Friday, July 31, 2009

J'lem Post: Outrage at Corrie film in San Francisco

The crazy goings-on at the SFJFF are now international news:
Outrage at Corrie film in San Francisco
Jul. 30, 2009
abi goodman , THE JERUSALEM POST

Emotions ran high at the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival over the showing of Rachel, a film that looks at the International Solidarity Movement activist Rachel Corrie and her death in Gaza in March 2003.

The controversy had been brewing for some time, concerning both the showing of the film and the invitation to Rachel's mother, Cindy Corrie, to speak at the festival.

In the wake of protests against the showing of the film last Saturday, Peter Stein, the festival's executive director, invited Dr. Mike Harris, one of the leaders of the local Stand With Us chapter, to speak in order to put across his objections. Stand With Us is a pro-Israel advocacy organization based in Los Angeles.

In his speech Harris, to give some context to the film, talked about the spate of suicide bombings that took place leading up to Rachel's death. He referred to the other "Rachels" who died as a result of terrorist attacks preceding Rachel Corrie's death.

Harris was heckled throughout most of his speech. Cries of "not true" followed his accusation that the ISM had aided terrorists who took over Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity in 2002, and mocking laughter ensued when he said: "That's why the young IDF soldier was operating the bulldozer in Rafah... It was to destroy the tunnels used to smuggle explosives for murdering Israelis."

When Harris criticized the choice of sponsor for the film, saying the "American Friends Service Committee supports boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel," his words were followed by hoots of support for the AFSC.

Harris went on to mention the AFSC's decision to host a dinner for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, which drew more cheers of support from the audience.

In his blog following the incident, Harris wrote that he was not surprised by the responses from the audience. "Stand With Us fully supported [my] appearance, realizing that this was a unique opportunity to present our viewpoint, even knowing that the majority of the audience would be hostile."

On July 20, five days before the screening, the president of the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival board, Shana Penn, resigned over the issue. "Healthy differences on how to approach sensitive issues" was her reason for resigning, she said, according to j., a San Francisco area Jewish newsweekly.

Standing by its decision to show the film and to invite Cindy Corrie, the festival released the following statement: "We are presenting the views of the filmmakers and their subjects in what we hope is an atmosphere that encourages free expression and public debate.

"We believe that the best artists, including documentary filmmakers, create work that makes us think and sparks a dialogue both within the Jewish community and the greater community of the Bay Area."

The film's director Simone Bitton has put together interviews with eyewitnesses, IDF soldiers and spokespeople to try to bring new information to the table regarding Corrie's death.

The film was protested for its anti-Israel nature, which was seen as unsuitable for a Jewish film festival. Rachel has already been shown at the Berlin International Film Festival and the Tribeca Film Festival in New York.

Federation President to donors: don't pester us about mistakes, just keep paying for anti-Israel propaganda

Here's an astonishing email from SF Federation President Jim Koshland to a donor who expressed concern about the recent propaganda-fest at the SFJFF.

Note that Mr. Koshland can't even bring himself to condemn the showing of the Corrie film at the SFJFF!  He blandly refers to "mistakes" made by an unnamed "wonderful program[s]" and goes on to describe the SFJFF in glowing terms: "a cultural event that shines brightly upon our whole community."

Note too that Koshland praises the SFJFF as an institution which has "served to connect thousands of otherwise disconnected Jews to our community for the past 29 years."  Apparently, to his way of thinking, alienated anti-Israel Jews are an important constituency for the SFJFF!

Given Koshland's attitude and his commitment to continue Federation funding for anti-Israel events, it's hardly surprising that increasing numbers of clear-thinking donors like Mr. Alon are deciding they have better places to send their donations
From: Koshland, Jim []
Sent: Friday, July 31, 2009 6:52 AM
To: Zvi Alon
Subject: Re: JFF and more

Zvi, we appreciate your strong concerns and your taking the time to communicate these concerns. However, for the reasons explained below, we cannot take the actions you are recommending.

Jim Koshland

Thank you for adding your voice to the many we are hearing.

The emotion swirling around the Jewish Film Festival this year has generated a great number of emails from those angry with the Festival, and, in some cases, by implication, with the Federation. And we have also received an equal number of messages, just as passionate, in support of the Festival. This is clearly a reflection of the diversity of opinion in the Bay Area Jewish community, as well as the strength of our commitments and convictions.

Every few months we at the Federation are confronted with a campaign like this, in which a vocal segment of our community sees the Federation as being on “the wrong side” of an issue in the community. Sometimes, those who are angry with us threaten to suspend their support of the Federation.

We understand. Federation is indeed a steward of community dollars and therefore an expression of the Bay Area Jewish community. And there are so many good things in our community that would simply not exist if it weren’t for the Federation’s investment. Last year, Federation sent almost $270,000,000 in philanthropic funding into both the Jewish and general communities, dollars that strengthened our Jewish community, helped individuals and families in need, built and supported vital institutions, funded education, environmental research, health care, community centers, senior transportation, synagogues, and museums, supported a strong and vibrant Israel, and promoted Jewish life and culture here in the Bay Area and throughout the world.

The Federation supports hundreds of programs, organizations and agencies. And we support their freedom of expression as a reflection of the diversity of our Bay Area Jewish community. Our continued investment in the programs that make up the fabric of our unique and dynamic community also ensures that Federation’s voice is heard. While we can – and indeed do -- offer our beneficiary agencies advice, counsel and guidance, we do not attempt to control them or censor them. Rather, we work with them, listen to them, and insist that they listen to us when we voice community concerns.

We have found, over the last 100 years, that this approach works very well. Indeed it built the community about which we all care so much today. We also believe that this is the best approach to achieve our mission: to connect Bay Area Jews to Jewish life, to our community and to Israel.

In a diverse community like ours, of course we don’t always all agree. And I welcome civil discourse and constructive criticism, and always want to hear what community members are thinking, even when they strongly disagree with us, or with any other community group. But I have to say that I am dismayed at the tone of many of the emails I have received from a small (but vocal) minority. I am disheartened to read the personal attacks on dedicated men and women who have tirelessly devoted themselves in service to the Jewish community. I understand that people’s passions sometimes get the better of them, but there is nothing to be gained by Jews attacking other Jews – especially in the guise of being pro-Jewish. It makes me very sad; it damages us as community, and diverts our attention from addressing the critical issues we do face.

We believe that the Jewish Film Festival is a cultural event that shines brightly upon our whole community, and indeed our entire Bay Area. It has also served to connect thousands of otherwise disconnected Jews to our community for the past 29 years. For every challenging movie in the program (and every year the Festival’s program challenges some part of our community), there are so many more to see that stimulate, inspire, and educate, and just as many that leave us touched and moved and filled with pride.

And, yes, sometimes even wonderful programs make, in our judgment, mistakes. When this happens, we make our concerns known. But this does not negate their value and importance.

