Press Release

2/2/2012: JACPAC disapproves of Komen Action Against Planned Parenthood

JACPAC disapproves Komen Action Against Planned Parenthood

Highland Park, IL Feb 2, 2012 – Joint Action Committee for Political Affairs (JACPAC) has issued an action alert to its members nationwide to contact Susan G. Komen for the Cure to protest that organization’s recent action against Planned Parenthood.  Komen ceased its funding of mammograms and other screening tests that Planned Parenthood provides for mostly young, low-income or uninsured women. JACPAC’s action alert is an expression of  extreme disappointment over Komen’s decision, which targets the most vulnerable women whose sole health care provider is Planned Parenthood.

Over the last five years, Planned Parenthood has provided about 4 million breast exams and referrals for 70,000 mammograms nationwide. Funding from Komen covers about 170,000 of the breast exams and 6,400 mammogram referrals, according to Cecile Richards, Executive Director of Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA). PPFA is the largest provider of reproductive health services in the country.

In making this decision, Komen appears to be caving in to political pressure. The pressure comes from lawmakers on the political right who have taken aim at women by legislating away their reproductive health options. The pressure has mounted in the form of an audit launched by Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL), chairman of the House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, to determine whether public money had been spent on abortions over the last decade. JACPAC agrees with Planned Parenthood supporters that the investigation is a witch-hunt, with no basis for being conducted other than Stearns’ own political views.

Komen’s sharp political turn to the right has left women and science behind. It wouldn’t be the first time.  In April 2011,  Komen hired as its senior vice president for public policy Karen Handel, who ran for governor of Georgia in 2010 and lost, despite an endorsement by Sarah Palin. During her campaign, Handel pledged to be a “pro-life governor,” and said she “disapproved of the mission of Planned Parenthood.” Additionally, a member of  Komen's Advocacy Alliance Board is  Jane Abraham, the General Chairman of the Susan B. Anthony List and of its Political Action Committee. While Komen claims to care for women’s health,  the politics of some of its board and senior staff work against its stated goals.

JACPAC agrees strongly with Patrick Hurd, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Virginia, that cancer  victims don’t care about people’s politics and cancer doesn’t favor one political point of view over another.   That is a guiding principle Komen should not have abandoned.

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Joint Action Committee for Political Affairs (JACPAC) is a bipartisan political action committee dedicated to the special relationship between the US and Israel and a social agenda that includes reproductive choice and separation of religion and state. JACPAC supports the election campaigns of US Senate and House candidates who uphold this agenda and maintains an ongoing dialogue with those it helps elect. JACPAC serves as a political resource for the Jewish community, furnishing information about candidates, elections and issues.



12/15/2011 Detroit Activists Host JACPAC Event

December 15, 2011

A luncheon attended by about fifty members and prospective members of JACPAC was held December 15th at the home of Roz Blanck, of Franklin, a lawyer who is active in Jewish community affairs.  Lisa Lis and Pam Lippitt organized the event.
U.S. Rep. Shelley Berkley of Nevada was to appear at the luncheon but was unable to attend in person because of a crucial vote in Washington.  She spoke to the group by phone. Technology and local talent really saved the day.  Pro-Israel activist David Victor, past President of AIPAC, gave an update on US-Israel relations and Jeffrey Zaslow, author of Gabby:  A Story of Courage and Hope, spoke about his experiences with the Congresswoman and her astronaut husband, Mark Kelly.  Giffords was shot and nearly killed last year at a shopping mall in her hometown of Tucson.  She is working hard to rehabilitate herself so that she can return to Congress.

"These days it is more important than ever to be involved politically,” said event organizer Lisa Lis.  “JACPAC deals with the issues I find most compelling, such as Israel, women’s rights and social justice. With the emergence of the Tea Party and the resurgence of extreme right groups, it is important for us to assert ourselves politically.  That is why we support members of Congress like Shelley Berkley of Nevada and Gabrielle Giffords of Tucson.  They may represent Congressional districts far from ours, but their votes on the critical issues of the day affect us. Our local legislators, Congressman Gary Peters and Senators Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow, also represent our like minded concerns and assisting those who speak for us in Congress is paramount to keeping our voices heard.”

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Marcia Balonick, Executive Director or Dana Gordon, Membership and Outreach
Joint Action Committee (JAC), 847-433-5999

12/20/2011 JACPAC Leaders Attend White House Hanukkah Party

December 20, 2011

The Jewish community received a warm welcome from President Barack Obama and First Lady Michele Obama at the White House Hanukkah party Thursday, December 8th. Among those present were Vice President Joe Biden, Israeli Ambassador and Mrs. Michael Oren, Religious Action Center Director Rabbi David Saperstein, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, high-ranking members of the Administration and Jewish members of Congress. Marcia and Bruce Balonick and Dana and Lee Gordon, of Highland Park, were invited guests. Marcia is executive director of JACPAC and Dana is JACPAC’s director of membership and outreach.  Bruce Balonick is a lawyer and Lee Gordon, a financial services executive.

