JSPAN Opposes Warrantless Eavesdropping and Supports Senate Inquiry

After recent reports that the National Security Agency has been eavesdropping without court-approved warrants since shortly after the attacks of September 11th, President Bush acknowledged that he approved the program:
Months after the Sept. 11 attacks, President Bush secretly authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans and others inside the United States to search for evidence of terrorist activity without the court-approved warrants ordinarily required for domestic spying, according to government officials. Citing his authority in protecting the American people from terrorists, President Bush asserted that his actions were legal and necessary under Article II of the Constitution. Under a presidential order signed in 2002, the intelligence agency has monitored the international telephone calls and international e-mail messages of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people inside the United States without warrants over the past three years in an effort to track possible "dirty numbers" linked to Al Qaeda, the officials said. The agency, they said, still seeks warrants to monitor entirely domestic communications.

Urgent Action Needed on Behalf of Darfur Civilians

With the focus on the present genocide in Darfur, Sudan, the Jewish Community Relations Council of Philadelphia sponsored a program on Dec. 8th, entitled: What is Our Responsibility in the Face of Genocide? The courageous and eloquent testimonies of Francis Tucker from Sierra Leone,Tahija Vikalo from Bosnia, Eugenia Mukeshimana from Rwanda and Rabbi Isaac Leizerowski, a son of Holocaust survivors, while recounting their horrific experiences as victimized civilians along with their incredible struggles of resistance and survival, served to humanize, individualize and personalize the stories of victims of genocide. Ivan Boothe, Communications Director of the Genocide Intervention Network (GIN), focusing on the situation in Darfur region of Sudan, spoke of world-wide inaction, quoting governmental responses that these are “ancient conflicts” or “tribal wars,” comments which lessen the magnitude of the governmental, genocidal campaigns occurring there. He claimed that it will become a political priority only if we force the U.S. government to focus on the situation.

Questions for Judge Samuel Alito

The nomination of Judge Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court has raised serious concerns about his views on a host of hot button subjects. While other progressive groups have focused on his views about abortion rights and the role of the national government in a federal system, JSPAN has been especially concerned about his views on the role of religion, particularly under the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. Working with leading experts on Church State issues, we have put together a short series of questions for Judge Alito at his confirmation hearing. We are now coordinating with several senators, including members of the Judiciary Committee, to see that these questions are asked of the nominee. At JSPAN, we believe that the separation of church and state forms one of the bedrock principles guaranteeing the rights of all Americans. All citizens have a right to know what Judge Alito thinks about this subject and how he would approach questions likely to come before him.

Calling on President Bush: Holocaust Denial is Still Alive!

We join with Jews around the world in condemning in the harshest terms possible the denial of the Holocaust recently asserted and repeated by the President of Iran. It is our moral responsibility to speak out against such libel at each and every turn lest our silence be misconstrued as indifference, We urge you to contact President George Bush immediately and urge him to to assume global leadership by speaking out personally in condemnation of Iran's President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's highly offensive remarks which deny the authenticity of the Holocaust and the legitimacy of the existence of the State of Israel. We ask President Bush to remind the world that General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Commander of the Allied Forces during World War, along with other military leaders of that coalition, reported on the atrocities to Congress after he had visited the liberated camps in 1945. Archival documentation and their testimony resulted in an Act of Congress being passed in 1980,under President Jimmy Carter, which established the US Holocaust Memorial Museum and United States Commemoration of the National Days of Remembrance of the Holocaust.

Attorneys at the Center of the Storm Share Perspectives on the "Intelligent Design" Case

Stephen HarveyJSPAN members gathered at the home of Board Member Jerome Kaplan for “Center of the Storm: An Insider’s Look into Litigating the ‘Intelligent Design’ Case.” Eric Rothschild, Stephen Harvey and their paralegal Hedya Aryani of the law firm Pepper Hamilton LLP spoke about their experiences representing the plaintiffs in the case against the Dover Area School Board. Dover, a small school district, just outside the city of York, PA, initially examined intelligent design when several board members were concerned about a new science textbook that gave no alternative views to evolution. Several members of the Board spoke openly about their desire to teach creationism in the science curriculum, a practice struck down by the United States Supreme Court. To “remedy” this, the Board passed a resolution on October 14, 2004 that mandated the presentation of intelligent design as a supplement to the teaching of evolution.

Annual Holocaust Remembrance Day

UNITED NATIONS SETS JANUARY 27th AS ANNUAL HOLOCAUST REMEMBRANCE DAY We, the peoples of the United Nations, determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal right of men and women and of nations large and small . . . And for these ends to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbors . . . Have resolved to combine these efforts to accomplish our aims. Charter of the United Nations [June 1945], preamble
Three generations after being established in the wake of the Shoah, as the voices of the last surviving witnesses to the Final Solution begin to fade, on November 1, 2005, the United Nations adopted a resolution designating January 27th, the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp, as an annual day to commemorate victims of the Holocaust, reject denials of the genocide, and promote public education about that which we have solemnly vowed never to forget. The resolution was initiated by Australia, Canada, Israel, Russia, and the United States, was supported by 104 co-sponsors, and was adopted with no vote by consensus among the 191 members of the General Assembly.

Echoes of the Holocaust in Darfur

It has taken the United Nations sixty years to designate one day a year to commemorate the Holocaust. Will it take another fifty years for the United Nations to commemorate the genocide that took place in Ruwanda a decade ago? Will it take the United Nations sixty years to commemorate the genocide now taking place in Darfur? Can we sit idly by today and remain silent in the face of the ongoing genocide in Africa and still remain faithful to our solemn vow of “Never Again”? Can we become passive participants in the mass murder of hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women, and children taking place today in Sudan and continue to wonder how it was that the whole world stood by as the ovens burned at Auschwitz? We encourage you to attend a panel discussion to raise awareness of the situation in Darfur being presented by Children of Jewish Holocaust Survivors on December 8, 2005, at Old York Road Temple Beth Am in Abington, Pennsylvania. For more information, please visit the web site

JSPAN files Friend of the Court Brief in the "Intelligent Design" case

JSPAN filed an amici brief with the United State District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, the so-called “intelligent design” case. Drafted by JSPAN's attorneys, the brief was also submitted on behalf of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) and The Jewish Alliance for law and Social Action. JCPA represents 13 national Jewish organizations and 125 local Jewish federations and community relation councils.

Iraq Program Defines Issues for JSPAN Action

Over 150 people braved stormy weather to attend the program “Iraq: Finding the Right Road” on the evening of November 16th. After a welcome by Board Chair Sue Myers, President Jeff Pasek explained that the program would bring the issues into focus so as to permit JSPAN to adopt a policy position with respect to the future course of the U.S. in Iraq.

Careful Judgment for Judge Alito

President Bush's selection of Judge Samuel Alito, Jr. as his next pick for the United States Supreme Court has quickly become controversial. Judge Alito, who served for 15 years on the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, has compiled a record which is clearly conservative.
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