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Action Alerts

Hadassah was deeply concerned to learn of an act of violence against a Jewish student at Temple University last week. Hadassah deplores all forms of discrimination, harassment, intimidation, and violence against any person based on their race, ethnicity, religion, color, sexual orientation, gender, national origin or disability. We join with the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, of which Hadassah is a member, in calling for civility and security on college campuses in light of increased global anti-Semitism.

JCPA Calls for Civility and Security on College Campuses in Light of Increased Global Anti-Semitism

NEW YORK – In response to increased anti-Semitic rhetoric and violence worldwide and a new school year beginning, the Jewish Council of Public Affairs calls for civility on campus and for campus leaders to foster an atmosphere in which students and faculty can feel safe, physically and intellectually, to express their opinions and ideas.

“As students return to their campuses in the coming weeks, it is essential for the Jewish community to serve as a resource, particularly given the spate of anti-Semitic incidents worldwide over this past summer,” said Rabbi Steve Gutow, JCPA President. “The JCPA calls on all campus leaders, regardless of their beliefs, to counter hateful speech on campus and to work together to foster an atmosphere in which all students and faculty can feel safe in expressing their opinions and ideas, both inside and out of the classroom, without fear of repercussions. Together we should all give high priority to de-escalating conflict while promoting a climate in which Jewish students are physically secure and able to participate fully in campus life.”

“We send our children to college to learn and to grow not to be threatened for their views or simply for who they are,” added Susan W. Turnbull, JCPA Chair. “College is a time to express ideas and to engage in meaningful dialogue in a climate that values academic and intellectual freedom as critical thinking is often the best solvent for hatred and discrimination. College campuses should be environments that promote justice and civility -- where differing viewpoints can be aired without fear or intimidation.”

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JCPA, the public affairs arm of the organized Jewish community, serves as the national coordinating and advisory body for the 17 national including Hadassah and 125 local agencies comprising the field of Jewish community relations.




Israel once again finds itself in a time of crisis, forced to take military action to defend its citizens from indiscriminate rocket and mortar fire. American support and strategic partnerships are instrumental to securing Israel’s safety. In recent days over 500 rockets have been launched at Israel from Gaza, and over 75 missiles headed for populated areas were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system.

Urge Congress to affirm its unwavering, bipartisan support for Israel’s sovereignty and security, and pass the United States-Israel Strategic Partnership Act!

On March 5, the House of Representatives passed the United States-Israel Strategic Partnership Act of 2014 (H.R. 938) in a vote of 410-1. This legislation has been received by the Senate and was referred to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

The bipartisan United States-Israel Strategic Partnership Act would strengthen U.S.-Israel cooperation in the areas of security, intelligence, technology, and commerce. The legislation reaffirms America’s commitment to provide support for the Iron Dome short-range rocket defense system, promotes energy cooperation, and codifies Israel’s status as a major strategic partner of the United States.

Visit Hadassah’s Operation Protective Edge Alert Page and social media accounts for the latest updates and how you can help.

Register for the Email Action Network to receive public policy updates, timely information about critical national and international issues, and suggestions for taking action.



NEW YORK – Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, Inc., is deeply disappointed and concerned by the Supreme Court’s ruling in Burwell, Secretary of Health and Human Services v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.

 

The Supreme Court has struck down aspects of the Affordable Care Act contraception mandate, certifying that closely-held for-profit companies can assert religious beliefs and avoid providing their employees with no-cost contraception coverage. The court decision has opened the door to broadening the contraception exception, potentially allowing insurance companies and third-party administrators to provide contraceptive coverage directly to employees of closely-held for-profit companies, in addition to those of religiously-affiliated non-profits.

Hadassah, which signed an amicus brief in this case, releases the following statement:

It has been nearly 50 years since the Supreme Court first granted women legal access to contraception. Tragically, today’s decision in Hobby Lobby was a giant step backward for women’s reproductive rights.

Preventive care encourages personal health awareness and early detection – rightfully putting women in charge of their own health and wellness. The Supreme Court has not disputed that access to no-cost contraceptive coverage, an essential component of women’s preventive care and overall health, is within the government’s interest. However, it is deeply disappointing and concerning that the Court would allow an employer’s religious beliefs to supersede women’s health and the right of women to make their own health care decisions.

Hadassah remains concerned that religious exceptions to the contraception mandate create undue barriers for women. This court ruling still leaves open the possibility that employers can avoid compliance with the current religious exception because they claim the process is too onerous.

We will continue to work with the Obama administration and Congress to ensure that whatever new policies are proposed to address this decision are in the best interest of women and families.

Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America, is the largest women's Zionist Jewish membership organization in the United States, and was founded in 1912. 330,000 members, associates, and supporters strong, Hadassah is now in its second century, growing our commitment to innovative and life-changing medical care and research, women's empowerment, education, advocacy, philanthropy and building Jewish identity – in Israel, America and around the world.

Hadassah is a pioneer in women’s health care – providing comprehensive preventive services and multidisciplinary care. Hadassah also has a long history advocating for quality, affordable health care in the United States. Hadassah is a staunch advocate for reproductive choice and affirms that women deserve the right to make family planning decisions privately, in consultation with medical advice, and in accordance with their own religious, moral and ethical values.

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Hadassah joins the Jewish Council for Public Affairs and the Israel Action Network in expressing outrage, disappointment and sadness over the Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA) decision to divest from three American companies because of their sales to the government of Israel. See below for excerpts from the joint JCPA/IAN statement or read the full press release on the Israel Action Network website.

Hadassah is a staunch advocate against the BDS movement, which aims to tarnish and delegitimize the State of Israel. Hadassah opposes destructive actions in favor of constructive dialogue in order to pursue a future of peace in the Middle East.

Jewish Council for Public Affairs and Israel Action Network Express Outrage,
Disappointment and Sadness over Presbyterian Church (USA) Divestment Move

The biennial General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) voted today to divest from three American companies because of their sales to Israel, by a very narrow margin of 310-303. The Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA), together with the Israel Action Network (IAN), an initiative of The Jewish Federations of North America in partnership with the JCPA, created to counter assaults on Israel’s legitimacy, issued the following statement:

“The decision by the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) to divest from three U.S.-based companies because of their sales to Israel is outrageous. We are deeply disappointed, hurt, and saddened. But we are not surprised, given the deep animus that a determined core group of church officials has demonstrated against both the Jewish people and the State of Israel,” said JCPA President Rabbi Steve Gutow. “This decision will undoubtedly have a devastating impact on relations between mainstream Jewish groups and the national Presbyterian Church (USA). We hold the leadership of the PCUSA accountable for squandering countless opportunities, not only to act responsibly to advance prospects for Middle East peace, but also to isolate and repudiate the radical, prejudiced voices in their denomination.”

IAN Managing Director Geri Palast remarked, “It is troubling and tragic to see the Presbyterian Church (USA) choose to reject partnership in favor of partisanship, ignoring the entreaties of every major organizational voice in the American Jewish community, including over 1,700 religious leaders from the four movements and all fifty states. The publication of ‘Zionism Unsettled,’ and anti-Jewish and anti-Israel congregational guide, connected the dots between this church action and efforts to eliminate the Jewish state of Israel. The only path to a just peace is a two-state solution. Divestment and BDS are the tools of division and a one-state movement.”

The JCPA and IAN have worked closely with Jewish Federations, Jewish Community Relations Councils, rabbis, and national Jewish agencies and their affiliates around the country to foster dialogue and programs that support peace and reconciliation and reject delegitimization and divestment.

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On Thursday, June 12, three Israeli students—Naftali Frankel (16), Gilad Shaar (16), and Eyal Yifrach (19)—were abducted on their way home from religious school in the West Bank. Naftali Frankel also has dual Israeli/American citizenship.

Hadassah’s joins with the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and others in the Jewish community in praying for the safe return of the Israeli youths and calling for the Palestinian Authority and unity government to act decisively to assist in finding the youths and those responsible.

Robert G. Sugarman, Chairman, and Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice Chairman, of Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations expressed concern and solidarity on behalf of the organization (of which Hadassah is a member) in a letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu. The letter affirmed that American Jewry stands together with the government and people of Israel, and particularly, the families of the three youths.

Secretary of State John Kerry said, “The United States strongly condemns the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers and calls for their immediate release. …We continue to offer our full support for Israel in its search for the missing teens, and we have encouraged full cooperation between the Israeli and Palestinian security services.” Kerry has also been in contact with both Prime Minister Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas about this issue.

Take Action! Thank Secretary Kerry for his statements and urge President Obama to speak out publically condemning the kidnappings and supporting Israel’s use of all means necessary to find the Israeli teens. Hadassah also urges the American government to provide all other avenues of support and exertion of international pressure in order to ensure that these young men can return home speedily and safely.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has announced that members of Hamas—the terrorist organization and part of the new Palestinian unity government—carried out the attack. Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a militant group connected to Abbas’ Fatah party, has claimed responsibility and demands the release of thousands of Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the three Israeli youths. However, there is doubt about the statement’s veracity and it has yet to be verified.

Hadassah released a statement on June 3 expressing disappointment and deep concern about the formation of a Palestinian unity government including Hamas. The Palestinian Authority (PA) must also be held responsible for the kidnappings and the inclusion of Hamas in the Palestinian unity government. Hadassah joins a bipartisan group of 88 Senators in urging President Barack Obama to ensure full compliance with the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006 and to pressure Palestinian President Abbas to return to the negotiating table with Israel and comply with the Quartet principles required for any recognition of a Palestinian government.

Today, Hadassah joins with fellow members of the Jewish community at a prayer vigil at the Israeli Consulate in New York and encourages Hadassah members, associates, and supporters to attend rallies in their communities advocating for the boys’ safe return. Visit the Hadassah National Action Center to advocate for the return of the kidnapped Israeli teens and participate in the #EyalGiladNaftali and #BringBackOurBoys campaigns on social media.

Register for the Email Action Network to receive public policy updates, timely information about critical national and international issues, and suggestions for taking action.



Hadassah congratulates Israeli President-elect Reuven Rivlin on his election as the 10th President of Israel. Rivlin, a member of the Likud party, has been a Member of the Knesset (MK) since 1988 and served twice as Speaker of the Knesset. He also served as the Minister of Communications from 2001-2003. Rivlin, a lawyer by training, was also director and chairman of the Beitar Jerusalem Sports Association and chairman of the Institute for Occupational Safety and Hygiene.

President-elect Rivlin is a longtime supporter of Hadassah Hospital and recently visited with patients at Hadassah Ein Kerem. We look forward to the opportunity to continue working with him throughout his presidency.

Prior to the election, Rivlin wrote an article for the Israel Democracy Institute discussing his vision for the presidency:

We do not know what trials the coming years will bring. The president, with his or her nonpartisanship, must be someone who can rise above conflict, even in times of crisis, and act to prevent crises and rifts. In a society torn by such deep disagreements there must be at least one institution and one person who is trusted and accepted by all parties to the dispute. The president cannot resolve the arguments, but he must do everything in his power to enable all of us to live with these divisions and must groom the public not only to agree but also to agree to disagree. Click here to read the full article.

Israeli presidential elections take place every seven years. Members of the Knesset cast their votes by secret ballot and the winner must receive a majority of votes (61 out of 120 MKs). If a majority is not reached after the first round of voting, a runoff is held between the top two candidates. Rivlin received the most votes (44) in the first round voting, and won the runoff 63 to 53 against MK Meir Sheetrit, a member of the centrist Hatnuah party established by Tzipi Livni. Rivlin will be sworn in on July 24, replacing Shimon Peres who has been the Israeli President since July 2007.

Learn more about the Institution of the Presidency of Israel from the Israeli government website.  

 



UPDATE 6/9/2014: Contact your legislators and urge them to review American funding to the Palestinian government.
Encourage your Senators to sign-on to the bipartisan letter to the White House being circulated by Senators Benjamin Cardin (D-MD) and Susan Collins (R-ME). The letter urges President Obama to ensure full compliance with the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006 and to pressure Palestinian President Abbas to return to the negotiating table with Israel and comply with the Quartet principles required for any recognition of a Palestinian government.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
June 3, 2014 

Hadassah Deeply Concerned about Palestinian Unity Government 

Hadassah joins with the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, of which Hadassah is a member, in expressing disappointment and deep concern at the formation of the Palestinian Authority "unity" government.  We urge Palestinian President Abbas to return to negotiations with Israel, and continue to hope for a future of stability in the region and a peaceful fulfillment of a two-state solution. 

See below for the Conference of Presidents full statement.  Hadassah will continue to follow these developments and will provide additional updates when they become available. 

Conference of President Leaders' Statement on Palestinian Unity Government

Monday, June 2, 2014, New York, NY -- Statement by Robert G. Sugarman, Chairman, and Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice Chairman, of Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations regarding the announcement of the Palestinian unity government:

“We are disappointed and deeply concerned at the formation of the Palestinian Authority “unity” government. The United States and Israel have made clear that they will not engage with Hamas, a declared terrorist organization that continues to call for the destruction of Israel. We urge the United States and other governments to be vigilant in their judgment of and dealings with the newly declared government. We call on President Abbas to return to the negotiations with Israel and not engage in this charade. United States law prohibits funding to a Palestinian government in which Hamas participates. We, therefore, support the calls by members of Congress from both parties to review US aid to the Palestinian Authority and to assure that the law is appropriately implemented.”

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The Conference of Presidents is the central coordinating body representing 50 national Jewish organizations on issues of national and international concern



May 21, 2014 

Yesterday, the House of Representatives passed a slate of trafficking legislation—a major step forward in addressing the issues of sex trafficking and exploitation, especially of children.

Every day, men, women and children are forced, defrauded, or coerced into labor or sexual exploitation. Trafficking and its related crimes not only harm those involved; they also undermine the social, political and economic fabric of the nations where they occur by devaluing individuals, demeaning women, and increasing violence and crime.

The House of Representatives passed five trafficking bills and a resolution condemning the kidnapping of over 200 Nigerian girls. Hadassah members and supporters continue to advocate for the United States to provide all avenues of support and exertion of international pressure in order to ensure that these young women can return home speedily and safely.

Hadassah has been a vocal advocate for the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act, which will increase penalties for traffickers and expand funding for law enforcement training programs and critical victims’ services. The Preventing Sex Trafficking and Improving Opportunities for Youth in Foster Care Act will help strengthen the child welfare system so that child sex trafficking can better identified, addressed, and prevented.

The package of legislation also encourages states to create safe harbor laws so trafficked minors are treated as victims not criminals; authorizes additional funding to care for trafficking victims; outlaws trafficking-related publicity or advertisements; and directs federal agencies to address various aspects of international child sex trafficking.

Take Action! Visit the National Action Center and urge your Senators to continue this momentum. Advocate for the passage of legislation that supports victims of both sex and labor trafficking and penalizes all those profiting from trafficking enterprises.

Register for the Email Action Network to receive public policy updates, timely information about critical national and international issues, and suggestions for taking action.



NEW YORK – Today and earlier this week, the film American Revolutionary: the Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs was screened at a Tel Aviv Film Festival. On May 12, activist Grace Lee Boggs, actor Danny Glover, and several others featured in the film released a statement in support of boycotting Israel and in opposition to the film’s inclusion in the festival. In response, Marcie Natan, National President of Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, Inc., released the following statement:

I was deeply disappointed to learn about this most recent call for a cultural boycott of Israel. Grace Lee Boggs is known and respected for her 70-year career as a writer and activist. Despite opposition from those involved in the film, the movie was screened at the DocAviv film festival and I suspect that the movie resonated with and inspired many Israeli viewers. Tragically, proponents of these boycotts seek to isolate Israel in the realms where communication and collaboration are most essential. As a democracy, Israel boasts vibrant, independent academic and cultural spheres. Limits on academic and creative exchanges only hinder dialogue and cross-cultural understanding. Even Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas himself has spoken out against boycotts of Israel as counterproductive. Partnerships between Israelis and others have led to amazing technological innovations, medical advances and economic growth worldwide. I call on members of the academic, cultural, and business communities to speak out against boycotts of Israel and actively pursue partnerships that can better the world and support a future of peace in the Middle East.

Register for the Email Action Network to receive public policy updates, timely information about critical national and international issues, and suggestions for taking action.



May 6, 2014

 

Last month over 200 Nigerian girls were kidnapped by an Islamic extremist group, Boko Haram, which has announced that it will sell the girls. Today—as the United States offered the government of Nigeria military and other assistance—additional abductions have also been reported. In response, Marcie Natan, National President of Hadassah, The Women's Zionist Organization of America, Inc., released the following statement:

On behalf of Hadassah's 330,000 members, associates, and supporters I express our horror and outrage at the kidnapping of these Nigerian girls and support for the worldwide #BringBackOurGirls campaign. I appreciate the American government's offer of assistance and I urge the administration to provide all avenues of support and exertion of international pressure in order to ensure that these young women can return home speedily and safely.

Nations and leaders from across the globe must speak out against this atrocity and demand that all women—especially young girls—must be protected from violence, trafficking, and exploitation.

As we celebrated our freedom during the Passover holiday last month, we also recognized the 27 million people for whom slavery remains a modern-day reality. Situations like what has happened in Nigeria, unfortunately, illustrate how much work is left to be done. Hadassah is an advocate for the International Violence Against Women Act and urges Congress to pass this legislation, which would send a strong statement that ending violence against women and girls worldwide is a top American priority.

Thank the President for his offers of support to Nigeria and insist that he continue working to ensure that these young women can return home speedily and safely and urge Congress to pass the International Violence Against Women Act.



April 29, 2014

NEW YORK – Yesterday, Secretary Kerry released a statement On Support for Israel, clarifying earlier remarks in which he used the term apartheid. In response, Marcie Natan, National President of Hadassah, The Women's Zionist Organization of America, Inc., released the following statement:

Hadassah supports Secretary of State John Kerry's efforts to create a lasting peace in the Middle East and I appreciate his response to his error in using the word apartheid. The use of this term was inappropriate and divisive—straining the atmosphere of dialogue necessary for the peace process to move forward.

As President Obama has said in the past, injecting an emotionally loaded term like apartheid into the discussion does not advance the goal of two states living side by side in peace and security.

The current next steps for the peace process remain unclear, with many difficult decisions ahead. We welcome Secretary Kerry's continued efforts and remain hopeful for a future of stability in the region and a peaceful fulfillment of a two-state solution.



April 17, 2014 

Central to the celebration of Passover is the remembrance that once we were slaves, and now we are free. Tragically, slavery remains a modern-day reality for an estimated 27 million people worldwide—more than at any other time in history.

Take Action! Urge Congress to pass the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act. This bi-partisan legislation would increase penalties for traffickers and expand funding for law enforcement training programs and critical victims’ services.

Every day, women and children are forced, defrauded, or coerced into labor or sexual exploitation. Trafficking and its related crimes not only harm the victims involved; they also undermine the social, political and economic fabric of the nations where they occur by demeaning women and increasing violence and crime. 

Hadassah’s Trafficking in Women Policy Statement urges all nations to make the elimination of the trafficking of women a priority by strengthening anti-trafficking legislation, sharing information, aggressively prosecuting traffickers and mounting public information campaigns. Hadassah further urges countries to provide safe havens for victims of trafficking and institute a comprehensive range of social services for their rehabilitation.

Celebrate freedom this Pesach by advocating for the victims of human trafficking and slavery, via the Hadassah National Action Center.

Register for the Email Action Network to receive public policy updates, timely information about critical national and international issues, and suggestions for taking action.



Today—April 8, 2014—is Equal Pay Day and there is work to do! Women make 77 cents to a man’s dollar and a single mother of two working full-time at minimum-wage is living nearly $4,000 below the federal poverty line. America’s women and families are worth more and they deserve better!

Senate votes are planned tomorrow for the Paycheck Fairness Act and next week for the Fair Minimum Wage Act. Urge your Senators to support these crucial pieces of legislation via the Hadassah National Action Center.

Today, President Obama will announce two executive orders to strengthen enforcement of equal pay laws for women. One order will allow employees of federal contractors to openly discuss their own salaries—without fear of losing their jobs—greatly improving female employees’ ability to learn whether or not they are being paid fairly. The second order requires the Secretary of Labor to collect data from federal contractors regarding worker compensation. In February, President Obama also signed an executive order raising the minimum wage for employees of federal contractors.

These executive orders—which affect over 20 percent of the civilian workforce—are important first steps, but Congress also must act so ALL employees can receive fair pay!

The Paycheck Fairness Act would update pay equity regulations, institute penalties for discrimination, and bar retaliation against employees who disclose their own wages to coworkers. Urge your Senators to celebrate Equal Pay Day by voting tomorrow for the Paycheck Fairness Act!

The Fair Minimum Wage Act outlines a plan to gradually raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour, increase the tipped minimum cash wage from $2.13 per hour to 70 percent of the minimum wage, and index these wages to keep pace with inflation. With women constituting 60 percent of minimum wage workers—and 70 percent of tipped workers—raising the minimum wage would also have a significant impact on women’s economic security and closing the gender wage gap. Use the National Action Center or call 1-888-851-1916* to urge your Senators to raise the minimum wage.

Take action now and stay tuned to Hadassah’s social media pages for the vote results!

* Special thanks to our partners at AFSCME for providing the coalition hotline phone number.

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April 2, 2014 

Over the last nine months, Israelis and Palestinians have been engaged in peace negotiations coordinated by Secretary of State John Kerry. As part of the peace negotiation framework, set to expire April 29, 2014, Israel agreed to release 104 convicted terrorists in four stages and the Palestinians agreed to delay seeking any additional recognition by the United Nations and other international authorities.

Yesterday, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas announced that he has signed applications for 15 United Nations agencies and conventions. In response, John Kerry canceled a meeting with Abbas and the future of the peace process has been thrown into jeopardy. One of the applications signed was for the Geneva Convention, an action which could strengthen the Palestinians’ ability to petition the International Criminal Court to investigate Israel. In 2012—prior to receiving non-member observer state status—the Palestinian Authority unsuccessfully petitioned the International Criminal Court to investigate Israel and many expect further petitions if peace negotiations dissolve.

Unilateral Palestinian actions—aimed at avoiding dialogue and delegitimizing Israel—jeopardize the potential for peace. Hadassah unequivocally affirms that the only step forward for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process is direct, bilateral negotiations without pre-conditions.

In recent weeks, negotiations faltered when the Palestinian Authority and the Arab League vocally rejected the recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, an essential provision for Israel to accept a final peace agreement. With the framework deadline approaching and prospects for extension unclear, Israel delayed the last stage release of Palestinian prisoners until peace talks were certain to continue.

Prior to Abbas’ announcement, it was reported that Israel proposed the release of the remaining 26 prisoners (including 14 Arab-Israeli citizens), the staged-release of an additional 400 prisoners, and a building freeze in the West Bank. In exchange, the Palestinian Authority would agree to extend negotiations into 2015 and refrain from seeking additional recognition at United Nations. The United States is reportedly also negotiating with Israel about the potential to release Jonathan Pollard, a former American intelligence officer who has served 27 years for passing classified documents to Israel, as an additional incentive for the deal.

Hadassah has long been an advocate for Pollard’s release on humanitarian grounds and commends Pollard for his previous refusals to link his release to that of Palestinian prisoners. Pollard refused to attend a parole hearing scheduled for yesterday, but his reasons are unknown.

Today, the Arab League called an emergency meeting to discuss the unreleased Palestinian prisoners and the floundering talks. A U.S. State Department spokesman announced that “neither party has given any indication ... that they want to end the negotiations,” but next steps remain unclear.

Hadassah has welcomed the efforts of Israel, the Palestinian Authority, the United States, and the international community to pursue negotiations, and urges all parties to remain committed to the process. Hadassah is hopeful for a future of stability in the region and a peaceful fulfillment of a two-state solution.

Hadassah will continue to follow these developments and will provide additional updates when they become available.

Register for the Email Action Networkto receive public policy updates, timely information about critical national and international issues, and suggestions for taking action.



American support and strategic partnerships are instrumental in securing Israel’s safety. Last week, American military intelligence helped the Israeli navy intercept an Iranian shipment of rockets bound for Gaza and the U.S. Missile Defense Agency announced a transfer of additional funds to Israel for the Iron Dome short-range rocket defense system. Within the last 24 hours, over 70 rockets were launched at southern Israel and three rockets headed for population centers were intercepted by the Iron Dome system.

Hadassah continues to affirm its policy statements opposing the Middle East Arms Race, which condemn Iran's acquisition of weapons of mass destruction, posing a grave threat to regional and international stability. Hadassah also urges the U.S. and Israel to continue engaging one another in substantive discussions to ensure that any final agreement has the full support of the Israeli government.

The United States must affirm its unwavering, bipartisan support for Israel’s sovereignty and security, and send a clear message that a nuclear armed Iran is not an option

Take Action!

Promote U.S.-Israel Strategic Partnerships
On March 5, the House of Representatives passed the United States-Israel Strategic Partnership Act of 2014 (H.R. 938) in a vote of 410-1. The bipartisan legislation would strengthen U.S.-Israel cooperation in the areas of security, intelligence, technology, and commerce. The act reaffirms America’s commitment to provide support for the Iron Dome system, promotes energy cooperation, and codifies Israel’s status as a major strategic partner of the United States.

Thank your Representatives for supporting this legislation and urge your Senators to pass the United States-Israel Strategic Partnership Act!


Prevent a Nuclear Iran
As negotiations regarding Iran’s nuclear program continue, leaders in Congress are circulating bipartisan policy letters on Iran, emphasizing the important role Congress must play in the Iranian talks. The letters outline the need for congressional oversight in setting the parameters of any final agreement, ensuring exiting sanctions are enforced, and determining if any additional sanctions are needed. It is critical for the United States to continue sending a clear message—a nuclear armed Iran is not an option.

Urge your Senators and Representatives to sign the bipartisan Iran policy letters, emphasizing the important role Congress must play in the Iranian talks.

Register for the Email Action Network to receive public policy updates, timely information about critical national and international issues, and suggestions for taking action.




February 24-March 2 is the 10th Annual Israeli Apartheid Week in the United States, which will feature anti-Israel events, film screenings, and Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) initiatives on college campuses and in communities throughout the country.

The rationale for the BDS movement against Israel is based on generalities—many of them uninformed—about how different populations live, work, study, and co-exist in the region. In reality, Jews and Arabs, Israelis and Palestinians, collaborate and cooperate on a daily basis in a hundred arenas.  At Hadassah Medical Organization, Jews and Arabs work side by side; patients are treated without regard to race, religion, or nationality; and there are numerous partnerships between Hadassah Medical Organization (HMO), Hebrew University Hadassah Medical School, and Palestinian hospitals and health organizations.

Hadassah is a staunch advocate against the BDS movement, which aims to tarnish and delegitimize the State of Israel. Hadassah maintains its long-standing policy against all forms of organized boycotts—opposing destructive actions in favor of constructive dialogue in order to pursue a future of peace in the Middle East. 

Learn more and show your support for Israel today!   

 

Partnerships between Hadassah Medical Organization (HMO), Hebrew University Hadassah Medical School, and Palestinian hospitals and health organizations include extensive training programs for Palestinian midwives, paramedics, emergency medicine and trauma physicians and nurses, both at HMO and in the Palestinian territories.  Read more about how Hadassah builds bridges to peace and share those stories.

Buy Israeli goods campaigns have been launched to combat boycotts of Israeli products.  Join the #Buycott Israel campaign for Mishloach Manot with Meaning or visit www.buyisraelgoods.org to learn where you can buy Israeli goods in your community.

Share the Israel Action Network (IAN) Campus Resource Guide with the students in your life and help promote IAN resources and suggested readings to combat BDS and Israel Apartheid Week.  

 

Urge your elected officials to support and protect Israel by preventing a nuclear Iran!



Israelcalendar.org, sponsored by the American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise (AICE) and a partner website of the Jewish Virtual Library, promots February as American Israel Friendship Month.

Learn about your state’s relationship with with Israel using the Jewish Virtual Library’s State-to-State Cooperation archive and advocate for your state to start or expand its partnership.

Stand with Israel in your community—attend pro-Israel rallies, send letters to the editor, and promote Israel on social media. Hadassah is consistently posting updates that can be shared with your networks.



January 30, 2014

Every day, women and children are forced, defrauded, or coerced into labor or sexual exploitation. In recent years, the United Nations, as well as the United States and Israel have made significant progress towards the elimination of trafficking; however, there is still much work to be done.

January has been designated as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, culminating in the annual celebration of National Freedom Day on February 1. Trafficking and its related crimes not only harm the women involved; they also undermine the social, political and economic fabric of the nations where they occur by demeaning women and increasing violence and crime.

Take Action! Join fellow Hadassah advocates from across the country and take a stand against human trafficking.

Urge Congress to pass the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act. This bi-partisan legislation would increase penalties for traffickers and expand funding for law enforcement training programs and critical victims’ services.

Hadassah’s Trafficking in Women Policy Statement urges all nations to make the elimination of the trafficking of women a priority by strengthening anti-trafficking legislation, sharing information, aggressively prosecuting traffickers and mounting public information campaigns. Hadassah further urges countries to provide safe havens for victims of trafficking and institute a comprehensive range of social services for their rehabilitation. Click here to read the full text of the policy statement.

Hadassah Advocacy Spotlight! See what Hadassah members and leaders are doing to advocate for trafficking victims and survivors, and educate others in their local communities.

Hadassah Northern New Jersey Region is a member of the New Jersey Coalition Against Human Trafficking, a diverse coalition of over 80 organizations working to end human trafficking in New Jersey, the United States and the world through education, advocacy and assistance to survivors. In preparation for Super Bowl 2014 at the Meadowlands in New Jersey, the Coalition mobilized the community to deter an increase in human trafficking activities that are often associated with large sporting events. Learn more about the Super Bowl campaign, and Hadassah's role in the Human Trafficking Awareness Day proclamation made by the South Orange Board of Trustees.

In November, the Greater Cleveland Chapter of Hadassah presented the program “Human Trafficking: It’s not Just Another Community’s Problem, It’s in OUR Community.” The event, attended by 125 Hadassah and community members, featured an all-star panel that discussed trafficking from the policy, criminal justice, and social service perspectives. Read the press coverage of this event by the Cleveland Jewish News.

Has your chapter joined a coalition or presented an advocacy event? Share a recap and photos with advocacy@hadassah.org and bkraft@hadassah.org for inclusion in the Hadassah Advocacy Spotlight and hCoast-to-Coast.

P.S. Also, make sure to check out this week's National Action Center updates on reproductive rights and pay equity

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January 22, 2014 

This year marks the 41st anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade, recognizing a woman’s constitutional right to make her own reproductive health choices—including seeking access to legal abortion.

Over forty years later, the fight for reproductive rights continues. State legislatures have passed nearly 200 abortion restrictions since 2011, Congress is considering several bills to limit access, and the Supreme Court is poised to decide new reproductive health cases this year. Hadassah members, associates, and supporters are reproductive rights advocates in their cities and states—helping to defeat a 20-week abortion ban in Albuquerque, and opposing clinic regulations in Texas, restrictive insurance policies in Michigan, and transvaginal ultrasound requirements in Virginia and Pennsylvania.

Learn how Hadassah is taking a stand and what you can do to support reproductive rights!


Take Action!

Congress is considering two key bills that would drastically limit access to reproductive health services. The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act would impose a national ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy and the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act would restrict public and private health insurance options for abortion coverage. Visit Hadassah's National Action Center to learn more and urge Congress to oppose this legislation. 

In response to the onslaught of attacks, advocates and allies are fighting back! The Women’s Health Protection Act, introduced last November, would enforce and protect the constitutional right to safe and legal abortion, no matter what state a woman lives in. This legislation would allow Congress to regulate and standardize abortion laws—ensuring quality care, while protecting against onerous and medically unnecessary requirements placed on patients, physicians, and service providers. Click here to thank the bill's co-sponsors and urge Congress to pass the Women's Health Protection Act.

At the Supreme Court

In January, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in McCullen v. Coakely, a case about the Massachusetts buffer zone law that protects patients and employees of reproductive health clinics. Hadassah joined with coalition partners in signing an amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) brief in this case.

After months of federal circuit court cases, the Supreme Court will hear two cases on March 25 regarding the contraception mandate, which requires all secular employers to provide free contraception coverage (no co-pays). Hadassah has joined several amicus briefs in the circuit court cases, and a brief for the Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Supreme Court cases. Learn more about these cases from our friends at SCOTUSblog.



December 20, 2013 

Yesterday, a bi-partisan group of twenty-six Senators introduced the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act (S. 1881). Urge your elected officials to support this legislation today!

This legislation was structured in response to the interim agreement reached last month between Iran and the P5+1 (five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council: United States, Russia, China, France, and United Kingdom + Germany). Many concerns remain about the agreement, which provided Iran with some sanctions relief in return for reducing aspects of its nuclear program and agreeing to continue negotiations.

The Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act would pressure Iran to continue negotiations and increase transparency about its nuclear activities—establishing clear requirements and timelines that must be met, or else Iran will face additional economic sanctions. The bill stipulates that the President can suspend any new sanctions for up to one year, which is in accordance with the interim agreement that promised no new sanctions during talks. The legislation also outlines that any final agreement with Iran must result in compliance with U.N. Security Council Resolutions, a dismantling of Iran’s illicit nuclear infrastructure, and complete access for nuclear weapons inspectors.

Existing economic sanctions are credited with bringing Iran to the negotiating table, and it is essential to maintain a credible threat of additional sanctions to ensure that Iran does abandon the process. This legislation’s sanctions would target Iranian oil exports, financial institutions, and other key aspects of the Iranian economy.

Hadassah continues to affirm its policy statements opposing the Middle East Arms Race, which condemn Iran's acquisition of weapons of mass destruction, posing a grave threat to regional and international stability. Iran has shown that it will not be deterred, so it must be cut off from all possible sources of support. Urge your elected officials to support the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act today!



