The Jewish Democratic Council of America (JDCA) is the political voice of Jewish Democrats. JDCA advocates for Jewish values and priorities within the Democratic Party and for the Democratic Party within the Jewish community.
The Voice of Jewish Democrats
As the voice of Jewish Democrats, JDCA does not define itself or its positions based on those taken by other pro-Israel or progressive organizations, but it will work with those organizations to the extent their priorities align with JDCA’s unique voice within the Democratic Party.
JDCA’s positions on key issues of concern to the Jewish community are:
Civil Liberties & The Constitution
Campaign Finance Reform and Integrity in Government: We support a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s devastating Citizens United decision, which has unleashed billions of dollars in secret money into our political process. We believe in the disclosure of political donors’ names and must hold our leaders and their appointees to the highest standards of accountability and transparency.
DC Statehood: American citizens who live in the District of Columbia deserve equal representation in Congress. We support statehood for the District of Columbia with appropriate modifications of the boundaries of the District to satisfy constitutional requirements.
Election Security: We oppose all efforts to undermine, cast doubt on the legitimacy of, and/or override the results of our free and fair elections We must be vigilant in combating and strengthening our elections against any unlawful interference in our elections, including from state or federal officials, as well as hostile foreign governments or interests. This includes election subversion efforts, such as state legislative seizure of control over election results and elections responsibilities, including removing or taking control of efforts to intimidate or create criminal penalties for elections officials.
Electoral College Reform: The current Electoral College system can result in the unjust election of a president opposed by a majority of the American people. Since elimination of the Electoral College would require a Constitutional amendment, we support the adoption of the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact by as many states as necessary, which provides that upon adoption by states whose electoral votes total at least 270, the states in the Compact would agree to cast their electoral votes for the presidential candidate receiving the most popular votes nationally, irrespective of the results in their particular state.
Filibuster: Historically, the filibuster has served the interest of the minority party in the Senate including in preventing the passage of civil rights legislation. In light of the obstructionism of Senate Republicans and continued Republican efforts to suppress the vote through restrictive state-level voting laws, JDCA supports the abolition or suspension of the filibuster, including for passage of voting-rights legislation. It is clear that Senate Republicans will not change their behavior and work with Senate Democrats. At the very least, we must reform – or carve out a voting-rights exception to – the filibuster.
Gerrymandering: We support an end to partisan gerrymandering that has resulted in Congress and state legislatures not reflecting the votes of the American people. JDCA supports federal and state efforts to establish independent redistricting commissions.
Gun Safety: Inaction from our political leaders in confronting the epidemic of gun violence must not be tolerated The Second Amendment does not preclude robust background checks and limits on the purchase of dangerous weapons. Congress and state legislatures must strengthen and adopt gun-safety measures involving semi-automatic firearms, bump stocks, silencers, high-capacity ammunition clips and “cop-killer” bullets. Legislatures must pass common sense laws ensuring that guns do not end up in the hands of children, criminals and others unfit to bear weapons responsibly, including eliminating the nexus between gun violence and white supremacist violence.
Puerto Rico: The people of Puerto Rico deserve self-determination on the issue of status.
Religion and Government: We respect the religious beliefs of all Americans, but religion has no place in the public square. All Americans must feel free to practice their religion without fear of government discrimination or government favoring one religion over another. Religious institutions that receive nonprofit status should not be able to endorse political candidates.
Voting Rights: We should be invested in making it easier — not harder — for Americans to cast their ballots. JDCA opposes deliberate and subtle forms of voter suppression, including but not limited to “Voter ID” laws, voter roll purges, restricting voting by mail, restricting assistance in returning a voter’s mail ballot, limiting ballot drop boxes, increasing barriers for voters with disabilities, banning snacks and water to voters waiting in line, and reducing polling place availability and accessibility. All states should adopt or expand early voting, vote by mail, same-day registration, ballot-return assistance, mail ballot drop box access, access to voters with disabilities, automatic registration programs, access to the polls for people in jail, and restoring voting rights to people with past convictions . JDCA supports passage of the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.
