Friday, July 24, 2009

San Francisco Jewish Film Festival war of words

Photo from a San Francisco rally in January 27 2007__photo_by_Alison

by Becky Johnson
July 24, 2009

Santa Cruz, Ca. -- Tammi Benjamin, of Scholars for Peace in the Mideast has been spearheading a series of e-mail discussions with Peter Stein, the Executive Director of the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival. At issue is the decision by the SFJFF to play the film "Rachel" by Simone Bitton as its North American debut, and host a speech by Rachel Corrie's mother, Cindy Corrie. The first showing is scheduled for Saturday, July 25, 2009 during the Jewish Sabbath. The first of two showings, and where Cindy Corrie will be speaking, starts at 1:30PM at the Castro Theater at 429 Castro St, SF. The American Friends Service Committee and Jewish Voice for Peace are listed as co-presenters. So far, Stein and the SFJFF have held fast and the "Rachel" screening is going forward.


Sunday, July 26, 2009

SF Jewish Film Festival Audience Jeers Pro-Israel Speaker but Cheers for Ahmedinejad

The controversy about the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival's invitation to Cindy Corrie hit a fever pitch this week. An editorial in "j", our local community newspaper, endorsed the same opinion previously expressed here. In addition, the president of the SFJFF board resigned and two prominent local foundations issued a stinging criticism of the Film Festival's decision to invite Mrs. Corrie.

But things were to get even more interesting. I was personally invited by Peter Stein, the executive director of the SFJFF, to make a brief statement prior to the film to discuss why many of us objected to this program. While I knew that this would be a hostile audience, I didn't anticipate objections from many dedicated activists within the pro-Israel community who felt that this would let the Film Festival off the hook by allowing them to claim that they had "balanced" the program. However, StandWithUs fully supported this appearance, realizing that this was a unique opportunity to present our viewpoint, even knowing that the majority of the audience would be hostile.

And everything that happened yesterday was exactly as anticipated. Not only had the event's co-sponsors, Jewish Voice for Peace and American Friends Service Committee, sent out appeals to their members to show up in force, but Cindy Corrie herself sent out a similar e-mail. So the crowd's reaction was no surprise, and you can see it for yourself here.

The film, of course, was utterly lacking in context. One brief mention that the IDF teams were looking for explosives-smuggling tunnels. No mention of the terror war. An interesting point near the end of the film when an Israeli anarchist from Jaffa is interviewed-- he talks about resistance and a few other similar phrases about idealism, then said that some of the words don't translate well into Hebrew-- the audience laughed at that line.

Peter Stein didn't ask any hard questions of Cindy Corrie-- it was a total softball interview. He did ask her what she thought of the controversy here, she said it surprised her, talked about some of the Jewish community supporting her the first time that the play My Name Is Rachel Corrie was pulled from the theater in New York. She thinks it has less to do with her appearance than with discussions in the Jewish community about Israel, and those whose allegiance to Israel "leads them to support the status quo".

She took maybe 3 questions from the audience, each devolved into about a 10-15 minute answer, everything of course building on the sympathy factor. She did not address any specific political issues except that as far as the investigation into her daughter's death she was told by US officials that she will never get anyone in the US gov't to agree to investigate this fully, because it involves Israel.

I did not get to ask her the question I wanted to ask, which was as follows:

"Mrs Corrie, I'm sure you and I agree that too many people have died in this conflict. We all want peace, but some of us have different concepts of what "peace" means. My concept is that of a Jewish state of Israel and an Arab state of Palestine, living side by side in peace and mutual recognition. What is YOUR concept of peace?"

I don't know what her answer would be; but, based on the responses to my talk, I know what the audience's answer is. So the question that needs to be asked of the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival is this:

If you are attracting an audience that jeers a pro-Israel speaker, and cheers not only for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel but also at the mention of Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, is that the kind of programming that is appropriate for a JEWISH Film Festival?

The full text of my remarks is below:

The Jewish Film Festival is an important cultural institution in our community. Yet, as Peter noted, this year there has been an uproar from not only our local Jewish community, but also from Jewish communities around the country and overseas, over the Film Festival’s choice of this film and speaker.

