NJDC Launches New Women’s Leadership Network

— by David Streeter

The National Jewish Democratic Council’s Women’s Leadership Network hosted a panel discussion for its first-ever event in Washington, DC. The panel was led by Representative Susan Davis (D-CA) and former White House Communications Director Ann F. Lewis, and featured nonpartisan political analysis from The Jerusalem Post’s Hilary Krieger. Representatives Lois Frankel (D-FL), Nita Lowey (D-NY), and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) attended the luncheon and added their voices to discussion.

Washington Jewish Week reported on the event and featured coverage of the event in its weekly email to subscribers:

Full report after the jump.

Barbara Goldberg Goldman worked tirelessly to get President Barack Obama re-elected.

There wasn’t a moment unaccounted for last summer and fall. All her energies were focused towards November and election day. When this reporter tried at times to track her down, she was either knocking on yet another door in a Northern Virginia or Maryland neighborhood or making sure that recognized Jewish leaders were writing op-eds to release to the nation’s newspapers.

Last Friday, Goldberg Goldman along with other key national Democratic Jewish women, announced in Washington, D.C., the formation of the National Jewish Democratic Council’s (NJDC) Women’s Leadership Network.

‘The Women’s Leadership Network will ultimately build on NJDC’s previous success mobilizing Jewish Americans and augment NJDC’s mission of maximizing Jewish support for Democrats. I and other Women’s Leadership Network co-founders are very excited that NJDC has a new mechanism to mobilize female Democrats, and we look forward to starting a conversation in the Jewish community.’

Last Friday’s event featured a panel discussion on the issues facing women following the 2012 election. Rep. Susan Davis (D-Ca.) and Ann F. Lewis, NJDC Chairman’s Council member and former White House communications director, spoke as Democratic leaders in the Jewish community. The Jerusalem Post’s Washington bureau chief Hilary Krieger offered nonpartisan political analysis.

‘We heard a lot about the women’s vote making a difference in the 2012 election for Democratic candidates,’ said Lewis. ‘We have the same dynamic in the Jewish community, with a significant gender gap, reflective of important issues, but too often Jewish women’s voices were left out of the debate. NJDC’s voter contact program spoke to these issues and highlighted women’s voices. The NJDC Women’s Leadership Network will build on what we learned in 2012 and ensure that Jewish women’s voices are included in the next political campaign.’

Davis said that she was honored to have been a participant in this opening event.

‘It is critical that Jewish women mobilize across the country,’ she said. ‘In order to protect the progress made under President Barack Obama and to pave the way for more policies that advance women’s rights. NJDC’s Women’s Leadership Network is a significant step that will ensure that voices of female Jewish Democrats are heard.’

Prior to Friday’s event, both Goldberg Goldman and Lewis spoke to WJW.

‘There was a lot of attention in 2012 given to the women’s vote,’ Lewis told WJW. ‘The numbers showed us that women were more likely to vote for certain issues. So there was a similar dynamic within the Jewish community. The majority of Jewish voters are women. As part of NJDC, we watch the votes on issues concerning Israel and others such as equal pay for women and women’s health.

‘We’re learning from the 2012 election,’ she continued, ‘and we’re building on what we achieved. It’s important for women’s votes to be part of the national conversation. We want to raise the visibility and advocacy of women.’

Lewis added, ‘What we know is that women like to hear from other women. When we have a debate that doesn’t have women’s voices, we lose an opportunity to reach out to our community and to make our case. Once we start hearing from women, we get a much better response. We are encouraging women to be advocates and to understand the power we have as leaders in the community.’

Goldberg Goldman said that the group’s mission is to amplify the goals of Jewish Democrat women.

‘We’ve never been shy,’ she said. ‘We’re encouraging our colleagues and our sisters and our mothers and our nieces to speak out and to get involved and engaged in an organized fashion.’

Lewis also told WJW that the fiscal health of the nation is a matter of great importance to everyone, not just to men. Other issues important to Jewish women is the securing of a strong democratic Israel living side by side with a Palestinian state.

‘There isn’t one issue that doesn’t resonate among women,’ Lewis said.

Federally funded lunch programs, the special supplemental aid program for women, infants and children known as WIC is a Jewish women’s issue.

