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Contact: Rebecca Boim (#212/684-6950, x.202)
-Director of Public Information

The National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council is the national coordinating and advisory body for the 13 national and 122 community agencies comprising the field of Jewish community relations. On May 1, it changed its name from the NJCRAC to the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA).

JCPA TO ANNOUNCE RESULTS OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS SURVEY AT PLENUM
Middle East Peace Process, Affirmative Action and Race, and School Vouchers also to be discussed

The plenum will take place February 21-25, 1998 at the Wyndham Resort and Spa in Fort Lauderdale, Florida

(New York, January 12, 1998) -- Lawrence Rubin, Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) executive vice chairman, and JCPA chair Michael N. Newmark will hold a press conference to reveal the much anticipated results of the first JCPA National Public Affairs Survey. The JCPA leaders, noting the survey's coverage of a broad range of public policy issues, suggested that the findings "will influence the focus, priorities and agenda of the Jewish community relations field."

The JCPA will conclude its year-long study of vouchers with adoption of a policy paper on this issue. In addition, plenum delegates will kick-off discussion of this year's topic of examination -- Building One Nation: Race, Public Policy and Affirmative Action. "The JCPA will join President Clinton and the nation in exploring these complex and complicated issues," Newmark added.

On the international front, a senior Israeli Government representative will update the more than 500 Jewish leaders expected to attend this year's gathering on the status of the Middle East peace process. Delegates will then hear the views of the opposition Labor Party by its newly elected leader Ehud Barak.

Other programs at this year's plenum include: In celebration of Israel at 50, an inter-generational dialogue and text study exploring the American Jewish community's relationship with Israel;

A look at the increasing political maturity of the Hispanic community, Asian Americans and others and how these groups are affecting the political landscape featuring Michael Lind, senior editor of New Yorker Magazine and former senior editor of The New Republic;

Congressman Floyd Flake (D-NY) and the Reverend Joan Campbell, secretary general of the NCC, will discuss the role of religious institutions in American life;

Rabbi James Rubin, director of Interreligious Affairs for the American Jewish Committee, and Eugene Fisher of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops will discuss interfaith relations and the Christian Millennium;

Will Maslow, General Counsel (former Executive Director) of the American Jewish Congress, will receive the JCPA's prestigious "Albert D. Chernin Award" for dedication to the Bill of Rights and the pursuit of social justice.

In the policy-making sessions of the plenum, delegates will debate the key domestic and international issues confronting the American Jewish community in 1998, including the Middle East peace process, religion in the public schools, child labor and the establishment of an International Criminal Court. The plenum also will adopt the JCPA's Jewish Public Affairs Agenda for 1998-99, the annual guide to priority issues and policy goals for the organized Jewish community.

The plenum exposes future leaders to the JCPA's public affairs agenda. A select group of young Jewish professionals and lay leaders will take part in the JCPA's "Leadership Institute" the weekend before the plenum, and over 300 college students will participate in the plenum as part of the Jack and Charlotte Spitzer Forum on Public Policy (sponsored by Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life).

The plenum is the highest policy-making body of the JCPA, the leading multi-issue planning and coordinating body in the organized Jewish community. This year's event is co-chaired by Paul Minkoff of Philadelphia and Elaine Wishner of Chicago.

1998 JCPA PLENUM -- UPDATE

***REMINDER***REMINDER***REMINDER***

The deadline for hotel reservations at the Wyndham Resort and Spa is January 16, 1998. We urge you and your constituents to send in the plenum registration forms as soon as possible. We cannot guarantee rooms at the hotel after the 16th. Please contact Laura Furmanski (212-684-6950, x.200) for additional registration forms, brochures and meal reservation forms.

