JUF News Express
Friday, January 31, 2014Forward this message  Forward this message

In this Issue:

• Scarlett Johansson rejects movement to boycott Israel

• JUF responds to anti-Israel boycott movement

• Fiscal health of the state? Illinois House Minority Leader talks shop

• Congress moves on US-Israel partnership and Farm bills, holds Iran hearings

• White House appoints liaison to Holocaust survivor community

• Ta'am Yisrael participants receive special send-off

• Time's running out - jumpstart your future with a summer internship in Israel

• From JUFNews.org and around the web


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Scarlett Johansson rejects movement to boycott Israel

Actress Scarlett Johansson has broken ties with the global poverty organization Oxfam due to a fundamental disagreement over the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel.

Johansson recently became a spokesperson for the Israeli company SodaStream and defended its factory in the West Bank in a statement on The Huffington Post last week saying, “SodaStream is a company that is not only committed to the environment but to building a bridge to peace between Israel and Palestine...”

SodaStream's Palestinian workers oppose any move to boycott the company, which is making plans to bring Johansson to Israel later this year.

JUF responds to anti-Israel boycott movement

Those who favor boycotting Israel are ramping up their efforts to win hearts and minds, and JUF continues to respond. “U.S. enabling of Israel, particularly in its colonial expansion into the West Bank, has voided the two-state option and fostered a single functioning state there,” writes Prof. George Bisharat in yesterday’s Chicago Tribune, “Applause for the academic boycott of Israel” (note: registration required to see text).

JUF’s VP of Communications Aaron Cohen writes in response that the boycotters have an “underlying agenda, which is to demonize and ultimately end Jewish sovereignty in the only nation state of the Jewish people.” Academic and cultural boycotters commit three wrongs, which add up to anti-Semitism: to distort Israeli and Palestinian reality and history, to deny the stage to Israelis and Palestinians who proclaim their mutual humanity, imposing a double standard, Cohen writes.

Fiscal health of the state? Illinois House Minority Leader talks shop

Illinois Rep. Jim Durkin came to JUF Monday to talk shop with JUF’s Government Affairs Committee.

Last August, Durkin was elected House Minority Leader and faced votes on marriage equality and pension reform just two months later. He discussed the challenge of scrambling for support in the final hours of negotiations.

“It was tough to find caucus members the day before Thanksgiving, but doing nothing was not an option,” he said.

Durkin said that as leader, his first priority is to field strong Republican candidates, and to develop Republican positions in the General Assembly around a minimum wage increase, Medicaid reform, the Chicago Public School debt problem and the City of Chicago’s underfunded pension system, the temporary income tax extension, and resolving the $8 million in unpaid state bills as well as the 2015 state budget.

Durkin said he is concerned about the fiscal health of the state with regards to the future. “I have seen young families question whether or not to raise their families in this state because of its fiscal problems,” he said.

Government Affairs Committee members will have a chance to meet with Durkin and other leaders from both parties on JUF's Springfield Mission, which begins Apr. 30.

Congress moves on US-Israel partnership and Farm bills, holds Iran hearings

The U.S. House of Representatives took action on JUF priority issues this past week. On Wednesday, The United States-Israel Strategic Partnership Act passed out of the House Foreign Affairs Committee by unanimous consent. The bill, which is supported by 14 members of the Illinois delegation, strengthens the partnership between the U.S. and Israel by authorizing the president to promote cooperation in a variety of different industries, and furthers our military support of Israel’s defensive shield.

The House also passed a compromise Farm bill on Wednesday that will make roughly $8.6 billion in deep cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, previously known as Food Stamps) as well as the Kosher/Halal amendment, which permits the purchase and proper identification of kosher and halal foods for distribution to food depositories. The initial House bill had asked for $40 billion in cuts, which would have thrown 3.8 million people out of the program, whereas the compromise bill removes virtually no low-income households. The Senate is expected to pass the bill early next week.

Earlier this past week, the House held a hearing regarding Iran sanctions and the current negotiations, while the Senate held a hearing about civilian nuclear cooperation agreements. Watch the House hearing and the Senate hearing. In his State of the Union speech Tuesday, President Obama delivered a forceful veto threat, imploring members of Congress not to slap more sanctions on Iran.