December 23, 2013 

Update: January 13, 2014

On January 9, the Modern Language Association (MLA) hosted a panel discussion in support of academic boycotts of Israel at its annual conference. In response, a group of MLA members presented a counter panel in partnership with several Jewish organizations including the Israel Action Network. Videos of the counter panel are available on YouTube from the Israel on Campus Coaliton.

As a member of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA), Hadassah collaborates closely with the Israel Action Network, a project of JCPA and Jewish Federations of North American working to counter the assault on Israel's legitimacy. The Israel Action Network (IAN) was on the ground throughout the conference, monitoring the panels and anti-Israel resolutions. Hadassah joins with IAN in applauding the MLA Delegate Assembly's decision not to consider an emergency resolution on boycotts, and urge the MLA Executive Council and full membership to reject a resolution criticizing Israel for "denials of entry to the West Bank by U.S. academics" traveling to Palestinian Universities, which was approved.

Click here for additional information about the MLA Conference and IAN's full statement.


Last week, Hadassah released a statement criticizing the American Studies Association decision to issue a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. Hadassah is a staunch advocate against the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which aims to tarnish and delegitimize the State of Israel. Hadassah maintains its long—standing policy against all forms of organized boycotts—opposing destructive actions in favor of constructive dialogue in order to pursue a future of peace in the Middle East.

Take Action Now!

  1. Contact the President's office of your alma mater or local college/university to ask about their affiliation with ASA, or if the school has already condemned the boycott. Currently, Brandeis University and Penn State University— Harrisburg have canceled their institutional memberships, and several other schools have released statements opposed to the boycott.
    • Urge the university President to condemn the boycott and cancel any institutional or individual ASA memberships, if applicable. Even if your alma mater or local college is not affiliated with ASA, it is important that they hear about public opposition to any boycotts of Israeli academia.
    • If you learn that the college has already condemned the boycott, make sure to thank them and urge them to withdraw support for the ASA.
    • Click here for draft letter that you can copy, personalize and send to your alma mater or a college/university in your community. Hadassah encourages its members, associates and supporters to send a version of this letter, or use the talking points when contacting universities by phone, social media, or in letters to college and local press.

  2. Contact the ASA to voice your opposition to the boycott. Explain why boycotts are not the pathway to peace and urge ASA to reverse the boycott resolution.
  3. Forward this action alert to friends and family, and use social media to mobilize your networks.
    Educate others about the dangers of BDS, take a stand in support of Israel, and share stories about how Hadassah Medical Organization is a bridge to peace in the Middle East!

The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, of which Hadassah is a member, has released a statement about the boycott and published contact information for the colleges and universities speaking out against the American Studies Association boycott. If you receive a response from a college or university that is not on this list, please forward that response to advocacy@hadassah.org> so the site can be updated.



Hadassah joins with the Israel Action Network in expressing concern about the American Studies Association's (ASA) recent decision to adopt a boycott of Israeli academic institutions.  The Israel Action Network (IAN) is a strategic initiative of The Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) in partnership with the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA), of which Hadassah is a member. 

Hadassah is a staunch advocate against the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which aims to tarnish and delegitimize the State of Israel. Hadassah maintains its long-standing policy against all forms of organized boycotts—opposing destructive actions in favor of constructive dialogue in order to pursue a future of peace in the Middle East. IAN, JFNA, JCPA and Hadassah all seek a just two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process that will allow both peoples to live in lasting peace, dignity and security. However, a boycott of academic institutions such as the one imposed by ASA only takes us further from that goal.  See below for the full statement from the Israel Action Network.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
December 16, 2013 

Israel Action Network Calls American Studies Association Decision to Adopt an Israel Boycott Resolution a Violation of Academic Freedom

NEW YORK – Following an unusual and troubling process over the past few weeks, the American Studies Association (ASA) today announced its endorsement of a resolution by its National Council to institute an academic boycott of Israeli academic institutions by the organization. The decision represents a narrow fraction of overall members, approximately less than 20 percent of ASA membership took part in the vote. Further, it follows a condemnation of the boycott by eight former presidents. Geri Palast, Managing Director of The Israel Action Network (IAN), a strategic initiative of The Jewish Federations of North America in partnership with the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, issued the following statement:

“The Israel Action Network (IAN) is troubled that members of the American Studies Association (ASA) voted to support a boycott of Israeli academic institutions that directly violates the strongly held principle of academic freedom.

The resolution, which purports to support academic freedom in which scholars are free to pursue ideas without being targeted for repression, discipline, or institutional censorship, in actuality urges a sweeping boycott of Israeli academic institutions based on tortured logic, factual inaccuracies and distortions of the role of Israel’s universities, public and private, in the implementation of government policy. IAN is disappointed to see the ASA lend its name to such a counterproductive campaign. IAN strongly urges the academic community at large to follow the lead of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), an influential body of higher education professionals committed to furthering academic freedom, that came forward to unequivocally oppose academic boycotts. In an open letter, AAUP leadership expressed their disappointment over the National Council’s decision, and urged ASA members to reject the boycott and to seek alternative means to pursue their concerns.

The process of endorsing the resolution, which consisted of an electronic membership vote that closed on December 15, raised issues regarding open member discourse and transparency. The call for a membership vote followed a recommendation by the ASA National Council, a small body of two dozen people that sets policy for an organization of only 5,000 members. The resolution faced vocal opposition by eight former ASA Presidents, ASA award winners, and members that wrote an open letter condemning the resolution with 70 signatories. Until challenged, the leadership did not provide dissenting views or access to the membership to opponents of the resolution. ASA leaders who claim to champion academic freedom withheld alternate views from their colleagues, resulting in a vote where only one side of a complex conflict was formally presented. This reflected the same imbalance seen at the ASA’s recent annual meeting, where a panel discussion on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict featured only panelists in favor of a boycott.

IAN commends those ASA members who actively opposed this ill-advised measure, and spoke in support of academic freedom and the perspective that academic boycotts are anathema to open debate and problem solving.

As a practical matter, this resolution will have limited symbolic significance, but it still raises a number of deeply troubling concerns. Its adoption promotes a discriminatory policy that could fuel a dangerous trend in which violating rights to academic freedom becomes a norm. It singles out academic scholars and institutions based on their nationality, without regard to the important role they play as thought leaders in evaluating and critiquing government policy. And rather than encouraging important discourse and debate, or promoting Israeli-Palestinian coexistence, this resolution will only polarize the academic world by ‘blacklisting’ alternative views, scholars and institutions.

Peace for both Israelis and Palestinians depends on both parties working together towards a negotiated, two-state solution. Even Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has rejected boycotts of Israel as counterproductive. Divisive measures such as academic boycotts will only serve to further deflect attention away from serious moral and political issues. These one-sided attacks based on falsehoods should embarrass their proponents, and we move our community to condemn this action.”

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For additional information about BDS or for Hadassah's How to Talk About Israel program please contact advocacy@hadassah.org.

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December 13, 2013 

Tomorrow is the one-year anniversary of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, which ended the lives of 20 students and 6 staff members. Since then, more than 11,000 Americans have been murdered by guns. Join coalition partners in today’s interfaith call-in and advocacy day to end gun violence!

Take Action!

  • Visit Faithscalling.org for more information and call 1-855-438-2982 to be connected to your legislators.

  • Email your legislators through the Hadassah National Action Center, urging them to support background checks and other gun safety measures.

  • Share this information with friends, family and your social networks. Click the social media icons below to share the link to our National Action Center.  

In response to the tragic events in Newtown, Hadassah released a statement in support of stronger gun control and reaffirmed its Gun Control policy statements, including a call to reauthorize the ban on assault weapons. In April, Hadassah members, associates and supporters advocated for the Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act--including the bipartisan compromise to expand background checks proposed by Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Pat Toomey (R-PA). Unfortunately, the background check proposal failed to gain the filibuster proof 60 votes and the legislation stalled.

In 2012 alone, 6.6 million guns were purchased without a background check and studies show that states with stricter background checks have lower rates of firearm trafficking, domestic violence fatalities, and gun suicides. In memory of Sandy Hook, urge Congress to support background checks and other gun safety measures today!

Register for the Email Action Networkto receive public policy updates, timely information about critical national and international issues, and suggestions for taking action.



December 10, 2013 

Today is International Human Rights Day—65 years since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the United Nations. Eleanor Roosevelt, the U.S. Delegate to the United Nations—and Honorary Chairwoman of Hadassah’s Youth Aliyah—chaired the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, created in 1947, and championed the creation of the declaration.

Hadassah is a vocal advocate for human rights, domestically and around the world, and is committed to the recognition that all women’s rights are human rights.Hadassah’s National Action Center provides members, associates and supporters the opportunity to take action in support of human rights!

International Women’s Rights

Pass the International Violence Against Women Act
One in three women worldwide will experience a form of physical or sexual violence at some point in her lifetime. Urge Congress to support the International Violence Against Women Act!

Urge Senate to Ratify CEDAW
Support the ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). It is time for the U.S. government to show the international community that it stands unequivocally for the rights of women.

Women’s Rights in the United States

In July, Hadassah’s National Board and delegates passed a policy statement calling for new measures to increase the minimum wage, reduce the gender wage gap; protect pregnant workers rights; and create opportunities for earned paid parental, family and sick leave. Hadassah is also a long time advocate for reproductive rights and protections for victims of physical and sexual abuse.All of Hadassah’s policy statements are available online at www.hadassah.org/policystatements.

This week, the Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act (FAMILY) Act will be introduced in Congress.This legislation would institute a federal system for employees to earn paid family and medical leave.Women need support and flexibility so that they do not have to choose between financial stability and their own health and safety, or that of their families.

Urge Congress to co-sponsor and support the FAMILY Act and other women’s rights legislation through the Hadassah National Action Center.

Register for the Email Action Networkto receive public policy updates, timely information about critical national and international issues, and suggestions for taking action.



December 4, 2013 

It’s not too late! Purchasing Israeli products is a great way to show support for Israel, especially during Hanukkah. Buy Israeli and encourage your local retailers to stock Israeli goods.

Many buy Israeli goods campaigns have been organized in response to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which aims to tarnish and delegitimize the State of Israel. Hadassah maintains its long-standing policy against all forms of organized boycotts—opposing destructive actions in favor of constructive dialogue in order to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and pursue a future of peace in the Middle East.

For a listing of Israeli products that can be purchased online and in your area, visit www.buyisraelgoods.org, developed and maintained by the American-Israel Chamber of Commerce.

Register for the Email Action Networkto receive public policy updates, timely information about critical national and international issues, and suggestions for taking action.



November 25, 2013 

Hadassah, The Women's Zionist Organization of America, Inc., joins with the Jewish Council for Public Affairs in its response to the interim agreement on the Iranian nuclear program.  Hadassah welcomes the Israeli team set to visit the United States next week, and urges the U.S. and Israel to engage one another in substantive discussions to ensure that any final agreement on the table between Iran and the P5+1 (U.S., Great Britain, France, Russia and China; plus Germany) also has the full support of the Israeli government. 

JCPA Statement on the Interim Agreement with Iran

WASHINGTON, DC – JCPA President and CEO Rabbi Steve Gutow released the following statement regarding the interim agreement reached in Geneva between the P5+1 countries and Iran regarding that state’s nuclear program:

“Though Iran has done little to deserve our trust, diplomacy is preferable to military action. At the same time, we support President Obama when he says that no option should be taken off the table. Thus, we believe the interim agreement reached in Geneva today has the potential to serve as a valuable stepping stone to a final agreement that can serve the long term security interests of the United States, Israel, the Middle East and the entire international community.  Such a final agreement, which should be negotiated in a tight time frame, must not leave Iran in a position to continue its drive for nuclear weapons capability, or to be able to restart it with ease anytime in the future.  The menace of a nuclear armed Iran needs to be eliminated once and for all.

“We also believe that it is important to maintain strong economic pressures on Iran until a satisfactory final agreement is reached as well as the strict inspection and verification mechanisms to ensure compliance with today's interim agreement.  Economic pressures caused Iran to come to the negotiating table, and they will contribute to the effort to reach a final agreement.  Intrusive inspections can help ensure Iran does not continue [its] development of nuclear weapons while negotiations for a final agreement continue.”

 

For additional information about the details of the interim agreement, read the coverage from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA). Hadassah members, associates, and supporters can also register on Hadassah's website to receive the Daily Briefing, powered by the JTA.   

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For the past four years, the federal minimum wage has been stuck at just $7.25 per hour and the rate for tipped workers ($2.13 per hour) has not increased in over twenty years! Far too many American families are living paycheck to paycheck—struggling to afford life’s most basic necessities.

In the coming weeks, the Senate is expected to vote on the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013. Hadassah is proud to join coalition partners in today’s Day of Action to support this crucial legislation. Call 1-888-705-5182* or email your Senators today, and urge them to support the Fair Minimum Wage Act!

Currently, a single parent working full-time at minimum-wage is living nearly $4,000 below the federal poverty line for a family of three. If the minimum wage was increased to $10.10 per hour, the boost in annual earnings would be enough to pull that family of poverty. The Fair Minimum Wage Act outlines a plan to gradually raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour, increase the tipped minimum cash wage from $2.13 per hour to 70 percent of the minimum wage, and index these wages to keep pace with inflation.

In July, Hadassah’s National Board and delegates passed the Women’s Economic Equity and Security Policy Statement, calling for new measures to increase the minimum wage, reduce the gender wage gap; protect pregnant workers rights; and expand and promote opportunities for earned paid parental, family and sick leave.

More than 30 million workers would receive a raise if the Fair Minimum Wage Act is enacted, helping countless American families and spurring economic recovery and growth nationwide. With women constituting 60 percent of minimum wage workers—and 70 percent of tipped workers—raising the minimum wage would also have a significant impact on women’s economic security and closing the gender wage gap.

Visit the Hadassah National Action Center or call 1-888-705-5182 and urge your Senators to vote YES on the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013!


*The hotline service has been provided to the coalition by the AFL-CIO.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 13, 2013

MEDIA INQUIRES CONTACT:
Max Samis
Rabinowitz Communications
max@rabinowitz.com
(202) 265-3000 (o)
(202) 681-2528 (c)

OTHER INQUIRIES CONTACT:
Sheryl Hoffman, Hadassah
Shoffman@hadassah.org
(202) 303-8112

NEW YORK —In response to the deadly typhoon in the Philippines that has already left tens of thousands of innocent victims dead and countless others suffering, members of the worldwide medical community have joined together to do all they can to lend a helping hand. Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America, has pledged to do everything in the organization's power to aid in medical relief for victims of Typhoon Haiyan. Marcie Natan, national president of Hadassah, released the following statement:

"Our hearts go out to the victims of this terrible storm, one of the worst in recorded history. We at Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America, pledge alongside Hadassah Medical Organization to do all we can to help those in need—both for those who have found themselves in the direct path of the storm and for those who have lost and are searching for loved ones in the Philippines.

As a member of the Jewish Coalition for Disaster Relief, Hadassah hopes to raise awareness about Typhoon Haiyan and support disaster relief to help all those affected. We encourage others to join us in supporting relief efforts and our thoughts and prayers are with the Filipino people at this time."

To learn more about the Jewish Coalition for Disaster Relief and donate to relief efforts in the Philippines, visit www.jcdr.org.


Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America, is the largest women's Zionist Jewish membership organization in the United States, and was founded in 1912. 330,000 members, associates, and supporters strong, Hadassah is now in its second century, growing our commitment to innovative and life-changing medical care and research, women's empowerment, education, advocacy, philanthropy and building Jewish identity – in Israel, America and around the world.



November 7, 2013, the Senate passed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would ban employment decisions on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The bill passed the Senate in a bipartisan vote of 64-32, but it now moves to the House, where it faces tough opposition. Thank your Senators for standing up against discrimination and urge your Representatives to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA)!

In 29 states it is legal to be denied a job, fired, or passed over for a promotion on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Hadassah is a long time advocate for equal rights—for women, minorities, and the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community—and vigorously condemns discrimination of any kind. In 2006, Hadassah passed a policy statement on LGBT Equality, supporting the passage of state and federal civil rights legislation to protect against hate crimes and discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Hadassah was proud to join with other religious organizations in a joint letter urging Congress to pass this legislation. "Our faith traditions hold different and sometimes evolving beliefs about the nature of human sexuality and marriage as well as gender identity and gender expression, but we can all agree on the fundamental premise that every human being is entitled to be treated with dignity and respect in the workplace."

In order to respect religious liberty, the legislation does include an exception for religious organizations as defined in the Civil Rights Act. This afternoon, the Senate voted down an amendment that would have expanded this exception, which would have potentially opened the door for a wide range of employers to discriminate.

ENDA is a common sense piece of legislation that will ensure all workers—regardless of race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity—are protected from discrimination. Make your voice heard! Urge your Representatives to support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act today.



October 31, 2013 

Visit Hadassah's National Action Center to learn more about the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, gun control for domestic violence prevention, & advocate for a variety of women’s rights legislation!

35th Anniversary of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act

Eighty percent of all working women will become pregnant at some point in their lifetime. Today marks the 35th Anniversary of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, but more still needs to be done to protect pregnant workers' rights.

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act—like the Americans with Disabilities Act—would help pregnant workers maintain economic stability and a healthy pregnancy by requiring that employers provide reasonable work accommodations (such as additional bathroom and/or sitting breaks, light lifting duty, or basic modifications to physical tasks).

It is time to close the loopholes that deprive women of basic employment rights! Click here to learn more and urge your legislators to co-sponsor and support the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act!

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Hadassah is a proud advocate of the Violence Against Women Act and a member of the Interfaith Domestic Violence Coalition, coordinated by our partners Jewish Women International. Hadassah encourages its members and associates to support domestic violence awareness and prevention by advocating for comprehensive gun control legislation.

The statistics about guns and domestic violence are staggering. The presence of a firearm in a domestic violence situation increases the risk of a fatality by 500 percent and the FBI estimated that intimate partner violence accounted for 64 percent of women murdered with guns in 2010. Once a restraining order is filed, background checks would prevent that party from purchasing a firearm. However, in 2012 alone, 6.6 million guns were purchased without a background check.

Background checks and other safety measures can make a huge impact—38 percent fewer women are killed by intimate partners in states that require background checks for private handgun purchases. In honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, urge Congress to support comprehensive gun control legislation today!



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
October 7, 2013

MEDIA INQUIRES CONTACT:
Max Samis
Rabinowitz/Dorf Communications
max@rabinowitz.com
(202) 265-3000

OTHER INQUIRIES CONTACT:
Sheryl Hoffman, Hadassah
Shoffman@hadassah.org
(202) 303-8112

NEW YORK—Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America (HWZOA) today joined with the people of Israel and the worldwide Jewish community in mourning the passing of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the former Chief Sephardic Rabbi and President of the Torah Sages Council. Hadassah Medical Organization (HMO) was honored to care for Rabbi Yosef in his final days.

Marcie Natan, National President of HWZOA, released the following statement today:

Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America joins with the Jewish people around the world in mourning the loss of one of our great spiritual leaders and Torah scholars. Rabbi Ovadia Yosef was for many years a dedicated leader for tens of thousands of Jews throughout Israel and beyond. We also wish to echo HMO's Director General Avigdor Kaplan in thanking the medical team at Hadassah Medical Organization at Ein Karem for their tireless work over the past weeks and months in caring for the Rabbi during his final days. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Rabbi's children and family at this time, as well as with his many devoted followers.

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Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America, is the largest women's Zionist Jewish membership organization in the United States, and was founded in 1912. 330,000 members, associates, and supporters strong, Hadassah is now in its second century, growing our commitment to innovative and life-changing medical care and research, women's empowerment, education, advocacy, philanthropy and building Jewish identity – in Israel, America and around the world.

Hadassah


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
October 7, 2013

MEDIA INQUIRES CONTACT:
Max Samis
Rabinowitz/Dorf Communications
max@rabinowitz.com
(202) 265-3000

OTHER INQUIRIES CONTACT:
Sheryl Hoffman, Hadassah
Shoffman@hadassah.org
(202) 303-8112

NEW YORK—Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America, Inc., welcomed yesterday's announcement that the Women of the Wall Executive Board voted to support, in principle, the proposal which would establish an egalitarian section at the Western Wall Plaza. Hadassah is a supporter of the proposal, released earlier this year by Jewish Agency for Israel Chairman Natan Sharansky, which aims to ensure that all people have access to pray, individually and collectively, at the Kotel freely, without harassment, and in accordance with their own religious practices.

Today, Marcie Natan, National President of Hadassah, released the following statement:

Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America, welcomes Anat Hoffman and the Women of the Wall's willingness to work with Natan Sharansky and the government of Israel to implement a plan that will expand pluralistic prayer opportunities at the Kotel. Recognizing that compromise is never easy, this acceptance represents an important step toward bringing together all of us who support a Western Wall that is a symbol of Jewish unity and diversity.

We know the struggle for equality has been a long and difficult journey for the Women of the Wall, and we acknowledge the challenges that the organization has faced in reaching what is required to find a consensus. We continue to support the efforts of all involved in ensuring that the Kotel remains a site for peace, hope and prayer in the years to come.

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Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America, is the largest women's Zionist Jewish membership organization in the United States, and was founded in 1912. 330,000 members, associates, and supporters strong, Hadassah is now in its second century, growing our commitment to innovative and life-changing medical care and research, women's empowerment, education, advocacy, philanthropy and building Jewish identity – in Israel, America and around the world.

Hadassah


Since the opening of the 68th United Nations General Assembly last week, leaders from around the globe have delivered addresses to the international community. The leaders of the United States, Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Iran all spoke about the future of the Middle East, the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and the Iranian nuclear program. Below are excerpts from these speeches, and links to the full transcripts and videos.


Barak Obama
United States of America


Read excerpts | Watch the video

 


Benjamin Netanyahu
Israel


Read excerpts | Watch the video

Mahmoud Abbas
Palestinian Authority


Read excerpts | Watch the video

Hassan Rouhani
Islamic Republic of Iran


Read excerpts | Watch the video

United States: President Barak Obama
"Since I took office, I’ve made it clear in letters to the Supreme Leader in Iran and more recently to President Rouhani that America prefers to resolve our concerns over Iran’s nuclear program peacefully, although we are determined to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. We are not seeking regime change and we respect the right of the Iranian people to access peaceful nuclear energy. Instead, we insist that the Iranian government meet its responsibilities under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and U.N. Security Council resolutions. . . . But to succeed, conciliatory words will have to be matched by actions that are transparent and verifiable. After all, it's the Iranian government’s choices that have led to the comprehensive sanctions that are currently in place.”

"I’ve made it clear that the United States will never compromise our commitment to Israel’s security, nor our support for its existence as a Jewish state. . . . So the time is now ripe for the entire international community to get behind the pursuit of peace. Already, Israeli and Palestinian leaders have demonstrated a willingness to take significant political risks. . . . So now the rest of us must be willing to take risks as well. Friends of Israel, including the United States, must recognize that Israel’s security as a Jewish and democratic state depends upon the realization of a Palestinian state, and we should say so clearly. Arab states, and those who supported the Palestinians, must recognize that stability will only be served through a two-state solution and a secure Israel."

Read the full transcript

Israel: President Benjamin Netanyahu
The only diplomatic solution that would work is one that fully dismantles Iran's nuclear weapons program and prevents it from having one in the future. President Obama rightly said that Iran's conciliatory words must be matched by transparent, verifiable and meaningful action . . . Israel will never acquiesce to nuclear arms in the hands of a rogue regime that repeatedly promises to wipe us off the map. Against such a threat, Israel will have no choice but to defend itself. I want there to be no confusion on this point: Israel will not allow Iran to get nuclear weapons. If Israel is forced to stand alone, Israel will stand alone. Yet in standing alone, Israel will know that we will be defending many, many others.”

“And Israel continues to seek an historic peace with our Palestinian neighbors, one that ends our conflict once and for all. We want a peace based on security and mutual recognition in which a demilitarized Palestinian state recognizes the Jewish state of Israel. I remain committed to achieving an historic conciliation and building a better future for Israelis and Palestinians alike.” 

Read the full transcript

Palestinian Authority: Mahmoud Abbas
"The objective of the negotiations is to secure a lasting peace accord that leads immediately to the establishment of the independence of a fully sovereign State of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital, on all of the Palestinian lands occupied in 1967, so that it may live in peace and security alongside the State of Israel, and the resolution of the plight of Palestine refugees in a just agreed upon solution, according to United Nations resolution 194, as called for by the Arab Peace Initiative. . . . Our objective is to achieve a permanent and comprehensive agreement and a peace treaty between the States of Palestine and Israel that resolves all outstanding issues and answers all questions, which allows us to officially declare an end of conflict and claims."


"I am confident that the Israeli people want peace, and that its majority supports a two-State solution. We have always expressed our firm positions and have always explained them at the negotiations table with the Israeli Government and in the meetings and contacts we have intensified in the recent years with a wide spectrum of actors in Israeli society. Our message stems from the idea that the two peoples, the Palestinian and the Israeli, are partners in the task of peacemaking. This is why we keep reaching out to the Israeli side saying: let us work to make the culture of peace reign, to tear down walls, to build bridges instead of walls, to open wide roads for connection and communication."

Read the full transcript

Iran: President Hassan Rouhani
"The recent elections in Iran represent a clear, living example of the wise choice of hope, rationality and moderation by the great people of Iran. . . . Let me say this in all sincerity before this august world assembly, . . . Iran poses absolutely no threat to the world or the region. In fact, in ideals as well as in actual practice, my country has been a harbinger of just peace and comprehensive security. . . . Iran and other actors should pursue two common objectives as two mutually inseparable parts of a political solution for the nuclear dossier of Iran:

  1. Iran's nuclear program . . . must pursue exclusively peaceful purposes.
  2. . . . . acceptance of and respect for the implementation of the right to enrichment inside Iran and enjoyment of other related nuclear rights, provides the only path towards achieving the first objective."


"Iran seeks constructive engagement with other countries based on mutual respect and common interest, and within the same framework does not seek to increase tensions with the United States. I listened carefully to the statement made by President Obama today at the General Assembly. Commensurate with the political will of the leadership in the United States and hoping that they will refrain from following the short-sighted interest of warmongering pressure groups, we can arrive at a framework to manage our differences. To this end, equal footing, mutual respect, and the recognized principles of international law should govern the interactions. Of course, we expect to hear a consistent voice from Washington."

Read the full transcript






August 26, 2013 

Ninety-three years ago today, the 19th Amendment—granting women the right to vote—was officially adopted as part of the United States Constitution. In 1971, Congresswoman—and Hadassah Member—Bella Abzug championed the creation of Women’s Equality Day on August 26 to commemorate the amendment’s passage.

Today, Hadassah is proud to announce that it has become a National Ally of Vision 2020, a national coalition of organizations and individuals united in the commitment to achieve women’s economic and social equality. The coalition was developed by the Institute for Women's Health and Leadership at Drexel University College of Medicine that works with affiliated organizations to advance the issues most important to women.

Since its launch in 2010, Vision 2020 has been expanding its national network of women leaders, including delegates from all 50 states and allied national women’s organizations representing over 20 million women and girls. As part of a nationally allied organization, Hadassah’s leaders, members, associates and supporters are encouraged to form partnerships with other Vision 2020 Allies, attend Vision 2020 Regional Conferences, and consider becoming a Vision 2020 Delegate.

Vision 2020's Campaign for Equality will work to achieve the following five goals by the year 2020, when the centennial of the 19th Amendment will be celebrated:

  • Senior Leadership: to increase the number of women in senior leadership positions
  • Pay Equity: advance women's economic security and achieve pay equity
  • Family-Friendly Workplace: promote family-friendly workplace policies
  • Youth Education: educate young people to value gender equality, shared leadership, and civic engagement
  • Voter Mobilization: engage and educate women voters and increase women's participation in the political process

Hadassah has a long history of advocacy on all of these issues, most recently with the passage of a new Women’s Economic Equity and Security Policy Statement at last month’s National Business Meeting. Hadassah looks forward to working with Vision 2020 and the coalition’s other National Allies to achieve these goals.

Join the campaign today! Contact your elected officials about these important issues via the Hadassah National Action Center.

Support Pay Equity     |     Protect Pregnant Workers Rights

Pass the Healthy Families Act     |    Raise the Minimum Wage



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
August 6, 2013

MEDIA INQUIRES CONTACT:
Steve Rabinowitz
Rabinowitz/Dorf Communications
steve@rabinowitz.com
(202) 265-3000

OTHER INQUIRIES CONTACT:
Sheryl Hoffman, Hadassah
Shoffman@hadassah.org
(202) 303-8112

NEW YORK—This week, Hadassah, The Women's Zionist Organization of America, recognizes the 20th anniversary of the implementation of the Family and Medical Leave Act and urges Congress to expand paid leave opportunities for American workers. At a Hadassah National Business Meeting last week, the organization's national board and delegates approved an organizational policy statement in support of women's economic equity and security—including calls for expanded family and medical leave, and additional regulations to increase opportunities for earned paid parental, family and sick leave.

"Hadassah has a long history advocating for equal rights and a just economic society—championing policies on civil rights, pay equity, parental leave, the minimum wage, and social welfare programs that protect America's most vulnerable citizens," the policy reads. "Hadassah reaffirms support for these policies, advocates for improved enforcement, and promotes the implementation of new measures that will provide flexibility for working families without forcing sacrifices to their economic security."

The Family and Medical Leave (FMLA) Act, signed into law on February 5, 1993, and first implemented six months later, was designed to help Americans "balance the demands of the workplace with the needs of families, to promote the stability and economic security of families, and to promote national interests in preserving family integrity." Under FMLA, eligible employees are entitled to a total of 12 workweeks of unpaid leave during any 12-month period for the birth or adoption of a child, to treat a serious health condition, or to care for a relative.

In 1989, Hadassah passed a policy statement in support of the Family and Medical Leave Act and continued to advocate for the legislation until it was enacted. It has been 20 years since FMLA, and the United States is one of only four countries that does not require any type of paid parental leave (maternal, paternal or adoption leave). Hadassah encourages cooperation between the public and private sectors to implement legislation and private initiatives that will expand opportunities for earned paid parental leave.

Lack of access to paid sick leave is also a major economic hardship for 40 million private sector workers (39 percent of the private sector workforce), according to a 2010 report of the Congressional Joint Economic Committee, "Expanding Access to Paid Sick Leave: The Impact of the Healthy Families Act on America's Workers." Hadassah is an advocate for the Healthy Families Act, currently in Congress, which would provide 90 percent of the private sector workforce—an additional 30 million workers——access to seven days of earned paid sick leave.

"As an organization founded and run by generations of women leaders, Hadassah is a proud advocate for women's rights and polices that protect and support women as professionals and leaders, mothers and daughters," said Hadassah National President Marcie Natan. "For Hadassah, the Family and Medical Leave Act was an important step 20 years ago, but today, more can—and must—be done to support the economic equity and security of women and families."

Click here for the full text of Hadassah's Women's Economic Equity and Security Policy Statement. A compendium of Hadassah's Policy Statements can be found at www.hadassah.org/policystatements.

###


Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America, is the largest women's Zionist Jewish membership organization in the United States, and was founded in 1912. 330,000 members, associates, and supporters strong, Hadassah is now in its second century, growing our commitment to innovative and life-changing medical care and research, women's empowerment, education, advocacy, philanthropy and building Jewish identity – in Israel, America and around the world.



August 1, 2013 

Yesterday, Hadassah concluded its 2013 National Business Meeting by voting on three key policy issues. Hadassah’s National Board and delegates approved a statement in support of women’s economic equity and security, and reaffirmed two statements in support of medical research funding—especially funding for women's health research.

Women’s Economic Equity and Security

Hadassah has a long history advocating for equal rights and a just economic society—championing policies on civil rights, pay equity, parental leave, the minimum wage, and social welfare programs that protect America’s most vulnerable citizens. Hadassah reaffirms support for these policies, advocates for improved enforcement, and promotes the implementation of new measures that will provide flexibility for working families without forcing sacrifices to their economic security.”

The Women’s Economic Equity and Security statement calls for new measures that will reduce the gender wage gap; protect pregnant workers rights; increase the minimum wage; and expand and promote opportunities for earned paid parental, family and sick leave.

Click this link to read the full 2013 Women’s Economic Equity and Security Policy Statement.

Support and Funding for Women’s Health Research

In conjunction with Every Beat Counts: Hadassah’s Heart Health Program, the National Board and delegates reaffirmed the 2001 Medical Research and 2006 Support and Funding for Women's Health Research policy statements. Click the titles below to read the full statements.

Medical Research

Supports government funding for cutting-edge medical and biotechnological research and clinical trials—notably those in the areas of heart disease prevention and treatment for women, gene therapy, cancer and other medical treatments, organ and tissue transplantation, and stem cell research.

Support and Funding for Women's Health Research
Calls upon the United States government to increase the study of women's health issues; to encourage more women to enroll in clinical studies; to increase funding to the Office of Research on Women's Health and other offices of women's health within the government; to increase public awareness of women's health issues; and to encourage women to enter the field of biomedical research and increase the number of female researchers.



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
June 27, 2013

OTHER INQUIRIES CONTACT:
Sheryl Hoffman, Hadassah
Shoffman@hadassah.org
(202) 303-8112

MEDIA INQUIRES CONTACT:
Steve Rabinowitz
Rabinowitz/Dorf Communications
steve@rabinowitz.com
(202) 265-3000

NEW YORK—Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America, welcomes yesterday's Supreme Court rulings which call the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional and dismiss California's Proposition 8, expanding same-sex couples' access to federal and other benefits. In response to these landmark decisions, Marcie Natan, Hadassah's national president, released the following statement:

Hadassah reaffirms our support of equality for all Americans, including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered Americans, and our commitment to equal protection under the law for all couples. Hadassah has long supported LGBT rights, and we firmly believe that it is the government's responsibility to ensure that all Americans are treated equally and have equal access to the same benefits. Hadassah also has been a strong supporter of state and federal civil rights legislation to protect against hate crimes, discrimination and bullying based on sexual orientation.

