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Hadassah expressed disappointment in the failure of two health-related state referendums. In off-year voting Tuesday, voters in New Jersey rejected a plan to sell bonds to fund embryonic stem cell research, and voters in Oregon rejected a hike in cigarette taxes that would have funded health insurance for uninsured children. “The failure of this public question is a clear indication that while states, like New Jersey, have made incredible strides in trying to fill the gaps in federal support for stem-cell research, there is simply no substitute for federal funding,” Hadassah said in a statement on the stem cell vote.

President Bush has twice vetoed such research, heeding conservative Christian groups that say it amounts to tampering with human life. Regarding the Oregon vote, Hadassah said the failed proposal might have been a model for a national program now caught in a veto war between the U.S. Congress and Bush.

“The proposition in Oregon was an elegant solution to providing children with medical care and treatment, which we believe to be this nation’s number one health care priority,” Hadassah said. “We consider the defeat of this measure heartbreaking and hope that those who supported this legislation will continue their fight.”

Jewish-Arab relations is on the agenda at a summit in Chile.

The 17th Ibero-American Summit in Santiago, featuring King Juan Carlos of Spain and the leaders of Portugual, Andorra and 19 Latin American countries, began Thursday and will conclude Saturday. One of the event’s goals is to create greater social cohesion within the countries.

The heads of the Latin American Jewish Congress will meet during the summit with world leaders to stress the Jewish community’s proactive support for regional integration.

On Thursday, the congress met with the general secretary of the Organization of American States, Jose Miguel Insulza. Claudio Epelman, the Jewish group’s executive director, said the congress stressed its work to support regional integration on the cultural, religious and social levels.

Prior to the summit, congress officials met Tuesday with Enrique Iglesias, the former Inter-American Development Bank president and current head of the Ibero-American Secretariat in Madrid.

“We stressed that globalization is not new for Jews. We are globalized and we indeed can offer our support to the regional integration construction,” Epelman told JTA in a telephone interview from the summit in Chile.

Also at the meeting in Spain was Jack Terpins, the president of the congress, as well as Julio Froimovich, the head of the Latin American B’nai Brith.

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