CONFIRMED SPEAKERS:

EHUD BARAK
Chairman, Labor Party

MICHAEL LIND
Senior Editor, New Yorker Magazine
Former Senior Editor, The New Republic

FLOYD FLAKE
U.S. House of Representatives

REVEREND JOAN BROWN CAMPBELL
General Secretary of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC)

LEONARD FEIN Director, UAHC Social Action Committee

At The Plenum --

  • we will announce the results of the JCPA's first national public affairs survey;
  • delegates will act on a draft policy statement on vouchers based on the year-long reexamination process the field undertook;
  • we will launch the next annual initiative under the title "Building One Nation: Race, Public Policy and Affirmative Action"; and
  • plenum delegates and Spitzer students will conduct an intergenerational discussion on the significance of Israel at 50

1998 Tentative Plenum Schedule

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 20, 1998

1:00-10:00pm LEADERSHIP INSTITUTE FOR JEWISH PUBLIC AFFAIRS
6:00-8:00SHABBAT DINNER
Advance Reservations Required

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 21, 1998
10:00am-3:00pm LEADERSHIP INSTITUTE (con't)
1:00-2:00SHABBAT LUNCH
Advance Reservations Required
3:00-4:30pm SHABBAT PROGRAM
Rabbi Jeff Eizenstat, Congregation Ramat Shalom
5:00-6:00pm NEW DELEGATES ORIENTATION
6:30-7:30pmNOMINATING COMMITTEE
(members only)
6:30-7:30pm JCPA PUBLIC AFFAIRS AGENDA: APPEALS PANELS
Domestic Concerns International Concerns
7:30-8:00pmHAVDALAH
8:00-10:00pmSHALOM BAYIT: HEALING AND PREVENTING WOUNDS TO CLAL YISRAEL
Speakers: Leonard Fein, Director, UAHC Commission on Social Action
Gil Kahn, Director, Shvil HaZahav
Dr. Anne Lopidus Lerner, Vice Chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary
Rabbi Haskel Lookstein, Congregation Kehilat Jeshurun, NY
Gideon Meir, Advisor to the Foreign Minister on World Jewish Affairs
This session will explore successful models for intrafaith dialogues and programs.
10:15-11:00pmRECEPTION
For all delegates

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 22, 1998
9:00-11:45amJCPA TASK FORCE MEETINGS
Equal Opportunity and Social Justice
Israel and Other International Concerns
Jewish Security and the Bill of Rights
12:00-1:30pmMAJOR DONOR'S LUNCHEON
( minimum contribution of $3000)
1:30-2:00pmPRESS CONFERENCE
Lawrence Rubin will announce the results of JCPA's Public Affairs Survey
2:00-2:45pmOPENING SESSION
This official opening of the plenum will include greetings from local Jewish and non-Jewish leaders as well as an address by JCPA Executive Vice Chairman Lawrence Rubin.
3:00-4:00pmGENERAL SESSION: CHALLENGES TO THE PEACE PROCESS
Senior Representative of Israel's Government
4:00-5:00pm GENERAL SESSION: ALTERNATIVE ISRAELI PERSPECTIVE
Ehud Barak, Chairman, Labor Party
5:30-6:30pm JCPA LEADERSHIP APPEAL
8:30-10:00pmBEIT MIDRASH: ISRAEL AT 50: THREE GENERATIONAL PERSPECTIVES
(co-sponsored with Hillel's Spitzer Forum)
This interactive session will allow plenum delegates and Spitzer students to examine Israel/ Diaspora relations and to explore "what Israel means to me," through an in-depth look at Jewish sources related to these themes.

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 23, 1998
8:00-10:00amGENERAL SESSION- EMERGING VOICES IN AMERICA: NEW ALLIANCES, NEW CHALLENGES
Speaker: Michael Lind, Senior Editor, New Yorker Magazine
This plenary session will address the coalitional implications of our nation's complex, immigrant-driven diversity. Discussion will focus on the increasing political maturity of the Hispanic community, Asian Americans and others. How are these groups affecting the political landscape and what opportunities have emerged for expanding alliances and new partnerships?
10:15am-12:00pmFORUMS (3 concurrent)
U.S. Role in the Middle East Peace Process: Facilitator, Mediator, or Arbitrator?
Speakers: Theodore R. Mann, Past Chair, JCPA
Dan Mariaschin, Director, Center for Public Policy, B'nai B'rith