Hadassah was proud to join with partner organizations to submit amicus curiae briefs in these court cases to show our staunch support for equality, religious freedom and civil rights. As the brief states:

Hadassah vigorously condemns discrimination of any kind and, as a pillar of the Jewish community, understands the dangers of bigotry. Hadassah strongly supports the constitutional guarantees of religious liberty and equal protection, and rejects discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Hadassah supports government action that provides civil status to committed same-sex couples and their families equal to the civil status provided to the committed relationships of men and women and their families, with all associated legal rights and obligations, both federal and state.

Yesterday's rulings are a reaffirmation of our country's commitment to our founding ideals and will pave the way for the protection of civil rights for all Americans.

###


Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America, is the largest women's Zionist Jewish membership organization in the United States, and was founded in 1912. 330,000 members, associates, and supporters strong, Hadassah is now in its second century, growing our commitment to innovative and life-changing medical care and research, women's empowerment, education, advocacy, philanthropy and building Jewish identity – in Israel, America and around the world.

Hadassah

Hadassah, The Women's Zionist Organization of America, Inc.
50 West 58th Street, New York, NY 10019
www.hadassah.org



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 20, 2013

MEDIA INQUIRES CONTACT:
Steve Rabinowitz
Rabinowitz/Dorf Communications
steve@rabinowitz.com
(202) 265-3000

OTHER INQUIRIES CONTACT:
Barbara Spack
National Chair, Marketing and Communication, Hadassah WZOA
bspack@hadassah.org
(202) 303-8112

NEW YORK – Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, decries the recent passage of a national ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The legislation, which passed in the House of Representatives with a vote of 228-196, contains no exceptions for fetal anomalies or situations in which the woman faces severe threats by her pregnancy, and only provides exceptions for women impregnated by rape or incest if they can prove that they reported those incidences. In reaction to this extensive and rigid legislation, Marcie Natan, national president of Hadassah, released the following statement:

Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, condemns the passage of the nationwide ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy and views this legislation as an encroachment on a woman’s right to reproductive choice, an invasion of privacy and an erosion of individual freedom. As an organization founded and run by generations of women leaders, Hadassah has long been a proud advocate for women’s reproductive rights and healthcare and strongly supports a woman’s right to choose in accordance with her own religious, moral and ethical values.

Hadassah will continue to fight attempts to restrict, through federal legislation, state administrative regulations, or court action, the right to reproductive choice and family planning programs delivering any and all services. Women everywhere, in consultation with medical advice, should have the right to make their own decisions regarding their health and families.    


Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America, is the largest women's Zionist Jewish membership organization in the United States, and was founded in 1912. 330,000 members, associates, and supporters strong, Hadassah is now in its second century, growing our commitment to innovative and life-changing medical care and research, women's empowerment, education, advocacy, philanthropy and building Jewish identity – in Israel, America and around the world.



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
June 14, 2013

MEDIA INQUIRES CONTACT:
Steve Rabinowitz
Rabinowitz/Dorf Communications
steve@rabinowitz.com
(202) 265-3000

OTHER INQUIRIES CONTACT:
Sheryl Hoffman, Hadassah
Shoffman@hadassah.org
(202) 303-8112

NEW YORK— In welcoming a new Israeli law that expands the size of the Israeli rabbinical judge selection committee and ensures women’s representation, Marcie Natan, national president of Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, released the following statement:

I extend my sincerest congratulations to the Knesset – and especially the multi-partisan team of women sponsors – for the passage of this historic legislation. As an organization founded and run by generations of women leaders, Hadassah is a proud advocate for women’s rights and equal representation in court rooms, board rooms and legislatures in the United States, Israel and around the world. With only 23 percent of the Knesset and 18 percent of Congress comprised of women, the passage of this legislation is a significant step – and hopefully one of many – that will pave the way for women’s rights and equality worldwide.

Israel has seen several incidents of segregation and discrimination against women in recent years – from conference halls and buses to the streets of Beit Shemesh and the Western Wall Plaza. Hadassah is a staunch supporter of religious pluralism in Israel and has long urged cooperation between the Rabbinate and Jewish women’s groups to devise solutions to Jewish family law issues.

This law mirrors a petition to the Israeli High Court of Justice filed by the Center for Women’s Justice and the Rackman Center for the Advancement of the Status of Women, both grantees of the Hadassah Foundation. I join Hadassah Foundation Chair Donna Gerson in the pride we share to be supporting organizations that truly bring women’s contributions and needs to the center of Jewish concern and encourage women’s leadership in all spheres of life.

By raising the number of members of the rabbinical judge selection committee from 10 to 11, deadlocks will be avoided, encouraging a more efficient process. The new size of the committee and the appointment of women will greatly impact Jewish unity and women’s rights in Israel – opening up the conversation about agunah, halizah, divorce, women’s rights in marriage, custody of children and the definition of what it means to be Jewish.

For additional information about the rabbinical judge selection committee legislation, read the coverage from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA). Hadassah members, associates, and supporters can also register on Hadassah's website to receive the Daily Briefing, powered by the JTA.

###


Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America, is the largest women's Zionist Jewish membership organization in the United States, and was founded in 1912. 330,000 members, associates, and supporters strong, Hadassah is now in its second century, growing our commitment to innovative and life-changing medical care and research, women's empowerment, education, advocacy, philanthropy and building Jewish identity – in Israel, America and around the world.

Hadassah

Hadassah, The Women's Zionist Organization of America, Inc.
50 West 58th Street, New York, NY 10019
www.hadassah.org



June 10, 2013

On June 10, 1963, President John F. Kennedy signed the historic Equal Pay Act. That year postage stamps were 5 cents, a gallon of gas was 30 cents, and women earned 59 cents to a man’s dollar.  Today, prices for postage and gasoline sure have changed dramatically, but women's earnings have not. Women still only earn 77 cents to a man's dollar and the wage gap hasn’t budged a cent for the last decade.  America’s women are worth more and they deserve better!

Show your support for the Paycheck Fairness Act and other pay equity measures! Visit the National Action Center to contact Congress and President Obama, and share information about pay equity with friends, family and colleagues. Visit Hadassah's website, Facebook and Twitter pages for posts that can be promoted to your social networks.  

The Equal Pay Act was one of the first pieces of anti-discrimination legislation, so the act includes loopholes that do not exist in other anti-discriminations laws. The Paycheck Fairness Act would update pay equity regulations by requiring justification for pay disparities between male and female employees doing the same job, and instituting penalties for discrimination similar to those on the basis of race and national origin. Countless workers are unaware that they are receiving unequal pay because they could be fired for discussing wages with colleagues. The Paycheck Fairness Act would also bar retaliation against employees who disclose their own wages to coworkers.

Half a century is long enough, tell Congress and President Obama that it's time to end the wage gap today!



Make Yom Yerushalayim a day of celebration and a day of action!

Forty-six years ago, following the completion of the six-day war, Jerusalem was reunited once again. Since 1967, Hadassah's National Board has passed a long series of Policy Statements affirming support for Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel. In 1997, Hadassah passed a special Policy Statement in commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the reunification.

Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America celebrates with heartfelt joy the 30th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem. Historically and politically, spiritually and culturally, Jerusalem represents the heart and soul of the Jewish people. . . . We salute the Congress of the United States for its overwhelming adoption of resolutions and legislation recognizing united Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel and requiring the relocation of the American Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. We urge the administration to implement this legislation in a timely fashion.

The Jerusalem Embassy Act was passed by Congress in 1995, but the legislation allows the president to suspend implementation by presidential waiver on the basis of national security concerns. The Jerusalem Embassy and Recognition Act of 2013 has been introduced in Congress, which calls on the President to immediately implement the provisions of the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 and amends the act to remove the presidential waiver provision. The United States, as an ally of Israel, must stand unequivocally for Israel's sovereignty and security. In honor of Yom Yerushalayim, urge the Obama administration and Congress to strengthen their commitment to a strong U.S.-Israel relationship by recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Visit the Hadassah National Action Center to celebrate Yom Yerushalayim and show your support for Israel!



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 25, 2013

NEW YORK —On April 22, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu approved Natan Sharansky's proposals to expand egalitarian prayer at the Western Wall and today, a Jerusalem District Court ruled in favor of women's rights to pray at the Wall. In response, Marcie Natan, National President of Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America, released the following statement:

Hadassah applauds the announcement this week that Prime Minister Netanyahu and his office are working closely with Natan Sharansky to implement his proposals to expand the Western Wall Plaza and create a new section for egalitarian prayer.

Hadassah has a longstanding commitment to the principles of women's equality and religious pluralism, and is proud to have members, associates and supporters from all segments of the Jewish community. Jewish leaders from across the religious and political spectra continue to come together on this issue, and I am hopeful that a resolution can be reached which will ensure that the Western Wall is a symbol of Jewish unity and diversity.

The ruling of the Jerusalem District Court today shows that progress is continuing and that Israel remains a leader and champion of women's rights. Hadassah urges the Israeli government to continue its leadership and support a solution which will allow all people to pray, individually and collectively, at the Western Wall freely, without harassment, and in accordance with their own religious practices.

Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America, is the largest women's Zionist Jewish membership organization in the United States, and was founded in 1912. 330,000 members, associates, and supporters strong, Hadassah is now in its second century, growing our commitment to innovative and life-changing medical care and research, women's empowerment, education, advocacy, philanthropy and building Jewish identity – in Israel, America and around the world.



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
April 10, 2013

NEW YORK —In response to Natan Sharansky's proposals released this week regarding prayer at the Western Wall, Marcie Natan, National President of Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America, released the following statement:

As a member of the Jewish Agency Board of Governors representing Hadassah, I congratulate Natan Sharansky, Chairman, on completing his extensive evaluation of prayer at the Kotel and unveiling substantive proposals to achieve "One Kotel for One People".

Hadassah has a longstanding commitment to the principles of women's equality and religious pluralism -- proudly passing a resolution in January that expressed our hope for a solution that would allow all people to pray, individually and collectively, at the Kotel freely, without harassment, and in accordance with their own religious practices.

Hadassah once again applauds Prime Minister Netanyahu for commissioning this undertaking, and we are pleased to see Jewish leaders from across the spectrum coming together in support. Hadassah urges the Israeli government to continue working with Natan to ensure that the Western Wall is a symbol of Jewish unity and diversity.

###

 

Founded in 1912, Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America, is celebrating its 100th year. Hadassah is a volunteer women's organization, whose members are motivated and inspired to strengthen their partnership with Israel, ensure Jewish continuity, and realize their potential as a dynamic force in American society. For more information, visit www.hadassah.org.



April 9, 2013

April 9 is Equal Pay Day 2013. Since Equal Pay day was established in 1996—17 years ago—the wage gap has decreased by only 4 cents. At this rate, the wage gap won’t close until 2057—45 years from now! America's women are worth more and they deserve better.

Hadassah strongly supports the adoption and strict enforcement of policies to eliminate employment discrimination, reduce the gender wage gap and ensure better economic security for women. Legislation from Congress is needed, but President Obama can take a major step to support pay equity TODAY!

Thank President Obama for his leadership on pay equity and urge him to issue an executive order barring retaliatory pay secrecy policies for federal contractors.

Countless workers are unaware that they are receiving unequal pay because they could be fired for discussing wages with colleagues. An executive order allowing employees of federal contractors to discuss their salaries without fear of losing their jobs is essential to helping women learn whether or not they are being paid fairly. This order would impact over 20 percent of the civilian workforce and lay the groundwork for broader reaching pay equity policies moving forward. Urge President Obama to issue an executive order via the Hadassah National Action Center.

The U.S. Census Bureau confirmed in 2012 that the gender wage gap has not changed in over a decade. It has been 50 years since the passage of the Equal Pay Act, and yet for every dollar a man earns, women with comparable education and experience make only 77 cents—costing the average American woman $700,000 to $2 million in lost wages over a working lifetime.

Equal Pay Day was originated by the National Committee on Pay Equity, of which Hadassah is a member, to illustrate the gap between men's and women's wages. Every year, on a Tuesday in April, Equal Pay Day draws attention to the extra months it takes for a woman’s wages to catch up to her male colleagues.

Take a stand now in support of fair pay! Visit the National Action Center to contact President Obama and Congress, and share information about pay equity with friends, family and colleagues. Visit Hadassah's website, Facebook and Twitter pages for posts that can be promoted to your social networks.  



April 16, 2013

A vote on the gun control legislation package is planned for today! 

The Senate is considering the Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act of 2013, which includes a bipartisan compromise on expanding background checks that has been proposed by Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Pat Toomey (R-PA).  The legislation also addresses the illegal trafficking of guns and school safety.  As negotiations and debate continue, amendments from a wide range of Senators are also being considered.

Make sure your Senators hear from you!  Use the Faiths Calling Hotline (1-888-897-0174) to be connected to your Senators' offices, or visit the Hadassah National Action Center to email your elected officials in support of comprehensive gun control legislation. 


For additional information, see Hadassah's Action Alert: Advocate for Comprehensive Gun Control Legislation


April 8, 2013

Today, Congress returned from a two-week recess to the issue of gun control at the top of its agenda. Over the last several months, Hadassah has worked with its coalition partners to advocate for comprehensive gun control legislation addressing firearms, improved access to mental health services, and a conversation about violence in the media.

Hadassah members, Associates and supporters participated in a Faiths Call-In Day to Prevent Gun Violence in February, and a second National Call-In Day will be held April 9. Contact your Senators and urge them to support comprehensive gun control legislation!

 

The Senate Judiciary Committee has approved a package of gun control legislation, which faces further negotiations and possible amendments. The ban on assault weapons was removed and now can only be introduced as an amendment—significantly decreasing its chances of passage. An alternative bill, that excludes background checks or bans on military style weapons and high capacity ammunition, is also being written.

At the recent Jewish Council for Public Affairs Plenum, Hadassah was proud to co-sponsor and support a policy resolution that called for limiting access to the most dangerous weapons and ammunition, waiting periods, volume sales restrictions, background checks, and diligent enforcement of regulations, in addition to improved access to mental health services, and a conversation about violence in the media.

Contact your elected officials in support of comprehensive gun control legislation and share information about gun control with your friends, family and colleagues. Visit Hadassah's Facebook and Twitter pages for posts that can be promoted to your social networks.



Over the last several months, more than 50 companies have filed court cases challenging the Contraception Mandate—the proposal announced in January of 2012 that requires most insurance policies to include free contraceptive coverage (no co-pays). These companies claim that the religious beliefs of the organization—or even the boss’s own views—should determine what contraceptive coverage is available for all employees.

Every woman—no matter where she works or attends school—should have the right to make family planning decisions privately, in consultation with medical advice, and in accordance with her own religious, moral and ethical values. Hadassah has joined its coalition partners in filing several amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) briefs in these cases in support of comprehensive coverage for as many women as possible.

New modifications to the contraception mandate were announced in February 2013 and public comments to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) are due by April 8, at 11:59 PM (ET). Tell HHS that women—not their bosses—should be making decisions about family planning. Comments should be made directly on regulations.gov and a sample comment is included below.

February’s announcement was one step closer to ensuring wide-spread access to contraception coverage. Unfortunately, it also loosened the requirements for exempt organizations, lifting the mandate completely for some non-profit agencies directly operated by religious institutions.

Hadassah appreciates that the administration continues to recognize the medical need for contraceptive coverage, but remains concerned that not all women are afforded this access. Hadassah will continue to advocate for expanded access, as well as an implementation process that does not create undue barriers.

Hadassah encourages is members, associates and supporters to make comments to HHS and share information about the contraception mandate with friends, family and colleagues. Visit Hadassah's website, Facebook and Twitter pages for posts that can be promoted to your social networks.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Certain Preventive Services Under the Affordable Care Act
(Docket ID: CMS-2012-0031-63161)

Dear Secretary Sebelius,

I appreciate that the administration continues to recognize the medical need for contraceptive coverage—as part of women’s preventive health—and that you are working to provide comprehensive coverage to as many women as possible without co-pays.

As the Institute of Medicine noted, women stand to benefit from preventive health services given their longer life expectancies, reproductive and gender-specific conditions, and historically greater burden of chronic disease and disability.

However, I am concerned that not all women are afforded this access. Every woman—no matter where she works or attends school—should have the right to make family planning decisions privately, in consultation with medical advice, and in accordance with her own religious, moral and ethical values.

It is extremely troubling that the current proposed rules continue to ignore the consciences, religious liberty rights and healthcare needs of many employees. I urge you to support expanded access—defining “religious employer” narrowly—as well as an implementation process that does not create undue barriers for any women impacted by the accommodation.
Again, I thank you for supporting women's health, and I urge you to create a workable solution that ensures women are able to benefit from the health care law as it was originally intended.



March 28, 2013

On March 28, the Supreme Court of the United States heard oral arguments in a landmark gay rights case: United States v. Windsor. The case addresses the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which federally defines marriage—and all rights and benefits associated with that designation—as a union between a man and a woman.


Hadassah joined with the Anti-Defamation League, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Central Conference of American Rabbis, National Council for Jewish Women and over a dozen other organizations in an amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) brief, urging the court to find DOMA unconstitutional. The brief includes the following passage from Hadassah and is posted in full on the Hadassah website.

Hadassah vigorously condemns discrimination of any kind and, as a pillar of the Jewish community, understands the dangers of bigotry. Hadassah strongly supports the constitutional guarantees of religious liberty and equal protection, and rejects discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Hadassah supports government action that provides civil status to committed same-sex couples and their families equal to the civil status provided to the committed relationships of men and women and their families, with all associated legal rights and obligations, both federal and state.

Hadassah has a long history advocating for civil rights and against all forms of discrimination. In 2006, the Hadassah National Board passed the Equality for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Americans Policy Statement. “Hadassah strongly opposes efforts at the federal and state level, whether through legislation, referendum or constitutional amendment, that would selectively limit or deny civil rights to same-sex couples and their families, thereby abusing the spirit of the amendment process and discouraging further expansion of gay rights.” Click here to read the full statement.

The Supreme Court has expedited posting the transcripts and audio recordings of Windsor and Hollingsworth v. Perry, a case regarding gay marriage in California that was argued on Tuesday, to the Supreme Court website. Hadassah also signed an amicus brief in the Holligsworth v. Perry case, which can be found in full on the Hadassah website.  Rulings in both cases are expected in June and Hadassah will provide additional information as it becomes available.

Hadassah’s Amicus Brief Program, initiated in 1998, is a project of Hadassah's National Center for Attorneys Councils that engages participating Hadassah member attorneys from across the country. For additional information about the Attorneys Councils or Amicus Brief Program contact attorneyscouncils@hadassah.org.



At the Jewish Council for Public Affairs Plenum this week, Hadassah was proud to co-sponsor and support a policy resolution that called for limiting access to the most dangerous weapons and ammunition, waiting periods, volume sales restrictions, background checks, diligent enforcement of regulations, efforts to improve access to mental health services, and a conversation about violence in media.

Places of worship across the nation are participating in a Gun Violence Prevention Sabbath Weekend, March 15-17. Hadassah encourages its members, associates and supporters to speak out against gun violence this weekend.

Take Action!

Visit the Hadassah National Action Center to contact your elected officials about gun control.

Sign on to the Jewish Council for Public Affairs End Gun Violence Now petition.

Participate in the Gun Violence Prevention Sabbath Weekend, being coordinated by Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence, the Washington National Cathedral and PICO.

Share information about the Sabbath Weekend and gun control with your friends, family and colleagues. Visit Hadassah's website, Facebook and Twitter pages for posts that can be promoted to your social networks.



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
March 1, 2013

 

NEW YORK— In response to the comments by Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan denigrating Zionism, Marcie Natan, National President of Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America, Inc., released the following statement:

Hadassah unequivocally condemns the statements by Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan – calling Zionism a "crime against humanity" – made recently at a United Nations event in Vienna. Amidst the campaign of anti-Israel activities occurring across the globe this week, these comments are unfortunately yet another example of the systematic effort to tarnish and delegitimize the State of Israel.

As we have seen, time and time again, Zionism and Israel are criticized on the international stage—met by applause from the world's most notorious leaders and silence from countless others. On behalf of Hadassah's 330,000 members, associates and supporters, I urge all world leaders to condemn these remarks and promote constructive dialogue in order to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and pursue a future of peace in the Middle East.

Since Hadassah's founding in 1912, we have combated global anti-Semitism and I continue to pledge our support to educational, legislative and diplomatic efforts to combat the growth of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism wherever it may appear.

Hadassah welcomes the White House's denunciation and urges Secretary of State John Kerry, currently in Turkey, to hold Prime Minister Erdogan accountable for his comments and urge Erdogan to become a broker of peace in the region.



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
February 28, 2013

NEW YORK – In response to today’s House passage of the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, Marcie Natan, National President of Hadassah, the
Women’s Zionist Organization of America, released the following statement:

Hadassah welcomes the long-awaited reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, which comes after almost two long years of congressional debate. This vital legislation has helped the lives of countless victims since it was first passed in 1994, and this reauthorization will expand and improve the act’s impact on women and girls for years to come.

Central to Hadassah’s values is our support for women’s rights – in the United States, Israel and around the world. Today’s vote is not only a win for those who have been victims and survivors of violence, but for all advocates who work tirelessly to protect the rights of women and those in need – particularly among the most vulnerable communities. Hadassah’s network of 330,000 members, associates and supporters – found in every congressional district in the country – came together to advocate in favor of passage of a comprehensive VAWA – and today’s success will now provide expanded services and protections to women across the United States.

Reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act is a major step forward in the fight to prevent domestic and sexual violence, and Hadassah maintains its commitment to awareness, education and support for victims and their families.

Stay tuned to the National Action Center for the opportunity to contact your Representatives about their vote on the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act.   



February 27, 2013

The House is voting tomorrow on the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act. Urge your Representatives to oppose the House version of the bill and vote in favor of the Senate VAWA legislation!

Last week, the Senate passed the inclusive Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act in a bipartisan vote (78-22). Tomorrow, the House will vote on a different version of the legislation that would turn back the tides on years of progress—diverting funds away from essential services and depriving countless victims of necessary protections.

In response to strong pressure from some members of Congress and advocates like you, the House leadership has agreed to vote on the Senate version of the bill (S. 47) if the House version does not pass.

The Violence Against Women Act provides assistance to victims of domestic and dating violence, sexual assault and stalking—both women and men—by facilitating coordinated community responses to these crimes, funding specialized training for various levels of law enforcement, and supporting community-based organizations that offer programs for victims. Since its passage in 1994, more victims report domestic violence to the police and the rate of non-fatal intimate partner violence against women has decreased by 53 percent.

Hadassah, a member of the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women, is a long-time advocate of awareness, education and legislative initiatives aimed at ending this type of violence and supporting the needs of victims and their families.

Two years for Congress to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act is long enough. Tell your Representatives that women’s safety is not a partisan issue and that they should reauthorize an inclusive VAWA tomorrow! Log in to the Hadassah National Action Center or use the Find My Elected Officials box for your Representative's office number or send an email message.   



February 25, 2013

Today is the start of Buy Israel Week, a project organized by online consumer discount site jdeal.com, several Jewish publications, Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, and the Manufacturers Association of Israel, among others.

Buy Israeli goods campaigns have been launched in response to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which aims to tarnish and delegitimize the State of Israel. The 9th Annual Israeli Apartheid Weeks will be occurring around the world in late February and early March—including anti-Israel events, film screenings, and BDS initiatives. Hadassah maintains its long-standing policy against all forms of organized boycotts—opposing destructive actions in favor of constructive dialogue in order to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and pursue a future of peace in the Middle East.

Learn more and show your support for Israel today!  

Buy Israel Week will take place from February 25 through March 3. For additional information, online deals and listings of Israeli goods visit www.buyisraelweek.com and www.buyisraelgoods.org.


Thank your elected officials for supporting Israel and urge them to maintain that commitment.

Step Up for Israel will be offering free online streaming of the award-winning documentary Israel Inside: How a Small Nation Makes a Big Difference through March 17th. If you'd like to host a screening of Israel Inside in your area contact andrea@jerusalemOnlineU.com


Israelcalendar.org, sponsored by the American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise (AICE) and a partner website of the Jewish Virtual Library, is also promoting February as American Israel Friendship Month.

Stand with Israel in your community—attend pro-Israel rallies, send letters to the editor, and promote Israel on social media. Hadassah is consistently posting updates that can be shared with your networks.



Below is a women's rights update on the Violence Against Women Act, contraception mandate, Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, and pay equity. Visit the Hadassah National Action Center to contact your elected officials on these important issues. Hadassah's members, associates and supporters are also encouraged to share this information with friends and family. Hadassah's Facebook and Twitter pages have posts on these issues that can be promoted to your social networks.

Violence Against Women Act

On Tuesday, the Senate passed the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in a bipartisan vote (78-22).

Last term, different versions of the Violence Against Women Act passed the Senate and House of Representatives and no agreement could be reached to reconcile the legislation. The House version of VAWA would have turned back the tides on years of progress, diverting funds away from essential services and depriving countless victims of necessary protections.

The Senate vote showed that protecting victims of violence is not a partisan issue! Contact your Senators about their vote and urge your Representatives to co-sponsor and support an inclusive VAWA.

Contraception Mandate

On February 1, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced new information and modifications to the contraception mandate. Hadassah supports every woman—no matter where she works or attends school—having the right to make family planning decisions privately, in consultation with medical advice, and in accordance with her own religious, moral and ethical values.

In 2011, HHS announced a proposal requiring most insurance policies to include free contraception coverage (no co-pays), as per preventive health recommendations from the Institute of Medicine.

Congressional and religious leaders voiced opposition to the mandate, specifically for religious non-profits that are opposed to funding contraception. (Houses of worship are already exempt from the mandate.) Last February, the White House announced an accommodation for non-profit religious organizations, proposing that an insurer or other third party would provide contraception coverage directly to employees at no cost to the employer.

This month's announcement, which clarified the mechanism of insurer/third party coverage, is one step further to ensuring wide-spread access to contraception coverage. Unfortunately, the new requirements also loosened the requirements for exempt organizations, lifting the mandate for some non-profit agencies directly operated by religious institutions.

Hadassah appreciates that the administration continues to recognize the medical need for contraceptive coverage, but remains concerned that not all women are afforded this access. Hadassah will continue to advocate for expanded access, as well as an implementation process that does not create undue barriers.

The Department of Health & Human Services will be taking public comments until April 8th. Hadassah and its coalition partners are continuing to follow these developments and will provide additional information as it becomes available.

Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) will be reintroduced to Congress in the coming weeks. PWFA—like the Americans with Disabilities Act—would help pregnant workers maintain economic stability and a healthy pregnancy by requiring that employers provide reasonable work accommodations.

Urge your legislators to become an original co-sponsor of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act and work for its swift passage!

Pay Equity

During the State of the Union, President Obama urged Congress to finally pass the Paycheck Fairness Act. Hadassah, a longtime member of the National Committee on Pay Equity, strongly supports the adoption and strict enforcement of policies to eliminate employment discrimination, reduce the gender wage gap and ensure better economic security for women.

Contact your legislators in support of pay equity legislation.

Contact President Obama in support of an executive order barring retaliatory pay secrecy policies for federal contractors.

 



Last Tuesday, January 22, Israelis held elections for their 19th Knesset (120-seat Parliament) and yesterday Israeli President Shimon Peres was presented with the official election results from the Central Elections Committee Chairman. President Peres will meet with leaders of each party before assigning one the task of forming a new coalition government. Current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose party won the most seats in the election, is expected to form the next coalition. However, analysts have predicted several possible coalition scenarios.

Below is a chart showing the number of seats won by the parties:

Party Seats
Likud-Beiteinu (right-wing, led by Benjamin Netanyahu in coalition with Avigdor Lieberman) 31
Yesh Atid (centrist, led by Yair Lapid) 19
Labor (left-wing, led by Shelly Yachimovich) 15
Jewish Home (right-wing, led by Naftali Bennett) 12
Shas (right wing) 11
3 Arab parties (left wing) 11(combined)
United Torah Judaism (right wing) 7
Hatnuah (center left, led by Tzipi Livni) 6
Meretz (left-wing) 6
Kadima (center left) 2
Total
Right-wing parties (combined) 61
Center/Left-wing parties (combined) 59

President Peres stated that he would facilitate the establishment of a government based on the choices of the Israeli people, while also allowing all parties to be heard. "I will make an effort to do this with the necessary urgency while allowing each faction to state its positions," he said. "I consider this a great privilege and an explicit duty."

Click here to read the Office of the President's press release, with time tables of the party leader meetings occurring this week.

Learn about the Israeli political system.

Review and connect to election analysis.

Join the conversation! Scroll down and post your thoughts about the Israeli elections.

Israeli Politics

The election process in Israel is completely different than in the United States. In Israel, which is a parliamentary democracy, voters vote only for the legislative branch—the Knesset—and do not vote for the executive branch. Despite the focus on individual candidates, Israelis vote only for a party, not a person. The ballot is the same in every ballot box in Israel. Each party is represented on the ballot by a long list of candidates for that party's slate. Voters do not choose who occupies slots on a party's slate.

In Israel, the entire country is one voting bloc; every vote holds equal weight and there are no separate voting districts like in the United States. The 120 Knesset seats are assigned in proportion to the percentage of votes won by each party (with the caveat that a party must win a minimum of 2% of the national vote in order to secure its first seat). Thus, Israeli elections do not have "winners" and "losers." In this election, for example, Likud-Beiteinu received only 23% of the vote, but won the largest percentage of votes and therefore the most seats in the Knesset.

Technically speaking, an Israeli government is formed if a single party wins a majority of Knesset seats (at least 61 out of 120). However, under Israel's electoral system, it is very difficult for any one party to win 61 seats in the Knesset and, to date, no party has ever done so. Generally, Israeli governments are formed when the party that wins the largest Knesset representation achieves a majority of seats by joining in coalition with other parties. But, this is not always the case, as the law requires the President to poll the heads of the parties in the Knesset on whom they each think should form the government, and then choose someone to form the government from those recommendations. Thus, it may be that the President chooses a person to form a government whose party did not win the most Knesset seats. In all cases, Israeli governments are coalitions, with those parties remaining outside the coalition making up the opposition.

Once President Peres meets with the party leaders and appoints someone to form a government, that party leader will have 28 days to do so. The party leader can ask for that term to be extended for another 14 days if needed. If that person is unsuccessful, Peres will choose another person who will have an opportunity to try to form a government. Whoever is successful in forming the government will become the Prime Minister. While the government may be formed quickly, it could also be up to six weeks before Israel will know what its government will look like and who will be its next Prime Minister.

Election Analysis

Despite initial reports that votes were spilt evenly between both wings, the final tallies showed that the right-wing has a slight majority (61-59). The second largest block was won by the new centrist party Yesh Atid (There is a Future), which focused its campaign heavily on domestic and economic issues. Following the election, the leaders of Likud-Beiteinu and Yesh Atid spoke to these results and pledged to form a broad coalition.

Likud-Beiteinu leaders, Prime Minister Netanyahu and second in command Avigdor Liberman, made statements that the new government would also focus on social issues such as affordable housing, expanding mandatory military service, and changing the system of government.

Prime Minister Netanyahu: We woke up this morning to a clear message from the public: it wants me to form a government that will bring about great internal changes. I spoke to Avigdor Liberman and we decided that we will focus our talks on these three core issues, in addition to maintaining Israel's security, in an effort to build as broad a coalition as possible.

Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid: I call on the leaders of the political establishment to work with me together, to the best of their ability, to form as broad a government as possible that will contain moderate forces from the left and right, the right and the left, so that we will truly be able to bring about real change.

Had the votes been even, there may have been a possibility that the left wing could form a coalition or force a new election. With the right wing in the majority, and Likud-Beinteinu substantially receiving the highest percentage of votes, it is extremely likely that Netanyahu will remain Prime Minister. In theory, Netanyahu could form a coalition with all the right-wing parties. However, Yesh Atid has endorsed Netanyahu and will likely join the coalition. Right-wing party Jewish Home (Bayit Yehudi), led by Naftali Bennett, also endorsed Netanyahu. Both parties campaigned hard on the issue of military service by the ultra-orthodox community; however they have stark differences on many other issues. In order to form the coalition, each participating party must negotiate and agree on the division of leadership positions. Yesh Atid and Bayit Yehudi have both started voicing their preferences, including the coveted Finance Committee Chair, Education Ministry, and Housing and Construction Ministry.

The right-wing ultra-orthodox parties Shas and United Torah Judaism, which were members of Netanyahu's coalition in the last Knesset, are negotiating together as a block of 18 seats. Netanyahu could successfully form a coalition without these parties, however the larger the coalitions the more stable his government will be. The ultra-orthodox parties are working together to limit the influence of Yesh Atid, but are reportedly in negotiations to reach a compromise regarding orthodox military service.

Labor Party leader Shelly Yachimovich, whose party received the third highest number of votes, has pledged to be "a fighting opposition like none other" to Netanyahu's coalition. Many are interested in decision of Tzipi Livni, Former Kadima Leader and Foreign Affairs Minister, who formed her own center-left party Hatnuah last November. Hatnuah only received six votes, but could be another center-left element to bolster Yesh Atid in the coalition.

Below are several media analyses of the election results. All opinions are those of the author, and not endorsed by Hadassah in any way.

Daniel Gordis: We Gave Peace a Chance (International Jerusalem Post) & Israel Shows Her True Colors (New York Daily News) Shmuel Rosner: A Better Bibi (New York Times)
Dylan Byers on the media coverage of the election (POLITICO) [Walter Russell] Mead: U.S. media failed on Israeli election, U.S. media's Israeli elections fail, cont. & Israeli elections: The New Yorker's David Remnick responds to Walter Russell Mead
Moshe Arens: Emotional voters vs. rational voters (Haaretz)

Peres meets with factions over formulation of gov't (Jerusalem Post)



January 29, 2013 marked the fourth anniversary of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, but the fight for pay equity is far from over.