We appreciate your passionate commitment and your support of the things that matter to you. Working together in a respectful and civil manner, we can build a stronger and more vibrant Jewish community, a more dynamic Bay Area community.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

JVP and the "Progressive" Attack on Reason

As all sane Jews who have encountered Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) activists know, any attempt to understand their reasoning is futile. Try Lincoln Shlensky's July 28 blog entry on for size. Her ranting arguments are so convoluted and so absolutely confused, that ultimately her logorreah will only make sense to the post-60s hippies and "progressive" Hamasniks who are at the core of her pathetic and angry group of anti-Israel ideologues.

What Shlensky and her misguided comrades fail to comprehend is that it is not the fact of the "Rachel" screening that offends us the most; it is the participation of JVP, its presence on the SFJFF Board, its co-presenting with the American Friends Services Committee, and its tacit support with Federation funds. JVP is a disgrace to our community and a blight on our people, and we will not rest until it is utterly purged from our cultural institutions.

Commentary on SFJFF "Rachel" Screening

[...] The big issue for me was the predictable and unacceptable behavior of the anti-Israel members of the audience and the festival’s role in their presence at the screening. The festival associated itself with the Jewish Voice for Peace and the American Friends Services Committee, two organizations which demonstrate a sophisticated, cloaked hostility to Israel. Their stated objective is peace but their criticism is leveled almost exclusively at Israel. They ignore Arab anti-Semitism, terrorism and intransigence in proposing solutions to the conflict, proposals whose implementation would inevitably weaken Israel and endanger her citizens. In my opinion, they are a threat to Israel and, by extension, the Jewish people.

The Film Festival either asked or allowed the JVP and AFSC to be the only co-presenters for “Rachel.” As such, they were to promote the film in an attempt to sell more tickets. As one would expect, they did so by encouraging their membership to attend. The result was a very large number of their members in the audience, people who are, at best, profoundly skeptical of Israel’s intentions and who, with complete disregard to the feelings of other members of the community, behaved quite poorly. They booed, hissed and mocked Michael Harris of S.F. Voice for Israel at multiple points while he spoke before the film, (you can hear examples at, 1:30 – 2:00 and 3:00 – 4:15). Unbelievably, someone actually yelled out “Sieg Heil” twice during his speech (4:06 of the YouTube video – this person was somewhere behind me and I have a better recording of him if you would like to hear it more clearly to be certain). [NB: I should point out that I cannot say definitively that this person was a member of either of these groups so perhaps it is unfair of me to blame them for this] Whether this person is an anti-Semite or trying to draw an analogy between Israeli and Nazi policies is immaterial; such language is unacceptable, particularly at a Jewish communal event. Furthermore, as you can see in the attached pictures, many of these people wore clothing which clearly demonstrated their sympathies. There was no shortage of keffiyehs and t-shirts with “We’re All Palestinians” or “End the Occupation.” A friend of mine said that a person in front of her had a button on that said “Yes to Hamas.” Policy disagreement is one thing; suppressing the voice of a mainstream pro-Israel activist and sartorially identifying with Israel’s enemies are another.

Quite frankly, I think it is the Jewish Voice for Peace which is instigating the Jew against Jew dynamic that none of us wants to see and I think it is unfair to say that people who respond are causing the rift. Critical responses to their policies and behavior are not just reasonable but necessary if we want to support the community. That said, I agree with David that private, frank discussions should be the first step. However, if as Jonathan suggest, this has been tried many times to no avail, a different approach should be considered. I don’t know the history of this debate and don’t feel qualified to advocate a specific communal approach. However, I can say that I consider the JVP and AFSC to be hostile to the interests of the majority of the Jewish community and that the aggressive and immature actions of their members at the festival disgusted me. I don’t think they should have any role at the event and that the Festival leadership should not be encouraging their presence.

I have been attending the film festivals for the last few years and have really, really enjoyed the experience. I think SFJFF offers excellent independent film and serves as a great communal meeting ground. I want it to continue in more or less its current form, offering film that entertains, educates and challenges the community. I want it to offer the safe, mainstream perspective as well as the uncomfortable, difficult point of view. Along with this, though, I want it to be a place where mainstream Jews who openly support Israel can feel comfortable and not intimidated or harassed. That is what I want. I think that is what the film festival wants as well but I am not sure and I certainly don’t think they draw the same line as many, though not all, of us do between acceptable and unacceptable. I would like to hear the film festival’s views on this subject. They have every right to maintain their current policies, policies which I believe create an environment hostile to Jews at an event for the Jewish community, but, should they chose to do, I will no longer support them.



PS Something I just learned tonight. The SFJFF screened "The Yes Men Fix the World." It was to be shown in the Jerusalem Film Festival as well but Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno, who made the film, withdrew it in solidarity with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign targeting Israel ( Given that this decision was published no later than July 1 (, I have to assume the Film Festival knew it was screening a movie whose producers were in league with an organization that considers Israel to be a colonial, racist, apartheid state, an organization that advocates a right of return for Palestinians which would likely destroy Israel as a Jewish homeland.

T-shirt of one of the attendees

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Photos of ISM Screening

Thanks to, who attended the ISM screening of "Rachel", we have photos of some of the wonderful supporters of Israel who showed up at the event. Be sure to see also the VIDEO of Voice for Israel leader Mike Harris attempting to win sympathy for Israel while being booed and heckled. For some reason, Ahmadinejad, Nasrallah and Haniyeh couldn't make it. Obviously they felt they didn't need to, since Jewish Voice for "Peace", the American "Friends" Services Committee, the Rachel Corrie Foundation, and the International Solidarity Movement were out in force, and evidently had everything completely under control. All of Israel's friends were there, including:

Donna (left) and Darlene (right) Wallach,
aka "Warlock Sisters" (who met with Hamas in Gaza on Aug. 24, 2008, and personally received medals from Haniyeh)

Darlene Wallach in tears as she applauds.
Notice her "Hamas" cap--a gift from Haniyeh perhaps?

Women in Black (or "Walruses in Black"--we're not sure which)

"The Grim Reaper".
SF radical chic fashion at its best.
Sorry ladies, he's probably not available on JDate.

Don't we all feel better knowing that Peter Stein and the SF Jewish Federation saw to it that the screening was balanced and culturally sensitive?

Jewish Voice for Peace statement on the "Rachel" Screening

The JVP, whose Interim National Director, Rachel Pfeffer, is on the Board of Directors of the SFJFF, has made a statement about yesterday's "Rachel" Screening. Given the virulently anti-Zionist ideology of the ultra-"progressive" Jewish group, it comes as no surprise that its leadership bitterly criticizes the appearance of pro-Israel activist Mike Harris at the event:

SF Federation money + JCRC support = JVP + ISM

Video of Dr. Mike Harris at the "Rachel" Screening

If you wish to understand just how low the SF Jewish Film Festival has sunk under the leadership of Peter Stein and the current Executive Board, see this video clip from yesterday (July 25) of Dr. Mike Harris of Voice for Israel at the "Rachel" screening:

The room was completely filled with anti-Semitic and anti-Israel extremists, who booed and yelled during Harris' talk, deriding him viciously every time he showed any support for Israel. In fact, they expressed absolutely no sympathy for the Zionist cause whatsoever.

