Live-blogging the JCPA resolutions session


Lots of people live-blogged last week’s Barack Obama address. But tonight we’re attempting something we believe no one has ever done — live-blogging the resolutions session at the Jewish Council of Public Affairs Plenum:

9:07–We’re picking up the session about a half-hour in, after a lengthy debate on whether a resolution that would "not exclude the option of military means" to "protect the innocent civilians in Darfur" should include the word "preferably" before the phrase "in coalition with other countries." After the votes were counted, "preferably" was out.

9:10–Both the Reform and Orthodox movements oppose an amendment to eliminate the paragraph calling for a military option, with the Orthodox Union’s David Luchins saying, "Do we want the headline in JTA tomorrow to be the organized Jewish community ruled out military force" in Dafur? (Supporters of the amendment argued that the community, after Iraq, should be wary of military action)

9:13–The amendment resoundingly fails.

9:19–The resolution passes easily.

9:22–Mark Pelavin of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism introduces a resolution urging efforts to build coalitions with the Muslim community, saying local communities are "looking for guidance" in forming such coalitions and that the two faith groups have similar views on a number of issues, from hate crimes to a two-state solution. The resolution also notes that differences between the two communities remain, but they should not preclude dialogue — and adds that coalition partners should meet certain standards of "mutual civilty, respect and recognition."

9:32–Marc Stern of the American Jewish Congress says the resolution "avoids difficult questions" and doesn’t give enough guidance.

9:38–The resolution passes easily.

9:40–Alexandria, Va. Rabbi Jack Moline, pleased the Muslim-Jewish dialogue resolution passed, announces he’s going home.

9:41–A lengthy resolution on a "comprehensive energy policy" is introduced.

9:46–The Union of Reform Judaism opposes a pargraph in the resolution which states that "although the JCPA has in general opposed offshore drilling, we would be willing to consider such a policy on a temporary basis as part of a comprehensive energy plan."

9:48–Richard Foltin of the American Jewish Committee says the amendment is an example of "pristine purism" and that the paragraph is part of an overall comprehensive plan.

9:59–Eric Rosenbloom of the Silicon Valley CRC says that if the resolution passes without this amendment, "the focus will be JCPA supports offshore drilling. It would be a disaster." Unlike David Luchins, he doesn’t mention JTA.

10:03–Time for a vote on the amendment.

10:05–It appears to be a close vote in the show of hands, but the chair rules the amendment passes.

10:06–Nathan Diament of the O.U. requests a recorded vote. Since each of the 13 national organizations that are part of the JCPA have 23 votes, while individual community relations councils have less, a vote of hands can be tough to figure out. The recorded vote takes a while, though, so we’re moving on to the next resolution for now.

10:09–Marc Stern of the AJCongress introduces a resolution to oppose efforts by Islamic states to criminalize rhetoric that criticizes or disrespects any religion–an effort backed by some Islamic states.

10:14–The resolution passes resoundingly–but we’ve got the results of the tight vote on the energy amendment coming.

10:15–The amendment striking the language saying JCPA would be willing to consider offshore drilling  passes 331-281, with 29 absentions.

10:20–We’re now moving on to what appears to be a series of relatively non-controversial resolutions dealing with criminal justice reform, early childhood education, hunger and poverty issues. So we’re going to sign off for now–unless something surprising arises. To sum up, JCPA backed the option of military force in Darfur, supported Jewish-Muslim dialogue efforts and backed a comprehensive energy policy that doesn’t include offshore oil drilling.

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