The U.S. Census Bureau confirmed in 2012 that the gender wage gap has not changed in over a decade. It has been 50 years since the passage of the Equal Pay Act, and yet for every dollar a man earns, women with comparable education and experience make only 77 cents—costing the average American woman $700,000 to $2 million in lost wages over a working lifetime.

Hadassah, a longtime member of the National Committee on Pay Equity, strongly supports the adoption and strict enforcement of policies to eliminate employment discrimination, reduce the gender wage gap and ensure better economic security for women.

America's women are worth more and they deserve better! Show your support for pay equity and take action!

Urge your legislators to support pay equity legislation. Over the last two weeks, Congress has reintroduced pay equity legislation such as the Paycheck Fairness Act and Fair Pay Act. These bills would deter wage discrimination by updating the Equal Pay Act, barring retaliation against employees who disclose their own wages to coworkers and require equal pay for equivalent work.

Urge President Obama to issue an executive order barring retaliatory pay secrecy policies for federal contractors. Too many workers, like Lilly Ledbetter, receive unequal pay for years because they could be fired for discussing wages with colleagues. While federal legislation is still needed to protect all employees in the U.S., this important first step would reach over 20 percent of the civilian workforce. An executive order allowing employees of federal contractors to discuss their salaries without fear of losing their jobs is essential to helping women learn whether or not they are being paid fairly.

Share information about Lilly Ledbetter and pay equity with friends, family and colleagues. Visit Hadassah's website, Facebook and Twitter pages for posts that can be promoted to your social networks.



Yesterday, Hadassah concluded its winter board meeting by voting on two key policy issues. The National Board of Hadassah reaffirmed the statement it made in 2000 in support of stronger gun control legislation and expanded it to call for a ban on assault weapons. The National Board also approved a resolution reaffirming its commitment to and support for freedom of worship for all women at the Western Wall.

Gun Control

"Over a decade ago, when we released our gun control statement in 2000, Hadassah recognized that gun control laws did not go far enough—nor were enforced rigorously enough—to help prevent the incidents of violence that continue to plague our schools, workplaces and communities," said Hadassah National President Marcie Natan. "In recent months and years, we have seen too many of these tragedies, and it is time that our nation takes all necessary action to enact laws that will protect our citizens – and especially our children – from such violence."

Click these links to read the full press release and 2013 Gun Control Policy Statement.

Prayer at the Western Wall

The Women's Prayer at the Western Wall Resolution applauded Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's request for the Jewish Agency for Israel to study and provide recommendations regarding prayer at the Kotel. As a member of the Jewish Agency Board of Governors, Hadassah looks forward to participating in this important effort and hopes that a resolution can be reached that will allow all women to pray, individually and collectively, at the Kotel freely, without harassment, and in accordance with their own religious practices.

Click this link to read the full Women's Prayer at the Western Wall Resolution.



On January 22, 1973, the Supreme Court handed down a landmark decision in Roe v. Wade, recognizing a woman's constitutional right to make her own reproductive health choices—including seeking access to legal abortion. Forty years later, the fight continues with new attacks on reproductive rights launched every year. Defeats of these proposals are hard fought and victories hard won.

The last Congress considered legislation that would restrict women's access to reproductive health coverage, allow hospitals to deny pregnant women life-saving care, institute threats of penalties for physicians, and slash funding for important women's health and family planning services. Federal and state legislators have proposed Personhood initiatives—legislation and public referenda that would declare a fertilized egg a person—and bills that would require women to undergo transvaginal ultrasounds before receiving abortions.

Hadassah and its coalition partners have been advocating for the MARCH for Military Women Act and the Shaheen Amendment since August, 2011. Finally, with the passage of the 2013 National Defense Reauthorization Act last month, servicewomen may now use private funds to obtain an abortion on a military base and receive federal coverage of abortion in cases of rape and incest through the military health insurance system.

Mark Roe's 40th Anniversary by showing your support and help to protect reproductive rights for generations to come!

Hadassah is a long time advocate for the freedom of choice and supports a woman's right to make family planning decisions privately, in consultation with medical advice, and in accordance with one's own religious, moral and ethical values. Hadassah members, associates and supporters are encouraged to speak out for women's reproductive rights and join coalitions with like-minded organizations to mobilize their local communities.

Contact your elected officials about reproductive rights. Voice opposition to family planning funding cuts, restrictions on women's health access and reproductive services, and any anti-choice legislation proposed in your state. Visit the Hadassah National Action Center to contact your federal legislators.

In September, Hadassah became a campaign ally of This Is Personal, a campaign working to empower, educate and activate women across the country to protect women's reproductive health care. In honor of the Roe anniversary, the campaign has launched the Not in Her Shoes project, collecting photos of shoes and captions about reproductive rights. Click here to view the Not In Her Shoes website and to submit your own photo and caption.

Share information about the Roe anniversary with your friends, family and colleagues. Visit Hadassah's website, Facebook and Twitter pages for posts that can be promoted to your social networks.



NEW YORK —Hadassah reiterates its concern over the escalation of conflict regarding women’s prayer at the Western Wall and applauds Prime Minister Netanyahu’s plan to address the situation.  In response to this new announcement, Marcie Natan, National President of Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, released the following statement:

I speak on behalf of Hadassah’s 330,000 members, associates and supporters -- women and men, American, Israeli and those from around the world -- in welcoming Prime Minister Netanyahu’s request for the Jewish Agency of Israel to study and provide recommendations regarding prayer at the Kotel, especially with regards to women.

Hadassah reaffirms its longstanding commitment to the principles of women’s equality, religious pluralism, and the preservation of Jewish unity—echoing Prime Minister Netanyahu’s sentiments that the Kotel must remain a source of cohesion for world Jewry, rather than of division.

As a member of the Jewish Agency Board of Governors, Hadassah looks forward to participating in this important effort and hopes that a resolution can be reached which will allow all women to pray, individually and collectively, at the Kotel freely, without harassment, and in accordance with their own religious practices. 



In response to the tragic events in Newtown, Conn., that transpired Friday, Marcie Natan, National President of Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, released the following statement:

We are deeply moved and troubled by the incidents of violence plaguing our schools, workplaces and communities. I speak on behalf of Hadassah’s 330,000 members, associates and supporters in saying that our thoughts and prayers are with the families and community of Newtown. May the faces of those lost never be forgotten and may their memories be for a blessing.

As we honor their memories and do our part to make this a better and safer America for future generations, Hadassah leans on our long history as a staunch supporter of gun control legislation. We reaffirm our support for stricter gun laws, including a ban on assault weapons.

As a nation of caring citizens, we must put aside partisan affiliations and come together to enact substantive and comprehensive laws to protect our communities. Hadassah urges Congress to take all necessary actions to enact stronger gun control laws that will protect our nation, and especially our children, from such violence.

Click here to review Hadassah's Gun Control Policy Statements on the Hadassah website and visit the Hadassah National Action Center to contact your elected officials in support of stricter gun control legislation.  



Hadassah Takes the 113th Congress by Storm

Join us to welcome the members of the 113th Congress to Washington, DC and to introduce them to Hadassah.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Day includes welcome gathering and briefing, congressional receptions and Hadassah networking

RSVP to American Affairs Co-Chairs by December 28, 2012
Sheila Lebowitz: sheila.lebowitz@gmail.com
Sheila Derman: sderman@hadassah.org

 



Leaders in Washington are locked in heated budget negotiations aimed to avoid significant spending and tax level changes—set to take effect in January—if a compromise cannot be reached. Tomorrow and Wednesday, nonprofit leaders and supporters from across the country are participating in Protect Giving Days, lobbying elected officials to protect charitable giving incentives.

Hadassah, once again, joins fellow philanthropic organizations in speaking out against plans to decrease charitable giving tax breaks, which encourage donations for numerous programs and services in the United States and around the world. Without the support of generous donors, countless charities could be forced to close their doors or cut essential services for the poor, elderly and unemployed.

According to the Charitable Giving Coalition, the proposal—which would reduce write offs for charitable deductions from 35 to 28 percent—could decrease donations up to $5.6 billion. The charitable sector accounts for nine percent of American wages, 10 percent of jobs, and contributes $1.1 trillion to the marketplace each year.

Hadassah, through the continuous support of its Members, Associates and donors, has been a vibrant member of the philanthropic community for over 100 years. This proposal could mean cuts to Hadassah College and Young Judaea scholarships, fewer teachers at Hadassah's Youth Aliyah villages and less funding for groundbreaking research at Hadassah Medical Organization.

Amidst the current political climate, Hadassah reaffirms its support for the Jewish Council for Public Affairs' Statement on Civility, which encourages its members and all elected officials to accept and promote a culture of civility and cooperation in order to handle the many challenges ahead. Contact your elected officials and urge them to work across the aisle to protect charitable giving, while also finding ways to help all struggling Americans.



Palestinians Granted Statehood Status

After years of pursuing a Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) at the United Nations, the Palestinians succeeded in upgrading their status to "non-member observer state." The vote—138 in favor, 9 opposed and 41 abstentions—implicitly recognizes "Palestine" as a sovereign country and opens Israel up to further attacks and delegitimization.

Hadassah National President Marcie Natan released a statement expressing disappointment in the outcome of today's vote and the process by which it occurred.

Hadassah stands proudly with the State of Israel and affirms that the only step forward for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process is direct, bilateral negotiations without pre-conditions. . . . We look hopefully toward a future of stability for the region and call on the governments of Israel, the Palestinian Authority, the United States, and the international community, including the United Nations, to resume negotiations and pursue, in earnest, the peaceful fulfillment of a two-state solution. We believe in a peaceful future for Israel and its neighbors.

Click here to read the full statement.

Israel and its allies have emphasized that this declaration is contrary to all prior Israeli-Palestinian agreements and counterproductive to future peace negotiations. By pursuing UDI, the Palestinians receive benefits of international recognition, while circumventing necessary communication and compromise.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said today:

Israel's hand is always extended in peace, but a Palestinian state will not be established without recognition of the state of Israel as the state of the Jewish people, without an end-of-conflict declaration, and without true security arrangements that will protect Israel and its citizens. . . . It does not matter how many will vote against us, there is no force in the world that will cause me to compromise on Israeli security and there is no force in the world able to sever the thousands year connection between the people of Israel and the Land of Israel.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said in a statement following the vote that "the only way to establish such a Palestinian state and resolve all permanent-status issues is through the crucial, if painful, work of direct negotiations between the parties."

The Palestinians are expected to use their statehood status to challenge Israel, both politically and legally, on the international stage—labeling Israel as an occupier of the Palestinian "state" and pursuing legal action at the International Criminal Court (ICC)—all the while, avoiding dialogue and any recognition of Israel's own rights to self-determination, sovereignty and security.

The vote was scheduled today to coincide with the 65th anniversary of the 1947 UN Partition Plan—the original proposal for a two-state solution. In 1947, the Palestinians and their allies did not accept the proposal, though some Palestinian leaders have since stated that the decision was a mistake. Now the Palestinians claim that "in the ultimate expression of multilateralism" they are achieving the Plan's promise of Palestinian statehood through peaceful, diplomatic, and political means. Opponents counter that Palestinians must embrace all the plan's tenets—two independent, sovereign states, Jewish and Arab, "settling all international disputes . . . by peaceful means"—before any true Palestinian state can exist.

The Palestinian Authority had already secured a majority before the vote, with statements of support from most Arab and African League countries, and several other post-colonial countries that have historically been sympathetic to the Palestinians. With the United States and Canada as staunch and consistent supporters of Israel, most of the pre-vote attention has been on Europe. The breadth of European support is widely viewed as an indication of the Palestinians' true legitimacy. Of the 27 European countries, over half the countries abstained—including the United Kingdom, Germany and much of eastern Europe—but the Czech Republic was the only country to vote no.

After failing to dissuade Abbas from proceeding, Britain proposed supporting statehood with conditions—such as refraining from ICC membership and committing to immediate negotiations without pre-conditions. Abbas responded that the Palestinian Authority would not be running immediately to the ICC, but did not give firm enough assurances to secure Britain's support. The Palestinians did petition the ICC to investigate the 2008-2009 Gaza War, but the court declined in April 2012 because the Palestinians did not have statehood status.

It is expected that in the coming days Congress will present resolutions urging the Palestinians not to seek ICC membership. Hadassah Members, Associates and supporters will be able to contact their elected officials through the Hadassah National Action Center when the legislation has been formalized.

Israel, in close coordination with the United States, is taking security concerns and future negotiations into account as they pursue next steps toward peace. Hadassah will continue to follow the situation closely and will send additional updates about the repercussions of today's vote as they become available.



Hadassah is closely following the United Nations General Assembly vote scheduled for tomorrow, which is expected to upgrade the Palestinian's status to "non-member observer state." Hadassah maintains its steadfast support for Israel and affirms that the only step forward for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process is direct, bilateral negotiations without pre-conditions.
Below is a backgrounder from the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, of which Hadassah is a member. For additional history on the Palestinians at the UN and the Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) campaign, please refer to these past alerts:

2012 United Nations General Assembly (9/28/2012)
International Criminal Court Rejects Gaza War Investigation (4/4/2012)
UDI Recap & Update (9/26/2011)
Community Response to UDI-UN Recognition of Palestinian Statehood (7/18/2011)

Hadassah will continue to monitor the situation and will share additional information as it becomes available.

Palestinians at the UN

Last fall, the Palestinian Authority (PA) requested to have the United Nations Security Council admit Palestine as a full member state, a move that has since become known as Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI). At the time, the PA failed to secure the necessary majority in the Security Council.

Since then however, PA President Mahmoud Abbas has decided to revive his statehood bid. This time, he seeks to have Palestine recognized as a non-member observer state. His request will be voted on by the General Assembly this Thursday, November 29, which is also the anniversary of the vote on the 1947 UN partition plan that formally called for the establishment of one Jewish and one Arab state. The request is expected to pass, given that the Palestinian Authority has an "automatic majority" in the General Assembly. However, the more countries that vote against the resolution or abstain – especially from Europe – the less credibility the bid will have.

The Palestinian Authority's unilateral action directly undermines the peace process with Israel and potentially poses a danger to stability in the region. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly offered to resume negotiations with the Palestinians without pre-conditions, while President Abbas seeks to circumvent Israel and unilaterally seek UN recognition of a Palestinian State. The only way to solve the conflict is through bilateral negotiations rather than unilateral UN fiat.

As always, the Israel Action Network [a joint project of The Jewish Federations of North America and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs] will be providing assistance to and consulting with communities on actions and responses.

Click here for an article on the legal implications of the UN bid.



November 21, 2012

Below is a special edition Hadassah Action Alert with vital information for all Hadassah Members, Associates, and supporters—including breaking news, Hadassah updates and information about pro-Israel advocacy and activities. 

All Hadassah Action Alerts and Backgrounders are sent to Hadassah’s Email Action Network (EAN).  To receive future current events and policy updates from Hadassah, click here./

News Update

Just hours ago, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohammed Kamel Amra announced in a joint news conference that a ceasefire agreement was reached and will take effect at 9 p.m. local time (2 p.m. EDT).  Hadassah is continuing to follow these developments and will share additional information when it becomes available.  

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas yesterday, and Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi today.  Egypt hosted the negotiations in Cairo and played a central role—using its ideological relationship with Hamas, diplomatic relationship with Israel, and strong history and financial ties to the United States, to work with all parties. 

Since Israel launched Operation Pillar of Defense a week ago, over 1,400 rockets have been fired from Gaza and five Israelis have been killed. 

Today, a bombing injured 23 people on a Tel Aviv bus—the first attack in the city since 2006. Authorities on the scene have concluded that it was not a suicide bombing and started searching for the terrorist(s), believing that one armed with explosives may still be in the area. Hamas praised the attack, for which the Fatah-linked Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade claimed responsibility.

Hadassah Update


Hadassah National President Marcie Natan is on the ground in Israel—meeting with Hadassah’s medical and educational staff and attending briefings with government officials throughout the country. 

Yesterday, sirens went off in Jerusalem that impacted both of Hadassah’s hospitals. Hadassah Medical Organization (HMO) Director of External Relations Ron Krumer provided the following report. 

Yesterday at around 1 p.m. the sirens in Jerusalem went off. Here on the third floor of the main building at Ein Kerem, we left our offices and went to the staircase, where we were joined by people who were in the outpatient clinics on this floor. In other areas of the two hospitals, people did the same, and patients were moved away from windows. After a couple of minutes we were told that the rocket hit the ground south of Jerusalem, not far from a Palestinian village; all of us were able to return to work.

Forty members of the HMO staff, including thirty physicians, have been called up to serve in their IDF units and more staff and physicians are expected to be called. As a tertiary care hospital, HMO is prepared to receive wounded ambulanced from rocket attacks and airlifted directly from the battlefield.  A soldier who was transferred to Hadassah a few days ago was discharged earlier today, but will return to the hospital for the next few days to undergo physiotherapy for his hand.

Stand With Israel—What You Can Do

The Hadassah community has been actively engaged in pro-Israel advocacy—contacting elected officials and participating in pro-Israel rallies across the country.  Hadassah encourages all its Members, Associates, and supporters to stand with Israel and to help Hadassah help Israel.     

Participate in the Hadassah Stands With Israel Mission

Donate to the Hadassah Readiness Fund

Visit the Hadassah Action Center to thank your elected officials and urge them to maintain their support of Israel.

Stand with Israel in your community—attend a pro-Israel rally, send a letter to the editor, and promote Israel on social media.  Hadassah is consistently posting updates to Facebook and Twitter that can be shared with your networks.   



On November 14—in response to an escalation of rocket attacks from Gaza— the Israeli Defense Forces initiated Operation Pillar of Defense. Since the launch, and the killing of Hamas Commander and Chief-of-Staff Ahmed Jabari, Hamas has launched both a military and public relations campaign to destabilize and delegitimize the State of Israel.

It is essential that the world community understand the facts on the ground. Israel is depending on us—now more than ever. Join the Jewish and international communities in standing side-by-side with Israel.

Visit the Hadassah National Action Center to thank your elected officials for their unequivocal, bipartisan support of Israel and urge them to maintain their commitment.

Hadassah strongly urges its Members, Associates, and supporters to share their support for Israel with friends, family, and their communities at large. Below is a list of facts and talking points which can be used in discussions, letters to the editor and on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media.

Visit Hadassah's home page, Facebook and Twitter to share our posts in support of Israel with your networks.

Hadassah will continue to monitor the situation and share additional updates as they become available.

Talking Points: Operation Pillar of Defense

  • Prior to Operation Pillar of Defense, Israel used enormous restraint amidst a barrage of attacks
  • However, with the attacks intensifying, it became necessary to address Hamas' terror campaign and reestablish greater security for the Israeli people
  • Operation Goals:
    • Restore security and stability to Israel
    • Neutralize Hamas' long range missile capabilities and terror network
  • 30,000 IDF reservists have been mobilized
  • 4.5 million Israelis, over half the Israeli population, is under attack
  • 2,500 rockets have been launch from Gaza since Operation Cast Lead in 2009
  • Over 1,000 rockets have been launched this year
  • 360 rockets have been launched in the last 48 hours
  • 3 adult fatalities and 150 wounded, including two infants in serious condition since the start of Operation Pillar of Defense
  • Hamas uses civilian shields, including children
  • Israeli missions react to the situation on the ground, responding and adjusting per the presence of civilians in targeted areas
  • The Iron Dome missile defense system—which targets rockets aimed at population centers—has a 90 percent success rate, intercepting over one third of rockets from Gaza
  • The Israeli government has reiterated appreciation to the United States for past commitments to the Iron Dome system and current statements of support for Israel's right to self defense


Operation Pillar of Defense

Today, Israel launched Operation Pillar of Defense, killing Hamas Commander and Chief-of-Staff Ahmed Jabari. Jabari directed Hamas' Second Intifada terrorism campaign in the early 2000s and oversaw the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit in 2006.

In addition to targeting Hamas' leadership, reports indicate that Operation Pillar of Defense will also try to eliminate Hamas' weapons stockpiles. The operation was initiated in response to Hamas' intensifying rocket and mortar attacks on Israel, with nearly 900 fired since January. Until now, the missile attacks have been concentrated in southern Israel, but recently have started to reach northern areas near Tel Aviv.

 

Palestinian UN Status

The military conflict is compounded by diplomatic tension stemming from the Palestinians' draft UN resolution—unveiled last week, through letters to the 193 UN General Assembly members—seeking state observer status. Yesterday, following a meeting of the Arab League in Cairo, the League Chief announced support for the Palestinians' increased status, which will be voted on by the UN General Assembly on November 29.

In response, the Israeli Foreign Ministry started circulating a document this week cautioning the international community that the Palestinians' Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) campaign could lead to the cancelation of the Oslo Accords. Israel's Finance Minister has also threatened to withhold the transfer of tax revenues to the Palestinian Authority if it proceeds with the observer state bid.

The Palestinians continue to receive pressure from Israel and the United States to stop their bid for observer status and return to the negotiating table. Leaders have suggested that the Palestinians wait until after Israel's elections or until President Obama makes his transition into a second term.

However, the Palestinians have pledged to move forward and many UN member countries continue to support the bid and perpetuate the critical targeting and delegitimization of Israel at the UN.
Human Rights

While the United States won a hard-fought second term to the Human Rights Council this week, violators like Iran and Syria easily maintain leadership roles at the UN and major human rights offender Sudan was just elected to the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)—which regulates human rights groups and oversees several human rights related committees.

Earlier this month, Richard Falk, UN Special Rapporteur for Palestinian Human Rights, released a report criticizing Israel and supporting the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign. Hadassah maintains its long-standing policy against all forms of organized boycotts—opposing destructive actions in favor of constructive dialogue in order to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and pursue a future of peace in the Middle East.

Hadassah's Programming Department will continue to follow developments in the Middle East and send additional updates as they become available.



On November 6, Americans will elect a President, the full U.S. House of Representatives, one-third of the U.S. Senate, eleven state governors, and many other local officials. Hadassah urges its Members, Associates, and supporters to exercise their right to vote and encourage friends, family, neighbors and co-workers to do the same!

Check with your state election offices about polling locations, possible state or local ballot initiatives, and other election details. For those in areas affected by Hurricane Sandy, please be aware that some polling places may be changed. For additional information about Hadassah's history and support of civic engagement, see Hadassah's policy statements and recent election alerts.

Civic Participation Policy Statements
Hadassah has always promoted civic responsibility among its members and has long supported the unobstructed access to voting and other political processes for all individuals and groups regardless of race, religion, gender, or creed. Read more>>>

Women's Equality Day 2012
August 26, 2012 marked 92 years since the institution of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote. In 1971, Congresswoman—and Hadassah Member—Bella Abzug championed the creation of Women's Equality Day to commemorate the amendment's institution. Read more >>>

National Voter Registration Day
September 25 was National Voter Registration Day and the perfect time to learn about Hadassah's history and commitment to civic participation. Founded during the height of the women's suffrage movement, Hadassah has a long history supporting civic engagement for its members and the electorate as a whole. The suffrage movement influenced and inspired Hadassah's leaders and policies. Read more >>>



Today is the first ever United Nations International Day of the Girl Child. Michelle Bachelet, the Executive Director of UN Women (the United Nations entity for gender equality and the empowerment of women), pledged that UN Women will work with governments and other partners to advance girls' education, health and well-being in order to attain a world where girls can live free from fear, violence and discrimination. Click here to watch Bachelet's speech and learn more about International Day of the Girl Child.

In honor of International Day of the Girl Child, learn about some key women's rights updates and make your voice heard, via the Hadassah National Action Center.

CEDAW

The United States remains one of only six countries that have not ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). It is time for the U.S. government to show the international community that it stands unequivocally for the rights of women. Urge your Senators to work for the ratification of CEDAW.

Violence Against Women

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The International Violence Against Women Act (H.R. 5905) was introduced in July and was referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. Versions of the domestic Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) have passed the House and Senate. However, the creation of a conference committee—where members from both chambers work together to reconcile the legislation's differences—has been stalled for months. Since 1994, the Violence Against Women Act has helped countless victims of domestic and dating violence, sexual assault and stalking. Tell Congress that you support an inclusive VAWA and that partisan politics shouldn't jeopardize women's safety.

Reproductive Rights

Hadassah has become a campaign ally of This Is Personal, a campaign working to empower, educate and activate women across the country to protect women's reproductive health care. Learn more and contact your legislators in support of women's reproductive rights.

Pay Equity

Last month, the U.S. Census Bureau released new data confirming that the gender wage gap has not changed in the last decade. For every dollar a man earns, women with comparable education and experience make only 77 cents. Tell Congress that America's women are worth more and they deserve better!

Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

On September 19, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act was introduced in the Senate. Another version of the bill was introduced in the House in May. This legislation would help pregnant workers maintain economic stability and a healthy pregnancy by requiring that employers provide reasonable work accommodations. Urge your elected officials to support and co-sponsor the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act today!





The Middle East has been center stage at the United Nations General Assembly this week, with speeches about the anti-U.S. uprisings throughout the region, Iran's nuclear ambitions, the Palestinians' UN status and the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Below are overviews of the speeches delivered by President Barack Obama, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

United States – Tuesday, September 25

President Obama mentioned the recent anti-western uprisings throughout the Middle East and the U.S. Ambassador who was killed. He condemned the Islamophobia and bigotry that fomented the violence, but emphasized the U.S.'s commitment to free speech and that there is never a justification or excuse for killing innocent people.

 

The President also reiterated that "a nuclear-armed Iran is not a challenge that can be contained" and urged the Israelis and Palestinians to pursue peace.

Among Israelis and Palestinians, the future must not belong to those who turn their backs on the prospect of peace. Let us leave behind those who thrive on conflict, and those who reject the right of Israel to exist. The road is hard but the destination is clear – a secure, Jewish state of Israel; and an independent, prosperous Palestine. Understanding that such a peace must come through a just agreement between the parties, America will walk alongside all who are prepared to make that journey.


Watch or read President Obama's full speech.

Iran – Wednesday, September 26

Both Israel and the United States boycotted President Ahmadinejad's speech due to its scheduling on Yom Kippur. The bulk of the speech pontificated on abstract ideals of human rights and international diplomacy. However, the speech did included some of the usual vitriol—including condemnations of "the old and new colonialism", world Zionism's control over the media, and the "continued threat by the uncivilized Zionists to resort to military action against our great nation."

 

Watch or read President Ahmadinejad's full speech.

Earlier in the week, Israel's Ambassador Ron Prosor walked out of a meeting when Ahmadinejad spoke about the rule of law, claimed that the Jewish people have no roots in Israel, and denied Iran's nuclear ambitions and assistance to President Assad of Syria.

Palestinian Authority – Thursday, September 27

President Abbas stated that the Palestinians will continue efforts to obtain full UN membership and are pursing a resolution to become a non-member state—which would grant it access to UN agencies like the International Criminal Court.

 

Throughout, he accused Israel of being a racist occupying power and charged that it has rejected the two-State solution. Despite statements reaffirming the Palestinians'

commitment to peace and condemnation of violence, Abbas continued to accuse Israeli citizens and the government of perpetuating terrorism and inciting religious conflict—neglecting any direct mention of Hamas or Palestinian attacks.

 

Watch or read President Abbas' full speech.

Abbas also continuously mentioned the Palestinian refugees and Al-Nakba, the "Day of the Catastrophe" which occurred with the creation of Israel. In response to this often disussed theme, last week Israel's Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, Israeli UN Ambassador Ron Prosor, World Jewish Congress, and Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations sponsored an event at the UN drawing attention to the Jewish refugees from Arab countries. Representatives from Hadassah's United Nations Team were in attendance. Click here to watch or read Ambassador Ron Prosor's speech.

Israel – Thursday, September 27

Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke about Israel's accomplishments, as a champion for women's rights, a leader in scientific advancement, and an example of pluralism—where doctors treat Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs alongside each other in the same wards.

 

He responded to President Abbas' speech directly, stating "We won't solve our conflict with libelous speeches at the UN" and "We won't solve our conflict with unilateral declarations of statehood." He also expressed appreciation to President Obama for his statements that containing a nuclear-armed Iran was not an option.

With the use of a diagram, Netanyahu laid out the process for creating a nuclear bomb and explained Iran's continued progress towards that goal. He emphasized that relying solely on sanctions will only give Iran more time and that a credible red line is needed to ensure that Iran can never enrich enough uranium for weapons. "I believe that faced with a clear red line, Iran will back down," he said. "This will give more time for sanctions and diplomacy to convince Iran to dismantle its nuclear weapons program altogether."

Watch or read Prime Minister Netanyahu's full speech.

 




September 25

Today is National Voter Registration Day, of which Hadassah is an organizational partner. Visit the campaign website to learn about voter registration and search for events in your area. Remember, deadlines vary by state, so check with your state election offices for details.

Now is also the perfect time to become educated about Hadassah's history and commitment to civic participation. Founded during the height of the women's suffrage movement, Hadassah has a long history supporting civic engagement for its members and the electorate as a whole. The suffrage movement influenced and inspired Hadassah's leaders and policies.

Henrietta Szold's sister Rachel S. Jastrow—founder of Hadassah's second chapter in 1914 and a liaison to the Wisconsin Legislature for the Women's Suffrage Movement—was instrumental in helping Wisconsin become the first state to ratify women's right to vote.

In 1922, Hadassah's second National President Alice Seligsberg wrote about the influence of the American suffrage movement on women's role in the international Zionist movement. "I believe it is only through the suffrage movement that women have discovered how indispensable organization is, for the attainment not only of the rights, but also the influence in the community. . . . If women wish to contribute to the Zionist movement those talents that are peculiar to women, they must unite as women."

Since 1965, Hadassah's National Board has passed a series of Policy Statements in support of the Voting Rights Act, Universal Voter Registration Act, voting modernization, and increased voter participation. In addition to supporting civic participation, Hadassah has a full slate of Domestic Policy Statements on issues pertaining to women and family, religious liberty, social justice and civil rights.

Don't forget, Hadassah's Advocacy website also includes Hadassah's Israel, Zionist and International Affairs (IZAIA) Policy Statements, the National Action Center, and an archive of alerts and backgrounders. Anyone interested in receiving these alerts directly can register for the Email Action Network on the Hadassah website.



Hadassah joins the Jewish Council for Public Affairs and the greater Jewish community in condemning the attacks on U.S. diplomats in Egypt and Libya and praying for the year 5773 to be one of cooperation and peace. A statement from JCPA President Rabbi Steve Gutow can be found below.

JCPA Deplores Murder in Libya of U.S. Ambassador and Other Diplomats

In response to the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi that resulted in the deaths of four Americans today, including the U.S. Ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, JCPA President Rabbi Steve Gutow issued the following statement:

"As a rabbi, American, and human being, I am shocked and heartbroken by this heinous attack. People of goodwill everywhere should stand up and unequivocally condemn these cold blooded murders. Such violence is unacceptable, and the taking of innocent lives for any reason is deplorable. That those diplomats killed had come to Libya in peace in order to foster closer U.S.-Libyan relations and a better future for the people of that country only highlights the barbarism of these acts.

"Circumstances surrounding the events in Libya remain unclear. Some assert that the attackers were motivated by an anti-Muslim movie, a YouTube video which we condemn and wish had never been produced. Other reports suggest that the attack was planned well in advance and had nothing to do with the movie. In any event, nothing can justify this horrific violence, and we pray that calm in the region will be restored quickly."

 

 



August 26, 2012 will mark 92 years since the institution of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote. In 1971, Congresswoman—and Hadassah Member—Bella Abzug championed the creation of Women's Equality Day to commemorate the amendment's institution. Every year since, Women's Equality Day has been officially recognized on August 26 by presidential proclamation.

America's women fought for decades for the right to cast their ballot. Hadassah urges its Members, Associates, and supporters to honor their foremother's commitment and sacrifices by registering, becoming informed, and exercising their right to vote. Please be aware that voter registration deadlines vary by state. Click here for a list of state election offices from the Federal Election Commission.

Learn about issues important to women, the Jewish Community, or in your state and county. Get engaged locally—attend town hall meetings, participate in voter registration drives, or volunteer to drive voters to the polls. Participating in a local event as a unit? Wear your Hadassah t-shirts, take photos, and promote your activities in hCoast-to-Coast.

Stay tuned for additional civic engagement updates about Hadassah's connection to the suffrage movement and Hadassah's policies in support of voter participation. Get information about Hadassah Advocacy and contact your legislators anytime on the Hadassah Advocacy webpage and the National Action Center.



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:                                                                                         
August 8, 2012

 

Munich Moment of Silence at Maccabi Games

The world was profoundly disappointed by the International Olympic Committee (IOC)'s refusal to honor the Munich 11 with a moment of silence during the opening of the Olympic games in London. The Jewish Community is looking to address this disappointment at the opening ceremony of the JCC Rockland Maccabi Games this Sunday, August 12, 2012. Ankie Spitzer, whose husband Andrei was among the 11 murdered athletes, will be at the JCC Rockland Maccabi Games' opening ceremony which will honor the Munich 11 with a worldwide moment of silence.

Join the live streaming of the moment of silence at www.jccrockland.org/maccabi.

May their memories be for a blessing.

 

 

# # #

 This message was sent to the %Email Action Network.  
 



On June 16, at Hadassah's National Business Meeting in Dallas, the Hadassah National Board approved the following motion:

Hadassah, in conjunction with the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, supports the efforts of the U.S. House of Representatives to attain the freedom of Jonathan Pollard on the basis of clemency and have his sentenced reduced to time served. He is in the 27th year of his sentence.

In a bipartisan effort, members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee—Reps. Eliot Engel (D-NY) and Christopher Smith (R-NJ)—are soliciting signatures from their colleagues for a joint letter to President Obama, urging him to commute Pollard's sentence to time served. In April, the Conference of Presidents released a statement requesting Pollard's release, expressing concern regarding his health, and recently commended Reps. Engle and Smith on their efforts.

Hadassah passed a policy statement in 1993 in support of Pollard's commutation on humanitarian grounds.



