Today the five Eisendrath Legislative Assistants say goodbye after an amazing year representing the Union for Reform Judaism in Washington, D.C. We have worked on nearly 70 different legislative issues, represented the RAC in countless coalitions, seen some bills signed into law and others tragically defeated, said goodbye to one Congress and welcomed the next. All in all it has been an incredible year.
When former Prime Minister Julia Gillard scheduled Australia’s elections for September 14, her decision to hold elections on Yom Kippur raised concerns throughout Australia’s Jewish community. Current Prime Minister Kevin Rudd (who took over for Gillard after her ousting in June) listened to the complaints of Jews down under and announced on Sunday that elections would be held on September 7 in order to avoid a clash with the High Holidays, which he believed would be a “massive inconvenience.” Read more…
All eyes were on Iran last week as 36 million citizens went to the polls to vote for their next president. With 50.7% of the vote, Hasan Rowhani was declared the surprise victor.
This article by Bob Feferman originally appeared in the Forward on Friday, June 14, 2013.
As Iran approaches another fraudulent presidential election on June 14, it is important to remember the 2009 protests in Iran over the results of the rigged election. The heart-wrenching picture of Neda Agha-Soltan, the young woman who was shot dead by regime thugs, was not an isolated event. Neda’s tragic death should serve as a call for us to take action, both for the sake of the people of Iran and the cause of peace.
According to the U.N. Special Rapporteur’s March 2013 report on human rights in Iran , “There continues to be widespread systemic and systematic violations of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran”.
On June 14, Iranians will go to the polls to elect their next president. While the world watches to see what course the next Iranian government will take, we at the RAC thought that it might be helpful to break down the Iranian election in advance of the vote.
While the president of a country is generally regarded as the most important figurehead of the country he or she governs, Iran does not fit this generalization. In Iran, power rests with the Supreme Leader, currently Ayatollah Khamenei. In addition to controlling the country’s media and appointing the head of the judiciary and leaders of Iran’s armed forces, the Ayatollah is responsible for appointing half of the 12-member Guardian Council. The Guardian Council exercises a veto right over any legislation and, importantly, is responsible for vetting and approving all presidential candidates.
Although the Guardian Council has not yet announced its list of approved candidates (which will be shortened from the nearly 700 that declared their candidacy), the main presidential contenders are relatively clear. According to a Guardian Council ruling, we should not expect to see any women among the contenders, as they are outlawed from running for office by the Iranian constitution.
The list of likely candidates can be broken into three camps. Camp 1 (indeed the only camp with multiple contenders) is comprised of the Supreme Leader’s picks. These include the Iranian Speaker of Parliament, the Mayor of Tehran, a senior advisor to the Ayatollah on international affairs, and the chief nuclear negotiator of Iran. Camp 2 is held down by one man, Esfrandir Rahim Mashaie. Mashaie is President Ahmadinejad’s chief of staff. President Ahmadinejad is currently under fire for illegally accompanying Mashaie to register his candidacy. Under Iranian law, Ahmadinejad could face up to 74 lashes of 6 months in prison. Whether or not he will be held accountable for such an infraction remains to be seen. Camp 3, another singular outpost, is represented by Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. A late entry into the race, Rafsanjani, who serves as President from 1989 to 1997, and lost his bid for a third (disconnected) term to Ahmadinejad in 2005.
While the Iranian election is very much focused on domestic issues, the international community is eager to see if Iran’s next president will be a more formidable diplomatic partner than President Ahmadinejad has been, potentially improving nuclear negotiations with the West and their relationship with Israel. Stay tuned to RACblog as we closely follow the election.
Image courtesy of Salem-News.
Did you know that 65% of Jews think that U.S. culture is in a better place than it was in the 1950’s? And who says that Jews are cynical!
This morning’s session with Dr. Robert Jones, founding CEO of the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI), guided participants of the Consultation on Conscience through the cold, hard numbers that help to guide U.S. public policy. We learned about the dramatic shifts in public opinion around marriage equality, the degree to which diversifying voting coalitions (along both religious and ethnic lines) will set the stage for national politics in the next decade, and how we should be phrasing our campaigns for comprehensive immigration reform to most effectively build successful coalitions.