The screening of this film, co-presented by the extremist groups Jewish Voice for Peace and the American Friends Services Committee (the crowd cheered loudly at their mere mention), is a disgrace that will never be forgotten in this community.

No self-respecting Jew will EVER donate money to the SF Jewish Federation again after seeing this video and understanding what kind of politically-correct, culturally-sensitive crap it stands for. Every Bay Area Zionist must feel ashamed after this repulsive debacle.

Cindy and Mr. Corrie with Arafat.
Yes, why not invite her to speak at a Jewish film festival?

Saturday, July 25, 2009

SF Chronicle: "Documentary sparks uproar at Jewish film fest"

Documentary sparks uproar at Jewish film fest

Matthai Kuruvila, Chronicle Staff Writer
Saturday, July 25, 2009

The San Francisco Jewish Film Festival has come under siege after deciding to show a documentary about Rachel Corrie, a Washington state 23-year-old killed in 2003 while trying to prevent an Israeli military bulldozer from demolishing a Palestinian's home.

Whether Corrie naively put herself in harm's way in support of terrorists or was intentionally killed by the Israeli military is the nexus of the controversy.

Compounding the issue, festival organizers invited Corrie's mother, Cindy, to speak after today's showing at the Castro Theatre of the film "Rachel." It is one of 71 films at this year's festival, which includes two films profiling kidnapped Israeli soldiers.

The reaction has been outrage. The festival board's president stepped down from her role, opening-night ceremonies were boycotted by some, and Israel Consul General Akiva Tor said it was a "big mistake to invite Mrs. Corrie."

Read more here.

Two comments:

1) While Akiva Tor did say it was a mistake to invite Mrs. Corrie, he has been very helpful to the SFJFF, making a public statement supporting the Festival which is being trumpeted by the new head of SFJFF board. To our knowledge, he has not made any public statement condemning the Film Festival for sponsoring the Corrie film, and any claim that the Israeli Consulate has pushed hard to stop the showing of the film is, unfortunately, laughable.

2) The comments section of the Chron article is quite something. Have a look if you've got a strong stomach.

Congratulations, Peter Stein and Daniel Sokatch!

We understand that there was a heavy anti-Israel turn-out for the Corrie event, and the JVP, Women in Black and other Israel haters engaged in quite a bit of recruiting there.

We're sure that Federation donors are very happy that you have provided such a valuable service for the local anti-Israel community. Further, Jews through out the SF Bay area look forward to the higher level of anti-Israel activism that you have helped facilitate.

Kol HaKavod!

Anti-Semitic Website Supports "Rachel" Screening

Among the supporters of the SFJFF Board's decision to screen the controversial film is, whose slogan is "White Pride Worldwide." The comments posted on their website say it all. Nice.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Boycott Divestment Sanctions: The SFJFF Connection

The Executive Director and Board of the SFJFF have invited the Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), Rachel Corrie Foundation (RCF), and International Solidarity Movement (ISM) to participate in the "Rachel" screening on July 25 at the Castro. All of the latter organizations actively support the Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) movement against the state of Israel, and many among them have actively worked to boycott and even physically tamper with Israeli products in Bay Area Trader Joes stores during the last two months. See the local BDS Facebook page, and if you have the stomach for it, see the local sabotage-Trader-Joes website. Finally, see the letter (scroll to bottom) that the local BDS people, supported and aided by SFJFF invitees, sent to Don Bane, President and CEO of Trader Joes.

Judge them by their friends.

Help identify the ISM vandals

Several comments have been left identifying two of the ISM vandals depicted in this post. Please leave comments here if you recognize more of them. If you wish, please email with your contact information so we can arrange for you to testify when this matter makes it to court.

ISMers: don't worry, we've downloaded the video, so don't bother trying to remove it. Just relax and enjoy your film festival! We in the Jewish community are happy to help!

SF Federation Under Fire

Dear Friends,

I am forwarding the email that my friend Dr. Max Grossman sent to Peter Stein and the festival board. It contains some very disturbing information about recent Bay Area activity of the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement (BDS), which is supported by all three of the organizations involved in the SFJFF "Rachel" event -- the Rachel Corrie Foundation, the Jewish Voice for Peace, and the American Friends Service Committee. Perhaps most disturbing of all is the YouTube video of anti-Israel activists descending on a Bay Area Trader Joe's, vandalizing the Israeli products there and harassing TJ's customers so that they, too, will join in the boycott of Israel. Make no mistake: these anti-Israel vandals and thugs are the same ones with whom the SFJFF is partnering to put on the "Rachel" event, and who will be filling the seats in the Castro Theater tomorrow, the Jewish Sabbath, and cheering for a movie and a speaker that encourage the destruction of the Jewish State.

While Peter Stein and the Festival board bear the primary guilt for this abomination, the leaders of the San Francisco Federation, which is a key supporter of the festival, bear some culpability. If they wanted to, they could do what was right and ensure that this anti-Semitic event was excised from our Jewish film festival. Until now, they have refused to do so. Therefore they, too, are guilty of abdicating their responsibility as Jewish leaders, and failing the community they are charged with serving.

The film festival debacle indicates that there is clearly a crisis of leadership in our Jewish community. But if we do not hold our leaders accountable, then we are as culpable as they are.

Please contact the SF Federation President Jim Koshland ( Let him know how angry you are that the Federation has not intervened to stop this event, and explain to him that Federation's inaction will undoubtedly result in a similar inaction on the part of outraged community members, when it comes time to donate to Federation.

Please be sure to copy your emails to the following:,,

Please, too, forward this email widely.

Shabbat shalom,


Call for Resignations of the SFJFF Board and Executive Director

Here is a letter that Dr. Grossman recently submitted to Stein and the SFJFF Board:

Dear Mr. Stein and Board of Directors,

I wish to add my voice to the growing chorus of Jews in our community who demand that you cancel the "Rachel" screening and submit your resignations. As is well known, the Rachel Corrie Foundation (RCF), the Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) and the American Friends Services Committee (AFSC) are major protagonists of the Boycott Divestment Sanctions Movement (BDS) Indeed, the AFSC is directly implicated in BDS actions in the Bay Area, as one may read in the minutes from the group's last meeting on July 14, which not only includes a discussion of the "Boycott, divestment, sanctions initiatives," but also plans for their implementation in local Trader Joes stores! In this recent video, in which anti-Zionist activists walk the aisles of Trader Joes and interfere with Israeli products while intimidating consumers into not purchasing them, one can see their strategy in action:

Do any of you have any idea of what you are actually supporting? Do you even realize what JVP, AFSC, ISM and RCF stand for? Based on your recent actions, I am inclined to believe that you do.

We are well aware, Mr. Stein, that almost since the moment you began your tenure with the Festival, the JVP and American Friends Services Committee have participated regularly at SFJFF screenings. That neither group has contributed financially or operationally to your enterprise, as you indicated in your most recent apologia, does not reassure us. Indeed, your explanation that your "program staff" invites "promotion partners to assist in [your] outreach efforts to diverse communities of interest who may wish to attend" worries us even more. To whom are you reaching out? The ISM and other philo-terrorists who work tirelessly for our demise? The bottom line is that you and your colleagues have invited the JVP, AFSC, ISM (Simone Bitton) and RCF (Cindy Corrie) to participate in an official capacity, and thus you have have honored and legitimized them through your efforts, while significantly enhancing their status.