Israel's relationships with its neighbors remain tenuous, putting the Israeli government and military on high alert. Below is an update on Israel's diplomatic and security status with the Palestinians, Iran, Egypt and Syria.

Palestinians:

Internationally, the Palestinians continue their Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) efforts. Last week, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) agreed to list the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem as an official World Heritage Site with the location "Palestine." Click here for additional background on UNESCO and the Palestinians' UDI campaign.

On the diplomatic side, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz were set to meet this past weekend. However, at the last minute, the meeting was postponed until further notice. There are conflicting assertions as to the reason the meeting was cancelled.

Economically, the Israelis have been attempting to assist the Palestinian Authority (PA) with its cash flow issues, which—if left unresolved—could lead to social collapse in the territories and substantial security risks for Israel. After the International Monetary Fund (IMF) denied a Palestinian loan request, Israel made the request on their behalf—facilitated by Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer and PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad (who worked together at the IMF from the late 1990s until 2001). However, ultimately, the IMF also denied Israel's request.

Iran:

As new Iran sanctions went into effect, Iran responded with missile exercises targeting hypothetical bases of "adventurous nations,", a clear warning to the United States.

The missile test comes just days after an extremely anti-Semitic speech by Iran's Vice President Mohammad-Reza Rahimi at an international anti-drug conference. Analysts believe that the speech will only continue to isolate Iran, which has refused to cooperate with the international community over its nuclear program.

Egypt:

Relations with Egypt have been strained since the Arab Spring, with the peace treaty in question and increasing security issues on the Sinai border. Last week the IDF announced that it would start using observation balloons to survey the Sinai in hopes of stopping the increasing number of attacks.

Diplomatically, the Muslim Brotherhood party has a history of criticizing Israel and its Palestinian border policies. However, the Muslim Brotherhood continues to reiterate respect and support of the peace treaty. It is also unlikely that the new Mohamed Morsi administration would change Egypt's border policies with Gaza for fear that Palestinians will flock to Egypt, further straining the country's economy and social services.

Syria:

As the internal conflict in Syria continues, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has increased focus on the Syrian border. "The events unfolding beyond the border increase the likelihood of terror attacks. That, in turn, necessitates preparations as far as infrastructure, training and deployment," said Brig. Gen. Tamir Hyman last Thursday.

For the time being, the rebels—mostly from extremist Islamic terror organizations—and President Bashar Assad are focused on combating each other. On a few occasions, the Syrian military has actively prevented conflicts on the border to prevent Israel from becoming involved or serving as a distraction to the domestic conflict. However, with fighting traveling closer to the border and the weakening of Assad's regime, IDF officials are preparing for the various security contingencies.

To subscribe to the Email Action Network, go to the Get Our Newsletter section of the Hadassah homepage.




FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
June 28, 2012

GENERAL INQUIRIES CONTACT:
Pamela Vassil
Director, Marketing & Communications, Hadassah
pvassil@hadassah.org
(212) 303-8120 (o); (202) 303-4525 (f)

MEDIA INQUIRES CONTACT:
Samantha Friedman
Rabinowitz/Dorf Communications
Samantha@rabinowitz-dorf.com
(202) 265-3000 (o); (202) 215-9260 (c)






WASHINGTON—In response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision today on the Affordable Care Act, Marcie Natan, National President of Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America, released the following statement:

Hadassah welcomes the Supreme Court’s decision on the Affordable Care Act, affirming our commitment to ensuring that all Americans have access to quality affordable health care.

As we have done throughout our 100-year history, Hadassah today empowers its more than 330,000 members, associates and supporters to realize their potential as a dynamic force in American society. Through that longstanding commitment to advocacy, Hadassah proudly signed an amicus curiae brief in this case supporting the Affordable Care Act.

Central to Hadassah’s mission is the commitment to enhance the health of people worldwide through the organization’s support of medical care and research at the Hadassah Medical Organization in Jerusalem.  Hadassah is devoted to strengthening the healthcare system in the United States and has a long history of advocating for comprehensive healthcare reform.  As a fervent supporter of economic security for women and families, Hadassah recognizes that lack of coverage compromises the health and economic well-being of millions of uninsured individuals, as well as our nation as a whole.

Hadassah maintains its support for healthcare access and will continue to advocate for policies that ensure affordable coverage and improve the quality of care for every American.

Founded in 1912, Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, is celebrating its 100th year. Hadassah is the largest women’s Zionist Jewish membership organization in the United States. In Israel, it supports medical care and research, education and youth programs, and reforestation and parks projects. In the United States, Hadassah promotes health education, social action and advocacy, volunteerism, Jewish education and research, Young Judaea and connections with Israel. For more information, visit www.hadassah.org.



This month marked 47 years since the U.S. Supreme Court decided Griswold v. Connecticut, affirming a woman's right to contraception and paving the way for reproductive rights more broadly. However—nearly half a century later—the debate over contraception access is increasingly contentious.

Last summer, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced a new regulation requiring insurance policies to include free contraception coverage (no co-pays), as per the preventive health recommendations from the Institute of Medicine. Since that announcement, Congressional and religious opponents of the policy have continued to attract attention— holding hearings, flooding HHS with comments, filing court cases and organizing rallies across the country.

In February, the White House announced a modification to the regulation—proposing that religiously-affiliated employers opposed to offering contraception in their health plan would not be required to do so. Instead, an insurer or other third party would work directly with employees to provide this coverage at no added cost. Hadassah expressed its appreciation that the administration continued to recognize the medical need for all women to have access to contraceptive coverage, and pledged to watch the implementation of the new proposal closely to ensure that is does not create undue barriers to women's access to contraceptives.

HHS is accepting public comments on this accommodation until Tuesday, June 19, at 11:59 p.m. (ET). Tell HHS that you:

  • Support the policy requiring employers—including those religiously-affiliated—to provide free contraception access.
  • Do not support expanding the religious exemption to include faith-affiliated employers.
  • Believe that every woman—no matter where she works or attends school—should be able to make family planning decisions privately, in consultation with medical advice, and in accordance with her own religious, moral and ethical values.
  • Urge HHS to ensure that the administration of insurer or third-party contraception coverage is done in a clear and a timely manner and does not create undue barriers to women's access to contraceptives.

Hadassah is a strong advocate for a woman's freedom of choice and opposes any attempts to restrict, through administrative regulations, legislation, or court action, the right to reproductive choice and/or the use of family planning programs. Women have the right to make family planning decisions privately, in consultation with medical advice, and in accordance with one's own religious, moral and ethical values. Preventive health care encourages personal health awareness and early detection— rightfully putting women in charge of their health care.

Hadassah—which has recently joined the Coalition for Liberty and Justice—is also a fervent supporter of religious liberty and is concerned about the use of religious freedom as a way to restrict women's access to health services. The Coalition for Liberty & Justice is a broad alliance of faith-based, secular and other organizations working to support religious freedom, safeguard the protections guaranteed by the First Amendment, and oppose public policies that impose one religious viewpoint on all.

Hadassah has joined with its coalition partners in urging HHS to ensure access to contraception, no matter where a woman may work or go to school. Click here to show your support for contraception access and religious liberty today!



Hadassah joins the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) in supporting the "Letter in Hope" and encourages Hadassah Members, Associates and supporters to join the effort. The "Letter in Hope" urges the Presbyterian Church (USA) to support peace and reject the proposed resolution calling for divestment from three companies doing business with Israel.

Hadassah maintains its long-standing policy against all forms of organized boycotts—opposing destructive actions in favor of constructive dialogue in order to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and pursue a future of peace in the Middle East.

Below is an alert distributed by the JCPA about the "Letter in Hope", which is also sponsored by the Israel Action Network, an initiative of the Jewish Federations of North America, in partnership with the JCPA:

In just one week, over [15,000] Jews throughout the country have signed a "Letter in Hope" to delegates to the biennial Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly, encouraging them to embrace reconciliation and reject an anti-Israel divestment resolution. The letter calls divestment a "counterproductive proposal" that would delay action towards peace, and its thousands of signers ask the Presbyterians to "deepen our understandings of the multiple narratives in the region" and focus on positive steps including economic development, Palestinian state building, and a return to negotiations.

The rapid outpouring of support for this letter reflects the deep and widespread opposition to divestment in the Jewish community and well beyond. It points out that divestment promotes a lopsided assessment of the causes of and solutions to the conflict, disregarding the complex history and geopolitics. Furthermore, it shamefully paints Israel as a pariah nation, solely responsible for frustrating peace. It is a blunt tool that is more likely to encourage those with more extreme aims than to foster reconciliation.

Read and sign the Letter in Hope.



Hadassah Members, Associates, and supporters were among thousands of Americans who made phone calls and sent letters about the Paycheck Fairness Act. These efforts helped garner several new co-sponsors, but ultimately the bill fell short of the necessary 60 votes to overcome a filibuster. On a party-line vote, 52 Senators voted for cloture (allowing the bill to proceed), while 47 opposed it.

In the wake of this disappointing vote, now is the time to make your voice heard! Visit the Hadassah National Action Center to find out how your Senators voted and register your support or disapproval. Opponents need to hear that women can't afford unequal pay and that common-sense bills like the Paycheck Fairness Act are crucial to closing the wage gap. Also, please take the time to thank the bill's supporters for their continued leadership, which has been critical to getting pay equity the attention it deserves.

2012 marks nearly 50 years since the passage of the Equal Pay Act, and yet for every dollar a man earns, women with comparable education and experience make only 77 cents—costing the average American woman $700,000 to $2 million in lost wages over a working lifetime.

This vote may be over, but the fight wages on. America's women are worth more and they deserve better. Continue to share information about the Paycheck Fairness Act with friends and family, in Hadassah bulletins, letters to the editor and via social media.



June 4, 2012

Senate Votes on Pay Equity Tomorrow Last week, the House voted down a motion to consider the Paycheck Fairness Act, but a vote is scheduled in the Senate TOMORROW. Now is the last chance to contact the Senate! Instuctions for the Paycheck Fairness Act Call-In Number and the Hadassah National Action Center can be found below.

A vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act is expected in the coming weeks, so your Senators need to hear from you now! For the next 48 hours, Hadassah and its coalition partners have joined forces for collective call-in days. Women and men from across the country are making their voices heard, bombarding the Senate with a strong, unequivocal message—America's women deserve equal pay!

The coalition has set up a Paycheck Fairness Act Call-In Number, so the process couldn’t be simpler. Take 2 minutes and call your Senators about the Paycheck Fairness Act today!

Instructions:

1) Dial 888-876-9527 and listen to the sample script about the importance of the Paycheck Fairness Act.

2) Listen and follow the instructions on how to connect to your Senator's office. The message will prompt you for a zip code. Once entered, the system will identify and connect you to the correct office.

3) Once connected, state your name and urge your Senator to co-sponsor and support the Paycheck Fairness Act. You may also want to share some personal comments about why pay equity is important to you.

4) Don't neglect your other Senator. Call back and make sure he or she also gets a call.

Visit the Hadassah National Action Center to learn if your Senators are already co-sponsors (log in required), and for additional information about the Paycheck Fairness Act.

Hadassah Members, Associates, and supporters are also encouraged to use the Hadassah National Action Center to email their Senators, spread the word to friends and family, write letters to the editor and post on social media.



Today concludes the "United Nations International Meeting on the Question of Palestine," convened at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in Paris. Click here for the press release, distributed last week by the United Nations Department of Public Information.

UNESCO, which is involved in the protection of historical and cultural landmarks, has a history of denying Israeli and Jewish connections to holy sites. There has been concern that Palestinian membership to UNESCO, which was granted last fall, would further promote this agenda and lead to additional conflict over religious sites throughout Jerusalem.

During the last couple of years, the Palestinians have been pursing a Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI), as opposed to engaging in direct, bilateral negotiations with Israel. Part of the initiative has been to seek international recognition of statehood from other nations, the U.N. and its member agencies.

Despite the Palestinians' pending membership application to the United Nations General Assembly, UNESCO became the first agency to approve a Palestinian membership application—accepting the Palestinians as a "member state". American and UNESCO officials tried unsuccessfully to prevent the Palestinian membership vote, which required a cut-off of American funds to the organization.

The Palestinians' U.N. membership application has been pending in order for the Quartet—comprised of the United States, United Nations, European Union, and Russia—to facilitate peace negotiations. Yesterday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reiterated that talks are essential. However, it is yet to be seen how Israel's new coalition government and the potential Palestinian unity government will affect this process.



In the lead-up to the Baghdad talks on Iran's nuclear program, the United States has expressed support for Israel and opposition to a nuclear weapons-capable Iran.

Iran Sanctions

On Monday, May 21, the Senate unanimously passed the Iran Sanctions, Accountability and Human Rights Act of 2012 (S. 2101). The legislation sanctions the officials, agents and affiliates of the Iranian Revolution Guard. It will also require companies that trade on the U.S. Stock Exchange to divulge any Iran-related business to the Securities and Exchange Commission, and expand existing penalties on energy and uranium mining ventures with Tehran. The House of Representatives passed a similar bill in December (H.R. 1905) and now both bills will go to a conference committee for reconciliation.

Congressional Resolutions

On May 17, the House passed a resolution (401-11) on the importance of preventing the Government of Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons capability. House Resolution 568—introduced jointly by the House Foreign Affairs Chair Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Ranking Member Howard Berman (D-CA)—urged continued and increasing economic and diplomatic pressure on Iran and rejected any policy that would rely on efforts to contain a nuclear weapons-capable Iran. A similar resolution (S. Res. 380) has been referred to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

Funding for Iron Dome

Also on May 17, the State Department announced that the U.S. would send an additional $70 million to Israel to enhance Iron Dome—Israel's rocket defense system which has intercepted over 90 missiles fired from Gaza this year. The House Armed Services Committee also authorized $680 million for Iron Dome in the defense appropriations legislation currently moving through Congress. The United States provided Israel with $205 million in 2011 to help fund the Iron Dome system.

United States-Israel Cooperation

On May 9, the House passed the United States-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act of 2012 (H.R. 4133) in vote of 411-2. The legislation reinforces the U.S.'s commitment to support Israel's legitimacy and right to security, including strong relations between the two countries in intelligence, military training and defense. Similar legislation (S. 2165) has been referred to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

Despite some initial optimism from the international community, the Baghdad talks have so far proven unsuccessful—with Iran continuing to insist that its nuclear program is peaceful, while its top general pledges the "full annihilation of the Zionist regime of Israel to the end."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently emphasize that "nothing would be better than to see this issue resolved diplomatically. But I have seen no evidence that Iran is serious about stopping its nuclear weapons program. It looks as though they see these talks as another opportunity to deceive and delay just like North Korea did for years."

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and P5+1 (United States, Russia, China, United Kingdom, France, and Germany) introduced a proposal that called for Iran to stop uranium enrichment to 20 percent and to allow IAEA inspectors access to nuclear facilities. However, Iran countered that it will not open nuclear sites to inspectors or cease uranium enrichment unless the international community scales back sanctions. It has been reported that a new IAEA report, expected out on Friday, will reveal that Iran has added 350 new centrifuges to its nuclear sites.

Hadassah Programming will continue to monitor the situation and will send additional updates as more information becomes available.



The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) passed the Senate on April 26 and the companion bill (H.R. 4271) is awaiting passage in the House. However, on May 8, a different version of VAWA (H.R. 4970) passed the House Judiciary Committee by a nearly party-line vote and is scheduled for a vote May 16, 2012.

This version of the legislation would actually turn back the tides on years of progress for victims' rights. The Violence Against Women Act provides assistance to victims of domestic and dating violence, sexual assault and stalking—both women and men—by facilitating coordinated community responses to these crimes, funding specialized training for various levels of law enforcement, and supporting community-based organizations that offer programs for victims. Since its passage in 1994, more victims report domestic violence to the police, and the rate of non-fatal intimate partner violence against women has decreased by 53 percent. H.R. 4970 would divert funding away from essential services and deprive countless victims of necessary protections.

The Manager's Amendment to the bill—which will also be voted on tomorrow—changed the legislation's nondiscrimination language, looseing discrimination regulations for organizations receiving VAWA funding.

In February, Hadassah joined the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women and over 1,000 coalition members in submitting a letter to Congress in support of VAWA's reauthorization. This week, Hadassah joined with coalition partners in letters to Congressional leadership supporting an inclusive VAWA—opposing H.R. 4970 and the nondiscrimination language change.

Don't let women's safety be put in jeopardy because of partisan politics. Visit the Hadassah National Action Center and urge your Representatives to vote against H.R. 4970! Share this information with friends and family, in Hadassah bulletins, letters to the editor, and via social media.

Check out HERvotes for the VAWA Blog Carnival archive and additional information and resources from Hadassah's coalition partners.



Women's employment rights are center stage, with the introduction of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) today and the pay equity debate among pundits, the press, and possibly the Senate in the coming months.

Women's participation in the labor force—now up to 46.7%—has come a long way since the 1950s. However, the glass ceiling still remains, hindering the economic equity and security of female workers and their families.

Fact: In 2011, 70.6% of mothers with children under 18 and 55.8% of those with children under 1 were members of the workforce.

Fact: Nearly two-thirds of all mothers are primary or co-breadwinners for their households.

Fact: A woman with comparable education and experience earns only 77 cents, compared to every dollar made by her male counterparts, resulting in an average of over $10,000 in lost wages every year.

It is time to close the loopholes in discrimination and disability laws that deprive women of basic employment rights!

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act—like the Americans with Disabilities Act—would help pregnant workers maintain economic stability and a healthy pregnancy by requiring that employers provide reasonable work accommodations. Urge your Representative to become a co-sponsor of PWFA through the Hadassah National Action Center.

The Paycheck Fairness Act would bar retaliation against employees who disclose their wages to coworkers and—like the Equal Rights Act—deter wage discrimination by strengthening penalties for equal pay violations. Use the Hadassah National Action Center to show your support for pay equity and stay tuned to the Email Action Network for more updates on the status of this bill.



It has been nearly 40 years since the 1972 Munich Olympics, where 11 Israeli athletes were killed. Hadassah is proud of its history as a vocal advocate for the victims' families and the memory of their loved ones.

Ankie Spitzer, the widow of Israeli fencing coach Andrei Spitzer, and the Jewish Community Center of Rockland County, New York, have launched an online petition urging the International Olympic Committee to honor the Munich 11 with a moment of silence at this summer's games in London. The petition, launched on April 13, has already garnered over 20,000 signatures, with a goal of 1 million. The petition text follows below. Sign the petition and share it with friends and family.

On Setempber 5, 1972, then Hadassah President Rose Matzkin sent a telegram to President Nixon urging that the games be stopped and the United States' team withdrawn, which was publicized in the New York Times. During the following week, Hadassah and the Synagogue Council of America sponsored special memorial services and Hadassah representatives attended several meetings with Jewish organizations and dignitaries, including then Ambassador to the United Nations George H. W. Bush.

Greetings,

I just signed the following petition addressed to: International Olympic Committee.

---------------------------------------

Minute of Silence at the 2012 London Olympics.

Tell the International Olympic Committee: 40 Years is Enough!

At the 1972 Munich Olympic Games, eleven members of the Israeli team were murdered. For forty years their families have asked the International Olympic Committee to observe a minute of silence, in their memory. Please help us by signing our petition.

I am the wife of Andrei Spitzer. My husband was killed at those Olympic Games in 1972.

I am asking for one minute of silence for the memory of the eleven Israeli athletes, coaches and referees murdered at the 1972 summer Olympics in Munich. Just one minute — at the 2012 London Summer Olympics and at every Olympic Game, to promote peace.

These men were sons; fathers; uncles; brothers; friends; teammates; athletes. They came to Munich in 1972 to play as athletes in the Olympics; they came in peace and went home in coffins, killed in the Olympic Village and during hostage negotiations.

The families of the Munich 11 have worked for four decades to obtain recognition of the Munich massacre from the International Olympic Committee. We have requested a minute of silence during the opening ceremonies of the Olympics starting with the '76 Montreal Games. Repeatedly, these requests have been turned down. The 11 murdered athletes were members of the Olympic family; we feel they should be remembered within the framework of the Olympic Games.

We are asking again to be heard in time for the 2012 London Summer Olympics. In 2010 JCC Rockland, New York contacted me and offered their help and made it their mission for their 2012 JCC Maccabi Games to honor the Munich 11 through multiple events as well as spearheading this petition.

Silence is a fitting tribute for athletes who lost their lives on the Olympic stage. Silence contains no statements, assumptions or beliefs and requires no understanding of language to interpret.

I have no political or religious agenda. Just the hope that my husband and the other men who went to the Olympics in peace, friendship and sportsmanship are given what they deserve. One minute of silence will clearly say to the world that what happened in 1972 can never happen again. Please do not let history repeat itself.

For my husband Andrei and the others killed, we must remember the doctrine of the Olympic Spirit, "to build a peaceful and better world which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play," is more powerful than politics.

40 years is long enough to wait.

Go to www.munich11.org to learn more about how the JCC Rockland, in New York took up our fight to remedy injustice with the support & gratitude of the families of the Munich 11 and to learn the history of a day we should never forget.

Thank you. Ankie Spitzer and JCC Rockland



Below are alerts distributed by the Jewish Council of Public Affairs—of which Hadassah is a member—addressing the accuracy of Sunday's 60 Minutes report on Christians in Israel and the Palestinian territories.

96 Hours Later, 60 Minutes Hasn't Corrected the Record

Sunday night, CBS's 60 Minutes aired a segment titled "Christians of the Holy Land" which cynically distorted a complicated story to disparage Israel. Among the myriad errors in the report is the myth of a declining Palestinian Christian population. A report issued by the Jewish Council for Public Affairs in 2011 provided extensive documentation that the Christian population in the West Bank is not decreasing – and according to Palestinian sources is actually increasing. Unfortunately, the 60 Minutes report missed these critical data and repeated the common misrepresentation that the Palestinian Christian population is in a state of exodus. The population decline, even though fabricated, is blamed on Israel.

According to Palestinian sources, the Palestinian Christian population in the West Bank is actually growing – and has been growing since 1967. The Palestinian Prime Minister noted in 2009 that the Christian population in the West Bank increased. And other data support this increase. In fact, since 1967, the Christian population in Bethlehem increased by 11% and in the Bethlehem region grew by 56%. The West Bank Christian population grew from 42,484 in 1967 to over 51,000 today The only "decline" that has been documented is the percentage Christians represent in the predominantly Muslim West Bank, a population that grew almost fourfold during the same period.

A further distortion unchallenged in the 60 Minutes story was the reportage of the Kairos Palestine document, an anti-Israel manifesto that places 100% of the blame for the tragic Israeli-Palestinian conflict on Israel, stating "if there were no occupation, there would be no resistance" and thus Israelis and Palestinians could live in peace. This whitewashing of reality ignores the undeniable fact that groups like Hamas seek Israel's destruction and have used suicide bombs, rockets, and other terror to strike at Israel.

The "deligitimization" drive of the Kairos authors was demonstrated by a comment made by one of its authors for the 60 minutes report—that a goal of the document is the "boycott of Israel."

Sadly, the 60 Minutes report also overlooked the religious freedom guaranteed by Israel and the significant growth of the Palestinian Christian population in Israel itself. Christians live and pray in freedom in Israel, in marked contrast to the oppression they face throughout most of the Middle East.

60 Minutes should correct the record. Please click here to contact 60 Minutes.

Did 60 Minutes Tell the Truth?

Sunday night, CBS's 60 Minutes aired a segment titled "Christians of the Holy Land" which cynically distorted a complicated story to slander Israel. Among the myriad errors in the report is the myth of a declining Palestinian Christian population. A report issued by the Jewish Council for Public Affairs in 2011 provided extensive documentation that the Christian population in the West Bank is not decreasing – and according to Palestinian sources is actually increasing. Unfortunately, the 60 Minutes report missed these critical data and repeated the common misrepresentation that the Palestinian Christian population is in a state of exodus. The population decline, even though fabricated, is blamed on Israel.

According to Palestinian sources, the Palestinian Christian population in the West Bank is actually growing – and has been growing since 1967. The Palestinian Prime Minister noted in 2009 that the Christian population in the West Bank increased. And other data support this increase. In fact, since 1967, the Christian population in Bethlehem increased by 11% and in the Bethlehem region grew by 56%. The West Bank Christian population grew from 42,484 in 1967 to over 51,000 today The only "decline" that has been documented is the percentage Christians represent in the predominantly Muslim West Bank, a population that grew almost fourfold during the same period.

A further slander unchallenged in the 60 Minutes story was the reportage of the Kairos Palestine document, an anti-Israel manifesto that places 100% of the blame for the tragic Israeli-Palestinian conflict on Israel, stating "if there were no occupation, there would be no resistance" and thus Israelis and Palestinians could live in peace. This whitewashing of reality ignores the undeniable fact that groups like Hamas seek Israel's destruction and have used suicide bombs, rockets, and other terror to strike at Israel.

The "deligitimization" drive of the Kairos authors was demonstrated by a comment made by one of its authors for the 60 minutes report – that a goal of the document is the "boycott of Israel."

Sadly, the 60 Minutes report also overlooked the religious freedom guaranteed by Israel and the significant growth of the Palestinian Christian population in Israel itself. Christians live and pray in freedom in Israel, in marked contrast to the oppression they face throughout most of the Middle East.

To read the JCPA's report, click here.
For a transcript and video of the CBS report, click here.



Hadassah joins the international Jewish community in marking Yom HaZikaron (Memorial Day) and Yom Ha'Atzmaut (Independence Day) this week, and Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day) next month.

As Israel turns 64 and Hadassah celebrates its Centennial, our bond is stronger than ever. Hadassah's founders dreamed of what Israel could be—laying the groundwork for its healthcare system and making deserts bloom, all while rescuing and nurturing the children who would grow to shape the new nation.

Today, Hadassah hospitals treat one million patients a year and are home to world renowned medical research and trauma care. Like our pioneering founders a century ago, Hadassah Members, Associates and supporters are practical Zionists—pouring time and resources into Hadassah's projects and advocating for pro-Israel policies from every Congressional district across the country.

Happy Birthday Israel & Hadassah! Celebrate and show your support online and in your community.



The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is finally expected on the Senate floor for a vote this week! The legislation currently has 61 co-sponsors—a filibuster-proof majority—but is still lacking wide-spread bipartisan support. In February, VAWA passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on a party-line vote. Hadassah joined nearly 1,000 coalition members in submitting a letter to Congress in support of VAWA's reauthorization, which the chairman referenced in his statement to the committee.

The Violence Against Women Act provides assistance to victims of domestic and dating violence, sexual assault and stalking—both women and men—by facilitating coordinated community responses to these crimes, funding specialized training for various levels of law enforcement, and supporting community-based organizations that offer programs for victims. Since its passage in 1994, more victims report domestic violence to the police and the rate of non-fatal intimate partner violence against women has decreased by 53 percent.

Check out HERvotes for the new VAWA Blog Carnival and additional information and resources from Hadassah's coalition partners. Don't let women's safety be put in jeopardy because of partisan politics. Visit the Hadassah National Action Center to thank your Senators for their support or urge them to vote for reauthorization!



Wear RED Tomorrow for Equal Pay Day!

Fact: A woman with comparable education and experience earns only 77 cents, compared to every dollar made by her male counterparts. That's an average of over $10,000 in lost wages every year!

Fact: It takes an extra two days—until Tuesday of the following week—for a woman to earn what a man made the week prior.

Fact: It takes an extra four months—until April of the following year—for a woman to earn what a man made the year before.

Women and men will mark Equal Pay Day tomorrow—observed purposely on a Tuesday in April—by dressing in RED, a symbol of women's lost wages.

Hadassah strongly supports the adoption and strict enforcement of pay equity laws to reduce the wage gap and ensure better economic security for women. Show your support for pay equity and get America's women out of the RED!

Wear RED tomorrow and make sure that your friends, family and co-workers know why!

Urge Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, via the Hadassah National Action Center.

Spread the word about Equal Pay Day and the Paycheck Fairness Act in chapter bulletins, letters to local media, and through Facebook and Twitter. (Hashtags: #fairpay, #wagegap, #closeit & #pfa)

Check out additional resources on pay equity from Hadassah's coalition partners:

Hadassah Women Go Red!
In support of Equal Pay for Women Day, Hadassah women from Tampa proudly wear red during a trip to their state capitol.
Names from left to right: Linda Deitcher, Barbara Schlossman, Sherry Dub, Betty Dubman, Sandi Burman



ACTION ALERT
April 04, 2012

Yesterday, the International Criminal Court announced that it would not pursue an investigation into the 2008-2009 Gaza War because "Palestine" does not hold statehood status. Access to the International Criminal Court has been one of the Palestinians' objectives since they suggested seeking full membership to the United Nations. As this recent case shows, if the Palestinians are given access to the Court they will pursue cases to unfairly target and delegitimize Israel.

Last fall, the Palestinians were approved for membership to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), although their petition for full membership to the United Nations General Assembly is still pending.

Following the submission of the Palestinian application, the Quartet—the United States, United Nations, European Union, and Russia—released a statement outlining a proposed timetable for peace negotiations. Despite the international community's clear support for direct negotiations—over unilateral declarations—peace negotiations have been stalled and efforts to delegitimize Israel continue.

Last Friday, the Jewish community participated in Buy Israeli Goods Day to counter the planned Global March to Jerusalem—publicized as a massive protest on Israel's borders with millions of attendees expected from around the world. However, in reality, most protestors gathered in Israel's neighboring countries and only a few thousand materialized on the borders in Gaza and the West Bank. Jewish community leaders have emphasized that while the Global March failed, it is important to remain vigilant in monitoring Hamas and Hezbollah's actions, as their intent is to escalate violence from Gaza and distract from Iranian's nuclear plans.

Don't let Congress get distracted, show your support for Iran sanctions today! Click here to contact your legislators about the Iran Sanctions, Accountability and Human Rights Act—which would strengthen existing sanctions, close loopholes, and increase sanctions on individuals who provide support and resources to Iran's nuclear program.



ACTION ALERT
March 28, 2012

Last week, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) passed a resolution to establish a "Fact Finding Mission on the Influence of Settlements on Palestinians," prompting Israel to suspend all ties with the Council. Thirty-six countries voted in favor, the United States opposed and 10 abstained.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry, Israel's Ambassador to the UN in Geneva, and Prime Minister Netanyahu have all released statements criticizing the proposed mission. An Israeli representative from the Foreign Ministry explained specifically that Israel has suspended "working relations, participating in debates and discussion and exchanging papers, sending information and requesting information, and organizing visits and so on and so on."

Hadassah's United Nations Team—with representatives in New York, Geneva, and Vienna—has been closely monitoring UNHRC, which has a history of targeting and delegitimizing Israel. Since its inception in 2006, the council has made 91 decisions: 39 on Israel, three on Syria and one on Iran.

Efforts to tarnish and delegitimize Israel also continue from the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. In response to the Global March to Jerusalem protests and BDS Global Day of Action, Jewish community leaders have announced Buy Israeli Goods (BIG) Day for Friday March 30.

Hadassah maintains its long-standing policy against all forms of organized boycotts—opposing destructive actions in favor of constructive dialogue in order to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and pursue a future of peace in the Middle East.

Shop for Pesach and show your support for Israel all at once! Promote your support for Israel and Buy Israeli Goods Day in bulletins, letters to the editor or elected officials, and on social media. For additional information and a listing of Israeli products, visit www.buyisraelgoods.org, run by the America-Israel Chamber of Commerce & Industry.



March 12,  2012
Israeli Security  Update

Hadassah  representatives joined coalition partners from the Conference of  Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations on a briefing yesterday  with Ido Aharoni, Consul General of Israel in New York. The  Consul General provided background information regarding the planned  terrorist attack against Israel, assessed the current security  situation—with over 140 rockets launched from Gaza and 1 million Israelis  in shelters—and discussed various questions for moving forward.    The Conference of  Presidents released a statement condemning the rocket fire and calling on  the international community to prevent weapons flow and financial support,  which would enable future attacks.   The statement can be found below.  Hadassah and its coalition  partners will continue to monitor the security situation in  Israel and will provide  additional updates as they become available.

CONFERENCE OF PRESIDENTS CONDEMNS CONTINUING  ROCKET FIRE  FROM GAZA ON SOUTHERN ISRAEL CALLS UPON INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY TO  DENOUNCE ATTACKS, PREVENT  WEAPONS FLOW AND FINANCIAL SUPPORT ENABLING  FUTURE ATTACKS

New  York, March 11, 2012

The following statement was issued on behalf  of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations by  Richard B. Stone, Chairman, and Malcolm Hoenlein,  CEO. We condemn in the strongest terms  the continuing rocket fire from Gaza  against the civilian populations of southern Israel. It  is absolutely unacceptable that hundreds of thousands of people, up to a  million, live under constant threat of terrorist attack using mortars and  rockets as well as cross-border assaults. The Palestinian terrorist groups  perpetrating these attacks seek to kill indiscriminately and bring normal  life and commerce to a standstill. Schools have had to be closed and an  entire region had to spend this weekend, as they have countless nights, in  bunkers. No country can or should have to tolerate such a situation.  Israel must do whatever it  deems appropriate to safeguard its citizens and borders. The international  community must not only denounce such attacks in unambiguous terms, but  they also must help prevent the weapons flow and financial support that  enables these attacks to continue. Egypt must  be assisted to assure that the transfer of weapons is stopped.   Once again we see the nefarious role  of Iran as it provides  financing and weapons to terrorist groups in Gaza. This explosive  situation can be quieted only by a unified front led by the  United  States that acts against and sanctions  the terrorists and their supporters.


ACTION ALERT
March 6, 2012

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee Policy Conference took place from March 4-6, featuring key speeches by President Barak Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Iran was a key focus of the speeches, and of the meeting between Obama and Netanyahu at the White House yesterday afternoon.

Both leaders agree that a nuclear Iran is unacceptable and have refused to pursue a policy of containment. However, from their speeches and public statements, it is clear that they have differences over the imminent necessity to pursue military action against Iran.