In the wake of the recent problems in the peace process, the United States Government seems to be taking a more assertive role in pushing the Israelis and Palestinians back to the negotiating table. What role will the US to play in the future of the peace process? Where does the American Jewish community stand with regard to this question? What is the field's responsibility in interpreting the peace process?
Justice Delayed: The Reclamation of Jewish Assets Stolen During the Holocaust
Speakers: Dr. Michael Kotzin, Executive Director, JCRC of the United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago
As this controversy has become more complex, tensions have arisen within the Jewish community regarding the best approach to resolving claims. While some advocate cooperative negotiations with the Swiss, others believe a more aggressive approach is warranted. How can the field respond to these different initiatives in a manner that will promote the best interests of the Jewish community?
The American Public School: Models for Success
Speakers: Laura Orlove, Director, Success For All/ Roots and Wings Ron Rapp, Director of District Policy for the New American Schools Project
Several reform initiatives, begun or expanded under the New American Schools project, have now developed strong track records for success in restructuring at-risk public schools. What are these proven models and how do they work? Are they public education's answer to the challenge of vouchers? How can more public attention and financial support be directed toward these initiatives? What role can the Jewish community play?

12:15-2:00GLENN AND DARCY WEINER LECTURESHIP ON PUBLIC POLICY LUNCHEON
(sponsored by Hillel's Spitzer Forum)
Advance Reservations Required
Speaker: Edgar Bronfman
Edgar Bronfman will serve as the inaugural speaker for this new Hillel lecture series.
12:30-3:00 pmNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON SOVIET JEWRY BOARD MEETING
(open to all delegates)
12:30-1:45COMMITTEE ON ENERGY AND THE ENVIRONMENT MEETING
2:00-4:30pmEVERGLADES TRIP - pre-registration required
(sponsored by the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life)
The Everglades ecosystem is among the nation's most biologically rich and unusual natural areas. It is gravely threatened, however, by agriculture and suburban expansion. Tour participants will see the Everglades first hand on a one hour air-boat tour, guided by an experienced naturalist. On the bus to and from the Everglades, a conservationist will explain the history and ecology of the ecosystem and describe the challenges of preventing its destruction.
3:00-4:30pmMEETING FOR CRC CHAIRS AND DIRECTORS
4:45-7:00pm PUBLIC AFFAIRS POLICY FORMATION I (Joint Program Planning)
8:00-10:00pmHOST COMMUNITY EVENT
Enjoy a pool-side bar-b-que in celebration of Israel's 50th anniversary.