The presence on your Board of Dr. Rachel Pfeffer, who has served as Interim National Director of Jewish Voice for Peace from late 2007 through at least this past May (if we believe her SFJFF bio before you abridged it on July 20), is absolutely intolerable to a great number of Jews in both the Bay Area community and, as you are no doubt discovering, the United States. That you should admit such a woman among your ranks, along with others who have had ties to the JVP, represents more than a weak-minded desire to admit viewpoints from a wide political spectrum into a cultural dialog about Israelis and Palestinians; it is symptomatic of a demonic strategy on the part of a fringe group of "progressive"-minded Jews for admitting anti-Israel extremists into mainstream Jewish organizations, who then work stealthily to undermine our Jewish ancestral homeland.

In summary, it is evident to every proud and self-respecting Jew in our community that you are aiding and abetting the enemies of the Jewish people--you who occupy the Directorship and Board of an important San Francisco Jewish cultural institution with international standing.

I strongly urge you to cancel the "Rachel" screening, publicly apologize, and resign your positions.

Respectfully yours,
Max Grossman, Ph.D.

Film suggestion for next year's Festival

Attention Peter Stein: Jonathan Tobin reports that there's a new movie that you'd probably enjoy showing at the SFJFF:
If you like Palestinian terrorism then you’ll love the new Hamas-produced movie now premiering in Gaza. In today’s New York Times, Ethan Bronner writes that the film (shot in a media center built in what used to be the Israeli settlement of Gush Katif) profiles the life of Emad Akel, a Hamas leader killed in 1993. According to the article, the film is part of a new Palestinian cultural renaissance aimed at building a “culture of resistance.” The artistic boom in Gaza includes movies, plays, art exhibits, poetry, and television series.

As long as you don't invite any of Akel's relatives to speak at the event, I'm sure that Daniel Sokatch and all the rest will approve.

Kristallnacht in the grocery aisle: SFJFF partners vandalizing Israeli products at Trader Joe's

In this video you will see members of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement (BDS), an anti-Israel group which is supported by all three of the organizations involved in the SFJFF "Rachel" event -- the Rachel Corrie Foundation, the Jewish Voice for Peace, and the American Friends Service Committee, descend upon a local Trader Joe's grocery store, vandalize Israeli products, and try to bully customers into boycotting Israeli goods.

If you look carefully at the video, you will see that the slogan on the back on the black t-shirts that the vandals are wearing matches the slogan displayed by the JVP at the anti-semitic rally we reported on earlier.

These are the people that the SFJFF has allied themselves with. Charming, no?

Thursday, July 23, 2009


From the J article:
Another festival funder raising objections is the S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation. CEO Daniel Sokatch disagreed with the decision to invite Corrie to speak but otherwise supported the festival and its showing of “Rachel.”

With "leaders" like this, it's no wonder we're in such a mess.

"J": Rachel Inferno Gets Even Hotter

The J: ‘Rachel’ inferno gets even hotter for S.F. festival

It sure does: the SFJFF board president resigns, calls for the removal of SFJFF Exec Director Peter Stein mount, coverage spreads world-wide, and donors start getting nervous.

Here's the beginning of the most recent J coverage of the controversy:
If the Academy handed out an Oscar for community turmoil, the Rachel Corrie flap at this year’s San Francisco Jewish Film Festival would win handily.

Dissension in the local Jewish community continued unabated over the festival’s upcoming screenings of “Rachel,” a film that investigates the death of anti-Israel activist Rachel Corrie, and its invitation to her mother, Cindy Corrie, to speak afterward.

On July 20, festival board president Shana Penn resigned from her post, citing “healthy differences on how to approach sensitive issues,” with five months left on a two-year term.

This came as a pro-Israel speaker was hastily added to the Saturday, July 25 screening in San Francisco and as some sponsors criticized the festival’s program.

Read more here.

Somononia: "And now, Strike Two"

From the excellent Solmonia blog:
Another Anti-Israel Film at the SF Jewish Film Festival

Strike One.

And now, Strike Two: Another Israel-bashing film at the SFJFF!

The San Francisco Jewish Film Festival is the anti-Israel, anti-semitic (there, we said it) gift that keeps on giving!

Not willing to settle for merely assaulting the Jewish state with the one-two punch of the screening of the hagiographic flick "Rachel" followed by a live presentation by the mother of the no-longer-with-us pro-terror activist, the ever-transgressive SFJFF is also presenting a charming documentary called "Defamation"...


FrontPage Mag: "Jew-Hate at Jewish Film Festival"

Coverage of the controversy in FrontPage Magazine:
Jew-Hate at Jewish Film Festival
By: Jamie Glazov | Thursday, July 23, 2009

Why is a Jewish film festival giving a platform to a documentary and to an individual that serve the cause of anti-Jewish hate?

This Saturday, July 25, organizers of the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival plan to show “Rachel,” an anti-Israel propaganda film. The documentary is based on the life and death of Rachel Corrie, an anti-Israel, anti-American activist who was killed in Gaza in 2003 when she deliberately ran in front of an Israeli bulldozer to protect a home that was sheltering terrorists. And not just content with showing the propaganda film, the organizers have invited Rachel’s mother, Cindy Corrie, also an Israel-basher, to speak at the screening and to participate in a question-and-answer session after the viewing.

Read more here.

No amount of phony "balancing" of the Corrie event is going to make this story go away. It's time for the event to be canceled and for SFJFF Executive Director Peter Stein to resign.

Breaking: SFJFF Board President resigns

We have it on good authority that Shana Penn, President of Board of the SF Jewish Film Festival, has resigned. We expect more interesting developments in the next few days.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Another Israel-bashing film at the SFJFF!

The San Francisco Jewish Film Festival is the anti-Israel, anti-semitic (there, we said it) gift that keeps on giving!

Not willing to settle for merely assaulting the Jewish state with the one-two punch of the screening of the hagiographic flick "Rachel" followed by a live presentation by the mother of the no-longer-with-us pro-terror activist, the ever-transgressive SFJFF is also presenting a charming documentary called "Defamation".

To get an idea of what this film is about, let's have a look at the what the East Bay Express has to say about "Defamation":
... Israeli writer-director Yoav Shamir has a potentially touchier sociopolitical axe of his own to grind in his documentary Defamation, which plays the Castro on July 26 and the Roda, August 6. Shamir asks: What is anti-Semitism today, two generations after the Holocaust?

Good question. To answer it, keen-eyed filmmaker Shamir (Checkpoint, Flipping Out) jets back and forth across the globe, from an Israeli-sponsored student tour of the death camps at Auschwitz to Crown Heights, Brooklyn to a Moscow synagogue to the Vatican to the offices of the Anti-Defamation League, which is where the investigation starts producing heat. More than one observer is suspicious of the ADL's motives in keeping track of even the smallest anti-Semitic incidents around the world, and of the ADL's cozy relationship with the Israeli military.