President Obama said in his speech that he "will not hesitate to use force when it is necessary to defend the United States and its interests." However, he did emphasize in his meeting with the Prime Minister that, "We do believe that there is still a window that allows for a diplomatic resolution to this issue, but ultimately the Iranians’ regime has to make a decision to move in that direction, a decision that they have not made thus far."

In Prime Minister Netanyahu's speech yesterday evening, he said, "Responsible leaders should not bet the security of their countries on the belief that the world’s most dangerous regime won’t use the world’s most dangerous weapons." He added a few minutes later, "For six years, the international community has applied sanctions. That hasn’t worked either. I appreciate President Obama’s recent efforts to impose even tougher sanctions against Iran. Those sanctions are hurting Iran’s economy. But unfortunately, Iran’s nuclear march goes on. Israel has waited patiently for the international community to resolve this issue. We’ve waited for diplomacy to work. We’ve waited for sanctions to work. None of us can afford to wait much longer."

In the wake of these public appearances, Iran agreed to grant International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors conditional access to the Parchin Military Base—a site they were denied access to last month. In response to Iran’s overture, the "P5+1" (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council: United States, France, Britain, Russia and China; plus Germany) have agreed to resume diplomatic negotiations with Iran. Israel reportedly has criticized reopening talks before Iran suspends all uranium enrichment, but the White House believes pre-conditions will harm any chance of diplomatic success.

Watch President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu’s AIPAC speeches and read the transcript from their White House meeting.

Advocate for the new Iran Sanctions, Accountability and Human Rights Act (S. 2101), introduced last month by the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Banking Committee.



The situation in the Middle East remains tense, with new updates coming to light with each passing day.

Yesterday, Haaretz released details from the Israeli Foreign Ministry's annual intelligence estimate, which was presented to Israel's security cabinet a few weeks ago. The report assessed Israel's relationship with its neighbors—focusing specifically on Iran's nuclear plans, the status of peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan, and the potential escalation of violence from the Palestinians. Mid-East leaders and analysts are also closely following the situation in Syria and how that is affecting the balance of power in the region.

Iran:

The annual intelligence estimate report states that Iran sees its current actions "as an important tool in solidifying its regional position and as a way to weaken its rivals, including Israel and the United States, and to settle accounts with them."

The United States and Europe enacted sanctions on Iran, which have devalued its currency by 50 percent, but Iran has been undeterred. Last week, Iran refused to allow International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) investigators to tour its nuclear facilities and IAEA released another report—further confirming findings from November that Iran is developing a weaponized nuclear program.

As military action against Iran remains a hotly debated topic, the Iranian defense minister reiterated threats on Saturday that an Israeli strike would be met by a "crushing response" and would "lead to the collapse of the [Zionist regime]."

Egypt:

Today, at the first session of Egypt's Shura Council (upper parliamentary chamber), a member of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) was chosen as Speaker. Parliamentary elections were completed last week, and the Islamists (FJP and the ultraconservative Salafi al-Nour Party) won 70 percent of the People's Assembly (lower chamber) and 80 percent of the Shura Council.

The Foreign Ministry's intelligence report noted that, "[Egypt's] Supreme Military Council is aware of the benefits of the peace agreement, but even there, there are some elements that are dissatisfied with parts of the agreement." It is expected that the new Egyptian government will reevaluate the agreement, specifically the regulations on Egypt's military presence in the Sinai.

Security concerns on the border remain a pressing issue for Israel, with the Israel Defense Force (IDF) preventing two terrorist attacks on the Sinai border within the last two weeks.

Jordan:

Tensions with Jordan largely stem from the stalled peace process. Public opinion polls have indicated that Jordanians are also interested in reevaluating their peace treaty with Israel.

The Foreign Ministry intelligence report included the following: "The Israeli government is viewed by the Jordanians as not being committed to the two-state solution. Israel's policies are being translated into the Jordanian leadership's deep lack of trust in the Israeli leadership."

Jordan's King Abdullah tried unsuccessfully to restart talks between the Israelis and Palestinians in Amman last month. Last week, King Abdullah met with Jewish leaders from the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish American Organizations. Abdullah expressed frustration at Israel's "unilateral policies" and holds it responsible for the failed talks. However, the King also reportedly praised Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu for taking risks and putting forward a plan which allowed negotiations to move forward.

Palestinians:

The Foreign Ministry's intelligence report also addressed Palestinian security concerns. "On the ground, at this point, neither the Palestinian leadership nor public opinion seems to want a violent escalation with Israel. Still, the continuing freeze of the diplomatic process, combined with any drastic Israeli moves in the military and/or economic realm and the continuing stormy situation in the Middle East, could bring about a change in this approach."

The fate of the peace process will no doubt also be impacted by the Palestinian unity government negotiations, which fell apart this past weekend.

Syria:

Today, the United Nations Human Rights Council condemned Syria, following the condemnation by the General Assembly a few days ago. The United Nations announced that "well over" 7,500 people have been killed by the violence. Yesterday, the Syrian people voted in favor of a new constitution, though the rebels view the election as a sham.

The internal power struggle in Syria has broad implications for the surrounding countries and the balance of power in the region. Jordan supports Arab League plans for Syria, but—despite urging from its internal Muslim Brotherhood—has not withdrawn its ambassador. Jordan is likely remaining quiet on the issue due to its close proximity to Syria and the 80,000 Syrian refugees who are currently within Jordan's borders.

Iran has shown support for Syria with weapons and the deployment of warships, while Egypt has withdrawn its ambassador and is investigating how Iran's warships were able to pass freely through Egyptian waters.

Hezbollah and the Lebanese government continue to support Syria, with Lebanon's defense minister meeting with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Tehran this past weekend. Hamas, on the other hand, made a big announcement in Cairo that it now supports the rebels. Some speculate that this will affect Hamas' relationship with Iran, further solidifying Hamas' close ties with Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood.

Further Updates:

Hadassah will continue monitoring the unfolding situation in the Middle East and will provide further updates around Prime Minister Netanyahu's upcoming visit to Washington. President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu will be speaking at the AIPAC Policy Conference on March 4 and 5, respectively. Video and transcripts will be shared when available.



February 7, 2012

On January 20, after several months of public debate and internal review, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced women's preventive health coverage regulations, requiring most employers to provide full contraceptive coverage (without co-pays).

On February 10, the White House announced a modification to that ruling, requiring insurance companies to provide contraceptive access to certain employees, in place of their religiously affiliated employers. Hadassah welcomed that proposal and appreciates the administration's continued support for all women to have access to contraceptive coverage.

The contraceptive coverage debate still wages on in Congress, with proposed bills and amendments that would allow executives to decide which health services they do or do not want to cover—anything from contraception to children's vaccines, maternity care for single mothers, or blood transfusions. Tell Congress that patients—not their bosses—should be making personal health care decisions!

Hadassah remains a strong advocate for women's health rights and opposes any attempts to restrict access to reproductive and/or family planning services. Restrictions to reproductive health care deprive women of their right to make health decisions privately, in consultation with medical advice, and in accordance with their own religious, moral and ethical values.



Last week, terrorists targeted Israeli diplomats in India and Georgia. Yesterday, the United Nations Security Council released a press statement condemning the attacks and the Israeli Ministry for Foreign Affairs distributed the following:

Today the UN Security Council issued a press statement, which unanimously condemned recent terrorist attacks targeting Israeli diplomats in India and Georgia. This marks the first time that the Council has issued a condemnation of terrorism targeting Israelis since 2005.

Israel's UN Ambassador Ron Prosor said, "Today the unanimous voice of the Security Council can be heard around the world – from the halls of every embassy that faces Iranian terror to the hospital room of Israeli diplomat Tal Yehoshua, who is still recovering from her injuries. Tal can rest this evening knowing that her friends in the diplomatic community have joined together – from New York to New Delhi – to send a clear message against terror and stand in solidarity with her."

He added, "After seven years of silence, the Council has finally spoken against the terrorism that the Israeli people face every day."

In the statement, the Council emphasized the importance of prosecuting those who carried out, organized, funded and supported these acts of terrorism. It calls on all nations to cooperate actively with the Israeli Government to bring those responsible for the attacks to justice.

The statement followed a letter that Ambassador Prosor sent to the Security Council last week, which called on the body to condemn the attacks "immediately and unequivocally". He urged the Council to send a strong message to Iran and Hezbollah – the parties directly responsible for the recent campaign of attacks.



Today, in honor of Tu B'Shvat, Hadassah reaffirms its commitment to the environment and proudly announces its participation in the Jewish Energy Covenant Campaign. Hadassah National President Marcie Natan was one of 50 Jewish leaders—from across the political and religious spectrum—to join the campaign earlier this week by signing the " Jewish Environment and Energy Imperative" declaration.

The leaders set the goals of significantly lowering greenhouse-gas emissions, advocating for energy independence and security, and reducing the Jewish community's energy consumption 14% by 2014—the next 'sabbatical' year in the Jewish calendar and traditionally a time to refrain from impacting the earth.

The declaration also states, "The need to transform the world's energy economy while addressing global climate change is not only a religious and moral imperative, it is a strategy for security and survival."

Dedicate! Read the full Jewish Environment and Energy Imperative declaration and pledge to reduce your energy consumption.

Advocate! Learn about the Don't Fund Terror Campaign and urge your Senators to make energy security policy and climate change national priorities.

Educate! The Jewish Energy Covenant Campaign is coordinated by the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL), an initiative of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA). Click here for additional information about COEJL and the multitude of resources it provides.

To subscribe to the Email Action Network, go to the Get Our Newsletter



Yesterday, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) passed out of committee and is now one step closer to reauthorization. Hadassah joined nearly 1,000 coalition members in submitting a letter to Congress in support of VAWA’s reauthorization, which the chairman referenced in his statement to the committee.

The Violence Against Women Act provides assistance to victims of domestic and dating violence, sexual assault and stalking—both women and men—by facilitating coordinated community responses to these crimes, funding specialized training for various levels of law enforcement, and supporting community-based organizations that offer programs for victims.  Since its passage in 1994, more victims report domestic violence to the police and the rate of non-fatal intimate partner violence against women has decreased by 53 percent.

Check out the VAWA Blog Carnival, for additional information and resources from Hadassah’s HERvotes coalition partners.

In January—following a campaign by grassroots advocates like you—the administration formally announced an updated definition of rape, which covers any person sexually assaulted (as classified by the updated Federal Bureau of Investigation Uniform Crime Report) without her or his consent. This change underscores the importance of this issue—and the power speaking out in a collective voice. But it is not enough!
 
Urge your legislators to co-sponsor the VAWA Reauthorization Act and work towards its swift passage.  Click here to contact your elected officials directly through Hadassah’s National Action Center.   



January 22nd was the 39th anniversary of the historic Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision, which established a woman’s right to reproductive choice.  Advocates on both sides of the issue have taken this opportunity to galvanize thousands of supporters, hosting marches across the country and online. 

Activists opposed to reproductive rights are working hard to prevent and reverse laws that protect a women’s right to choice.  Members of the congressional leadership spoke yesterday at the March for Life rally—reaffirming their commitment to defund women’s heath services, decrease access to reproductive coverage and elect politicians who will work to oppose and overturn Roe v. Wade.

Personhood amendments—legislation and ballot initiatives that would declare a fertilized egg a person— were defeated last fall in states like Mississippi, but are now gaining support in Ohio and Kansas, with more expected in the months to come.

Show your support for women’s reproductive rights today! Here are a series of actions that are available to you on Hadassah’s National Action Center. This information can also be used as talking points to contact your local media and state elected officials, or for bulletins, Facebook, Twitter and other social media.  Click on the links to learn more and make your voice heard.   

·        Contact your legislators and voice opposition to family planning funding cuts, restrictions on women’s health access and reproductive services, and personhood amendments. Take Action!

·        Urge your legislators to co-sponsor the Military Access to Reproductive Care and Health (MARCH) for Military Women Act and work towards its passage. Take Action!

·        Thank the Administration for requiring most employers, including religiously affiliated non-profits, to provide full contraceptive coverage (without co-pays) for their employees. Take Action!



After several months of public debate and internal review, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has announced its final regulations on women's preventive health coverage, requiring most employers to provide full contraceptive coverage (without co-pays).

In July, the Institute of Medicine, part of the National Institutes of Health, released the historic report Clinical Preventive Services for Women: Closing the Gaps. The report recommended that many women's preventive health services—including contraceptives—should be fully covered by health insurance providers. In August, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that it would require employers to provide full contraceptive coverage, but it also proposed a refusal clause so religiously affiliated institutions could opt out.

After much lobbying by both sides, the administration has decided to require most employers to provide contraceptive coverage by August 2012. Organizations who currently do not provide contraceptive coverage due to religious affiliations will be given an extra year to make these adjustments to their insurance plans.

The opponents of this decision have not given up—filing court cases and lobbying Congress to overturn the ruling.

Hadassah remains a strong advocate for a woman's freedom of choice and opposes any attempts to restrict the right to reproductive choice and/or use of family planning services. Restrictions to reproductive healthcare deprive women of their right to make health decisions privately, in consultation with medical advice, and in accordance with their own religious, moral and ethical values.

Thank the White House for supporting women's access to preventive health coverage and urge it to ensure that all women have access to reproductive health services.



In response to recent discriminatory acts against women by extremists in Israel, Hadassah’s National Board voted to enact the following Zionist Affairs Policy Statement.

Protecting Women’s Rights in Israel

Hadassah, The Women's Zionist Organization of America, Inc., has always stood firmly against discrimination with regard to gender and religion, and denounces recent attempts by religious extremists to segregate and discriminate against women in Israel's public spaces. Hadassah maintains its long-standing commitment to the principle of religious pluralism and the preservation of Jewish unity.

Hadassah Members and Associates have a clear understanding of the dangers of discrimination. We believe that each individual has the right to live, study and work in an atmosphere free from harassment and discriminatory practices. These practices threaten a community's viability, and all levels of government have an obligation to protect all of its citizens from such abhorrent behavior.

Hadassah welcomes the public statements of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres on the current discrimination against women in Israel and calls on religious and political leaders throughout the State to join in condemning—and committing to end—these extremist positions.

Hadassah urges the government of the State of Israel and all its municipalities to address instances of public discrimination against women, fully investigate such cases and bring those who commit these acts to justice.



Hadassah thanks U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) David Killion for his actions opposing anti-Semitism. The U.S. statement regarding Ambassador Killion’s actions to stop UNESCO’s funding for an anti-Semitic Palestinian youth publication can be found below.

Hadassah urges its Members, Associates and supporters to join us in thanking Ambassador Killon.


Ambassador Killion Condemns Anti-Semitic Publication & Calls on UNESCO to Block Funding

On December 22, the U.S. Mission to UNESCO contacted the Organization’s Director-General, Irina Bokova, to express its grave concern over press reports regarding the Palestinian youth educational magazine, Zayzafuna, and its publishing of anti-Semitic and anti-Israel content, in particular a student essay that praised Hitler’s murder of Jews. UNESCO took quick action to disassociate itself from the magazine, and has assured the U.S. Mission to UNESCO that all funding of the publication has stopped. U.S. Ambassador to UNESCO David Killion asked Director-General Bokova to investigate the circumstances of this event, to ensure it does not happen again in the future.

Ambassador Killion said, “Director-General Bokova was very clear in her message to the Palestinian Authority when they joined UNESCO. She told them that ‘…membership in UNESCO goes beyond raising the flag. It comes with rights and responsibilities. It means sharing values – the values of tolerance, respect for others.’

The decision that UNESCO took today to condemn this magazine’s hateful content will, I hope, be a strong signal to the Palestinian leadership that its messages to the international community and the messages it teaches to its young must be the same, and must move towards peace.”



Tomorrow, December 10, is International Human Rights Day. Israel is consistently and unfairly criticized for its record on human rights, most often by countries with their own egregious human rights violations. Join fellow Hadassah Members, Associates, and supporters by honoring International Human Rights Day and celebrating Israel's example as a beacon for human rights in the Middle East and around the world. Video links and quotations about human rights and Israel can be found below. Hadassah encourages its members to share this information with family and friends, and to use these talking points for bulletins, Facebook, Twitter and other social media.


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a video statement for International Human Rights Day. Click here to view the video.

"International Human Right's Day is a day on which the State of Israel stands proud, proud of its record as a vibrant, pluralistic democracy—a democracy that has maintained its values, despite security challenges faced by no other nation on earth."

  • "Protests in town squares are a way of life not a sign of revolution."
  • "In the Middle East women are stoned and gays are hanged and minorities are persecuted. Israel has a woman who is a chief justice, we have gay pride parades and we have over one million Arab citizens who are free."
  • "In a land plagued over the centuries by religious wars, Israel has rigorously safeguarded the holy sites of the great faiths and we has protected the freedom of worship for all."

Professor Alan Dershowitz also released a video about Israel and human rights. Click here to view the video.

  • "In the 1940s we said never again and the tragedy is what we've seen all over the world has been again and again and again—in Darfur and Cambodia and Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia."
  • "The human rights agenda has been hijacked by whose who perpetuate human wrongs and the real victims have not been Israel . . . [they] have been the 6 million people who have been killed since we said never again in preventable genocides."

Sudanese activist Simon Deng spoke out at an anti-Durban III event this fall, describing the genocide in his native Sudan and praising Israel's commitment to pluralism and human rights. Click here to view the video.

  • "Is Israel a racist state? To my people, the people who know racism, the answer is absolutely not. Israel is a state of people who are the colors of the rainbow."
  • "In Israel, black Sudanese, Christian and Muslim were welcomed and treated like human beings. Just go and ask them, like I have done. They told me that compared to the situation in Egypt, Israel is heaven."


On December 2, the Senate voted unanimously for sanctions targeting the Central Bank of Iran (CBI)—which is widely suspected of financing Iran's nuclear program—and banks that do business with it and the United States. Thank your Senators for their support and urge your Representatives to vote for the Iran Threat Reduction Act of 2011 (H.R. 1905). This bill would strengthen existing sanctions and close loopholes, in addition to sanctioning the CBI.  

Also, urge your Representatives and Senators to support the Iran, North Korea and Syria Nonproliferation Reform and Modernization Act (H.R. 2105), which increases sanctions on individuals who provide support and resources to these countries' nuclear programs.

These bills have been fast-tracked in Congress in response to a recent International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report on the status of Iran's nuclear capabilities, which revealed clear evidence that Iran has continued developing a weaponized nuclear program. Click here to read the full report.

Prior to the report release, White House Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes emphasized, "What we're focused on is a diplomatic strategy which . . . increases the pressure on the Iranians, through financial pressure, through economic sanctions, through diplomatic isolation."

Hadassah continues to affirm its policy statements opposing the Middle East Arms Race, which condemn Iran's acquisition of weapons of mass destruction, posing a grave threat to regional and international stability. Iran has shown that it will not be deterred, so it must be cut off from all possible sources of support.

Urge your Representatives and Senators to support Iran sanctions legislation and work for its prompt passage. Visit the Hadassah National Action Center to email your legislators today!



Yesterday, millions of Americans kicked off their online holiday shopping with Cyber Monday. Show your support for Israel while shopping for Hanukkah by participating in Buy Israel Week, which ends Sunday, December 4.

Buy Israel Week was organized in response to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which aims to tarnish and delegitimize the State of Israel. Hadassah maintains its long-standing policy against all forms of organized boycotts—opposing destructive actions in favor of constructive dialogue in order to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and pursue a future of peace in the Middle East.

For additional information and a listing of online deals for Israeli goods visit www.buyisraelweek.com, managed by online consumer discount site jdeal.com in conjunction with the Israel-America Chamber of Commerce and the Manufacturers Association of Israel, among others.



After several months of public debate and internal review, the White House is poised to announce final regulations on women's preventive health coverage as early as next week.

In July, the Institute of Medicine, part of the National Institutes of Health, released the historic report Clinical Preventive Services for Women: Closing the Gaps. The report recommended that many women's preventive health services—including contraceptives—should be fully covered (without co-pays) by health insurance providers. In August, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that it would require insurers to provide full contraceptive coverage, but it also proposed a refusal clause so religious institutions could op-out of such plans.

Supporters of the religious refusal clause have been actively lobbying the administration, also urging them to expand the clause for religiously affiliated organizations such as health systems, universities and social service agencies.

Hadassah remains a strong advocate for a woman's freedom of choice and opposes any attempts to restrict the right to reproductive choice and/or use of family planning services. Restrictions to reproductive healthcare deprive women of their right to make health decisions privately, in consultation with medical advice, and in accordance with their own religious, moral and ethical values.

Click here to tell the White House you oppose the religious refusal clause and support women's access to preventive health services.



This week, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) released a report on the status of Iran’s nuclear capabilities, revealing clear evidence that Iran has continued developing a weaponized nuclear program. Click here to read the full report.

The Israeli government is reviewing the report and has yet to release a response. Prior to the report release, White House Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes emphasized, “What we're focused on is a diplomatic strategy which . . . increases the pressure on the Iranians, through financial pressure, through economic sanctions, through diplomatic isolation.”

Last week—in anticipation of the report’s release—the House Foreign Affairs Committee fast-tracked two bipartisan bills to increase U.S. sanctions on Iran. The Iran Threat Reduction Act of 2011 (H.R. 1905) would strengthen existing sanctions and close loopholes. The bill also includes an amendment targeting the Central Bank of Iran—which is widely suspected of financing Iran's nuclear program—and banks that do business with it and the United States. The Iran, North Korea and Syria Nonproliferation Reform and Modernization Act (H.R. 2105) increases the sanctions on individuals who provide support and resources to these countries’ nuclear programs.

Hadassah continues to affirm its policy statements opposing the Middle East Arms Race, which condemn Iran’s acquisition of weapons of mass destruction, posing a grave threat to regional and international stability. Iran has shown that it will not be deterred, so it must be cut off from all possible sources of support.

Urge your Representatives and Senators to support Iran sanctions legislation and work for its prompt passage. Visit the Hadassah National Action Center to email your legislators today!



Tomorrow is Election Day and the official start of the 2012 election season. Hadassah—a longtime supporter voter engagement initiatives—is proud to announce its membership in HERvotes, a coalition of women’s organizations mobilizing civic engagement around women’s Health and Economic Rights (HER) for the 2012 election season.

Each month, Hadassah and its coalition partners will provide updates about key policy issues such as pay equity, women’s health access and voter participation. This month, the coalition, which represents millions of women across the country, are speaking out together to protect women’s reproductive rights. Visit the Hadassah National Action Center to learn more about anti-choice legislation and contact your federal elected officials today!

Hadassah units also advocate at the state and municipal levels. Tomorrow, “Personhood” amendments—which would declare a fertilized egg a person—will be on the ballot from Florida and Mississippi, to Wisconsin and Ohio. These amendments would outlaw abortions in all cases, including rape and incest; ban certain types of birth control and deny pregnant women access to life-saving care.  Hadassah Members, Associates and supporters are encouraged to speak out for women’s reproductive rights and join coalitions with like-minded organizations to mobilize their local communities. Click here to learn about the Hadassah unit in your area and get involved in local advocacy.     

Hadassah reaffirms its historic commitment to encourage informed, individual involvement in civic affairs, including voter education, registration and participation. In addition to sample letters to policy leaders, the Hadassah National Action Center can also provide members with information on elected officials and pressing legislative issues. 

Sign up today to make your voice heard! A myHadassah account will help you access the National Action Center, preferences management tools and specialized member-only content. Visit www.hadassah.org/actioncenter to log in or create a new account today.

For additional information about Hadassah Advocacy visit www.hadassah.org/advocacy or email programming@hadassah.org.  



Today, in a vote of 107-14 (with 52 abstentions), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization General Conference approved the Palestinian membership application. The United States, Israel, Canada and Germany were among those who opposed the measure. Notable votes in favor included Brazil, Russia, China, India, South Africa and France. The United Kingdom abstained.

“Israel rejects the decision of the General Assembly of UNESCO of the 31st October accepting Palestine as a member state of the organization,” announced the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a written statement. “This is a unilateral Palestinian maneuver which will bring no change on the ground but further removes the possibility for a peace agreement.

“This decision will not turn the Palestinian Authority into an actual state yet places unnecessary burdens on the route to renewing negotiations. Israel believes that the correct and only way to make progress in the diplomatic process with the Palestinians is through direct negotiations without preconditions. Consequently Israel welcomed the Quartet's declaration of the 23rd September and is ready to work on this basis. The Palestinian move at UNESCO, as with similar such steps with other UN bodies, is tantamount to a rejection of the international community’s efforts to advance the peace process.”

The U.S. State Department announced last week, “We’ve made the point that there are very clear redlines in U.S. legislation and that if those are crossed in UNESCO, that the legislation is triggered.” American and UNESCO officials tried unsuccessfully to prevent the vote, which will require a cut-off of American funds to the organization. Today, American Ambassador to UNESCO David T. Killion reiterated that the vote for Palestinian membership was premature and will undoubtedly “complicate [the United States’] ability to support UNESCO.”

UNESCO, which is involved in the protection of historical and cultural landmarks, has released decisions in the past that denied Israeli and Jewish connections to holy sites. Palestinian membership would further promote this agenda and would lead to additional conflict over religious sites throughout Jerusalem.

For additional information about the ramifications of the UNESCO vote visit the Hadassah Advocacy website.



Over the last several weeks, American's have seen a continuous onslaught of attacks against women's reproductive rights. State legislatures across the country are seeking to declare a fertilized egg a person, the House of Representatives passed legislation denying women life saving medical care, and Congress is once again threatening funding for family planning services.

Currently, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is accepting public comments regarding the establishment of new state-based insurance exchanges. Anti-choice advocates have bombarded HHS with comments opposing comprehensive reproductive healthcare access for women and families.

In order for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to pass Congress a deal was made to further restrict federal funding for abortion, which will impact insurance plans provided through the state-based exchanges. It is important that HHS implement regulations that, while complying with ACA, maintain women's access to comprehensive and affordable reproductive health coverage.

Hadassah members and leaders showed HHS their support for preventative women's healthcare this past August, and now it is time to speak out for access to comprehensive women's and reproductive health services.

Hadassah reaffirms its longstanding position that limiting access to important women's health and family planning services deprives women of their right to make health care decisions privately, in consultation with medical advice, and in accordance with their own religious, moral and ethical values.

A draft letter to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius follows below. The deadline for public comments is October, 31. Click here to show your support for women's health and women's rights today!


Dear Secretary Sebelius,

I strongly urge HHS to implement regulations that, while complying with ACA, maintain women's access to comprehensive and affordable reproductive healthcare.

Limiting access to important women's health and family planning services deprives women of their right to make health care decisions privately, in consultation with medical advice, and in accordance with their own religious, moral and ethical values.

Sincerely,

 

 



Next Monday, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is expected to approve the Palestinian’s application for membership. State Department lawyers have reviewed existing American legislation and see no way around the laws, which would necessitate an automatic cutoff of U.S. funding to UNESCO should the Palestinians gain membership. U.S. dues and contributions to UNESCO make up 22 percent of the organization's budget.

UNESCO, which is involved in the protection of historical and cultural landmarks, has released decisions in the past that denied Israeli and Jewish connections to holy sites. Palestinian membership would further promote this agenda and would lead to additional conflict over religious sites throughout Jerusalem.

On October 5, the Palestinian’s won a preliminary vote for UNESCO membership. The UNESCO Executive Board voted 40-4 (with 14 countries abstaining). The United States, Germany, Latvia and Romania opposed the resolution, while many of the countries voting in favor—including 12 of the 13 African nations on the committee—receive sizable foreign aid from the United States.

U.S. Ambassador to UNESCO David Killion stated, "Granting the Palestinians full membership now in a specialized agency such as UNESCO is premature. Given that the UN Security Council is reviewing the Palestinian application, we believe it is inappropriate for a UN specialized agency to also take up the same matter."

Palestinian’s bid for UNESCO membership—a continuation of their Unilateral Declaration of Independence—may only be the first in a series of membership applications to UN agencies, such as the World Health Organization, UNICEF, the International Criminal Court and the International Atomic Energy Agency. The existing U.S. legislation which would affect UNESCO funding would require the U.S. stop payments to—and possibly participation in—these other UN agencies as well.

The United States, Israel and other Quartet members continue to pressure the Palestinians to return to direct, bilateral negotiations without delay or preconditions, in place of recognition by the United Nations and its agencies.

Americans need to understand the full ramification of Palestinian membership to UNESCO. A list of suggested talking points from The Israel Project can be found below. These points can be used to contact elected officials, local media, or for bulletins and social media posts.

  • Palestinians will use UNESCO membership to deny Israeli and Jewish connections to holy sites.
  • U.S. withdrawal from UN agencies will hurt U.S. influence throughout the world.
  • This bid at UNESCO is just another attempt by the Palestinians to bypass peace negotiations with Israel, to orchestrate international pressure against Israel and to isolate and delegitimize the Jewish state.
  • Many nations are urging the Palestinians to pull back but President Mahmoud Abbas has so far refused.
  • Foreign aid from America should be linked to our national interests. Ongoing blank checks to countries and entities that continue to defy American security and other concerns cannot continue.


Today, Hadassah’s Members, Associates and supporters join the worldwide Jewish community in celebrating Gilad Shalit’s homecoming.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed Shalit home and reunited him with his family.

“Citizens of Israel, today we are all united in joy and in pain,” stated Netanyahu. “In recent days, we have all seen national unity such as we have not seen in a long time. Unity is the source of Israel's strength, now and in the future. Today, we all rejoice in Gilad Shalit's return home to our free country, the State of Israel. Tomorrow evening, we will celebrate Simchat Torah. This coming Sabbath, we will read in synagogues, as the weekly portion from the prophets, the words of the prophet Isaiah (42:7): 'To bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison-house.' Today, I can say, on behalf of all Israelis, in the spirit of the eternal values of the Jewish People: 'Your children shall return to their own border [Jeremiah 31:17].' Am Yisrael Chai! [The People of Israel live!].” Click here to read Prime Minister Netanyahu's complete statement.

Today, Hadassah National President Marcie Natan released the following: "I know that all Hadassah members, Associates, and the entire Jewish community share my elation at the news that Gilad Shalit is safely in Israel with his family after five long years in captivity. Our joyful holidays have been made even more wonderful by this news. May Gilad be strengthened by the continued support and love you have all given over the years. Even as we celebrate these happy days, let us all continue to pray for the release of Israel’s remaining captured soldiers."

Gilad Shalit has been on the minds, and in the hearts, of Hadassah members throughout his captivity. In July 2011, Marcie Natan cited Shalit in her first speech as Hadassah's new National President. In her installation message she spoke for Hadassah, and Zionists everywhere, in demanding Gilad Shalit's immediate release. In 2009, then Hadassah National President Nancy Falchuk met in Israel with Gilad's father Noam to express Hadassah's support and concern.

The Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) released a statement last week. “This is a magnificent moment for the people of Israel, those of us who have been working for Gilad’s release the past 5 years, and, above all, for the Shalit family,” said JCPA President Rabbi Steve Gutow. JCPA Chair Dr. Conrad Giles added, “We are immensely relieved that this painful chapter for Israel and the Shalit family appears finally to be ending. How appropriate that this announcement coincides with the beginning of the holiday of Sukkot, known in Hebrew as z’man simchateinu, ‘the season of our rejoicing.’”

This summer, the JCPA started the What Gilad Missed campaign to call attention to how long Gilad Shalit was cut off from the world. Thousands took part to spread the word, contribute, call for his release and share their thoughts with the Shalit family.

To learn more about Gilad Shalit and send him a welcome home message visit Meetgilad.com, presented by the American Zionist Movement.



(JTA) -- Israel and Hamas reportedly have arrived at a prisoner exchange agreement that would free Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

Haaretz and the Jerusalem Post quoted officials in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office as confirming a report that appeared earlier Tuesday in the Arab media.

The reports said that the Israeli Cabinet was meeting late Tuesday to approve the deal. Media reports did not provide specifics about the agreement.

Previous efforts to free Shalit, who was kidnapped by Hamas-associated gunmen in a 2006 cross-border raid, have been frustrated by Hamas demands that Israel release terrorists responsible for some of the deadliest attacks on Israel.

Germany and Egypt have been attempting to broker a deal.

Click here to view the article on the Jewish Telegraphic Agency website.



Since 1987—when Jonathan Pollard was convicted of spying for Israel and sentenced to life in prison—the Jewish community and political leaders from across the spectrum have urged administration officials to release Pollard. In January of 2011, Benjamin Netanyahu was the first Israeli Prime Minister to formally issue a statement urging the US to grant Pollard clemency.

In 1993, the Hadassah National Board approved a policy statement stating, “Now therefore, be it resolved, that on humanitarian grounds Hadassah calls on the President of the United States to commute Jonathan Pollard’s sentence to time already served.” Earlier this year, Hadassah joined the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations’ call for humanitarian compassion to allow Jonathan Pollard to attend the funeral of his father.

A few weeks ago, Vice President Joe Biden mentioned to a group of rabbis in Florida that “President Obama was considering clemency [for Pollard], but I told him, ‘Over my dead body are we going to let him out before his time.’” In response, several Jewish community leaders have spoken out against Biden’s position and have urged him to reconsider.

Biden, while at a Rosh Hashanah reception at his residence, spoke with Jewish community leaders and agreed to arrange a meeting in the near future for an “open and frank discussion” about the issue, according to Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice Chairman of the Conference of Presidents.

Jewish community members and allies are also advocating for Pollard’s release through the White House’s new We The People online petition system. The White House has agreed to consider all petitions that reach 25,000 signatures by November 8, 2011. Click here to register for We The People and sign the petition Free Jonathan Pollard.



Yesterday, the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Executive Board voted 40-4 (with 14 countries absenting), approving a draft resolution for Palestinian membership. For the Palestinians to gain actual membership, the final resolution would need to be approved by UNESCO’s 193-nation General Conference, which will be meeting next month.