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 24, 1998
7:30-9:00amSPECIAL MEETINGS
Arab-Jewish Coexistence (co-sponsored with the Abraham Fund) With Arabs constituting approximately 20% of the Israeli population, their relationship with Israeli Jews continues to be of critical importance. Led by an Israeli Arab and an Israeli Jew who are involved in coexistence efforts, this session will examine how recent developments are affecting this issue.
National Jewish Coalition for Literacy: What's In It For You? Learn about literacy projects in place around the country and find out how to create a project in your community.
9:00-10:45am
FORUMS ( 4 Concurrent) Engagement vs. Sanctions: Toward an Effective U.S. Human Rights Policy 1998 marks the 50th anniversary of the United Nations' Universal Declaration on Human Rights and this is an opportune time to evaluate the US human rights agenda. How do economic interests affect human rights policy? Should the US conduct "constructive engagement" with countries that continue to violate basic human rights or is a tougher approach needed? How should the Jewish community relations field respond to these issues?
Toward the Year 2000: Interfaith Relations and the Christian Millennium Speakers: Eugene Fisher, National Conference of Catholic Bishops Rabbi A. James Rudin, Director, Interreligious Affairs, American Jewish Committee
As the Catholic and Protestant communities prepare for the year 2000, they are contemplating the meaning of the millennium. What significance does the year 2000 hold for each of these groups? What are the implications for Jewish/Christian relations and for the State of Israel?
McCain-Feingold and Beyond: The Battle Over Campaign Finance Reform Do Americans have a vested interest in reforming the campaign finance system or in preserving it? What is the Jewish community's view on this issue?
Government Affairs and the Role of the CRC Increasingly, in the wake of federal budget cuts, CRCs are being called upon to assume a greater advocacy role in helping federations deal with human service funding issues at the state and local level. What successful models have CRCs developed for dealing with these issues? What challenges have they confronted? How can lessons learned enable greater numbers of CRCs to work in partnership with their federations and government affairs offices to address these issues on our shared human service agenda?
11:00am-12:30pm WORKSHOPS ( 10 Concurrent)
America's Other Ethnic Groups: Expanding Outreach to Asian, Hispanic, Arab and Native American Counterparts
Beyond the D'var Torah: Infusing Organizational Life with Jewish Meaning
Crisis in Coalition Building - Are There Groups We Can't Work With?
Civics 101: Reading, Drafting and Presenting Testimony and Legislation
The Challenge of Hasbara: Working with the Media to Assure Fair Coverage of Israel and the Peace Process
Amcha Means Me, Too: Nurturing Jewish Unity
The Arts and Public Affairs: Exploring New Avenues
Give Me Something Real to Do: Creating Rewarding and Meaningful Hands-On Projects
OK, I Made the Appointment - Now What? Pointers for Effective Advocacy
CRCs and the Schools: Partners in Education
12:45-2:15pm STUDENT MENTORING LUNCH
This lunch will enable community leaders and students to discuss the political issues with which they are currently dealing and to explore partnerships. In addition, this lunch will serve as an opportunity to discuss mentoring possibilities for students and community leaders.
2:45-4:15pm GENERAL SESSION- RELIGIOUS INSTITUTIONS MEETING HUMAN SERVICE NEEDS: ARE THERE LIMITS?
Speakers: Rep. Floyd Flake, U.S. House of Representatives
Rev. Joan Campbell, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC)
Recent years have witnessed a growing cynicism about the ability of government to provide services in an effective and efficient manner. There is a growing trend to look to religious institutions to step in where government is perceived to have failed. Examples of this trend include school voucher programs that allow inner-city students to attend parochial schools, and "charitable choice" initiatives that would allow, and in some cases mandate, the allocation of public funds to social service programs operated by pervasively sectarian organizations. Should there be limits on the role of sectarian institutions in American life? Is it appropriate to look to churches to solve our national crises, rather than the government? Do such initiatives threaten First Amendment principles of church/state separation, and if so, is there a way to reconcile our competing desires to preserve those principles and to implement viable solutions for social problems?
4:30-7:15pm PUBLIC AFFAIRS POLICY FORMATION II
(Joint Program Planning)
VOUCHER STUDY REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
8:00-11:00pm CHAIR'S BANQUET
Program will include the Chair's Address and the Albert D. Chernin Award presentation to Will Maslow, General Counsel (former Executive Director), American Jewish Congress.

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 25, 1998
9:00-10:00am BUSINESS SESSION
At this session, a new JCPA Chair and members of the Executive Committee and Board of Directors for the following year will be chosen. In addition, the budget for the upcoming year will be approved.
10:00am-12:00pm GENERAL SESSION- BUILDING ONE NATION: RACE, PUBLIC POLICY AND AFFIRMATIVE ACTION
Speakers: Leonard Fein, Director, UAHC Commission on Social Action
This plenary session will kick off discussion of the topic for the JCPA's second year-long examination.
ADJOURN

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JCPA LEADER REACTS TO AGOSTINI DECISION:
Expresses Disappointment With Supreme Court's Decision and Fears Future Erosion in Court's Commitment to Church/State Separation

(New York, June 25, 1997) -- Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) Chair Michael N. Newmark today released the following statement regarding the Supreme Court's decision handed down this week in the case of Agostini v. Felton: The Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) is disappointed with the Supreme Court's decision to reverse its 1985 ruling in the case of Aguilar v. Felton. The organized Jewish community has been a staunch defender of this nation's historic commitment to the separation of church and the state as a bedrock constitutional principal of our nation.