My presence here should in no way be considered as either endorsing, or even adequately balancing, this event. These few minutes cannot in any way provide an appropriate response to the next two hours.

I came here today to give voice to a different perspective—the perspective of the wider spectrum of the Bay Area and global Jewish communities, including our own community institutions such as the Jewish Community Relations Council, and ‘J”, our community’s newspaper which voiced strong concerns about today’s program, and including the respected Taube and Koret Foundations which have expressed strong opposition to this program as being inappropriate for a Jewish Film Festival.

All of us here know that Rachel Corrie tragically died when she intentionally put herself in harm’s way during an IDF counter-terrorism operation in the Gaza Strip. But many of us don’t know the names of other young American victims—Abigail Leitel, a 14 year old Baptist girl from New Hampshire, murdered when a suicide bomber blew up a bus in Haifa on March 5, 2003. David Gritz age 24, Benjamin Blutstein age 25 and UC Berkeley student Marla Bennett, age 24, all murdered on July 31, 2002 by a suicide bomber in the cafeteria at Hebrew University.

And there are Israeli Rachels. Rachel Levy, age 17, was murdered in Jerusalem on March 29, 2002 by a suicide bomber. Rachel Thaler, age 16, died Feb 27 2002 as a result of injuries when a suicide bomber exploded himself in the Sbarro Pizzeria in Jerusalem 11 days earlier. And there are more—too many more—Israeli Rachels.

And none of them were engaged in anything more risky than riding a bus, or going to buy a slice of pizza or a cup of coffee. And, just as Rachel Corrie should be alive today, so should all of these young men and women.

They were all murdered before Rachel Corrie came to Gaza. That’s why the young IDF soldier was operating that bulldozer in Rafah. It wasn’t to wantonly destroy Palestinian homes. It was to destroy the tunnels used to smuggle explosives for murdering Israelis—tunnels that even now, the so-called “Free Gaza” members proudly boast of touring and photographing.

The International Solidarity Movement recruited Rachel Corrie at the height of the terror war and instructed her to ignore IDF security warnings. You will hear that they are a peace group. You won’t hear that ISM defined peace in a 2003 press conference as the destruction of Zionism and the Jewish State. You will hear that ISM supports non-violence. You won’t hear that ISM collaborates with terrorists, including Hamas, and even aided the terrorists who took over the Church of the Nativity in 2002. Nor will you hear that ISM leaders called suicide bombing “noble” and that they support terrorism as ”legitimate armed struggle.”

And, as ISM co-founder George Rishmawi said, “If some of these foreign volunteers get shot or even killed, then the international media will sit up and take notice.” They have used Rachel’s accidental death to accuse Israel of intentionally murdering innocents.

You will hear Israel’s counter-terrorism measures demonized, but not why they were necessary. You won’t hear about the organized, savage suicide bombing war that Palestinians unleashed against Israel in 2000-- a war that murdered over 1000 Israelis (mostly civilians) and wounded over 7,000 others, using bombs filled with razor blades, nails and rat poison; a war fought not for a Palestinian state that Arafat had already rejected, but against Israel's very existence.

And you will not hear about another foreign volunteer who was killed near Gaza. Carlos Chavez, a 20-year-old from Ecuador, was shot in the back while he planted potato seeds at a communal farm in Israel, about 100 meters from the Gaza border. His murder occurred on Jan. 15, 2008—2.5 years after Israel had completely withdrawn from Gaza. His crime was simply being in the state of Israel; the same crime for which the Hamas charter threatens all Israeli Jews with death.

You won’t hear about the incessant, anti-Semitic incitement that pervades Palestinian media, schools, and mosques, instilling hatred of Jews, celebrating those who kill them as heroes and martyrs, and denying Israel’s very right to exist. You won’t hear about the founding document of Hamas, which they still stand by today, and which openly calls for the murder of Jews everywhere. I have copies of excerpts from their charter right here, but it’s easy to find online. You won’t hear about the 8,000 rockets that have been launched into from Gaza into Israel, a small country just the size of New Jersey. You won’t hear about a Palestinian leadership that has failed its people miserably by using the billions they have received in foreign aid to build bombs and rockets, rather than schools and hospitals.