The United States was one of the four countries opposing the resolution—along with Germany, Latvia and Romania—and hopes to block the vote at the General Conference. US Ambassador to UNESCO David Killion stated, "Granting the Palestinians full membership now in a specialized agency such as UNESCO is premature. Given that the UN Security Council is reviewing the Palestinian application, we believe it is inappropriate for a UN specialized agency to also take up the same matter."

If the Palestinians gain membership to UNESCO, the US may be bound by existing legislation to stop payments to the organization. The State Department confirmed that lawyers are researching the issue to determine how exactly Palestinian membership could affect US dues and contributions to UNESCO, which make up 22 percent of the organization's budget.

UNESCO, which is involved in the protection of historical and cultural landmarks, has released decisions in the past that denied Israeli and Jewish connections to holy sites. Palestinian membership might further promote this agenda and would likely add to additional conflict over religious sites throughout Jerusalem.

The United States, Israel and other Quartet members continue to pressure the Palestinians to return to direct, bilateral negotiations without delay or preconditions, in place of pursing their Unilateral Declaration of Independence.



Last week, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas submitted an application for full membership at the United Nations, followed by Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's addresses to the United Nations General Assembly. For additional information about these speeches visit the Hadassah Advocacy website. Videos and transcripts of the speeches can be found at the links below.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas: Video, Transcript

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: Video, Transcript

Today, the United Nations Security Council is holding a closed-door preliminary meeting to discuss the Palestinian's application for UN membership. There are several possible results of this meeting, however it is unlikely that any decision regarding Palestinian membership will be reached in the coming weeks. Click here for more details.

What Happens Next?

Security Council:

  • At some point the Security Council may vote on the Palestinian membership.
  • Nine (out of 15) of the Security Council's member countries must vote in favor of membership for the application to proceed.
  • Any member of the Security Council may veto or abstain.
  • A single veto would mean that the vote does not pass.
  • The United States has pledged that it will exercise its veto if necessary.

General Assembly:

  • A failure of the Security Council vote (or no vote at all) could prompt the Palestinians to pursue a vote in the General Assembly, which could give them an elevated status, though not full membership.
  • Opponents are concerned that, given elevated status, the Palestinians will abuse their access to the International Criminal Court by pursing erroneous cases against Israeli officials.

On Friday, the Quartet—comprised of the United States, United Nations, European Union, and Russia—released a statement outlining a proposed timetable for peace negotiations, including a "preparatory meeting" within a month and a commitment to "reach an agreement within a time frame agreed to by the parties but not longer than the end of 2012." The statement also urged both sides "to overcome the current obstacles and resume direct bilateral Israeli-Palestinian negotiations without delay or preconditions."

Initially, the Quartet had planned to announce an agreement on new "terms of reference," which would serve as an official framework for resumed talks. However, sources have revealed that the issue of whether and how the Palestinians would acknowledge Israel as a Jewish state could not be resolved.

Despite this obstacle, Israelis from across the political spectrum have stated support for the proposal and have agreed to restart talks. Abbas, however, has reiterated his demand for a settlement freeze—which was not mentioned in the statement—as a pre-condition for any negotiations.



Today, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas submitted an application for full membership at the United Nations. Abbas addressed the United Nations General Assembly, criticizing Jewish settlements and ignoring Israel’s legitimate security concerns. Hadassah joins the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and the Israel Action Network in their responses to President Abbas’ speech and his bid for unilateral Palestinian statehood.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also addressed the General Assembly, emphasizing the Israeli people’s desire for both safety and peace. Netanyahu also stated, "Israel is prepared to have a Palestinian state in the West Bank, but we're not prepared to have another Gaza there. The Palestinians must first make peace with Israel, and only then get their state."

“I extend my hand to the Palestinian people, with whom we seek a just and lasting peace,” Netanyahu said, adding that if there was such a peace, “Israel will not be the last state to welcome a Palestinian state into the United Nations. We will be the first."

Netanyahu offered to meet with Abbas in Israel or Ramallah, then suggested that since both leaders were in the same city, in the same building, they should restart direct negotiations without delay. “Let’s meet here today in the United Nations,” he concluded.   

Shortly after both speeches, White House officials announced that the Quartet—comprised of the United States, United Nations, European Union, and Russia—plans to announce an agreement on new terms for direct negotiations. Officials hope that this agreement will help restart peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians.

Please stay tuned for transcripts of both speeches and additional updates.



Over the last several months, Hadassah leaders and coalition partners have been preparing for this week's United Nations General Assembly meeting—monitoring the possible Palestinian Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) and communicating with key policy makers.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has maintained his commitment to UDI, flouting international pressure to renew direct, bilateral peace negotiations with Israel. Jewish community leaders and allies have emphasized that this declaration would be contrary to all prior Israeli-Palestinian agreements and counterproductive for future peace negotiations.

Yesterday, The Israel Action Network (IAN) and the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York unveiled their Petition Against a Unilaterally Declared Palestine, which Hadassah co-sponsored. The IAN delivered petition—which received over 100,000 signatures—to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and to the ambassadors of the member states.

After months of speculation, Palestinian officials have announced that Abbas plans to submit a letter to United Nations Security Council on Friday regarding Palestinian statehood, but will not seek a vote in either the Security Council or the U.N. General Assembly.

President Barak Obama addressed the General Assembly this morning, emphasizing the need for both a secure Israel and an independent Palestine.

"America's commitment to Israel's security is unshakeable, and our friendship with Israel is deep and enduring. And so we believe that any lasting peace must acknowledge the very real security concerns that Israel faces every single day. . . . The measure of our actions must always be whether they advance the right of Israeli and Palestinian children to live in peace and security, with dignity and opportunity. We will only succeed in that effort if we can encourage the parties to sit down together, to listen to each other, and to understand each other's hopes and fears. That is the project to which America is committed. And that is what the United Nations should be focused on in the weeks and months to come."

Click here for additional highlights from President Obama's speech.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked President Obama for standing with Israel and supporting peace.

On Friday, President Abbas and Prime Minister Netanyahu will also address the General Assembly. Click here to view live and pre-recorded United Nations webcasts and stay tuned for additional updates from the Hadassah Programming Department.



As Prepared for Delivery –

Mr. President, Mr. Secretary-General, fellow delegates, ladies and gentlemen: I would like to talk to you about a subject that is at the heart of the United Nations – the pursuit of peace in an imperfect world.

. . .

One year ago, I stood at this podium and called for an independent Palestine. I believed then – and I believe now – that the Palestinian people deserve a state of their own. But what I also said is that genuine peace can only be realized between Israelis and Palestinians themselves. One year later, despite extensive efforts by America and others, the parties have not bridged their differences. Faced with this stalemate, I put forward a new basis for negotiations in May. That basis is clear, and well known to all of us here. Israelis must know that any agreement provides assurances for their security. Palestinians deserve to know the territorial basis of their state.

I know that many are frustrated by the lack of progress. So am I. But the question isn't the goal we seek – the question is how to reach it. And I am convinced that there is no short cut to the end of a conflict that has endured for decades. Peace will not come through statements and resolutions at the UN – if it were that easy, it would have been accomplished by now. Ultimately, it is Israelis and Palestinians who must live side by side. Ultimately, it is Israelis and Palestinians – not us – who must reach agreement on the issues that divide them: on borders and security; on refugees and Jerusalem.

Peace depends upon compromise among peoples who must live together long after our speeches are over, and our votes have been counted. That is the lesson of Northern Ireland, where ancient antagonists bridged their differences. That is the lesson of Sudan, where a negotiated settlement led to an independent state. And that is the path to a Palestinian state.

We seek a future where Palestinians live in a sovereign state of their own, with no limit to what they can achieve. There is no question that the Palestinians have seen that vision delayed for too long. And it is precisely because we believe so strongly in the aspirations of the Palestinian people that America has invested so much time and effort in the building of a Palestinian state, and the negotiations that can achieve one.

America's commitment to Israel's security is unshakeable, and our friendship with Israel is deep and enduring. And so we believe that any lasting peace must acknowledge the very real security concerns that Israel faces every single day. Let's be honest: Israel is surrounded by neighbors that have waged repeated wars against it. Israel's citizens have been killed by rockets fired at their houses and suicide bombs on their buses. Israel's children come of age knowing that throughout the region, other children are taught to hate them. Israel, a small country of less than eight million people, looks out at a world where leaders of much larger nations threaten to wipe it off of the map. The Jewish people carry the burden of centuries of exile, persecution, and the fresh memory of knowing that six million people were killed simply because of who they were.

These facts cannot be denied. The Jewish people have forged a successful state in their historic homeland. Israel deserves recognition. It deserves normal relations with its neighbors. And friends of the Palestinians do them no favors by ignoring this truth, just as friends of Israel must recognize the need to pursue a two state solution with a secure Israel next to an independent Palestine.

That truth – that each side has legitimate aspirations – is what makes peace so hard. And the deadlock will only be broken when each side learns to stand in each other's shoes. That's what we should be encouraging. This body – founded, as it was, out of the ashes of war and genocide; dedicated, as it is, to the dignity of every person – must recognize the reality that is lived by both the Palestinians and the Israelis. The measure of our actions must always be whether they advance the right of Israeli and Palestinian children to live in peace and security, with dignity and opportunity. We will only succeed in that effort if we can encourage the parties to sit down together, to listen to each other, and to understand each other's hopes and fears. That is the project to which America is committed. And that is what the United Nations should be focused on in the weeks and months to come.

. . .

Read the full speech here >>



Hadassah joins fellow Jewish and other philanthropic groups in speaking out against plans to decrease charitable giving tax breaks, which encourage donations for countless programs and services in the United States and around the world.

The proposal to reduce charitable giving tax deductions, included in the jobs bill currently in Congress, could decrease donations by $3.9 billion, according to the Center for Philanthropy at Indiana University. The charitable sector accounts for nine percent of American wages, 10 percent of jobs, and contributes $1 trillion to the marketplace. Without the support of generous donors, countless charities could be forced to close their doors or cut essential services for the poor, elderly and unemployed.

Hadassah, through the continuous support of its Members, Associates and donors, has been a vibrant member of the philanthropic community for nearly 100 years. This proposal could mean cuts to Hadassah College and Young Judaea scholarships, fewer teachers at Hadassah's Youth Aliyah villages and less funding for groundbreaking research at the new Sarah Wetsman Davidson Tower.

Amidst the current political climate, Hadassah reaffirms its support for the Jewish Council for Public Affairs' Statement on Civility, which encourages its members and all elected officials to accept and promote a culture of civility and cooperation in order to handle the many challenges ahead. Legislation to help America's economy is necessary, but can not be funded at the expense of the neediest citizens!

Contact your elected officials and urge them to work across the aisle to protect charitable giving while also finding ways to help all struggling Americans.



During the last several months, Hadassah and its coalition partners have been advocating for the release of Alan Gross, a Jewish American from Maryland arrested during a humanitarian trip to Cuba. In February, Hadassah joined the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations in urging Cuban President Raúl Castro to release Gross. Since then, Gross has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for "actions against the integrity of the state" and has lost his only appeal opportunity.

The Jewish Council for Public Affairs has reached out to the greater Jewish community for support. Below is an alert from JCPA, including additional information about Alan Gross and a petition being organized by the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington.

Hadassah encourages its Members, Associates and supporters to sign the petition and to share it with friends and family.

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Help Free Alan Gross

We need your help to release Alan Gross.

Alan Gross, a resident of Potomac Maryland, was arrested in Cuba in December 2009 while on a humanitarian mission to help the small Jewish community there improve their internet access and to create an intranet for them. He has been incarcerated ever since, languishing in prison for over a year before being convicted by a Cuban court of "actions against the integrity of the State," and sentenced to 15 years in prison. He subsequently appealed his sentence to the Cuban Supreme Court and the court reaffirmed the sentence, exhausting all of Alan's legal remedies. His only avenue left is commutation of his sentence by Raul Castro, President of Cuba.

Alan and his supporters have fervently rejected all accusations that he did anything, or intended to do anything, to harm the Cuban government. Quite to the contrary, his work in Cuba was only to help to improve the Cuban Jewish community's ability to use the internet. The President of the United States, senior Administration officials, Members of Congress, national leaders, and newspaper editorials have all called for his immediate release.

The Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington has organized a petition urging Alan's immediate release on humanitarian grounds. Since his incarceration, Alan's eldest daughter has been diagnosed with breast cancer and undergone a double mastectomy, his 89-year old mother is suffering from inoperable cancer, and his wife Judy has undergone surgery for an undisclosed medical issue. Alan has lost approximately 100 pounds since his arrest and is suffering from several ailments.

Sign the Washington JCRC's petition for the release of Alan Gross.



In order to show solidarity with the people of Israel—particularly the residents of southern Israel who have been under the constant threat of attack—The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations has created a Solidarity with Israel Letter to be sent to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres.  Hadassah has joined as a co-sponsor of the letter and encourages its Members, Associates and supporters to sign and share the letter with friends and family.

Click here to sign the Solidarity with Israel Letter.

Visit the Hadassah Advocacy website (www.hadasssah.org/advocacy) for additional information about the recent attacks in southern Israel.



Since the deadly attacks near Eilat last Thursday, Gaza militants have fired over 100 rockets and mortar shells at Israel. A tentative cease-fire was reached with various factions in Gaza—including the Popular Resistance Committee, which took credit for the attacks last Thursday—however, the rockets and shells have not stopped.

Israel has maintained a restrained but persistent response, including air strikes of a smuggling tunnel, weapons manufacturing site and militant outposts. The IDF announced that the Iron Dome, an anti-rocket missile defense system unveiled in May, successfully incepted four rockets on Saturday, but was unable to stop a fifth which killed one and wounded several others in Be’er Sheva.

Tension also arose last week between Israel and Egypt following the deaths of five Egyptian security personnel killed in the crossfire between the IDF and Gaza militants on Thursday. Israeli officials have apologized but the Egyptian government said the apology was insufficient. However, an initial statement that Egypt would recall its ambassador from Israel was removed from the Egyptian government website. Analysts are closely watching the Israeli-Egyptian relationship, which many believe will play a critical role in ensuring the stability of the region.

Today, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met an American congressional delegation, lead by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, during a visit to Israel. Netanyahu thanked the delegation for their support of Israel and reminded them of the Iranian threat.

"Those who fire missiles at Israel are supported by Iran with weapons, money and training.” Netanyahu said. “They constitute a forwardIranian post on our borders. Just as Iran threatens us, so too it threatens the US."

Thank Congress for its support of Israel and urge your legislators not to ignore the dangerous situation developing in Gaza. Suggested talking points from our coalition partner The Israel Project follow below. These talking points can be used to contact your local legislators and media, or for bulletins, Facebook, Twitter and other social media.

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· Iran-back Hamas and its terrorist allies have launched a new and entirely unprovoked series of deadly attacks on Israeli citizens.

· The Israeli response has been restrained and carefully targeted at terrorists.

· In April, the terrorist organization signed a unity agreement with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who plans to seek recognition of a Palestinian state at the United Nations without negotiation with Israel.

· Ignoring the current developments in the Middle East is dangerous.

· Israel has the right to defend itself and the world should pressure Iran to restrain its Hamas allies before the situation gets even more out of hand.

· Countries with ties to Hamas should cut them off.

· The United Nations should reject Palestinian unilateral moves that threaten to destroy the peace process.



This morning, a series of terrorist attacks occurred near Eilat, killing at least seven and injuring as many as 40. The victims of the attacks have been taken to hospitals in Eilat and Be'er Sheva and the Hadassah Medical Organization has offered assistance if needed.

These attacks came just one day after Israeli UN Ambassador Ron Prosor demanded that the UN condemn the increasing number of attacks in southern Israel.

"Israel expects the Security Council, the Secretary-General, and the international community to condemn all of these attacks immediately and unequivocally," Prosor wrote. "It is only by chance that these most recent attacks did not cause civilian casualties. With rockets continuing to rain down on our major cities, Israel cannot and will not rely on good luck to defend its citizens."

Hadassah representatives joined coalition partners and the media for a briefing by Lieutenant Colonel Avital Leibovich, Israel Defense Forces Spokesperson to the International Press. Leibovich explained that the attacks started around 12:00 p.m. local time when a civilian bus, headed to Eilat from Be'er Sheva, was attacked by heavy gunfire. Around the same time at a nearby location, another bus and two civilian vehicles were also attacked with gunfire. IDF soldiers responding to the attacks were hit by an IED (improvised explosive devise) and a civilian tractor near the boarder fence with Gaza was hit by mortar shells.

IDF forces pursued the terrorists and killed seven. Leibovich confirmed that the terrorists originated from Gaza, but it is unclear what organization they are affiliated with. Early analysis indicates that the terrorists were able to cross from Gaza into Egypt in order to enter Israel across the border with Sinai. Leibovich emphasized that the IDF has taken control of the area and has deployed additional forces to investigate and monitor the situation.

Click here for additional information and continuing updates from the IDF.



Since the Stand Up for Women's Health Rally and Lobby Day in April, Hadassah representatives have been closely monitoring additional legislation and regulations that will affect access to women's health services, domestically and abroad. Show your support for women's health by taking action on these two critical issues!

MARCH for Military Women Act
Hadassah has joined with its coalition partners from the Religious Advocates Working Group to encourage support for the Military Access to Reproductive Care and Health (MARCH) for Military Women Act (S. 1214).

Unlike other federal bans on abortion coverage (i.e., Medicaid or the Federal Employee Health Benefit program), the military ban provides no exception for cases of rape and incest. This bill would repeal the ban on a woman using private funds to obtain an abortion on a military base and ensure that servicewomen and dependents receive federal coverage of abortion in cases of rape and incest through the military health insurance system.

Access to women's and reproductive health services is essential for all women. American servicewomen and their families deserve the same care which their civilian counterparts may legally obtain. At a time when servicewomen are risking their lives to protect others, the MARCH Act would represent a significant step forward in granting these brave women a basic level of reproductive freedom.

Urge your Senators to co-sponsor and support the MARCH Act!

Preventative Health Services for Women
Last month, the U.S. Institute on Medicine released an historic report, Clinical Preventive Services for Women: Closing the Gaps, which recommended that many women's preventative health services, including contraceptives, should be fully covered (without co-pays) by health insurance providers. Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Kathleen Sebelius has announced interim final regulations requiring insurance providers to fully cover women's preventative health services. These regulations do include a religious exception so certain employers could op-out of contraceptive coverage. HHS is soliciting public comments until the end of September about this decision.

Click here to show your support for preventative women's heath services today!



Hadassah continues its support of the Community Response to Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) by co-sponsoring the Israel Action Network's online Petition Against a Unilaterally Declared Palestine . The petition calls upon the 193 Members of the United Nations to vote against endorsing a unilaterally declared Palestinian state and to promote the resumption of bilateral negotiations.

"We are of the belief, as reaffirmed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in his May 24, 2011 speech to the United States Congress, that a central goal of direct negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians is the establishment of two states for two peoples - a Palestinian state alongside the Jewish state in secure and recognized borders. A unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state would serve only to undermine a lasting and negotiated peace agreement and deepen the conflict. . . . Rather than support unilateral action, we call upon the international community to encourage the resumption of bilateral negotiations immediately and without preconditions."

Hadassah urges its Members, Associates and supporters to raise their collective voice and join in this petition. Click here to sign today!

Hadassah members are also encouraged to circulate the petition to social and organizational networks via E-mail, Facebook and Twitter. When posting to Twitter, please use the hashtag #Sign4Peace.

For additional information about UDI and the Israel Action Network's Community Response Plan click here.



Hadassah Israel, Zionist, and International Affairs (IZAIA) and the Hadassah United Nations Team are working closely with coalition partners to monitor the possible Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) of a Palestinian state and to help coordinate a community response.

Below is Community Response to UDI-UN Recognition of Palestine State, a report from the Israel Action Network, a joint project of The Jewish Federations of North America and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs. The report includes strategic background information and analysis of UDI and an overview of the Jewish Community Action Plan in response.

Hadassah will continue to monitor the situation and update Members, Associates and supporters on any pertinent information and new advocacy initiatives. Hadassah International has also been briefed on the possibilities for international advocacy on this issue.

 

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COMMUNITY RESPONSE TO UDI-UN RECOGNITION OF PALESTINE STATE

I. Executive Summary

The Palestinian Authority leadership has indicated it will pursue a strategy that has become known as Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI). While the exact course of their actions is not known, it may include seeking full membership or some form of enhanced status in the U.N. The implications of UDI are significant. It rejects the long-standing consensus of the peace process for a negotiated settlement by instead using the UN as a vehicle to isolate and build diplomatic pressure on Israel. We encourage all constituents to engage in targeted advocacy with key swing governments, including visiting local consulates, writing to ambassadors in Washington and at the UN, and discreetly encouraging individuals with special business, cultural and other ties to use their relationships. The targeted countries and detailed action plan are described below.

II. Strategic Background

The leadership of the Palestinian Authority (PA) has indicated that it will pursue enhanced standing at the United Nations, including the possibility of requesting member state status, at the upcoming session of the United Nations General Assembly in late September. (This initiative broadly has become known as the unilateral declaration of independence – UDI.) Admission of a member state requires a recommendation from the Security Council and two-thirds vote of the General Assembly. There are other options available short of achieving full member state status, and there is no way to know at this point exactly what scenario will unfold as we move toward the convening of the General Assembly. Through this initiative the PA appears to be abandoning a path to a negotiated settlement, at least for the time being, and using the UN as a vehicle to isolate and build diplomatic pressure on Israel.

A considerable majority of U.N. member states would likely support admission of a Palestinian state in the General Assembly. Fortunately, the United States maintains a veto in the Security Council and the Obama Administration has stated its strong opposition to this initiative. As such a Palestinian state clearly will not be admitted to the UN in the foreseeable future. However, even if unsuccessful due to a U.S. veto, the Palestinian Authority may pursue other efforts to bolster its non-member status or to memorialize its stance on issues such as borders, refugees, Jerusalem, and other issues. In short, UDI comes with significant diplomatic and symbolic implications. The Washington Institute for Near East Policy has provided an excellent background on the implications of UDI written by Tal Becker. The following links provide additional useful information on the political and economic consequences of UDI, including comprehensive resources by both the AJC and ADL.

The fundamental argument against UDI is that the Israeli-Palestinian dispute can and should be resolved through direct negotiations based on the formula of two states for two peoples. Instead, taking unilateral steps to impose a solution through UDI and increasing pressure on Israel by using the UN, the PA will only set back prospects for advancing peace. This is the policy view held by all levels of the US government, including the administration and both houses of Congress.

The United States and Israel are engaged in an active diplomatic campaign to encourage as many states as possible to oppose UDI, especially the European Union (EU) nations and those that generally vote along with the EU. This will help make a strong case that the democracies of the world recognize the necessity of a negotiated settlement. It will also help deny the momentum that the Palestinians seek to build with this unilateral action.

The organized American Jewish community is working in tandem with this diplomatic campaign to influence the decisions of key foreign countries. It is imperative that we do all we can to maximize the number of countries opposing UDI. National organizations with global reach have been meeting with senior government leaders. While the situation is fluid and targeted countries and messages are evolving, local communities led by Federations and JCRCs can play a pivotal role in reinforcing these strategic efforts. We will continue to work directly with you and provide updates regarding both outreach and messages in your efforts to reach out to consulates, communicate with ambassadors in Washington, DC and at the United Nations, and discreetly mobilize individuals with special relationships to the targeted countries, as described below.

In addition, if UDI proceeds in September, as is our operating assumption, we anticipate that there will be considerable political and media attention devoted to it. This presents an opportunity for us to convey the message that Israel and the Israeli people do not oppose Palestinian statehood. On the contrary, Israelis seek a fair solution, one that will bring a negotiated peace based on two states that, at long last, will provide the security and normalcy sought for the last 63 years. It is important that communities be prepared to have voices from Israel, the Jewish community and prominent non-Jewish leaders filling the public square with this message. The IAN will provide materials, resources and the guidance necessary to achieve this objective, as described below.

Finally, no matter what happens in September, there will be a day after. The challenges ahead are unclear. After all, it was the great philosopher Yogi Berra who asserted that "prediction is very hard, especially about the future." The Nakba and Naksa protests, the flotilla, the Ben Gurion Airport fly-in, UDI – even divestment resolutions and attempts to remove Israeli products from grocery shelves – all fit within a broad strategy of mounting a non-violent and global confrontation with Israel with the purpose of isolating her from the family of nations, what we also refer to as delegitimization. (This also does not suggest that a strategy of violence against Israel has been abandoned.)

In essence, the delegitimizers seek to accomplish a paradigm shift. Until the 1980's, there was the Arab-Israel conflict. Then – especially with the first intifada in the late '80s followed by the Oslo Agreement in 1993 – we saw the conflict increasingly revolve around its Palestinian dimension, blurring the broader context. Now, the effort is directed toward projecting an image of a global consensus that opposes not just the policies of the Jewish state, but the state itself.

Adam Shapiro, a leader of the Free Gaza movement, asserted last November at Rutgers University, "Free Gaza is but one tactic of a larger strategy, to transform this conflict from one between Israel and the Palestinians, or Israel and the Arab world... to one between the rest of the world and Israel... our ground is the whole world. And that's where our resistance has to be. The whole world... we already have a third intifada.. It's going on right now. It's going on all over the world."

Whether this approach after UDI in September is expressed as a massive march of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank toward Israel's borders, a kind of third intifada, or some other form, we have no way of knowing. Nonetheless, the underlying objective of all of our work is to be ready to help shape the public discourse – whether in our communities, on the campuses, or in cyberspace.

III. Action Plan

The Israel Action Network is implementing a comprehensive strategy to respond to this challenge that will include pre, during, and post UDI activities as follows:

a) Pre-UDI (July, August, Early September)

  • In consultation with authoritative sources, a group of nations has been identified as key swing votes on a Palestinian statehood or related resolution. We will continue to provide updated information, but the current targets are: New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, Norway, Singapore, Nigeria, Cameroon, Canada, Philippines, and all 27 members of the European Union.
  • We encourage all constituents to engage in targeted advocacy with these governments, including visiting local consulates, writing to ambassadors in Washington and at the UN, and discreetly encouraging individuals with special business, cultural and other ties to use their relationships. To assist in this task we have prepared a list of relevant embassies, general consulates and missions, a UDI FAQs and Talking Points fact sheet, and a template letter. We also suggest that all efforts be coordinated with the local affiliates of JCPA national member agencies.
  • If possible, these activities, especially the consulate visits, should be conducted in tandem with delegations or communications from Jewish and non-Jewish influentials, including members of Congress, mayors, city council members, civic leaders and others.
  • Consistent with research showing the effectiveness of projecting the humanity of average Israelis, look for ways to personalize this issue, especially in September when attention will be focused on UDI. For example, introducing the voices of families from your Partnership 2000 communities who can emphasize their desire for peace and legitimate concerns over an imposed solution from the United Nations.
  • We encourage communities to help interpret this issue to editors and other key media representatives as well as place letters to the editor and op-eds in newspapers. In the coming months, IAN will provide model pieces to help these efforts.
  • In addition, Hillel and the Israel on Campus Coalition are each launching campaigns in September to respond to UDI. As part of our strong commitment to fostering Community-Campus partnerships, we are working with both organizations to engage relevant communities in these activities. These details will be forthcoming as soon as they are available.
  • If you have not already done so, please thank local congress members for voting for resolutions that rejected UDI.

b) During UDI and Immediate Aftermath (Late September)

  • Most significantly, we expect this period to include heightened media interest and attention. Communities are then encouraged to prepare for media inquires, and the IAN will be providing assistance with drafting statements, op-eds, briefings and other materials.
  • IAN will closely monitor the latest development and provide guidance, conference call briefings and other support, as necessary.

c) Post-UDI scenarios (October and after)

At this point it is very difficult to predict the implications or consequences of UDI. However, as Tal Becker's analysis indicates, they can be expected to fall within one of the following categories:

The American government is successful in having the parties return to the negotiating table and restart the peace process. Currently, this appears to have only a slim chance of occurring; Maintenance of the status quo which will result in anti-Israel initiatives continuing at the same pace, and UDI having little direct effect in increasing Israel's isolation; UDI becomes a springboard for the intensification of anti-Israel initiatives with growing non-violent confrontational tactics, such as mass marches in Gaza and the West Bank, and efforts to isolate Israel at the International Criminal Court and other international forums. In other words, the launching of a predominately "non-violent intifada;" A violent third intifada break outs with Iranian-backed terrorism and rockets from the West Bank, Gaza and possibly Lebanon. The IAN will work closely with the JFNA and JCPA to prepare and share strategies and materials in accordance with each eventuality.

Martin Raffel, IAN Project Director Geri D. Palast, IAN Managing Director David Dabscheck, IAN Deputy Managing Director



ACTION ALERT
July 11, 2011

The Middle East Quartet— the U.S., European Union, United Nations and Russia—are meeting today in a final effort to restart direct peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians. The Quartet affirmed in a statement on July 2 its support for direct negotiations before any declaration of Palestinian statehood. The Palestinian Authority has until July 15 to file papers with the United Nations if they plan to seek recognition by the U.N. General Assembly this fall.

On Thursday, July 11, the House of Representatives voted 407–6 (and 13 Present) in favor of House Resolution 268, reaffirming the United States' commitment to a negotiated settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. The Senate passed a similar resolution (S.RES.185) at the end of last month. These resolutions also emphasized Congress' opposition to a unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood.



June 20th, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a 5-4 decision in the Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., v. Betty Dukes case, denying Wal-Mart's 1.6 million female employees the opportunity to sue the retail giant collectively for gender-based employment discrimination. Hadassah co-signed an amicus brief in the case with the National Women's Law Center, American Civil Liberties Union and others in support the women's class action.

While the court agreed unanimously on a few aspects of the case, there was sharp disagreement over whether the female employees had enough in common to constitute a unified class. The majority's opinion is a major departure from current class action law, severely restricting employees' ability to fight discrimination and allowing corporations to hide behind their written fair employment practices, despite actions to the contrary.

Hadassah Members, Associates and supporters joined rallies across the country on June 21st to show solidarity with the women of Wal-Mart.

This decision shows, now more than ever, the need for legislation to protect all women from pay discrimination. This month marked nearly 50 years since the passage of the Equal Pay Act, and yet women still only make 77 cents for ever dollar a man earns. Hadassah, a longtime member of the National Committee on Pay Equity, strongly supports the adoption and strict enforcement of equal pay laws to reduce the wage gap and ensure better economic security for women.

Take this opportunity to tell Congress to eliminate the wage gap! Urge your legislators to co-sponsor and support the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would close loopholes in the Equal Pay Act and bar retaliation against employees who disclose their wages to coworkers.



Hadassah joins the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations in their call for humanitarian compassion to allow Jonathan Pollard to attend the funeral of his father, who passed away on Sunday.  

Richard Stone, Chairman, and Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice Chairman, of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations called on the Administration to act immediately.

"We had appealed earlier to the Bureau of Prisons to allow Jonathan Pollard compassionate leave to visit his father whom he has not seen in many years and who was then in dire condition. We regret this was not done but ask now that he be allowed to attend the funeral of his father. His mother passed away 10 years ago and he was not allowed to attend her funeral. We see this as a purely humanitarian issue and hope that swift action will be taken to allow his attendance," said Stone and Hoenlein.



New York, May 24, 2011 … In his second address to a joint session of Congress, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the sixth Israeli Prime Minister to receive this honor, emphasized Israel’s commitment to peace along with its need for enduring security. He expressed his gratitude to the United States for its support and friendship consistently demonstrated by Congress and the Administration. The Prime Minister made clear that while Israel is committed to making peace with the Palestinians, is willing to make “painful compromises” for peace and will be “very generous” about the size of a future Palestinian state, Israel cannot negotiate with Hamas, which is committed to Israel’s destruction and to terrorism and whose leadership is not willing to recognize a Jewish state.

The Prime Minister rightly pointed out the global danger that Iran represents and the imperative to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. He expressed appreciation to America’s leadership for its commitment to preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons. He urged America and the international community to make clear to Iran that “all options are on the table,” as the best way to prevent a confrontation.

The Prime Minister also expressed the hope that true democracy would spread in the Middle East, in the wake of events in Egypt, Tunisia and elsewhere, but cautioned that the path to true democracy is “not paved by elections alone.” He also cited the fact that more than 1 million Arab citizens live freely in Israel and enjoy real democratic rights.

“We fully endorse Prime Minister Netanyahu’s statement that ‘Israel has no better friend than America and America has no better friend than Israel.’ The bonds between our countries override partisan differences and involve deep commitments by people on both sides of the aisle. The Prime Minister reaffirmed Israel’s desire for peace and reiterated the steps he has taken for peace. In order for peace to last, however, Israel’s fundamental security needs must be addressed along with the acceptance of the basic principle that its borders must be defensible in any circumstances. We fully support the Prime Minister in his assertion that peace can only come about through direct negotiations and reject the Palestinian’s attempt to achieve a unilateral declaration of statehood at the UN. In addition, we agree that the solution to the refugee problem must clearly be outside of Israel’s borders,” said Conference of Presidents Chairman Alan Solow and Executive Vice Chairman Malcolm Hoenlein.

###

The Conference of Presidents is the central coordinating body representing 51 national Jewish organizations on issues of national and international concern.



Hadassah joins the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations in lauding Prime Minister Netanyahu’s commitment to peace and a strong U.S.-Israel relationship. The Conference of Presidents' statement can be read here.

While addressing Congress today, Prime Minister Netanyahu called on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to tear up the pact with Hamas and negotiate a peace deal with Israel.

“President Abbas must do what I have done. I stood before my people . . . and I said, ‘I will accept a Palestinian state.’ It is time for President Abbas to stand before his people and say, ‘I will accept a Jewish state’. Those six words will change history. They will make clear to the Palestinians that this conflict must come to an end—that they are not building a state to continue the conflict with Israel, but to end it."