One thing seems to bother such commentators as Israeli peacenik Uri Avnery, blackballed historian Norman Finkelstein, and political scientists John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt: that the "Israeli Lobby" of neo-cons in the United States is using charges of anti-Semitism to silence critics of Israeli policy, especially toward Palestine. Avnery goes so far as to say that, "The phenomenon of anti-Semitism only exists in the Israeli media and in the minds of the Jewish big shots of the world who make a living fighting anti-Semitism."

Are people who criticize Israel really anti-Semites in disguise? No, say Shamir's subjects, who see the rise of the "anti-Semitic and Holocaust industries" in the United States and elsewhere — Auschwitz in particular has become a macabre theme park where Israeli paramilitary groups parade — as the leading edge of attempts by Israeli and American rightwing Jews to shut down objections to Israel's aggression toward Palestinians. Defamation (Hashmatsa), yet another example of the Jewish Film Festival's fearless refusal to play it safe, is sure to provoke discussion, especially after the scene in which a weary-looking Israeli man visiting Auschwitz speaks his mind: "We perpetuate death, and that's why we will never become a normal people, because we emphasize death and what happened."

"Fearless refusal to play it safe?" More like "neurotic tendency to hate one's self!"

Can we please skip this year's Festival and use the generous community funding normally spent on this hate-fest to send SFJFF honcho Peter Stein and his pals off for the therapy they so clearly require?

Blockbuster: Koret and Taube Foundations slam SFJFF

Hats off to the Koret and Taube Foundations for taking a stand on this important issue! They have spoken out at a time when much of the local organized Jewish community, preferring "shah, shtil" to "acharai", have either covered for the SFJFF, working behind the scenes to help them defuse the crisis, or have offered tepid words of mild disapproval while studiously avoiding taking any real action.

Here's the text of a statement recently issued by Jeffrey Farber, CEO of the Koret Foundation Funds:

As staunch champions and allies of Israel, the Koret and Taube Foundations do not support any organization that promotes or provokes anti-Israel sentiment; nor do we provide funding to any organization whose mission runs counter to our position. In this instance, the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival has made three egregious errors in its upcoming presentation of the film, “Rachel”:

It is partnering with Jewish Voice for Peace and the American Friends Service Committee, two virulently anti-Israel, anti-Semitic groups that support boycotts, divestment, and sanctions against Israel. Both are closely associated with the International Solidarity Movement and other groups that aid and abet terror against the Jewish State. These groups cross the line for inclusion in the Jewish community.

The film festival made a conscious choice to present a film that lays blame for the accidental death of a civilian at the door of the State of Israel. We are deeply saddened by loss of life, most notably the countless Israeli lives lost and interrupted by virtue of service to their country. Presenting the story of a girl who put herself in harm’s way in no way advances our community dialogue. In fact, it threatens our community purposes.

Finally, we are appalled at the film festival’s decision to invite Cindy Corrie into our community. This bereaved mother cannot help but have a negative bias toward Israel. Why would a Jewish organization hand her a microphone and a soapbox from which to condemn Israel as Jewish audiences are expected to sit and listen politely? There is no possible counterbalance to an emotional, grieving mother.

Those who cavalierly fling Israel’s future into the grasp of those who would destroy it betray a mainstay of the mainstream Jewish community to support Israel and to counteract anti-Israel propaganda events, speakers and organizations. In this case, the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival has aligned itself with the wrong side.

Jeffrey A. Farber
Chief Executive Officer
Koret Foundation Funds

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Federation CEO Sokatch: problem is "not offering a range of perspectives"

This note by Daniel Sokatch, CEO of the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties (man, that's a mouthful) is revealing. Pull out your shovel before reading his message --- you're going to need it!

Emphasis mine:

In my judgment, the Festival, for which I have a very high regard as a major cultural institution within and beyond the Jewish community, made a mistake in inviting her without offering a range of perspectives on the film’s controversial subject of the role of the International Solidarity Movement. I have conveyed these concerns to their leadership while fully respecting the fact that the Festival has the right as an independent organization to make and be responsible for its decisions.

I am pleased to report that the Festival has done the following in response to the legitimate criticisms about this program (see the attached statement):

1) Mike Harris, co-founder of San Francisco Voice for Israel, has been invited to speak and will make remarks immediately prior to the showing of the film;

2) The Festival has apologized for not fully anticipating how divisive the program was likely to be;

3) The Festival’s leadership has recognized the importance of learning from this experience with the intent of approaching potential controversies in the future with greater sensitivity and care in planning.

Under the leadership of Festival Director, Peter Stein, the Festival continues to set a very high standard for outstanding films and programming and this year’s overall program again provides an extraordinary array of films on subjects of Jewish interest, including more than 30 about Israel. I very much hope that the decisions undertaken by the Festival in response to the criticisms about the “Rachel” program will help begin to restore your confidence in this important institution.

Thank you again for your interest and concerns,

Daniel Sokatch
Chief Executive Officer
Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties

Shovel ready? Let's break this down:
  1. In Sokatch's view, the problem here is the fact that the otherwise excellent SFJFF leadership failed to provide a "range of perspectives" on the ISM. What, did they fail to also invite a Klansman and a Hamas member to round out the discussion of exactly how Israel should be destroyed?

    Get real. This has nothing to do with not offering "a range of perspectives." Inviting a token pro-Israel activist at the last minute is nothing but a side-show intended to distract the rubes. The real issue is the fact that a Jewish institution which receives (according to the SFJFF web site) "major support" from the Jewish Federation sees absolutely nothing wrong with using that "major support" to propagandize against Israel.

  2. SFJFF leadership is to be faulted not for showing an anti-Israel film and inviting a vicious anti-Israel activist to speak but for not "fully anticipating how divisive the program would be."

    Translation: It's cool to host Israel-bashers. Just keep your eyes open and do it gingerly.

  3. The SFJFF needs to learn to deal with "potential controversies in the future with greater sensitivity and care in planning."

    No, they need to learn to not abuse Israel with Jewish communal funds.

Of course, coming from a guy who has a reputation for being a "useful idiot" accustomed to defending Israel-hating whack jobs, this pathetic rationalization of SFJFF bad behavior is hardly surprising.

Word is getting out (updated!)

The word about this scandal is getting out. We're starting to see blog entries, action alerts from pro-Israel organizations and press reports coming in from around the world regarding the use of Jewish communal resources to smear Israel here in Baghdad by the Bay.

Here are just a few links to SFJFF coverage.
We're quite certain that there will be many more in the coming days. Stay tuned!

The disappearing hairy gray elephant

Note to the SFJFF staff: remember, it's often the cover-up that gets you.

It appears that the SFJFF is trying to play down the radical background of their board member Rachel Pfeffer, the Interim National Director of Jewish Voice for Peace. Sorry, guys -- the Internet is forever, and it's impossible to shove things like this down the memory hole. Nice try, though!

