Over at Middle East Report Online, Joel Beinin attempts to account for the ostensibly unwarranted outrage expressed by Bay Area Jewish organizations over a documentary to be screened at this year’s San Francisco Jewish Film Festival:
The festival’s board of directors surely knew that showing Rachel—which investigates the violent death of Rachel Corrie, a 23-year old American peace activist, at the hands of the Israeli army—would discomfit some Jewish viewers. But they were likely unprepared for the strident, even hysterical, objections of the official organizations of the Bay Area Jewish community. In light of the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival’s history, it is difficult to imagine that these organizations were exercised primarily by the content of the film. Indeed, they saved their strongest language for the “virulently anti-Israel, anti-Semitic” co-sponsors of the screening, Jewish Voice for Peace and the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), and the decision of the festival organizers to invite Rachel’s mother, Cindy Corrie, whom they dubbed an “Israel basher,” to take part in a question-and-answer session after the lights went up.
But generic anger at “Israel bashing” is an unsatisfying explanation for the Jewish organizations’ ire, since Jewish Voice for Peace had previously co-sponsored films at the festival and Carmeli Pollak and other Jewish filmmakers had criticized Israel’s occupation policies in much sharper terms than anything anyone in the Corrie family has said on the record. Perhaps the problem was that the festival organizers brought non-Jews—AFSC and Cindy Corrie—under the community tent to witness something of which many members of the community are ashamed.
Read the full piece here.