Click here to watch Prime Minister Netanyahu's speech at the AIPAC Policy Conference on May 23, 2011.

Click here to watch Prime Minister Netanyahu's speech to Congress on May 24, 2011.

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On Thursday, May 19, President Barak Obama delivered a speech on American diplomacy in the Middle East and North Africa, which included some statements on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and peace process. President Obama emphasized his commitment to Israel’s security and a desire to bring both sides back to the negotiating table. However, he did receive criticism for stating that the basis for territory negotiations should be the pre-1967 borders with mutually agreed swaps.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a statement in response to President Obama’s speech shortly before he embarked on his trip to Washington. The Prime Minister expressed disappointment that President Obama did not reaffirm the U.S. commitments made to Israel in 2004, which stated that any border negotiations would have to recognize “the new realities on the ground,” meaning existing Israeli settlements.

On Friday, Prime Minister Netanyahu met with President Obama in the Oval Office, followed by a press briefing. Despite some disagreements, the two leaders concurred that Israel’s security is a vital component of any peace deal, that Hamas has no place in peace talks, and that both leaders are committed to a strong U.S.-Israel relationship.

On Sunday, President Obama addressed the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference, re-emphasizing his support for Israel and the peace process. President Obama also clarified some of his statements from Thursday:

By definition, [1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps] means that the parties themselves—Israelis and Palestinians—will negotiate a border that is different than the one that existed on June 4, 1967. That’s what mutually agreed-upon swaps means. It is a well-known formula to all who have worked on this issue for a generation. It allows the parties themselves to account for the changes that have taken place over the last 44 years. It allows the parties themselves to take account of those changes, including the new demographic realities on the ground, and the needs of both sides. The ultimate goal is two states for two people: Israel as a Jewish state and the homeland for the Jewish people and the State of Palestine as the homeland for the Palestinian people—each state in joined self-determination, mutual recognition, and peace.

President Obama received criticism from Palestinian leaders regarding his statements that Israel must be a Jewish state for the Jewish people. Hamas has also condemned President Obama's AIPAC speech, restating that it will not recognize that State of Israel.

Prime Minister Netanyahu will be speaking at the AIPAC conference this evening and will deliver an address to Congress tomorrow.

For additional information about the AIPAC conference, including a live feed for banquet speeches, archived videos and a daily newsletter, visit www.aipac.org/pc.



NEW YORK – An op-ed by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was published this week in the New York Times.  Nancy Falchuk, National President of Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, issued the following statement in response:

“I was disappointed and even appalled to read Mahmoud Abbas contend in the New York Times that it was the fault of the Jewish people that war and violence erupted after the United Nations determined a Jewish homeland would be established.  Such historical revisionism does nothing to advance the conversation of negotiation toward Middle East peace, but only contributes to confusion and perpetuates misplaced anger.

On behalf of Hadassah, a 99-year-old Jewish organization founded on Zionist principles and proud of Israel’s endeavors to come to consensus with the Palestinian people, I am afraid that President Abbas’ message only serves to send the peace process a step backward.  His misinterpretation of the past is misleading to those who would like to help achieve peace in the region, and his antagonism toward talks and face-to-face negotiations with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is a dangerous example of the little headway that can come from such a one-sided perspective.

The fate of Palestinians’ and Israelis’ future should not be restricted by the unilateral declarations of a zealot.  Hadassah is gratified by the ways our organization has in the past – and will continue in the future – to partner with the Palestinian people, specifically in providing health care and using medicine as a bridge to cooperation, and we will not let politics get in the way of forging relationships and making certain the legacy of the State of Israel is one of cooperation and collaboration, not of prejudice and possessiveness.”



In the days following Israel's Yom Ha'Atzma'ut celebrations, thousands of Israel's neighbors marked Yawm an-Naqba (meaning "Day of Catastrophe") by mourning Israel's creation with demonstrations and violence.

Confrontations occurred when groups stormed Israel's boarder from Lebanon, the West Bank, Gaza and Syria. The Jordanian government stopped protesters from trying to infiltrate the Israeli border. Some Israeli officials believe that Iran may have orchestrated the attacks from Syria and Lebanon. Other Middle Eastern analysts have said that the Syrian and Lebanese governments used Naqba Day to divert attention away from their internal conflicts.

"I regret that there are extremists among Israeli Arabs and in neighboring countries who have turned the day on which the State of Israel was established, the day on which the Israeli democracy was established, into a day of incitement, violence and rage," said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a publically released statement. "There is no place for this, for denying the existence of the State of Israel. No to extremism and no to violence. The opposite is true."

The IDF and police clashed with violent protesters in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem, including in Isawiyah, the Palestinian village next to Hadassah Mt. Scopus. Hadassah Director of External Affairs Ron Krumer announced that protesters from Isawiyah threw stones and Molotov Cocktails into the Hadassah Hospital's back yard, which started two fires. However, no one was hurt and the fires were put out by hospital security officers.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas received criticism from the Jewish community for commending the demonstrators, saying "their blood was not spilled in vain" and that "they died for the Palestinian people's rights and freedom." Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations released the following statement:

"By his statement, President Abbas is encouraging these dangerous and life-threatening actions. These are not the words of someone committed to a peaceful resolution through negotiations. He once again has demonstrated that he seeks to achieve Palestinian statehood through unilateral and unacceptable means. In a speech to thousands of Muslim worshippers on Sunday, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh called for 'an end to the Zionist project in Palestine' [Israel], underscoring that Hamas has not changed its stance and position calling for the destruction of the state of Israel. These statements underscore the need for clear declarations by the United States, European countries and others that they will not provide assistance to a Palestinian Authority that encourages or approves violence, refuses to negotiate and does not live up to its commitments in previous agreements.

"Such declarations cannot be allowed to go unanswered. These words lead to actions by their followers that will exacerbate tensions and continue to take a heavy toll. We cannot dismiss or ignore the ongoing incitement and anti-Israel statements."

These attacks come on the heals of the newly-announced agreement between Hamas and Fatah to create a unified Palestinian government, a key component of the possible unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood this fall.



Tomorrow, Wednesday, May 4, the House will vote on the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act (H.R. 3)—the most recent attack on women's reproductive rights from Congress and state legislatures across the country.

This legislation would not only cement the Hyde Amendment—the current ban on federal money funding abortion, which curtails medical options for low-income women receiving subsidized healthcare—but institute more restrictions that go far beyond today’s law.

Under H.R. 3, employers and patients whose insurance covers abortion would be denied normal tax deductions and credits for all medical coverage, regardless of whether abortion coverage was ever used. This denial amounts to a significant tax increase that would affect 87 percent of insurance plans nationwide. The bill also prevents state-based insurance exchanges from offering plans that cover abortion, significantly restricting comprehensive healthcare access for women and families.

Show your support for women’s health today! Call 1-888-907-9762 and tell your Representative to vote no on H.R. 3.



In a Washington Post op-ed, Judge Richard Goldstone, chair of the Goldstone Report on the 2008-2009 Gaza war, retracted the essential findings of that report. Judge Goldstone clarifies, "Unlike Hamas, Israel did not intentionally, as a matter of policy, target civilians in its 2008-2009 war to stop indiscriminate rocket attacks from Gaza." The JCPA, of which Hadassah is a member organization, welcomed Judge Goldstone's disavowal of the 2009 UN Human Rights Council-sponsored Commission Report bearing his name. Read the JCPA statement

The Goldstone report has done major damage to the image of Israel and while Judge Goldstone has rescinded his findings, it is imperative that the United Nations do the same. On April 8, Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and James Risch (R-ID) introduced S. Res 138 calling on the United Nations to rescind the Goldstone Report. The legislation calls on the "United Nations Human Rights Council members to reflect the author's repudiation of the Goldstone report's central findings, rescind the report, and reconsider further Council actions with respect to the report's findings." It also urges the UN Secretary-General to work with UN member states "to reform the United Nations Human Rights Council so that it no longer unfairly, disproportionately, and falsely criticizes Israel on a regular basis."

Urge your Senators to support S. Res 138.

DURBAN III UPDATE

Hadassah and our coalition partners, notably The Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) and the Conference of Major American Jewish Organizations, are closely monitoring plans for the Durban III conference, scheduled for this September in New York City. At this time it is still hoped that the one-day commemoration of the 2001 Durban Conference will be a low profile event. Leaders from the Jewish community are working to avoid the participation of Western countries in the conference and any country specific statements about Israel.

UNILATERAL DECLARATION OF PALESTINIAN INDEPENDENCE & UN RECOGNTION

Hadassah continues to work with its coalition partners to prevent a unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood and recognition by the United Nations General Assembly. Recognition by the UN would give the Palestinians unwarranted legitimacy—allowing them to avoid direct, bilateral negations or any lasting resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The United States has expressed its opposition to a unilateral declaration of independence (UDI). U.S. and Israeli Government efforts are underway, with the support of the organized Jewish community, to encourage members of the Security Council not to support UDI.

Israel is very concerned about this possibility and it has been reported that Prime Minister Netanyahu is weighing a withdrawal of Israel Defense Forces troops from the West Bank prior to September to preempt the "diplomatic tsunami" that would occur if a declaration of statehood is approved.

Hadassah will continue to track these situations and will send updates as new information becomes available.



“If you would wear lower cut shirts, you would probably get more pay.”
— Quote from a male Wal-Mart Manager, mentioned in the Dukes v. Wal-Mart case

Following the Dukes v. Wal-Mart Supreme Court case, it is important to stand up against pay inequities and gender discrimination, now more than ever. Hadassah and its coalition partners will join together tomorrow to observe Equal Pay Day and raise awareness about the nation’s wage gap.

For every dollar a man makes, women with comparable education and experience make only 77 cents. Equal Pay Day is observed in April to show how far into 2011 women must work to earn what men earned in 2010. Equal Pay Day is also scheduled on a Tuesday because that’s how long it takes women’s earnings to catch up to that of men from the previous week!

When it comes to pay, women are in the red! Show your support and raise awareness for pay equity by wearing red on Equal Pay Day, April 12, 2011.

In honor of Equal Pay Day, legislators in the House and Senate will reintroduce the Paycheck Fairness Act, which was narrowly defeated on a procedural vote in the Senate last fall. Hadassah strongly supports the adoption and strict enforcement of pay equity laws to reduce the wage gap and ensure better economic security for women. Contact your legislators tomorrow and encourage them to support and co-sponsor the Paycheck Fairness Act.

For helpful resources and information on Equal Pay Day, visit the National Committee on Pay Equity’s website, http://www.pay-equity.org. Click on their “Equal Pay Day Kit” for additional background information, sample letters and talking points, and other ideas to engage your community.



UPDATED: 4/7/2011

Today, thousands of women and men from across the country are meeting with legislators and rallying on the National Mall for Stand Up for Women’s Health Lobby Day. Amidst an increasingly tense political climate, they will speak out with one voice—urging Congress to support women’s health and women’s reproductive rights.

Take the opportunity to add your voice to theirs. Show your support for women’s health and reproductive services by attending local events, signing petitions and contacting your legislators or local media. A suggested letter follows below, which can also be used as talking points for bulletins, letters to the editor or social media posts.


Dear Legislator,

I am contacting you today in honor of Stand Up for Women’s Health Lobby Day. I urge you not to support the series of anti-choice legislation currently in Congress, including the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act (HR 3), the Protect Life Act (HR 358) and the Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act (HR 217). These acts would limit access to important women’s health and family planning services and deprive women of their right to make health care decisions privately, in consultation with medical advice, and in accordance with their own religious, moral and ethical values.

Sincerely,

YOUR NAME


Hadassah opposes any attempts to restrict, through state administrative regulations, legislation, or court action, the right to reproductive choice and/or use of family planning programs delivering any and all services. Hadassah urges chapters to join in coalitions with freedom of choice advocacy groups, participating as full members in pro-choice activities.
 – Hadassah Reproductive Choice Policy Statement, July 1992

Over the last couple of weeks, the onslaught of anti-choice and anti-family planning legislation has continued to move through Congress. Hadassah has joined forces with its coalition partners to stand up for women’s health and women’s reproductive rights.

On April 7, 2011, thousands of women and men will gather in Washington for the Stand Up for Women’s Health Lobby Day. The day will be packed with briefings, interfaith lobby training, a rally on the National Mall, opportunities to meet with legislators and more.

Hadassah is working closely with the National Council for Jewish Women (NCJW) and strongly supports their new campaign Voices for Reproductive Choices. Sign up to secure your spot in the NCJW Voices for Reproductive Choices delegation. Registrants will receive important event updates as April 7 approaches, so RSVP today! Buses will be available to transport some attendees to D.C. from key cities around the country. For local delegation information and arrangements, contact the NCJW group or office in your area. Contact programming@hadassah.org with any questions.

Can’t make the trip to D.C.? Show your support for women’s health and reproductive services by attending local events, signing petitions, and contacting your legislators via phone, fax, email or social media!



Hadassah joins the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations in expressing its outrage at the terror attacks which occurred in Israel today. Several victims from today’s attack in Jerusalem were taken to Hadassah Ein Kerem and Hadassah Mount Scopus hospitals. The thoughts and prayers of the entire Hadassah family are with them, their loved ones and with our amazing medical team. A statement from the Conference of Presidents follows below.


CONFERENCE OF PRESIDENTS EXPRESSES OUTRAGE AT TERROR ATTACKS IN JERUSALEM, MISSILES IN BE’ER SHEVA

CALLS UPON INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY TO HOLD PERPETRATORS AND THEIR SUPPORTERS ACCOUNTABLE

Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations Chairman Alan Solow and Executive Vice Chairman Malcolm Hoenlein expressed outrage at the attacks today in Jerusalem and Be’er Sheva, which have caused a death and numerous injuries.

“The bombing at a bus stop in the heart of Jerusalem and the launching of missiles into a population center in the city of Be’er Sheva once again underscores the need for Israel to take the necessary steps to protect its citizens against continuing terrorism. These are unprovoked attacks aimed at civilians going about their daily lives. We await the condemnation of the international community and public expressions of support for the people of Israel.

“We call for a clear condemnation by the United Nations, which is so quick to condemn Israel for taking the measures necessary to protect its citizens, and for it to hold the leadership both in Gaza and the West Bank accountable for the incitement to violence that continues unabated. Those who remain silent abet the perpetrators by seeming to excuse the murderers and barbaric attacks and by shifting the onus to Israel.

“There must be a price for such terror; there must be consequences for such actions. There is no shared responsibility here. This is pure unadulterated murderous terrorism and those who tolerate it, those who abet it, those who provide financing and weapons, must all be held to account by the international community. We especially look to the 14 members of the UN Security Council who so readily supported an unjustified condemnation of Israel several weeks ago to be heard now,” said Solow and Hoenlein.

“We express our condolences to the family of the victim and pray for a speedy recovery of all those injured, as well as for the safety and security of the people of Jerusalem, Be’er Sheva and all of Israel. We pray for a renewed determination of the international community to fight terrorism in all its manifestations,” the leaders said.

# # #

The Conference of Presidents is the central coordinating body representing 51 national Jewish organizations, including Hadassah, on issues of national and international concern.



Our History is Our Strength is the 2011 theme of the National Women's History Project. Today, in honor of the 100th International Women's Day, Women's History Month and a legacy of great female leaders, Hadassah advocates for the rights of women.

Reproductive Rights

Last week, the No Tax Payer Funding for Abortion Act (H.R. 3) passed the House Judiciary Committee—the most recent attack on women's reproductive rights from Congress and state legislatures across the country. Hadassah units from Florida to California have started advocating against these bills and amendments in their local communities and Hadassah urges all its Members, Associates and supporters to make their voices heard. Hadassah is a strong advocate for a woman's freedom of choice and opposes any attempts to restrict, through state administrative regulations, legislation, or court action, the right to reproductive choice and/or use of family planning programs delivering any and all services.

Contact your legislators and voice opposition to H.R. 3, The Protect Life Act (H.R. 358), proposals to cut funding for family planning services—domestically and abroad—and any anti-choice legislation proposed in your state.

Pay Equity

According to the recently released White House report Women in America: Indicators of Social and Economic
Well-Being
, the gender pay gap persists at all levels of educational attainment. Hadassah recently co-signed an amicus brief with the National Women's Law Center, American Civil Liberties Union and others, submitted for the Supreme Court case Dukes v. Wal-Mart, Inc. At issue is whether female employees of Wal-Mart can collectively sue the company for systematic gender discrimination in pay and promotion policies. Hadassah stands with the women of Wal-Mart and continues to advocate for pay equity.

More information about Equal Pay Day, April 12, and the reintroduction of the Paycheck Fairness Act will be forthcoming.

For additional information about these issues and Hadassah Advocacy please contact programming@hadassah.org.



The Genetics Policy Institute (GPI) announced that since its launch in mid-November, the grassroots Stem Cell Action Coalition, has attracted 62 affiliated nonprofit organizations, more than doubling in size. 

An initiative organized by GPI, the Coalition aims to foster public awareness about the promise of embryonic stem cell research and its translation into regenerative medicine, promote robust funding of basic research and translational medicine within ethically responsible and scientifically sound guidelines, and vigorously defend this research from unwarranted restrictions.  In addition to covering the critical legal issues at the U.S. federal level, the Coalition places a special focus on challenges at the state level, and serves as a facilitator to coordinate advocacy among all stakeholders.

“We are absolutely delighted at the rapid growth of this campaign,” said Bernard Siegel, founder and chair of the Coalition. “The Coalition illustrates the broad public support for the advancement of embryonic stem cell research and regenerative medicine. This pro-cures community represents a diverse cross section of society, including patient advocacy organizations, medical philanthropies, research institutions, scientific and medical societies, state stem cell coalitions, and international networks.”

 The Coalition web site offers information on recent embryonic stem cell advances, and presents the latest news impacting the field. Visitors to the site are invited to join the Coalition and to subscribe for the free biweekly Stem Cell Action newsletter.  The site also provides a tool for sending messages to elected representatives. 


The Coalition maintains a growing social network on Twitter @stemcellaction and on Facebook www.facebook.com/stemcellaction.

Cell lines derived from embryonic stem cells serve as a means to understand developmental biology, a field second to none in importance for dissecting the root causes of disease.   As such, these cell lines provide tools for drug
discovery and development of cell therapies for curing a host of disabling and often deadly medical conditions.

Learn more by visiting www.stemcellaction.org or call toll-free 888-238-1423.

About the Genetics Policy Institute (GPI): GPI supports stem cell research to develop therapeutics and cures. It pursues its mission through producing the annual World Stem Cell Summit, publishing the World Stem Cell Report, honoring leadership through its annual Stem Cell Action Awards, organizing educational and public awareness initiatives, and fostering strategic collaborations. GPI has filed a “friend of court” brief in  Sherley v. Sebelius supporting continued federal funding of embryonic stem cell research.



Hadassah representatives have been closely following the unrest in Egypt and throughout the Middle East, participating in conference calls and engaging with partner organizations. The Advocacy Department will continue to monitor the transition of power in Egypt and its potential impact on the region, Israel and the United States. For additional background information on the current situation please read below.  
  
 

In response to a week of demonstrations by thousands of Egyptian citizens, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak announced yesterday that he will not seek re-election this fall.   President Barak Obama and Rep. Ileana 
Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, both urged Mubarak to start transitioning to a new government immediately, though neither outwardly requested his resignation. Israel has been watching the developments intently, increasing its military presence on the southern border but limiting public statements so as not to attract negative attention.

The discontent of the Egyptian citizens—over a sharp rise in food prices, unemployment, political oppression and government corruption—is also pervasive throughout the region. Tunisia’s president fled his country last month after similar protests and demonstrations recently broke out in Algeria, Jordan, Syria and Yemen. Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh announced that he will not run for re-election in 2013 and Jordanian King Abdullah initiated administration changes due to ongoing pressure.

On Saturday, President Mubarak tried to respond to the protesters’ concerns—he named a vice president, dissolved the government, proposed government reforms and agreed to dialogue with political rivals—but tensions continued to mount. Today, clashes started in Tahrir Square between demonstrators and Mubarak supporters. In total, at least 300 demonstrators have been killed, more than 3000 injured and hundreds arrested. Looting and vandalism have occurred throughout the country, including at the National Museum. While Egypt’s Jewish community is virtually non-existent, police and military officers are guarding some of Egypt’s synagogues for their historical and archaeological significance. The United States and Israel have both begun evacuating their citizens and the families of diplomats who wish to leave. 

Following the recent collapse of Lebanon’s coalition government and the appointment of a new Hezbollah-backed prime minister, many are concerned about the potential involvement of the Muslim Brotherhood (Hamas’s parent organization) in Egypt’s new regime. The Egyptian military has always played a central role in the government, but it is becoming more likely that a civil leader could rise for the first time.    No local opposition leader has emerged, though Egyptian expatriate Mohamed ElBaradei—former Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)—continues to gain attention. Some see ElBaradei, a Nobel Peace Prize Winner, as a prime successor given his long career as a diplomat and western education. However, many others are alarmed by his connections to the Muslim Brotherhood and complicity to the growing Iranian nuclear program while at the IAEA.  


Over the last several weeks, Hadassah representatives have participated in a series of conference calls on the United Nations Durban III Conference, scheduled for September 2011 in New York City. The previous two conferences in 2001 and 2009—purported to be Conferences on Racism—devolved into forums for anti-Semitism and Israel bashing. Another concern is that additional South American countries may use the UN General Assembly meetings, also taking place in New York at that time, as a platform to unilaterally recognize Palestinian statehood. Hadassah has joined a task force, under the auspices of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, which will monitor these issues and coordinate a collective response for the Jewish community.

Please see below for additional background information on theses topics.


Durban I – September 2001

In 2001, the United Nations convened the "World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Forms of Intolerance" in Durban, South Africa—dubbed Durban I. Contrary to the lofty mission enumerated in the conference title, the event marked a week of anti-Israel, anti-Zionist and anti-Jewish rhetoric. Israel and the United States walked out over texts branding Israel as racist and an apartheid state. The final documents of the government, non-governmental organization (NGO) and student forums declared that Israel was guilty of war crimes and reintroduced the charge of "Zionism equals racism".

Durban II – April 2009

The mission of Durban II, convened in Geneva, Switzerland in April 2009, was to review the implementation of the Durban Declaration from the prior conference. Many countries—including Israel, Canada and the United States—boycotted because of fear of continued hostility towards Israel. The keynote speaker, President of Iran Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, condemned Israel as totally racist and accused the West of using the Holocaust as a reason for aggression against Palestinians. Most European countries walked out during the speech.

Durban III – September 2011

On December 24, 2010 the UN General Assembly voted 104 to 22, with 33 abstaining, to convene Durban III. The United States was among the no votes. The conference is billed as a commemoration of the tenth anniversary of Durban I. Many are concerned about the timing because the conference will coincide with the tenth anniversary of 9/11 and the yearly UN General Assembly meeting. Canada and Israel have already declared that they will not participate, however Israel is remaining low key about this decision so as not to draw additional and unwanted attention to the conference.

The concern with the South American countries is that they may use the General Assembly meeting, following Durban III and the anti-Israel atmosphere, as an opportune time to introduce a resolution unilaterally declaring Palestinian statehood. Five South American countries have already recognized Palestinian statehood (referring to territory pre-1967 borders) in recent weeks. This declaration—part of a campaign to put the United States on the spot and further isolate Israel—would be contrary to all prior agreements and counterproductive for future peace negotiations. The United States has already pledged to veto the resolution if it does come up for a vote.



On January 5, 2011, 18 Hadassah Members and Associates welcomed the 112th Congress to Washington. Of the 112th Congress, 107 were new members, the largest freshman class in more than sixty years. Throughout the day the group introduced themselves—and Hadassah—to the new representatives, senators and Capitol Hill staff.

“It was a thrilling experience being part of the excitement of the swearing in process and sharing it with our Hadassah friends,” said Tema Sternberg, President of the Greater Washington Area Chapter of Hadassah. “I had the sense that Hadassah's presence was truly noted and felt.”

Earlier that morning the group had a meet-and-greet with Maryland Sen. Benjamin Cardin, a fourth generation Hadassah supporter, and spoke with him about health care and his other legislative priorities for the 112th Congress.

Following the new member swearing in, Maryland Sen. Barbara Mikulski was honored on the floor for being the longest serving female senator in history. “I was so pleased to be part of history and feel the thrill of Barbara Mikulski's honor,” said Florence Rosenblum, Organization Vice President for the Greater Washington Area Chapter.

Mikulski has served as a senator from the state of Maryland for 24 years. She is a Hadassah Life Member and has worked with the organization on several occasions to pass legislation for gun control, women’s rights and aid to Israel. The Hadassah National Board honored Mikulski at a reception in 1996 as a representative of all the female senators in the 104th Congress.

Hadassah Advocacy was established in 1948 to advocate for the newly formed State of Israel to America’s elected officials. Hadassah leaders believed that as American citizens and Zionists, members should work to strengthen both the United States and Israel, which in so doing would strengthen the ties between the two nations and their people. With over 300,000 members and supporters found in every congressional district across the country, Hadassah continues to advocate for fair and equitable foreign and domestic public policies and promotes active participation in the political process.

Hadassah encourages all its supporters to congratulate their elected officials, new and old, and inform them about Hadassah. Programs such as Influentials at Home and Influentials to Israel allow Hadassah members and leaders to interact with their representatives and help them experience all that Israel and Hadassah have to offer.



Hadassah affirms its policy statement against the trafficking of women and strongly supports the passage of the Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Deterrence and Victims Support Act (S. 2925/ H.R. 5575). The bill was passed by unanimous consent in the Senate and referred to the House earlier this week. Urge the House to pass this legislation before the end of the session, only days away!

Sex trafficking and its related crimes not only harm the people involved, they undermine the social, political and economic fabric of the nations where they occur by demeaning women and increasing violence and crime. While the sex trade is most prominent in impoverished areas, more than 100,000 underage girls are exploited for sex in the United States every year.

All too often, minors forced into the sex trade are treated as criminals—prosecuted and penalized instead of helped to escape the cycle of exploitation. Central to this legislation is the identification of sex slaves as victims and the establishment of pilot programs to provide counseling, education, and basic support for these young women and men. The legislation would also mandate participation at all levels of law enforcement and educate officers and prosecutors in how to identify, investigate and prosecute traffickers.

Urge your Representatives to support the Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Deterrence and Victims Support Act. A suggested letter follows below. The letter can be used to contact your Congressperson, or as talking points for bulletins, Facebook, Twitter or other social media.


Dear Representative,

I write to you regarding the Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Deterrence and Victims Support Act (S. 2925/ H.R. 5575). More than 100,000 underage girls are exploited for sex in the United States every year. All too often, minors forced into the sex trade are treated as criminals—prosecuted and penalized instead of helped to escape the cycle of exploitation. This legislation would identify sex slaves as victims and establish pilot programs to provide counseling, education, and basic support for these young women and men. The legislation would also mandate participation at all levels of law enforcement and educate officers and prosecutors in how to identify, investigate and prosecute traffickers.

I urge you to support the Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Deterrence and Victims Support Act.

Sincerely,
YOUR NAME


Hadassah Deeply Concerned by Act of Violence against Jewish Student at Temple University

Urge Congress to Affirm Support for Israel

Hadassah Disappointed by Supreme Court Hobby Lobby Decision

Hadassah Responds to Presbyterian Church Divestment Decision

Advocate for Return of Kidnapped Israeli Teens

Hadassah Congratulates Israeli President-Elect Reuven Rivlin

Hadassah Deeply Concerned about Palestinian Unity Government

House Passes Major Sex Trafficking Legislation

Hadassah Expresses Disappointment over Continued Calls for Israel Boycotts

Hadassah Expresses Outrage about Nigerian Kidnappings and Urges Action

Hadassah’s Response to Kerry’s Use of Apartheid Term

Slavery: A Modern-Day Reality

Support Fair Pay for Women & Families

The Peace Process: Updates & Uncertainty

Advocate for Israel's Security

Stand Up For Israel

Take Action for Human Trafficking Prevention Month

Reproductive Rights after Roe v. Wade

Urge Congress to Prevent a Nuclear Iran

Support Israel & Academic Freedom

American Studies Association Decision to Adopt an Israel Boycott Resolution a Violation of Academic Freedom

Advocate for Gun Control in Memory of Sandy Hook

International Human Rights Day 2013

Buy Israeli Goods for Hanukkah

Interim Agreement on Iranian Nuclear Program

Urge Senate to Support Fair Minimum Wage Act

Hadassah Pledges Relief and Aid to Victims of Typhoon Haiyan

Senate Passes LGBT Employment Non-Discrimination Act

Women's Rights Update

Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America Mourns Passing of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef

Hadassah Welcomes Women of the Wall Announcement Regarding Prayer at Kotel

2013 United Nations General Assembly Speeches

Women's Equality Day 2013

Hadassah Celebrates 20 Years of Family and Medical Leave Act, Advocates for Expanding Paid Leave Opportunities

Hadassah Approves New Policy Statements

Hadassah Reaffirms Support for LGBT Equality

Hadassah Reaffirms its Resolution on a Woman's Right to Choose

Hadassah Welcomes New Rabbinical Judges Law

50 Years of the Equal Pay Act

Support Moving U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem

Hadassah Welcomes Continued Progress Toward Expanding Egalitarian Prayer at Western Wall

Hadassah Congratulates Sharansky, Netanyahu for Progress Toward Expanding Egalitarian Prayer at Western Wall

Equal Pay Day 2013

Advocate for Comprehensive Gun Control Legislation

Support Contraceptive Coverage Mandate

Gay Rights at the Supreme Court

Support Gun Violence Prevention

Hadassah Condemns Turkish Prime Minister’s Comments on Zionism

Hadassah Applauds House Reauthorization of Inclusive, Bipartisan Violence Against Women Act

Tomorrow House Votes on VAWA

Buy Israel Week 2013

Women's Rights Update

2013 Israeli Elections Results

Support Pay Equity!

Hadassah National Board Votes on Policy Issues

40th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade

Hadassah Applauds Netanyahu’s Plan to Evaluate Prayer at Kotel

Hadassah Reaffirms Support for Assault Weapons Ban

A Capitol Event: Hadassah Takes the 113th Congress by Storm

Protect Charitable Giving Incentives

Palestinians Granted Statehood Status

Middle East Update: Palestinians at the UN

Ceasefire Reached

Show Support for Israel: Operation Pillar of Defense

Middle East Update: Today, Israel launched Operation Pillar of Defense

Get Out and Vote! - Election Day 2012

Women's Rights Update

2012 United Nations General Assembly

National Voter Registration Day

Attacks on U.S. Diplomats

Women's Equality Day 2012

Munich Moment of Silence at Maccabi Games

Jonathan Pollard Update

Diplomacy & Security: Israel and its Neighbors

Hadassah Welcomes Court's Decision to Uphold Affordable Care Act

Continue Support for Contraception Access

Hadassah Urges Peace Over Divestment

The Fight for Pay Equity Goes On

Senate Votes on Pay Equity Tomorrow

UNESCO holds "Question of Palestine" Meeting

U.S., Israel and Iran: A Legislative Update

Support an Inclusive VAWA, Oppose H.R. 4970

Support Women's Employment Rights

Petition to Honor the Munich 11

60 Minutes Report: Christians of the Holy Land

Happy Birthday Israel & Hadassah

Reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act

April 17th is Equal Pay Day!

International Criminal Court Rejects Gaza War Investigation

Israel & the UN Human Rights Council

Israeli Security Update

Iran Center Stage at AIPAC, White House

Middle East Updates: Impact on Israel & Regional Balance of Power

Update: Protect Women's Preventive Health Access

UN Security Council Condemns Attacks on Israeli Diplomats

Hadassah Joins Jewish Energy Covenant Campaign

Reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act

39 Years after Roe v. Wade

White House Supports Women’s Preventive Health Coverage

Protecting Women's Rights in Israel

Hadassah Thanks Ambassador Killion

International Human Rights Day

Iran Sanctions Update

Buy Israel Week

Speak Out Again for Preventive Health Services

Increase Sanctions on Iran

Hadassah Joins HERvotes Coalition

UNESCO Approves Palestinian Membership

Urge HHS to Protect Women's Healthcare Access

Update: Palestinian UNESCO Membership

Welcome Home Gilad Shalit

Reports: Deal Reached for Shalit Release

Jonathan Pollard Petition

Palestinians Win Preliminary Vote for UNESCO Membership

UDI Recap & Update

Update: Today at the UN Palestinians Submit Application for UN Membership, Netanyahu Extends Hand in Peace

Unilateral Declaration of Independence Update

Remarks of President Barack Obama – As Prepared for Delivery Address to the United Nations General Assembly

Protect Charitable Giving Incentives

Petition: Release Alan Gross from Cuba

Solidarity with Israel Letter

Update: Attacks on Southern Israel

Hadassah Condemns Attacks in Israel

Hadassah Continues Women’s Health Advocacy

Petition Against a Unilaterally Declared Palestine

Israel Action Network:
Community Response to UDI-UN Recognition of Palestinian State


Final Attempt to Renew Mid-East Peace Talks

Supreme Court Decision Underscores Need for Paycheck Fairness Act

Hadassah Calls for Compassion for Pollard

Conference of Presidents Lauds Prime Minister Netanyahu's Commitment to Peace and U.S.-Israel Relationship

Netanyahu Addresses AIPAC, Congress

Update: U.S. - Israel Relations

Hadassah Responds To Abbas Op-Ed In New York Times

Demonstrations and Violence at Israel's Borders

Urge Congress to Oppose H.R. 3

Urge Your Senator to Support Rescinding the Goldstone Report

Wear Red for Equal Pay Day Tomorrow!

Stand Up for Women's Health Lobby Day

Hadassah Condemns Terror Attacks in Israel

Women's History & Women's Rights

Stem Cell Action Coalition Doubles in Size to 62 Affiliated Organizations

Unrest In Egypt

Update: Durban III Conference, September 2011

Hadassah Welcomes the 112th Congress

Combat Sex Trafficking in the United States

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