The area of women’s reproductive freedom is a Jewish women’s issue. Violence against women, again a Jewish women’s issue. Fiscal issues are also an issue for Jewish women as well. ‘It’s clear that we will have an active group of women for forums, fly-ins to Washington and access to members of Congress. Local and regional concerns are all important to Jewish women and women of all faiths.’

‘The last election illustrated the significance of the women’s vote not only in numbers but in helping to define the issues that were critically important, and those issues critically important for women, cannot be ignored. NJDC has the leadership to bring this together,’ said Lewis.

Obama Takes Steps To Stop “The Epidemic Of Gun Violence”

— by David Streeter

President Barack Obama took several steps yesterday in order to strengthen America’s gun laws and prevent future gun violence-including the signing of 23 new executive orders designed to stop
“the epidemic of gun violence in this country.” The Washington Post summarized the President’s actions yesterday:

More after the jump.

Obama called on Congress to swiftly pass legislation to ban assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines for civilian use and to require universal background checks for all gun buyers. Obama’s proposals include mental health and school safety measures, as well as a tough new crackdown on gun trafficking.

Obama spoke in a White House ceremony to formally unveil the proposals and to sign executive orders and paperwork initiating immediate administrative actions, including steps to strengthen the existing background-check system, promote research on gun violence and provide training in dealing with ‘active shooter situations.’

Taken together, the gun-control proposals rank among Obama’s most ambitious legislative projects, along with his fiscal stimulus package, his health-care law and Wall Street regulations – all achieved when Democrats controlled both houses of Congress. Administration officials said Wednesday that the proposals do not represent specific legislation. But they said that in the coming weeks, the White House would be working with members of a divided Congress to develop bills to implement as much of the package as possible.

The White House launched a new resource page on its website that outlines the President’s approach to curbing gun violence. Click here to learn more.

President Obama Keeps His Commitments

— by Barbara Goldberg Goldman — Originally Published in Washington Jewish Week

President Barack Obama’s second inaugural address demonstrated the clear reasons why his second term agenda reflects the values of most American Jews. From protecting the social safety net to addressing climate change to securing equal rights for all, the President firmly articulated many of the policies overwhelmingly supported by the American Jewish community.

More after the jump.
A little more than a century and a half ago, President Abraham Lincoln took his oath of office as the 16th president of the United States. Fifty years ago, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, delivered his “I Have A Dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial. The bibles belonging to each man will be united this Monday, Jan. 21, as President Barack Obama, our 44th President, places his hand on both sacred books while taking his second oath of office. The symbolism in using these two very carefully chosen texts is rich in knowledge, conviction, optimism, inspiration and struggle.

On Nov. 4, 2008, for millions of Americans, a historic shining moment of sheer euphoria existed. Daunted not by the opposition’s corrosive tone, the winners, cognizant of potential struggles, were poised to move America forward with a bold, new agenda.

This was a grand, long-awaited agenda, one that would change America forever, one from which all Americans could benefit. And while more could have been accomplished had we a Congress engaged in civil, respectful debate and compromise, still, in four short years, many significant undertakings were successfully achieved. Often amid denigration, mired in distortions and lies, domestic and international priorities still were addressed. Consider that President Obama:

  • Signed into law The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009.
  • Signed into law The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA)/”Obamacare.”
  • Signed into law the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act spurring economic growth amid the Great Recession.
  • Signed into law the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act re-regulating the financial sector after its practices caused the Great Recession.
  • Signed into law the expansion of The Children’s Health Insurance Authorization Act allowing health care coverage for 4 million more children.
  • Signed into law the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military.
  • Ordered U.S. Seals to raid a secret compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, resulting in the killing of Osama Bin Laden.
  • Brought back from the brink of death the U.S. auto industry. Federal money totaling $62 billion helped GM and Chrysler add more than 100,000 auto industry jobs.
  • Issued an executive order permitting thousands of “Dreamers” (youth who came to America as children) to find jobs or attend colleges.

President Obama’s strong record on Israel must neither be overlooked nor minimized. He remains unwavering in his support for Israel’s safety and security. In 2007 during NJDC’S Washington conference, Presidential candidate Obama told the audience, “When I am president, the United States will stand shoulder to shoulder with Israel in search of peace and in defense against those who seek its destruction.” He continues to make good on this promise.