Growing income disparities and the erosion of the middle class endanger our democracy. Action must be taken to close those gaps.
COVID-19: JDCA supports much needed efforts to deliver COVID-19 economic relief to the American people. These measures should include but are not limited to direct payments to individuals; funding for state and local governments, support for vaccine distribution, and relief for small businesses. JDCA rejects GOP attempts to minimize COVID-19 relief on the basis of “balancing the debt.”
JDCA recognizes the economic and health impact of the Coronavirus crisis will not end with the end of the virus and is supportive of long-term efforts to repair the social safety net destroyed by the pandemic and the Trump administration’s failed leadership. This requires significant increased efforts towards gender and racial equality in recognition of the disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on communities of color and women.
Education: Middle-class families are falling victim to the continued rise in higher education costs. College, university and technical schools should be affordable for all students and their parents. Measures to lighten the tuition burden at long-underfunded state colleges must be taken. The federal student loan program reforms must include student appropriate loan forgiveness efforts. Changing technological advances and economic conditions are creating new job opportunities. Therefore, community college education and skills training to help prepare the next generation of students and current and displaced workers for these new jobs must be bolstered. The COVID-19 pandemic revealed the extreme disparities in the wages paid to essential workers which include our educators; we must pay education professionals competitive wages.
Health Care: Quality health care should be a right, not a privilege. Every American deserves access to affordable health insurance, including affordably priced prescription drugs and lowered out-of-pocket costs. We applaud the gains made during the Obama administration through the Affordable Care Act that extended health insurance to millions of Americans. However, gaps in access and quality remain. Congress should strengthen — not repeal — the ACA, including the creation of a public healthcare option. We oppose efforts to block-grant Medicaid or to privatize Medicare. Mental health care should be funded and insured in the same manner as other forms of care. We support the reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
Jobs: Everyone should have the opportunity to fulfill his or her potential in a rewarding job. Providing employment opportunities for all Americans by preparing workers for new jobs created by economic, technological and environmental changes is a top priority. We support retraining and aid to displaced workers, and a much-needed increase in the federal minimum wage to $15/hour. We oppose efforts to discourage, inhibit or prevent workers from organizing. We support the right to collective bargaining. JDCA supports the Biden-Harris “Build Back Better” plan to breathe life back into American manufacturing and ingenuity, while simultaneously improving infrastructure, investing in clean energy jobs, and ensuring that corporate America pays their fair share.
Paid Family Leave: The United States stands alone in the industrial world in not providing citizens with paid family or parental leave. Parents deserve adequate compensated maternity or paternity leave following childbirth or adoption. We also support paid family and emergency leave for other life-cycle situations.
Social Security and Welfare: We oppose any effort to privatize or means-test the Social Security program, which has allowed Americans to live out their retirement with dignity. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (SNAP) program has been a lifeline to millions of families. We oppose any effort to decrease funding for, or restrict access to SNAP, and believe that it should be expanded to provide more Americans with greater assistance. Nineties-era welfare reform, which block-granted and time-limited cash assistance to at-risk populations, has failed to provide adequate help to those living in extreme poverty and should be reconsidered.
Taxes: Tax policy in America must be fair and equitable and must include the commitment to pay responsibly for government obligations and expenses. Disproven economic theories that do not stimulate job growth and only increase income disparity and future deficits must not be the basis for America’s policies.
Foreign Policy & National Security
Protecting our allies and security interests abroad is critical to the safety of the United States in a global and interconnected world. JDCA welcomes a return to a diplomacy-first, multilateral approach to foreign policy and national security.
Climate Change: We must slow climate change and address its inevitable consequences without delay. We welcome the return to the Paris Agreement on climate change and commit to achieving reductions in greenhouse gas emissions through the use of clean energy and other incentives. Climate change already has resulted in extreme weather events and temperature increases, destabilizing many areas around the world. Climate change is a national security, environmental and ethical issue and must be addressed in every facet of US economic and foreign policy.