Here's my friend Max G's explanation:

The hairy gray elephant (Rachel Pfeffer, Ph.D.) I identified in my previous email has attempted to morph into Cindarella. In the wake of my realization that the Jewish Voice for Peace leader is on the SFJFF Board, and the inevitable community rage that resulted, Peter Stein and his people evidently abridged and utterly modified Pfeffer's bio on the SFJFF website: http: // But thanks to the wonders of modern technology, a cached version of the original survives on! I have cut and pasted both the original and current versions below for your general amusement. Could it be that the Board is trying to hide something (e.g. that there is an anti-Zionist extremist among their ranks)? You be the judge.


P.S. Please note that the original bio was uploaded to Pfeffer's zoominfo website on 5/10/09, and that references to her as Interim Director of JVP litter the internet, and date from November 2008 to the present. We know EXACTLY who she is and what she stands for.

ORIGINAL VERSION (until 7/20/09):

Rachel Pfeffer is Interim National Director of Jewish Voice for Peace. Rachel is a Brooklyn native with over 15 years of experience as an executive director and 30 years as a grassroots activist. She served as Interim Executive Director of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, a 93 year old peace organization that does important work on behalf of peace in the Middle East, Colombia and Anti-Military Recruitment work globally.

Rachel has published a number of articles and a book on gender specific youth development, including Surviving the Streets: Girls living on their own; one of the first US ethnographies celebrating Punk identified young women. Partnering with young women was the jumping off point in founding the first of many award winning non-profit organizations including the Center for Young Women's Development in San Francisco, Young Women United for Oakland and co-founder of the Queer Youth Training Collaborative in San Francisco.

Rachel received the Women's Prison Association Award for years of work in the juvenile injustice system and Union Square Award in 2001 for co-founding Sister Outsider in East Flatbush, Brooklyn. Supporting progressive leadership is Rachel's passion and her contribution to progressive/radical politics. No one has worked herself out of more jobs while advocating for power sharing, training and supporting new leaders than has Rachel. Over the course of 30 years Rachel was active in the following movements: anti-nuclear, women's consciousness raising, central America, ACT-UP, women's health, Israel/Palestine to name a few.

Rachel has been an avid film supporter. In the past, she has been known to take a week off from work to attend the Jewish Film Festival, and the International Film Festival. She also supports friends who are film makers and most recently she organized the Kids Movie Salon, a monthly East Bay hot spot for 5-8 year olds to watch and discuss movies while eating pizza and ice cream without parents.

CURRENT VERSION (since 7/20/09):

After founding and co-founding award-winning youth development organizations and transitioning out with skilled young people directing the organizations, Rachel began a consulting business to support progressive organizations and leadership. Rachel advises young leaders in particular and facilitates social change locally nationally and internationally. Rachel's consulting business includes executive management transitions. She has served as interim executive director of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, GirlSource, Inc, Jewish Voice for Peace and Nuestra Casa

Monday, July 20, 2009

Action alert!

Here's an alert that's circulating about the Corrie event. Please read it and take action.

The continued support of the Festival by the Jewish Federation could have serious national ramifications (as described below).

The Jewish Federation must not legitimize virulently anti-Israel groups!

San Francisco's leading Jewish community organization should not lend its
name and hard won reputation to the Jewish Film Festival which is legitimizing extremist groups!

The Jewish Festival is co-presenting the “Rachel" propaganda event with two virulently anti-Israelextremist groups, the Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) and the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC). Both organizations unabashedly call for and support divestment from, boycotts of and sanctions directed against Israel.

The JVP routinely demonstrates against AIPAC and Israel and encourages boycotts and isolation of both.

On January 10, 2009 JVP (a co-presenter of the Jewish Festival "Rachel" event) participated in an anti-Israel hate protest in SF
For more pictures of this nasty demonstration see HERE.

On September 25, 2008 the AFSC, (also a co-presenter of the Jewish Festival "Rachel" event), hosted Iranian President Ahmadinejad at a celebratory dinner in NY.

Cindy Corrie (president of the Rachel Corrie Foundation -RCF) has been invited by the Jewish Festival to speak at this propaganda event. Cindy Corrie has been relentless in her smear and de-legitimization campaign against Israel and in her promotion of the pro-Hamas, anti-Israel, International Solidarity Movement (ISM). Cindy Corrie's RCF site hosts posts like Who Will Stop the AIPAC Jews Before it is Too Late?

Unfortunately, the Jewish Federation has not withdrawn its support from the Film Festival despite the fact that Peter Stein, the Festival’s Director, has cavalierly dismissed out of hand all the community complaints, and intends to continue with this troubling propaganda event.

If the Jewish Federation continues its support of the Festival it will not only bear responsibility for the Festival conduct, but it will have lent credibility and legitimacy to the virulently anti-Israel groups that are involved-- JVP, AFSC, ISM, Cindy Corrie's Foundation and the movie itself. This legitimization could have national ramifications as these groups point to the Festival and its co-sponsors as evidence of their "acceptability".

ISM, RCF are unambiguously anti-Israel extremist groups. Why should a mainstream organization like the Jewish Federation be cleaning up their tainted reputations?

Please Take Action Now by:

Contacting the S.F. Jewish Federation [Jim Koshland, President - (, Daniel Sokatch, CEO - ( and Rabbi Doug Kahn - ] and in the East Bay [Rabbi James Brandt CEO- ].

Tell them that:
  • You are appalled to learn that the Jewish Film Festival has become a vehicle for anti-Israel venom and that its propaganda is made possible because of Jewish Federation funds (i.e. your donations).
  • If the Festival proceeds with this event, it will be the Federation, a mainstream organization, that will havesupported the Festival and indirectly legitimize these virulently anti-Israel extremist groups and the promotion of anti-Israel propaganda.
  • You don't want the Jewish Federation--- which you fund--- to support organizations or events that help propagate anti-Israel venom and collaborate with anti-Israel groups and individuals.
  • You will withhold donations to the Federation unless and until it stops its support of the Festival if it proceeds with this irresponsible propaganda event.

Please send a copy (bcc) to

National head of Israel-bashing Jewish Voice for Peace: SFJFF board member

Jewish Voice for Peace participating in an anti-semitic rally in SF

Surprise, surprise, surprise.

Peter Stein, Executive Director of the SF Jewish Film Festival, has been trying to imply that the relationship between the odious Jewish Voice for Peace, a "co-presenter" of the Corrie propaganda event, and the Film Festival is innocuous. He says that such co-presenters "have no role in programming the films" and simply help promote the films they "co-present".

Odd, then, that Mr. Stein -- who we are sure is trying his very best to honestly communicate exactly the relationship between the SFJFF and local Israel-bashing crazies -- forgot to mention that SFJFF board member Rachel Pfeffer is Interim National Director of Jewish Voice for Peace.

Just an oversight on his part, we're sure.

Teacher's union chat list msg: Support the SFJFF, Israel supporters disloyal

More friends of the SFJFF speak up! This was posted to a local teachers's union chat list. Thanks to Dusty for passing this along.