Israeli leaders agree: Former Prime Minister and former Minister of Defense Ehud Barak stated, “… when it comes to this nation’s security, the Obama administration is doing more than anything that I can remember in the past.” President Shimon Peres recently said that President Obama has “pledged a lasting friendship for Israel … Israel’s security is ‘sacrosanct.’ So you pledged. So you acted. So you’re acting. As a great leader, as a genuine friend.”

Why do these Israeli leaders voice such support for President Obama? Consider that President Obama:

  • Provided $6 billion of foreign assistance to Israel;
  • Added an additional $275 million for Iron Dome missile defense systems;
  • Oversaw hundreds of millions of dollars for the joint development and production of the Arrow and David’s Sling missile defense systems;
  • Backed unconditionally the close and most in-depth ever relationship between the U.S. military and the IDF;
  • Sided with Israel against the Gaza flotilla, opposed the inaccurate, unbalanced Goldstone Report, boycotted Durban II and III;
  • Helped Israel fight the Mount Carmel fires ordering, “Get Israel whatever it needs now”;
  • Helped the successful rescue of Israelis trapped in the Embassy in Cairo;
  • Stated that “containment of Iran is not an option for the United States,” and continuously toughened sanctions to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.

Looking to the next four years, euphoria still exists, but one that is more tempered by obstacles in the form of a nettlesome political opposition bent on blocking whatever President Obama proposes. Yet, this last election provided a clear mandate. As this second inauguration quickly approaches, a new set of challenges on the horizon includes:

  • Solving the national debt problem, putting the federal government’s finances on a sound financial footing;
  • Ending America’s longest war in Afghanistan, bringing the troops home;
  • Helping to secure peace for a democratic Israel and her neighboring Palestinian state;
  • Enacting into law immigration reform;
  • Enacting into law stringent gun safety measures;
  • Passing and enacting into law climate change legislation;
  • Passing and enacting into law the Violence Against Women Act;
  • Obtaining full funding for The Housing Trust Fund.

Our Jewish heritage provides rich troves of ideas and knowledge to face the struggles plaguing our society. As Jews, we bear inescapable moral obligations not just from those outlined in our own Bible, but also from the experience we have as a people. We have an obligation to improve society, and are proud that tikkun olam plays a strong role in defining, enriching and invigorating our Jewish identity. Born with different natures, our own free will is what permits us to choose the paths we take. By selecting the road guided by “yetzer hatov,” our inclination to do good, we become part of the solution.

As an active and engaged community, we have the opportunity to use our strong public support to help move forward the new and bold agenda for the next four years. Let us take this journey together. We can agree, disagree, debate and discuss. But let us do so with mutual respect and trust. In the true spirit of “United We Stand, Divided We Fall,” let us work in earnest and together toward achieving our goals.

WJW Lauds Obama Administration’s Iron Dome Funding

Washington Jewish Week lauded the Obama Administration for providing supplemental funding to support Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system. Its editorial board wrote:

Last week, U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta told Ehud Barak, his Israeli counterpart, that the Pentagon will seek to provide an additional $70 million for Israel’s Iron Dome short-range rocket shield. The news of the funding couldn’t come at a better time for Israel.

The United States has already infused some $205 million into the Iron Dome system, which uses small, radar-guided missiles to destroy in midair rockets and mortar shells, which have rained down on Israeli towns and cities such as Sderot and Ashkelon in recent years. The Iron Dome has been described as a ‘game changer.’ Indeed, it has intercepted some 80 percent of the rockets fired by Hamas in the month of March alone, when more than 300 armed projectiles were shot into Israel from Gaza.

While the world’s attention is focused upon the fledgling preliminary talks underway between Iran and the West … we cannot lose sight of the fact that Israel continues to be under attack by Iran’s terrorist agents, Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in southern Lebanon….

The pounding from Hamas and Hezbollah are a constant threat to innocent Israeli citizens, who have 15 seconds to find cover from an incoming rocket.

That’s why Iron Dome and U.S funding and support for the project is so important. Iron Dome brings a significant measure of security to Israel, even if the system is not 100 percent effective.

But beyond the significant economic assistance which is so essential to the Iron Dome project, there is the very clear message that the U.S. support conveys: A clear message to Iran and its co-conspirators that even while the nuclear issue is being discussed, the United States will not lose focus on the security and well being of Israel and her people. And, it’s not just words. The leader of the Western world has made clear that it is willing to put its money where its counts, under an iron dome.

We commend Secretary Panetta’s decision.