We are troubled by any erosion of that principal, and will continue to monitor carefully any signs of the Supreme Court's willingness to weaken that principle. Because of our concern over that principle, we believe that the Court expressed the better view in its original decision in Aguilar, holding that public school employees who provided remedial education to parochial school students must do so off sectarian school property.

However, we note that the Agostini Court narrowly limited its holding to the context before it: The Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, which requires the government, among other things, " to provide remedial education, guidance and job counseling to eligible students...failing or at risk of failing the state's student performance standards." The Court noted with concern, as do we, "that Aguilar costs have resulted in a decline of about 35% in the number of private school children who are served." JCPA has always been supportive of the provision of remedial assistance to all eligible children, regardless of where they go to school.

We are pleased that the Agostini Court strongly reaffirmed the traditional three-part test for determining a church/state violation set forth in Lemon v. Kurtzman" and that the Justices made clear that "the general principles that we use to evaluate whether government aid violates the Establishment Clause have not changed since Aguilar was decided."

Finally, we note that the Court itself indicated that the Agostini decision is not necessarily determinative of the constitutional issues regarding vouchers. Rather, the Court's decision drew a distinct "line between supplemental and general education;" Indeed, the Court's analysis of the concerns raised by a public school employee providing remedial education under strict guidelines -- regardless of where the remedial education occurs -- is not readily applicable to the entanglement issues implicated by the diversion of public funds to religious institutions to fund part of its curriculum. While we urge all Americans not to give the Agostini decision more significance than it warrants, the case does remind those of us committed to the protection of religious liberty of the need to remain vigilant in our monitoring and advocacy efforts in support of religious freedom and the separation of church and state.

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JCPA LEADER "DEEPLY TROUBLED" BY COURT'S RFRA DECISION
Claims Ruling Evidences "Weakening" of Protection for Religion

(New York, June 26, 1997) -- Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) Executive Vice Chairman Lawrence Rubin today released the following statement regarding the Supreme Court's decision handed down yesterday in the case of City of Boerne v. Flores:

The Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) is deeply troubled by the opinion issued yesterday by the Supreme Court in the case of City of Boerne v. Flores, in which the Court ruled that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) is unconstitutional.

RFRA -- which was passed by a nearly unanimous Congress with the overwhelming support of religious and civil liberties organizations from across the political spectrum -- sought to correct the grievous misreading of the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment by the Supreme Court in its 1990 decision in Employment Division v. Smith.

In a radical departure from existing case law, the Court in Smith held that facially neutral laws of general application could impinge upon religious beliefs without any special need on the part of government to justify the curtailment of religious practice. Prior to this 1990 ruling, the government had to show a "compelling state interest" before it could impact negatively on religious institutions and practices. We agree wholeheartedly with Justice O'Connor, in her dissent in City of Boerne, that the Supreme Court would have better served the Constitution by re-examining its holding in Smith instead of simply protecting its power to interpret the constitution.

Taken on its face -- as an exercise in protecting the separation of powers between the Court and the Congress -- this opinion can be read as a conservative approach to a perceived threat to the authority of the Court. Viewed in that light, the decision does not necessarily address the merits of the underlying freedom of religion issue. However, considering that that just two days earlier the Court took the unusual step of reviewing and reversing its 1985 decision in Agostini v. Felton, we fear that City of Boerne reveals a continued weakening of the Court's resolve to protect religion from the reach of government power. We are concerned that this decision, along with recent opinions in Employment Division v. Smith, Agostini, and other related cases, evidence that the Rhenquist Court lacks fundamental respect for, and may even be hostile to, the religion clauses of the First Amendment as a primary protector of our nation's commitment to freedom of conscience. Nonetheless, the JCPA remains fully committed to the protection of religion and religious freedom, and will continue to support efforts to enhance such protection in courts and in legislatures, both state and federal, throughout the land.

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Resolution on the Persecution of Religious Minorities
Adopted by the JCPA Board of Directors

(June 23, 1997) -- Consistent with our deep and abiding commitment to the protection of individual human rights, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) holds firm to the fundamental belief that all people should be free to worship as they choose. We are very disturbed by reports of torture and other forms of persecution directed at individuals because of their religious identity. We view the recent legislative initiative -- led by Senator Arlen Specter and Representative Frank Wolf -- intended to enhance the United States' role in combating persecution of religious minorities around the world, as a significant step in advancing our nation's commitment to an issue which has not previously received the attention it deserves.

