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. 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 AND THE CONSTITUTION
Americans need to feel confident in the fairness and full functioning of our democracy.
Campaign Finance Reform and Integrity in Government: We support a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s disastrous 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.
Election Security: We must be vigilant in combating any unlawful interference in our elections, including from hostile foreign governments or interests. We support efforts to strengthen election security measures in order to safeguard against foreign interference and ensure Americans have faith and confidence in the electoral process.
Gerrymandering: We support an end to partisan gerrymandering that has resulted in Congress and state legislatures not reflecting the votes of the American people.
Gun Safety: Inaction from our political leaders in confronting the epidemic of gun violence must not be tolerated. Supporting 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.
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. All states should adopt or expand early voting, vote by mail, same-day registration and automatic registration programs. We oppose deliberate and subtle forms of voter suppression, such as the adoption of so-called “Voter ID” laws in many states.
Growing income disparities and the erosion of the middle class endanger our democracy. Action must be taken to close those gaps.
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, and the federal student loan program must be reformed. 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.
Health Care: Quality health care should be a right, not a privilege. Every American deserves access to affordable health insurance, including accessibly priced prescription drugs. 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. 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 opportunity for all Americans by preparing workers for new job opportunities 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. We oppose efforts to discourage, inhibit or prevent workers from organizing. We support the right to collective bargaining.
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 AND NATIONAL SECURITY
Protecting our allies and security interests abroad is critical to the safety of the United States in a global and interconnected world.
Climate Change: We must slow climate change and address its inevitable consequences without delay. We urge the current administration to rejoin 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. It is a national security, environmental and ethical issue.
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. It is legitimate to condition America’s international aid and alliances on the observance of democratic norms.
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.
Iran: Iran must not be allowed to obtain nuclear weapons. The fact that President Trump has withdrawn the U.S. from the Iran nuclear deal without a viable alternative does not lessen the importance of ensuring that Iran never acquires nuclear weapons. Simultaneously, we must 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. 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. Palestinians should be permitted to realize their national aspirations in an independent, demilitarized state. 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. America should continue its security aid to Israel 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, especially in light of recent events in North Korea, where a nuclear weapon has been developed and tested. Furthermore, it is clear that North Korea now is acquiring technology to wield against other nations. We believe in exploring all necessary avenues to defuse the North Korean situation and prevent other dangerous regimes from developing weapons of mass destruction. We support the New START treaty signed between the United States and Russia in 2010.
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
Growing income disparities and the erosion of the middle class endanger our democracy. Action must be taken to close those gaps.
We strongly believe in the principle of human dignity and that the rights of all must be safeguarded.
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 Anti-Semitism and Other Forms of Bigotry: America must vigorously oppose all forms of anti-Semitism at home and abroad. All government officials including the president of the United States must forcefully and unequivocally condemn anti-Semitism wherever and whenever it occurs. We call upon the president to fill and support the post of U.S. Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat on Anti-Semitism, and to fill the White House position of liaison to the Jewish community. The recent resurgence of anti-Semitism both in public rhetoric and in hate crimes illustrate 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 anti-Semitism on the far-right under the guise of nationalism and anti-Semitism 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. Comprehensive immigration 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 protections for “Dreamers,” who face risk of deportation after the cancellation of the DACA program. We strongly oppose the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy of separating families at the border.
LGBT Rights: Marriage equality is now the law of the land. We urge states to adopt anti-discrimination laws that guarantee LGBT people equal access to housing, public accommodations and employment.
Racial Equality and Criminal Justice Reform: The history of the Jewish people in America and abroad makes the Jewish community unique in understanding the horrors of race hatred and persecution. Inherent in our history is our ability to identify with the struggles of people of color and other minority groups in the United States. We support greater accountability for law enforcement, sentencing reform, an end to civil asset forfeiture, and the restoration of felons’ voting rights.
Reproductive Rights: Every woman must have the right to choose and the right to access to quality reproductive health care. We support the vital work of organizations providing critical health services to women.
Foreign Policy: JDCA has held foreign policy briefings on a range of issues including Israel, Iran, North Korea, and Russia. JDCA condemned President Trump’s refusal to acknowledge Russian meddling in the 2016 election, urged Congress to fund election security measures, and demanded the President and Republicans in Congress hold Russia accountable for its crimes. JDCA criticized Republican efforts to politicize U.S. support for Israel, and reiterated its support of Israel in the face of ongoing security threats. JDCA met with 21 Members of Congress in May to discuss these and other national security interests.
Supreme Court: Now that President Trump has nominated a Supreme Court justice, JDCA launched an interactive campaign to write to senators, urging them to oppose Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination. JDCA also petitioned Senate Majority Leader McConnell to adhere to the standard he established in 2016 – to not confirm a Supreme Court nominee in an election year. The stakes could not be higher because the next justice will decide on the most serious issues impacting our lives and those of future generations.
Immigration: JDCA strongly opposes President Trump’s policy of separating families at the border. JDCA has spoken out against Trump’s inhumane immigration policy by calling on Secretary Nielsen to resign, denouncing the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the Muslim travel ban, and urging Congress to protect families at the border.
Additional Policy Issues: JDCA has spoken out against growing anti-Semitism and neo-Nazi sympathizers, especially among Trump supporters and Republican candidates for Congress. We have also condemned the administration’s efforts to reduce access to affordable healthcare, and criticized its ongoing efforts to rollback environmental protections as well as eliminating guidelines for affirmative action on college campuses.