By the way, it's good to know that according to the filmmaker, "the festival is bravely holding up." I wonder how Simone Bitton knows this. It would be interesting to know what exactly is the relationship between SFJFF director Peter Stein and this anti-Israel filmmaker.

Emphasis in the message below is mine.

To: Every American proud of our public schools and schooling, proud of our cultural diversity and multi-ethnic democratic governing tradition, and with commitment to free speech and equality of opportunity for all, PLEASE JOIN US.

Protect the film-maker and festival presenters from intolerance and bigotry. Come defend independent media.
This is the link to buy the ticket:

http://fest. film/detail? id=4732

Please support this movie - if the Israeli Consular general is daring to interfere with Americans' free press by trying to get it canceled, we must be there to defend Cindy Corrie and the film-maker and the festival's right to present a film critical of Israel and Israeli policies.

Many Americans rationally or irrationally fond of Israel forget their loyalty is supposed to be to our Constitution, and not to another state which lacks a constitution and refuses to define its geographic borders (for the reason its agenda is to expand until it's driven all Palestinians off the Palestinians' lands, which Israeli leaders have coveted since Israel was just an idea in a small band of zealots' heads a century ago). Americans need to realize we are sending billions of dollars a year to a state that's murdered scores of Americans and gotten away with it, to date. (Google U.S.S. Liberty, for instance.) Why are we sending a single dime to Israel for its massive arsenal when California is gutting public education??? ??

There was a post on my Facebook page. I don't know how many of you in the South Bay are willing to drive up to San Francisco to attend this new film on Rachel Corrie. Cindy Corrie is attending and will be available for Q & A after the film. She needs as much support as she can get. Please read below.

in solidarity
Donna Wallach

Important note from creator of film about Rachel Corrie:

"Dear Friends,

Some troubles in San Francisco, where Rachel Corrie's mother, Cindy, might have to face some hostility on July 25. She is invited for a Q&A session after the screening of my film RACHEL at the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival. The festival is under heavy pressure from Pro-Israeli lobbies and directly from the Israeli Consulate to cancel the screening and the invitation. Peter Steiner, SFJFF executive director, received hundred of stereotyped hostile mails and phone calls. The festival is bravely holding up, although there is a serious threat on their sources of funding. Of course, none of the censors have seen the film.

Please, publicize the screening to whomever you know in the Bay Area, ask them to book tickets online a.s.a.p. We hope that a large audience will be there to enjoy the film and welcome Cindy.

Simone Bitton"

The film is showing at the Castro Theater in San Francisco at 1:30pm on Saturday 25th July 2009

Israel-basher Cindy Corrie appreciates the SFJFF, asks for her friends to attend

Hat tip to "Dusty" for this comment, which we are posting as a blog entry. Emphasis in the message below is ours.

Cindy Corrie has put out an appeal for friendly faces at her appearence and blames the controversy regarding this film on the Zionist conspiracy. She clearly regards the aiding and abetting of terror as legitimate "resistance"

Her email follows:

Dear Friends,

A week from today at 1:30 PM, at the Castro Theater in San Francisco, the film Rachel will screen in the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival--the largest Jewish film festival in the country. The film was created by a well-known French-Israeli documentary filmmaker, Simone Bitton. Some of you may have seen other of her numerous films--most recently Wall. I have attached a link to the page about the current film at the festival's website: so I won't go into detail about it here; but
it is a film that focuses foremost on the circumstances of Rachel's killing and on issues surrounding investigation of the case. It, also, I feel, provides penetrating views of others who were present at the time of Rachel's killing or directly impacted, and powerful insight into what compels resistance.

The filmmaker is not able to be at the festival, and upon invitation I agreed to attend and to engage in a thirty-minute post-screening Q&A session. The film has now screened at festivals around the world, and both Craig and I attended Tribeca screenings in New York and participated in post-screening Q&A sessions there with Simone Bitton.

During the past weeks, it has come to my attention that the screening of the film and my participation at the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival has come under serious and prolonged attack from the Consul General from the Israeli Consulate [Editor's note: we wish! Unfortunately, the Consul General has put out a very weak and pathetic statement calling the Corrie film presentation a mistake but supporting the SFJFF] and other segments of the Bay Area Jewish community. It may come as no surprise to you that the festival is under extreme pressure to cancel the film and/or my appearance. The festival is standing firm in its commitment to bring the film and me while, also, constructing responses to their critics.

I am writing to encourage you to attend the screening in San Francisco, if possible, and, also, to extend whatever support you can to the festival for taking a firm stand against censorship. It will be very helpful to me to see some friendly faces in the crowd. Please pass the information along to others. Filmmaker Simone Bitton is encouraging her San Francisco friends to attend and to avoid being provocative. I, of course, also encourage decorum and thoughtful, constructive interaction.

Thanks in advance for any support.

Here is a link to the festival page about the film and ticket information.

Cindy Corrie

P.S. Please feel free to forward to those who might want to come to the film or to support the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival for standing firm.

Additional comment from the the blog editor: the claim that not wanting to have a beneficiary of the SF Jewish community engage in anti-Israel propaganda is "censorship" is nonsense. Cindy Corrie and others of her ilk are perfectly free to rant about the evil you-know-who's on their own dime. They don't have the right to have their bile subsidized by the community they are undermining.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Jewish Community Expresses Outrage over SFJFF's "Rachel" Event

Thousands of members of the Bay Area Jewish community are outraged over the SFJFF's presentation of a virulently anti-Israel and anti-Semitic event which includes a screening of the movie "Rachel;" a talk after the film by Cindy Corrie and co-presentations by Jewish Voice for Peace and the American Friends Service Committee.

Hundreds of people have contacted the festival's executive director Peter Stein to explain why this event is so deeply offensive to them. For example one man, a professor of history and Holocaust survivor, wrote to Stein:
  • "This is reminiscent of self-destructive appeasement responses of German Jews, and 'see no evil' behavior of American Jews, in 1938-39 to Nazi genocidal policies targeting Jews. To paraphrase Lenin speaking of Communist-leaning capitalists, these "useful fools" will hand us the rope with which to hang them. It is truly sad to see this history repeat itself."
Another wrote:
  • "Your organization’s decision to show this film and provide a live forum for activists of anti-zionism has saddened and disheartened me. I wish the showing could be explained away as the result of naivete and misinformation, were it not so self-destructive. Your organization is actively participating in a campaign of disinformation and demonization of Israel."
And another:
  • "It is disgraceful that the SFJFF would show a film in praise of Rachel Corrie. It is beyond belief that the SFJFF would compound this despicable act by bringing Corrie's mother to speak at the screening. I don't think you can top this for an anti-Israel, anti-Semitic event unless perhaps you can find a genocidal monster like Ahmadinejad to make an appearance. How could the SFJFF staff support a group that blatantly calls for the destruction of Israel? How can the SFJFF give support and comfort to the anti-Semites (Jews and non-Jews) who manage to hide their hatred under an anti-Zionist banner!"
To each email he has received, Stein apparently has sent the same pathetic boilerplate response, which completely ignores the depth of the anger and the seriousness of the concerns of his correspondents. Dismayed by his cavalier attitude and egregious lack of sensitivity to our Jewish community, I sent the following email to Stein and the SFJFF senior staff and board of directors, and copied prominent Jewish communal leaders and festival sponsors:

From: Tammi Benjamin
Date: July 10, 2009 2:27:14 PM PDT
Cc: Doug Kahn , Jonathan Bernstein , Mervyn Danker - AJC ,,,,,
Subject: Re: A response from SFJFF about the film RACHEL

Dear Mr. Stein,

Thank you for your email. I have read it and the attached statement of the SFJFF Executive Board and Senior Staff very carefully, and I would like to bring to your attention several concerns that neither you nor the Festival leadership have adequately addressed:

1) Simone Bitton, Director of the film "Rachel," signed a petition in January of this year calling on the UN and EU to impose immediate sanctions against Israel, because "that is the only way to stop the insatiable Israeli violence." It is hardly surprising, then, that the documentary she produced is an unambiguously anti-Israel film, whose purpose is to provoke animosity towards the Jewish State and to encourage activism against it. What is surprising, and extremely troubling for many in our Jewish community including longtime Festival supporters, is that the SFJFF would be the first Jewish film festival in the country to show this film, which seeks to demonize and delegitimize the Jewish State and is, in both intent and effect, anti-Semitic.

2) Equally troubling is the fact that you have invited Rachel Corrie's mother to speak at this event. Cindy Corrie is well-known for her anti-Israel animus and her support of organizations and projects whose goal is to harm the Jewish State. For instance, if you go to the website of the Rachel Corrie Foundation (RCF), of which Cindy Corrie is president, you will see the following:

Cindy Corrie's organization endorses groups which call for divestment and boycotts against Israel, and is a member organization of U.S. Campaign to End the Occupation, which, according to the ADL, "promotes divestment from Israeli companies, organizes anti-Israel events and lobbies the U.S. Congress to end American support for Israel."

The current lead story on the RCF website, by Code Pink founder Medea Benjamin, is entitled: "Who Will Stop the AIPAC Jews Before it is Too Late?

The RCF is a financial backer of "Birthright Unplugged," a program which, according to the ADL, "counters the Taglit-Birthright Israel trips by bringing tourists into Palestinian cities and villages and providing a distinctly anti-Israel view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."

Participants of Birthright Unplugged are encouraged to also participate in the program Birthright Unplugged Boycott/Divestment/Sanctions against Israel and Investment in Palestine (BDS + I), which the Birthright Unplugged website describes as follows:

"In light of the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel, we have designed an institute as a complement to our travel program to support organizers and activists to be better able to apply their knowledge to campaign work. We plan to work with student activists, faith-based organizers, and community leaders to develop and strengthen their campaigns of BDS against Israel."

The founder of the Birthright Unplugged program, Hannah Mermelstein, claims that Israel stole the land from the Palestinians in 1948 and that there can be no peace with Israel without the Palestinian right of return

In addition, Cindy Corrie is on the Board of the Rebuilding Alliance, an organization which accuses Israel of oppressing and abusing the Palestinian people, engages in anti-Israel political lobbying and is closely allied with the International Solidarity Movement, a group which has aided and abetted Palestinian terror against Israel.

You can also hear Cindy Corrie calling for "an end to U.S. military, economic, diplomatic and corporate support for the Israeli occupation," in this YouTube video:

3) Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) and American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), who are advertised on your website as co-presenters at the "Rachel" event, are well-known in the local Jewish community for being two of the most virulently anti-Israel organizations in the Bay Area:

JVP supports divestment, boycott and sanctions against Israel; engages in anti-Israel political lobbying; encourages Israeli youth to refuse to serve in the IDF; and through its official blog, Muzzlewatch, viciously attacks major Jewish organizations that combat anti-Semitism, such as the ADL, CAMERA, the American Jewish Committee, the Simon Wiesenthal Center and Stand With Us. In addition, JVP was a major sponsor of the October 2007 conference of Sabeel, a Palestinian Christian organization that embraces an anti-Zionist theology which claims that the founding ideology of the Jewish State is based on a false reading of the Bible, is unjust, and stands in opposition to God. Indeed, the pictures emailed to you by a professor at San Jose State University -- showing the JVP marching at an anti-Israel rally in San Francisco alongside groups holding banners bearing the slogans "Smash the Jewish State," "Zionism = Naziism; Naziism = Zionism" and "Jews are Terrorists" -- say it all. (See attached).

The AFSC, too, calls for and supports divestment, boycotts and sanctions against Israel (see the forwarded email below from the SF AFSC to its members and allies, calling them to a meeting next week to discuss "boycott, divestment, sanctions activities"), and the AFSC honored Ahmadinejad at a dinner when he was in NY.

Given that almost all of this information is a matter of public record, and you were presumably aware of it before planning this event, I can only assume that the Festival leadership condones the event's anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic thrust. Moreover, given your unwillingness to address the numerous concerns that many have already raised, including the fear that holding this event at a Jewish film festival will lend much legitimacy to its anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic message and be a significant source of incitement against Jews in our area, I can only assume that the Festival leadership is completely insensitive to these Jewish fears and concerns, and feels no sense of responsibility towards the community it claims to serve.

Therefore, I ask the Jewish community leaders and sponsors who are copied on this email, as well as the hundreds of Jewish community members who have been blind copied, to reconsider your support for this year's Festival.


Tammi Benjamin

Here is an email from the San Francisco office of the American Friends Service Committee to their partners and allies:

Dear Palestine Solidarity Partners and Allies,

On JULY 14TH, the American Friends Service Committee Middle East Program invites you to a meeting with the purpose of 'Convening the Network'. The goal of this meeting is to bring together all groups, organizations and networks working on Middle East peace issues in the Bay Area. During a time when our activism is vital and resources are becoming scarce, we would like to provide an opportunity for organizations with common goals to develop better mechanisms for communication, share information and support each others work.

AFSC will also be providing more details on the 'Citizen Hearings on the Impact of US Weapons on Civilians in Gaza' program we recently held with our Interfaith Network, as well as follow up steps on how to introduce the program to your community. Additional topics being organized by various local groups and individuals, that we intend to cover during this meeting, are as follows:

- Boycott, divestment, sanctions activities

- Lobbying

- Advocacy/Education

- A strategy for addressing the corporate media

- Discuss the possibility of a joint campaign...and more!

*WE INVITE YOU *to bring forward your related projects, ideas and energy, and encourage others to join in your work. Also, please suggest any names of those you think would be interested in joining this network, to the emails below. *

Please RSVP by July 10th to Michelle (our fabulous intern for the summer!) at 415.565.0201 ext.28 or email Lynn at: or Noura at: with any questions, or if you would like to add, or make a presentation of your work to the agenda...and/or to add you to the listserve we started specifically for those interested in this work:

American Friends Service Committee
65 Ninth Street, San Francisco
Tuesday, July 14th - 6:30PM (light snacks provided) *
Thank you!
The Middle East Peace Team
Noura, Lynn and Michelle