The organized Jewish community will examine the particulars of this legislation in light of our long-standing support for the strongest possible U.S. human rights effort and consistent with our commitment to seek appropriate mechanisms for effective response to religious persecution and oppression. We will continue to work in close cooperation with coalition partners of all religious faiths in responding to this legislative initiative and to combat all forms of persecution and advance the cause of human rights.

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Resolution on Genetic Testing, Discrimination and the Jewish Community
Adopted by the JCPA Board of Directors

(June 23, 1997) --Recent advances in genetic science have created hopeful new medical possibilities and have also raised serious concerns. As researchers race to map the whole human genome and identify mutations which might be predictive of the onset of disease, genetic tests, utilized within a controlled research environment and now commercially available, may determine whether an individual might hold such a marker. In the future, these new technologies may also be translated into new drugs and/or therapies for treating and/or preventing disease. At the same time that we are encouraged by health benefits to be gained from these new tests, there is also the possibility for abuse of the genetic information revealed and the potential for employment and insurance discrimination.

The Jewish community has become increasingly aware of these risks, which affect all people, primarily as a result of findings that mutations in two genes linked to breast and ovarian cancer (called BRCA1 and BRCA2) may be more prevalent among individuals of eastern and central European Jewish descent -- i.e., Ashkenazi Jews. The initial research concerning inherited breast cancer risk among Ashkenazi Jews centered on families with a high incidence of breast and ovarian cancer for several generations and was facilitated by the availability of stored previously screened genetic samples from Ashkenazi families screened for earlier status for other diseases, such as Tay Sachs. While this population was chosen for research as a convenient early sample, possible BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations are found in higher than expected frequency in other population groups as well.

Because at this time there is no sure means of prevention against or cure for breast or ovarian cancer, the availability of genetic tests to determine the presence of mutations, and the corresponding degree of risk for disease, raises important issues for Jewish women and their families. Genetic tests for breast/ovarian cancer are not 100% predictive of the onset of disease. Furthermore, research to date has not provided an accurate way to assess any individual's actual risk. Indeed, the ability to reproduce, the sensitivity, and the predictive value of the tests are not fully known. While women who carry an altered gene might never develop the disease, all women have a 1 in 8 chance of developing breast cancer if they live to age 85.

Although inherited susceptibility genes only account for an estimated 5-10% of all cases of breast cancer, imprecise press accounts and other sources of misinformation have raised the specter that Jewish women have a unique and greatly heightened predisposition to this disease, creating fear and increasing the potential for insurance and employment discrimination. Moreover, testing one member of a family has implications for other family members, which may also serve as the basis for discrimination. Discrimination based on genetic information has a long and well documented history. Concern about discrimination is currently dissuading members of the Jewish community from participating in potentially important research projects.

The Jewish community has long supported the right of individuals to determine the course of their own medical inquiries and care, has actively participated in medical research aimed at ameliorating disease, and believes that there should be ample opportunity for individuals to participate in promising research studies. Indeed, we recognize the interest of both the scientific and biotechnology community in expanding their knowledge base in the quest to understand, prevent and cure cancer. At the same time, the Jewish community has a strong interest in abating fear and avoiding stigmatization or discrimination. There is a need, as well, to protect against the aggressive fear-based marketing techniques from companies providing genetic tests available on the commercial market. The Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) therefore believes that the organized Jewish community should:

