WASHINGTON – Armed with the same tools corporate lobbyists and others wield to protect tax cuts for the wealthy and other special interests, a leading faith voice is poised to use those tools to advocate for the nation’s most vulnerable.
Inspired by Jewish values and a steadfast belief that Jewish Americans, regardless of religious or institutional affiliations, are compelled to create justice and opportunity for all Americans, Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice (bendthearc.us) — the nation’s leading progressive Jewish voice solely dedicated to mobilizing Jewish Americans to advocate for the nation’s most vulnerable — announced today that it is launching Bend the Arc Jewish Action and Bend the Arc Jewish Action PAC.
Bend the Arc is cultivating a new and more aggressive approach to faith-based activism, blending a 501(c)3 nonprofit, a 501(c)4 nonprofit and a political action committee in order to leverage the Jewish community’s political clout, access and financial resources on domestic issues, such as a fairer tax system. Bend the Arc Jewish Action will be one of the only faith-based organizations, regardless of religious affiliation, in Washington with access to all of the political advocacy tools available today to help shape the national conversation.
“The Jewish community has been fortunate in this country to wield great influence in Congress and with the administration, but we have failed to use this clout on critical domestic issues to create justice and opportunity for all Americans — until today,” said Alan van Capelle, CEO of Bend the Arc Jewish Action. “Today marks the beginning of a new chapter of activism, rooted in Jewish values, where we will aggressively fight for the nation’s most vulnerable with all available political advocacy tools.”
The new group’s first campaign will focus on fighting for fairness in the U.S. tax system. Bend the Arc Jewish Action will work to persuade the wealthiest 2% of Americans to pay their fair share in taxes by targeting the ten wealthiest members of Congress who oppose fair-tax reform. Bend the Arc Jewish Action volunteers will travel to the districts of targeted members and draw attention to the hypocrisy of the nation’s richest members who are demanding more sacrifices from the middle class while protecting themselves from contributing their fair share.
Additionally, Bend the Arc Jewish Action is collecting pledges from wealthy American Jewish members of the 2% who believe in fair-tax reform. Bend the Arc Jewish Action’s goal is to attract 613 pledges, the same number as there are commandments in the Torah.
The Bend the Arc Jewish Action 613 Pledge reads, in part:
We are informed by our Jewish faith, which enjoins us to share our resources equitably. The 613 commandments in the Torah are all grounded by Isaiah in the two commandments of keep righteousness and do justice. Building a just America means that we who have enjoyed this great nation’s opportunities must also share its burdens. Those of us who comprise that top 2% have a responsibility to stand up and lead. We therefore call on President Obama and Congress to allow the Bush tax cuts to expire on December 31 for all Americans earning over $250,000.
“Our nation’s decision makers are faced with a number of tough choices, but creating a tax system in this country where all Americans pay their fair share is not one of them,” said Alan van Capelle. “Bend the Arc Jewish Action is committed to doing whatever it takes to bring about fair-tax reform, including publicly taking this issue to the hometowns of the U.S. representatives and senators who are standing in the way of reform to protect their own ridiculously low tax rates.”
Bend the Arc Jewish Action and Bend the Arc Jewish Action PAC will be based in Washington, D.C. Hadar Susskind, a veteran Jewish community government affairs professional with more than a dozen years of experience in Washington, will direct the new 501(c)4 nonprofit and PAC.
Recognized by the Forward newspaper as one of the Fifty Most Influential Jews in America for 2008, Susskind joins Bend the Arc after serving as a vice president of the Tides Foundation. He also served as vice president for policy and strategy at J Street and was vice president and Washington director for the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA). Susskind has held positions at a number of other Jewish organizations including the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL), the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) and the Israel Policy Forum. He has served on the White House Office of Faith Based and Neighborhood Initiatives Task Force on the Environment, as well as the boards of directors of the Coalition on Human Needs and Ameinu.
“This is an exciting opportunity, not only for me, but for all Jewish Americans frustrated that not enough attention in our community is focused on critical domestic issues such as a fairer tax system,” said Hadar Susskind, the director of Bend the Arc Jewish Action and Bend the Arc Jewish Action PAC. “Bend the Arc Jewish Action is that aggressive voice that has been missing in Jewish Washington advocacy efforts and I’m proud to be taking on this charge for the nation’s most vulnerable.”
Bend the Arc is the nation’s leading progressive Jewish voice empowering Jewish Americans to be advocates for the nation’s most vulnerable. We mobilize Jewish Americans beyond religious and institutional boundaries to create justice and opportunity for all, through bold leadership development, innovative civic engagement, and robust progressive political advocacy.