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Fear and Self-Loathing at the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival

The festival screens a laudatory film on Rachel Corrie and invites Rachel's Hamas-supporting mother to speak. (Also read Ron Radosh: Rachel Corrie: Endless Martyr for Anti-Israel Hatred)

by
Abraham H. Miller

Bio

July 29, 2009 - 12:46 am

Simone Bitton is a French-Israeli director who numbers among the 479 Israelis who called for a complete boycott of Israel during the Israel Defense Forces incursion into Gaza to stop rockets from exploding in Sderot.

Obviously, Bitton exempted her own endeavors from the call.

Bitton has now directed the film Rachel, a documentary on Rachel Corrie. If there is any doubt regarding Bitton’s politics or the film’s slant, note that the documentary tours film festivals along with Cindy Corrie, Rachel’s mother and a propagandist for the likes of Hamas and the International Solidarity Movement — groups committed to Israel’s destruction.

One would expect Bitton’s work to be showcased by the usual gaggle of progressives and ultra-liberal church groups intent on destroying the Jewish state.

But in the San Francisco area? The Jewish Film Festival shows Bitton’s work.

Peter Stein, the festival’s director, knew exactly what he was doing in selecting this film. Stein was familiar with both Bitton’s work and her politics. He invited the American Friends Service Committee, now helping with the boycott of Israeli goods, to participate in the showing.

Stein also had on his board Rachel Pfeffer, the interim director of Jewish Voice for Peace — a group committed to the destruction of the Jewish state. (Since Rachel Pfeffer’s outing as JVP director, her biography on the festival web site has been thoroughly cleansed.)

Despite protests which have further fractured a sharply divided Jewish community, Rachel and the film festival are moving forward with the film in the name of free speech and open debate. Typically worthy aspirations, but in this case? A smoke screen.

Cindy Corrie has been up and down this community more times than the Hayward geological fault. Name an Israeli-bashing leftist group, and you’ll find its headquarters lies somewhere within five miles of the Berkeley campus.

For several years, Berkeley’s Hillel didn’t celebrate Passover, but it did celebrate Cinco de Mayo, a holiday that is not even celebrated throughout Mexico. But for leftist Jews, it’s better to align oneself with the revolt of the oppressed masses in Puebla, Mexico, than with Jews throwing off Pharaoh’s yoke of slavery.

Berkeley Hillel, under the ever-vigilant eye of the Jewish community, brought in the anti-Israel Students for Justice in Palestine, a lead organization in the anti-Israel boycott, to disseminate its propaganda to impressionable and naïve Jewish students. Berkeley Hillel could not have better served the bidding of the anti-Israel left and their Muslim allies than if it had turned over the organization to them.

If you want to get a forum in the San Francisco Bay Area Jewish community, you need to be anti-Israel, anti-Semitic, or preferably both. Cindy Corrie is not the only Cindy to get access to the community calendar here — Cindy Sheehan has also been a popular speaker. Yes, the Cindy Sheehan who said that her son died because the Iraq war was fought for Israel and orchestrated by neocons. This is a message she now denies but which others persist in claiming she wrote. Cindy Sheehan got a platform at the Berkeley-Richmond Jewish Community Center.

When the members of San Rafael’s Osher-Marin Jewish Community Center were not embracing the delicate bouquet of a good Sonoma pinot noir, they were sniffing after Cindy Sheehan, giving her a platform for a book reading and signing. You might not be able to get Obsession — the video about radical Islam — shown in some of the synagogues here (it is too pro-Israel). But you will get Sheehan.

So no — the local Jewish community is screening Rachel not out of free speech concerns, but due to strong support for its message. Why the Jewish community would choose to subsidize propaganda directed at the destruction of Israel is the real issue. Why would they play fast and loose with lies designed to undermine the legitimacy of the Jewish state? Why would they welcome people whose political mission is the killing of Jews?

Quickly justifying its clumsiness in dealing with this event, the organized Jewish professional community has issued a statement that gives new meaning to the term “sophistry.” The organized community claims to be “working behind the scenes,” at which they are so adept that no one ever knows what they are doing or can see any consequences of their work.

What few in the organized community want to acknowledge publicly is that this community is inundated with a sizeable group of leftist, self-loathing Jews who are Jews when it is convenient to propagate their leftist agenda.

As a non-Jewish acquaintance of mine, who is familiar with the people who run the festival, put it: “Most of these people don’t give a damn about Israel and wish it would disappear. To them, Israel is an embarrassment.” He, incidentally, shares that vision.

Cindy Corrie traffics in sympathy for her daughter, but I have not read a single interview where she shows the slightest compassion for the mothers of the other dead Rachels whose deaths were brought about by people her daughter sought to protect and whom she venerated. Nor does Cindy Corrie display the slightest insight into her daughter’s role as a facilitator of mass murder of innocents. Maybe Cindy Corrie should look in the mirror and ask herself why she let her daughter walk into a war zone run by terrorists, where there were daily confrontations between people trying to kill Jews and the Israeli military trying to stop them. Maybe Cindy Corrie should turn some of her anguish toward Evergreen State University, which provided academic credit for this indulgent stupidity. In continuing her daughter’s work, Cindy Corrie is not promoting peace, she is promoting human carnage.

To someone like me who remembers being taken by my grandmother to a storefront in Chicago’s Lawndale so I could help her cull through the lists of death camp survivors looking for the names of her sisters (we found one of four), I am unable to comprehend the behavior of these leftist Jews. As someone who remembers the pride that ignited a room of immigrant Jews and displaced persons when the first newsreels were shown of Jews (then called “Palestinians”) fighting for a homeland, I am incapable of imagining how these leftist Jews have been permitted to control a major community event.

They are propagating the seeds of their own destruction. Neither their leftist politics nor their pathetic condemnation of everything Israel does to defend itself will save them if the ideology, politics, and people they so mindlessly support should ever come to power.

Enamored of Marx, they should remember one of Marx’s most insightful and prophetic statements (probably taken from Georg Buchner): “Like Saturn, the revolution devours its own children.”

Abraham H. Miller is an emeritus professor of political science and a former head of the Intelligence Studies Section of the International Studies Association.
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