  • In coalition with like-minded groups, develop public policy and legislative strategies regarding the use of information provided by genetic testing; support legislative measures, at both the federal and state levels -- which complement the "Kennedy-Kassebaum" law -- to prevent genetic-based employment and insurance discrimination and to ensure the confidentiality of medical records.
  • Continue the national, community-wide discussion on the issue of breast cancer -- its causes, risks, facts and myths; continue to promote study of the usefulness of genetic testing for breast cancer, the call for government regulation, and the impact of test results on members of the Jewish community; advocate for increased research measures to identify prevention strategies and find a cure for breast cancer. .
  • Work with appropriate agencies to disseminate proper public health materials in order to combat misinformation and help individuals and families assess the risks and benefits of genetic testing and/or involvement in university-sponsored research.
  • Advocate for the inclusion of comprehensive genetic counseling performed by trained individuals, along with a detailed informed consent process (both written and interactive) as a part of any testing context prior to actually taking a sample.
  • Work with the various entities connected to the commercial genetic testing market and others, including the genetic testing companies and the oncological community, to combat fear-based and stigmatizing marketing techniques and inappropriate uses of genetic tests. Emphasize that current knowledge about genetic variations does not provide a mandate for broad-scale testing of individuals outside the controlled research setting.
  • Continue its support of medical research aimed at ameliorating disease, including breast cancer, and including the identification of genetic mutations which may be predictive of the onset of disease;
  • Support continued funding for research on the ethical, legal and social implications of genetic testing.

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Resolution Opposing Passage of a Flag Desecration Amendment
Adopted by the JCPA Board of Directors

(June 23, 1997) --The American flag is among the most important symbols of our freedoms. It stands for the rights which we cherish, among the most precious of which are those protected by the Bill of Rights of our Constitution. Freedom of speech -- which protects the right to speak our political views no matter how unpopular they may be -- is one of the most fundamental rights enshrined in the Bill of Rights.

The Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) believes that the principle of free speech protected by our Constitution and symbolized by our American flag is strong enough and precious enough to withstand even the most offensive speech. Among the truest tests of this principle is that even an act as abhorrent as burning or desecrating the flag is deserving of protection. To diminish that basic freedom in response to such acts would be to surrender to them.

The JCPA agrees wholeheartedly with Justice Brennan, who wrote in the 1989 case of Texas v. Johnson that flag-burning is protected speech because the "toleration of criticism... is a sign and source of our strength." Since 1990 -- when the Supreme Court struck down the Flag Protection Act of 1989 as an unconstitutional violation of the First Amendment's protection of free speech -- we have opposed repeated efforts to amend the Bill of Rights to prohibit the burning of the flag.

Congress is again proposing to pass a constitutional amendment which will prohibit the desecration of the American flag. The House of Representatives has already approved that amendment by the two-thirds majority vote needed to send it to the states for ratification. The JCPA now reaffirms our opposition to this attempt to curtail the freedom of speech, and calls on the United States Senate and the American people to defeat this misguided and dangerous initiative and to support the Bill of Rights for which the flag stands.

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Statement on the Middle East Peace Process
Adopted by the JCPA Board of Directors

(June 23, 1997) --The Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) is deeply dismayed by recent actions of Chairman Yasser Arafat and other Palestinian Authority (PA) leaders that fundamentally violate both the requirements and spirit of their agreements with Israel. We deplore the decision not to cooperate fully with Israel to prevent terrorist activity in areas under PA jurisdiction and the edict issued by PA leaders imposing the death penalty against Palestinians -- including Arab citizens of Israel -- who sell land to Jews. Tragically, a number of Palestinians already have been murdered. Palestinian concerns with respect to Israeli policy are appropriately addressed through face-to-face discussions, not by engaging in, supporting or acquiescing in violence.

Notwithstanding these serious difficulties in the peace process, Israel and the Palestinians are seeking ways of returning to active and productive negotiations. We support these efforts because we believe, as they do, that the Oslo Accords and the Hebron Protocol continue to provide the best available basis for advancing the peace process. The JCPA strongly encourages the Administration to continue its active facilitation of the negotiations and welcomes good-faith efforts by others, including Egypt and Jordan, to bring the parties together. As members of Congress consider renewal of the Middle East Peace Facilitation Act -- which has been an essential instrument in enabling the U.S. to play its central role in facilitating the peace process -- we urge them to use this legislation to press for greater PA compliance with its obligations under the Oslo Accords. In addition, we encourage all parties to take steps to renew confidence in their commitment to advancing the peace process.

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