White House appoints liaison to Holocaust survivor community

Through the efforts of the Jewish Federations of North America and JUF, the White House has announced Aviva Sufian as the new special envoy to the Holocaust survivor community. She will be a liaison between survivors, the federal government, and JUF/Federation agencies such as Jewish Child & Family Services and CJE SeniorLife that provide vital community services. The is better to provide services to survivors who suffer from poverty.

Sufian’s job comes at a time when roughly 25 percent of the 120,000 survivors in the U.S. live at or below the federal poverty line, according to a White House statement.

The survivor community is especially at risk of isolation and institutionalization. Sufian will educate the public and private sectors on how best to deal with these situations.

Creating this position was an important aspect of the “Responding to the Urgent needs of Survivors of the Holocaust” (RUSH) Act, which is a JUF priority in assisting this population.

Ta'am Yisrael participants receive special send-off

Their bags are packed and they’re ready to go! The 2014 Ta’am Yisrael: A Taste of Israel trip takes off for Israel on Monday with 185 local eighth graders, who earlier this week gathered with their parents at Temple Jeremiah in Northfield for a final send-off. JUF Chairman David T. Brown and Roey Gilad, Consul General of Israel to the Midwest, spoke to participants and families about the life-changing nature of Ta’am Yisrael, a JUF-sponsored experience, and wished students a safe and meaningful trip.

Ta’am Yisrael is a program of JUF's Community Foundation for Jewish Education. The program provides a meaningful, intense, emotional and focused taste Israel through a weeklong, "hands-on" experience.

Follow the students’ Israel adventures online Feb. 3-11 via the Ta’am Yisrael web journal or on Twitter @taamyisrael.

Time's running out - jumpstart your future with a summer internship in Israel

Illinois college students have until Feb. 10 to apply for a resume-boosting summer internship experience – in Israel. Onward Israel is an 8-week program designed to develop students' professional skills and build their resume through a high-level internship side by side with Israeli peers.

This Tel Aviv-based internship program offers placements based on skills, interests and future plans. Intern four days a week, and spend another day learning about and experiencing contemporary Israeli society.

Admission is done on a rolling basis until the program fills up. Find out cost details and more at the Chicago Onward Israel website, or email the Israel Education Center at iec@juf.org

From JUFNews.org and around the web

More than 40 academicians from the Chicago area and neighboring cities gathered for “The Complex Reality of Israel on Campus,” a conference sponsored by the Consulate General of Israel to the Midwest and JUF’s Israel Education Center.

Chip maker Intel’s Israeli operations – located in JUF’s Partnership city of Kiryat Gat – reported $3.8 billion in exports in 2013. The company is marking 40 years in Israel this year.

The New York Times on Monday, International Holocaust Remembrance Day, published an article calling attention to new historical data showing that a third or more of the Jews who died in the Holocaust died outside of death camps.

Legendary folk singer Pete Seeger, who had a profound influence on Jewish music in America, died Monday at the age of 94. The Jewish Daily Forward shares his seven most Jewish songs and moments.

Four years after earthquakes devastated Haiti, the American Jewish World Service is hosting “Aid, Activism and Aftershocks,” a lecture and conversation about the current state of relief efforts. 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 5, at Kasbeer Hall in Loyola University’s Corboy Law Center (25 E. Pearson Street - 15th floor). Reservations required.

Want to feel “hot, hot, hot” this winter? Join Chicago’s 20- and 30-something and the Back from Birthright Israel community for the Bar Mitzvah Bash at 7 p.m. this Thursday, Feb. 6 at The Underground, 56 W. Illinois St. More than 300 tickets have already been sold.

And in the latest JUF News blog posts:

Steve Dishler surveys the ever-growing dangers in the Middle East and what Israel must do to defend itself.

In part three of a series on what to do when having a parent move into your home, CJE SeniorLife highlights some legal issues that warrant consideration.

Do you have a treasured stuffed animal? Christine Lupella's teddy bear isn't just a childhood keepsake -- it helped her find a husband.

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