Democracy Promotion: Promoting democratic institutions abroad remains a vital interest of the United States. International aid that strengthens civil society and democratic elements in countries that are transitioning to democracy or those that are still ruled by authoritarian regimes must be supported. This must include, first and foremost, protecting and strengthening our democracy at home, and holding our leaders and our democracy accountable. The “power of our example” remains the foremost tool in promoting democracy around the world.
Human Trafficking: There are more slaves are in the world today than any other point in human history. We are concerned by the global trafficking of women, men, boys and girls in activities connected to labor trafficking and commercial sex acts through force, fraud and coercion. We urge the State Department and the entire American domestic and foreign policy establishment to assist in the eradication of all forms of human trafficking. All efforts to prevent human trafficking in any government contracts or procurement program must be supported and enforced.
International Aid: Increased international aid to promote global health and wellness, conflict resolution, disaster relief, democracy promotion and economic development must be supported. Military aid to Israel and other allies working to foster global security and democracy must be supported and continued. JDCA supports the United States’ involvement in and support for the World Health Organization (WHO).
Iran: Iran must not be allowed to obtain nuclear weapons. The Trump administration’s withdrawal from the Iran Nuclear Deal moved Iran closer to nuclear weapons capability and made the United States and our allies less safe. JDCA supports diplomatic efforts to constrain Iran’s nuclear ambitions. We must also work to counter Iran’s other nefarious activities, including missile testing, support for terrorism and destabilizing activities in Syria, Lebanon and other areas around the globe.
Israel: We support a robust leadership role for the United States in the Middle East. The U.S. and Israel maintain a strong and unbreakable bond in view of the two countries’ shared security interests and common values. JDCA believes that supporting Israel’s security and right to self-defense and supporting Palestinian human rights, aid, and safety are not mutually exclusive. We believe in a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Israelis deserve to live in safety and security, free from terror and incitement, in a state that is recognized by Palestinians and its Arab neighbors, and we support efforts to normalize Israel’s diplomatic relations with all nations including Arab and Gulf states. Palestinians should be permitted to realize their national aspirations in an independent, demilitarized state through negotiations with Israel. We recognize that Israel’s capital is Jerusalem, and with the U.S. Embassy now located in Jerusalem, it is essential that Jerusalem remain open to people of all faiths and backgrounds. Even as it acts as a mediator in the Middle East, the United States must vigorously oppose the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement and other international efforts to delegitimize the state of Israel. The United States should continue security aid to Israel with no additional restrictions to ensure the Jewish state maintains its qualitative military edge and ability to defend itself.
Nuclear Proliferation: Nuclear proliferation remains an existential threat to America and throughout the world, including nuclear proliferation in North Korea and Iran’s progression in its nuclear capabilities We believe in exploring all necessary avenues to defuse the North Korean situation and prevent other dangerous regimes from developing weapons of mass destruction. The Trump administration’s dangerous disengagement from multi-lateral arms control agreements and negotiations have left the United States and world less secure. We support the renewal of the New START treaty signed between the United States and Russia in 2010, and a strategic return to the multilateral arms control regime.
Russia: Russia’s interference in our 2016 presidential election is a threat to the most important institution in the United States — our free and independent elections. Russia’s campaign of intimidation and disruption directed against Western countries and their electoral processes must be countered with robust sanctions. We urge Congress to hold Russia accountable for its interference in the 2016 elections, as well as its ongoing meddling in our democratic institutions, including through measures to strengthen election security. We urge our government and the international community to insist on the territorial integrity of Ukraine, whose sovereignty has been violated, and to defend other former Soviet bloc countries. We condemn Russia’s human rights abuses, including its crackdown on LGBT communities.
Trade: Trade agreements when properly negotiated further the security and economic interests of the United States. Attention to how trade deals affect U.S. workers and an insistence on environmental protection are necessary conditions in crafting and agreeing to fair and equitable trade deals.
