Michelle Kohn, Palm Beach County         Program Associate
Judah Labovitz, Philadelphia
J. David Levy. St. Louis                 Benita Gayle-Almeleh
Sheri Lublin, Hanford                    Senior Community Consultant
Rhoda Mains, Minnesota
Judy Palkovitz, Pittsburgh               Mark X. Jacobs
Debra Pell, San Francisco                Project Coordinator
Eleanor Rubin, Central N.J.              Coalition on the Environment & Jewish Life
James Samuels, Cleveland                 (COEJL)
Sheldon Sollosy. Rhode Island
Anher Stern, Los Angeles                 Joy Newton
Kenneth Sweder, Boston                   Director of Administration
Loren Weinstein, Dallas
Betsy Winkelman, Detroit                 Reva Price
                                         Washington Representative
Ex-Ottlcio
                                         Craig Sumberg
Caryn Adelman, Chicago                   Director of Public Information and Legal Affairs
Paul Berger. Washington, DC
Sharon Bloome, Seattle                   Anal Youdkes
Donna Bojarsky, Los Angeles              Office Manager, COEJL
Joan Bronk, NCJW
Barry Cohen, AtlantiC County             Administrative Staff
Dr. Len Cole, Bergen County              Jackie Berg
Norman Davis, San AntoniO                Daniel Ramirez
David H. Goldman. Des Moines             Ricardo Soto
Ronald Goldsmith, Kansas City
Helen Hoffman, Palm Beach
Shirley T. Joseph, Buffalo
Rabbi Doug Kahn, JCRC Directors Assn.
Harvey L. Kaplan, Kansas City
Aileen Kassen. Cleveland
Laurence M. Katz, Baltimore
Donald E. Lefton, Miami
Stanley H. Lowell, New Yolk
Bonnie Milenthal, Columbus
Rabbi Israel Miller, New Yolk
Norman G. Orodenker, Rhode Island
Daniel S. Shapiro, New Yotk
Evely Laser Shlensky. UAHC
Norman Tilles, HIAS
Barry E. Ungar, Philadelphia
Jerry Wagner, Hanford
Richard Wexler, NCSJ
Rabbi Sheldon Zimmerman, Dallas




48           Jewish Public Affairs Agenda ______________________;;;;;;;;;0
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