Observations from the President on the meaning of Hanukkah and the West Point Jewish Cadet Choir singing Rock of Ages (Maoz Tsur) marked the festivities.  Even the most jaded political activist, accustomed to attending rounds of receptions, seemed to enjoy the comfortable atmosphere and feel the unique and historic significance of the occasion.

“I was honored to be at the white house for Hanukkah. As Jews we realize the importance of the US-Israel relationship and the responsibility to take care of the issues here such as – environment, education, poverty, and women's rights,” said Dana Gordon, Director of Membership and Outreach for JACPAC.

Dana and Lee Gordon with Vice President Joe Biden
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Marcia Balonick, Executive Director or Dana Gordon, Membership and Outreach
Joint Action Committee (JAC), 847-433-5999

5/27/2010 Gail Yamner, of Clifton, Attends National Meeting of Jewish Leaders

May 27, 2010

Washington, DC -- On May 27 Gail Yamner, of Clifton, President of Joint Action Committee, attended a meeting of leaders of major Jewish organizations and Senate Democrats to discuss concerns of the Jewish Community. The meeting was convened by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI). Twenty-two of 59 Democratic senators attended.

3/22/2010: Rani Garfinkle, of Boca Raton, Hosts JACPAC Event

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March 22, 2010

A brunch for about fifty members and prospective members of JACPAC was hosted by Rani Garfinkle,  a leader in local and national Jewish philanthropic circles, at her Boca Raton home March 22nd.

"It is a pleasure to host women of action who have found their voices and are engaged in the political arena,” said Garfinkle.

Speakers were U.S. Reps. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA) and, by speakerphone, Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL). Health Care Reform was front and center as the topic of interest.  Both were brimming with excitement as they described some of the drama of the previous day when the health care reform bill passed in the House.  Wasserman Schultz, a JACPAC member and a breast cancer survivor, has made health care reform her highest legislative priority. Sanchez, the ranking woman on the House Armed Services Committee, has been a champion for women in the military and has focused on the issue of sexual violence and abuse.

Special guests were JACPAC President, Gail Yamner, of New Jersey, and Linda Rae Sher, JACPAC Founder, of Chicago. Lori Berman, who is running for the Florida State Senate, was introduced to the group.

Founded in 1981, Joint Action Committee for Political Affairs (JACPAC) is known as the pro-Israel PAC with a domestic conscience.  JACPAC supports the election campaigns of candidates for the US House and Senate who are pro-Israel, pro-choice and pro-separation of religion and state.  JACPAC maintains a dialogue with those it helps elect.

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9/2010 - JACPAC President Attends New Year Reception at Biden Home

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September, 2010

Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden hosted about 100 Jewish leaders and friends for a Rosh Hashanah reception at the Vice Presidential residence in Washington, DC Tuesday evening.  Among those present were Israeli Ambassador and Mrs. Michael Oren, Rabbi David Saperstein, the Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, and leaders of many other Jewish organizations JACPAC was represented by President Gail Yamner and Morris Yamner and former President Betsy Sheerr.

Vice President Biden welcomed everyone and made brief remarks about the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks that began last Thursday. He said this is the moment for real peace, not a hollow one.  He spoke of his belief that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Abbas were ready and could lead their people into an agreement that would give Israel the secure peace that it must have. He invited everyone to come again next year for what he hoped would be a celebration of peace.

According to Yamner,  “While there was a wide diversity of views represented, there was a sense that maybe this is the time. That is the right window of time for Israel and the Palestinians to move forward and find a solution that gives Israel a safe homeland.”

Yamner also was happy to report that when the Vice President learned that she was the new JACPAC president, he warmly embraced her and said that he loved JACPAC and that JAC was there for him whenever he ran. He spoke glowingly of the work that JACPAC does. Past President Betsy Sheerr noted: "Joe Biden is and always has been a great friend of the Jewish community. It was a testament to this relationship that so many from all over the country came to the Biden home on erev-erev Rosh Hashanah, even those of us worrying about finishing up our matzo balls and brisket!"

Joint Action Committee for Political Affairs (JACPAC) is known as the pro-Israel PAC with a domestic conscience. A national bipartisan membership network founded in 1981, JACPAC is committed to the United States-Israel relationship and a progressive domestic agenda that includes reproductive choice and separation of religion and state. JACPAC contributes to candidates for the US House and Senate who share these values; JACPAC maintains a dialogue with those it helps elect.

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8/26/2010: JAC Statement on 90th Anniversary of Women's Right to Vote

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August 26, 2010

Even though Abigail Adams reminded her husband to remember the ladies in the Declaration of Independence, it took 144 years, one month and 22 days for women to gain the right to vote. To secure that right, many were beaten, jailed, institutionalized as insane, divorced, marginalized, shunned – and even killed.

JAC applauds the women who bequeathed us this right with their bravery and perseverance in the face of such deadly opposition.

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

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

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

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

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