Human Rights and Inclusion
We strongly believe in the principle of human dignity and that the rights of all must be safeguarded. JDCA stands with a strong coalition fighting for equity across all racial, ethnic, economic, gender, and sexual orientation lines.
Disability Rights: Almost one-fifth of all Americans live with a disability. These individuals deserve and must have full access to employment, education and public spaces. The Americans with Disabilities Act, passed almost three decades ago, has been one of the greatest civil rights breakthroughs of our time.
Fighting Antisemitism and Other Forms of Bigotry: America must vigorously oppose all forms of antisemitism at home and abroad. All government officials must forcefully and unequivocally condemn antisemitism wherever and whenever it occurs. The recent resurgence of antisemitism both in public rhetoric and in hate crimes illustrates the critical need to call upon our elected officials to denounce such egregious behavior and take any and all necessary steps to help eradicate it. Both the antisemitism on the far-right under the guise of nationalism and antisemitism on the far-left masquerading as anti-Zionism must be opposed at all levels. Social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter should be used to fight such movements. Schools must adopt anti-bias education that educates children to respect differences.
Holocaust Education/Survivors: It is absolutely critical to educate the next generation about the Holocaust. Holocaust education should be a prominent and embedded component of the history curriculum taught in all levels of the education system. We support government and philanthropic endeavors to assist survivors with access to economic resources and health care.
Immigration: As descendants of immigrants, American Jews know and understand all too well the horrors of excessive immigration restrictions. JDCA supports the longstanding American tradition of welcoming refugees and asylum seekers. Comprehensive immigration reform offering a path to citizenship for undocumented individuals and families and keeping families together is vital to maintaining America’s values and future. More immediately, Congress must enact permanent protections for “Dreamers.”
LGBTQ+ Rights: Marriage equality is now the law of the land. We urge states to adopt anti-discrimination laws that guarantee LGBTQ+ people equal access to housing, public accommodations, healthcare, and employment.
Racial Equality and Criminal Justice Reform: Throughout our history, Jewish people have faced oppression, bigotry, and violence. We have known the devastating consequences of silence in the face of persecution and hatred. The Jewish struggle for freedom and safety is intertwined with that of Black Americans, and our history and sacred texts demand we pursue justice and equality and raise our voice against racism.
For generations, the American Jewish community has been a leader and partner in countless social and political movements, motivated by our core Jewish values that prioritize justice and equality in the face of strife and bigotry. JDCA believes that Black lives matter. We stand with the Black community and other groups targeted by police violence and systemic racism, and support efforts and reforms to bring about racial and criminal justice. We recognize the critical role of the police, and we must boldly face our nation’s painful history of slavery, segregation, disenfranchisement, and hatred, and ensure greater accountability in law enforcement. Specifically, we support the following measures:
Police reform, including banning police chokeholds, banning the transfer of military weapons to our civilian police force, mandating wide-spread body camera use, and establishing a national commission on police violence.
Criminal justice reform, including federal efforts to reform cash bail, which can criminalize poverty and disproportionately negatively impact communities of color.
Ending the racial wealth gap and advancing economic mobility, including ensuring access to equal credit and capital, fighting housing discrimination and appraisal discrimination in predominantly minority communities, and fighting for equal pay.
Ensuring equal access to high-quality affordable healthcare including mental healthcare and supporting federal efforts to combat racial inequities in medicine, –maternal healthcare–and housing.
Ensuring and protecting the right to vote for all eligible Americans, fighting voter suppression and supporting the restoration of voting rights for former felons.
Reproductive Freedom: Every person must have the right to choose and the right to access quality reproductive health care. We support the vital work of organizations providing critical health services to women, people of color, LGBTQIA+ individuals, and all who need it. We support the codifying of Roe v. Wade and reject partisan Republican efforts to shape the courts against access to health care including abortion and contraception, and support federal legislation to combat state laws that seek to erode access to abortion care, make abortions more expensive, and prevent clinics from operating.