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

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.