This episode should lead to some serious and thoughtful discussion about the role, and the responsibility, that a JEWISH Film Festival should take within our community. A Jewish Film Festival should not be presenting a film and speaker that demonize Israel, and that are being co-sponsored and promoted by groups, such as Jewish Voice for Peace and American Friends Service Committee, that support boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel, or, as AFSC did, host dinner for Mahmoud Ahmedinejad;-- —or perhaps even attract an audience that would applaud that.

No mother should have to bury her child—not Cindy Corrie, not Marla Bennett’s mother Linda, and not Carlos Chavez’ mother Gloria de las Mercedes. As you watch this film and hear from Rachel’s mother, remember how much context is completely missing from the film. Above all, remember the mothers of all the other Rachels as well, and the price they have had to pay simply for being Jews living in the only Jewish country in the world. Thank you very much.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Debunking of Past SENTINEL coverage of "Nazi Salute" case

by Becky Johnson
July 18, 2009

Santa Cruz, Ca. -- Since the Santa Cruz Sentinel is the paper of record in the City of Santa Cruz, it's particularly egregious when those reporters shoddily report events or outright misreport them. Since this tendency imbues all SENTINEL writers, I tend to suspect the editorial board is the party responsible rather than any individual reporter at any time. Shanna McCord is no exception. The bias from the editorial board is to present a Chamber-of-Commerce type view of Santa Cruz, which is pro-business, pro-police, and anti-homeless.

In this article, I post the April 4, 2007 SENTINEL article in its entirety titled "Judge rules Nazi salute too disruptive for public venue. " I have imbedded my comments to voice my concerns or to add in information which the reader might not know. I did attend this hearing and took notes.

This post is based on a previous post at

FROM 2007:


Judge rules Nazi salute too disruptive for public venue

By Shanna McCord

Sentinel staff writer
April 4, 2007

SANTA CRUZ - Free speech goes only so far inside City Hall.

A federal judge has ruled that city officials had the right to eject a homeless-rights advocate from a council meeting in 2002 for giving a Nazi salute. The judge said the action was too disruptive for the venue.

BECKY: False. The Judge did not rule that the Nazi Salute is a disruption. His ruling turned on the fact that Norse had been warned previously against using a Nazi Salute in council chambers and that the chair has "wide discretion." The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals had also examined the "Nazi Salute" previously, and saw no disruption. The Judge ruled that Mayor Krohn had "qualified immunity" and therefore could not be prosecuted.

SENTINEL: "You don't have the same First Amendment rights in a meeting as you do on the street," said attorney George Kovacevich, who represented the city in the five-year, $100,000 legal fray. "You have the right to attend, but you don't have the right to say whatever you want, whenever you want"

BECKY: Note that this $100,000 which John Barisone now bills the City for is not covered in the $500,000 for Barisone's contract. This case included writing a 70-page brief in response to an 8-page brief and other tactics to bill the City the maximum amount his office could possibly bill.

SENTINEL: Robert Norse sued the city for alleged violations of his civil rights under the First and Fourth amendments shortly after being arrested at a council meeting in March 2002.

BECKY: For his one and a half-second raising of his arm silently from the side of the room, Norse was handcuffed and carted off to jail. The alleged "disruption" was never prosecuted as the DA determined there was not enough evidence to press charges.

SENTINEL: Then-Mayor Christopher Krohn had called an end to the public-comment period of the meeting and instructed a woman to step away from the microphone. After twice being told to leave the microphone, the woman walked over to Norse, who raised his right arm toward council members in a Nazi salute, the way Nazi supporters saluted German dictator
Adolph Hitler during World War II.

BECKY: Krohn had earlier asked how many wanted to speak at oral communications. Activist, Susan Zeman was in the earlier group who had raised her hand. She believed she had been granted permission to speak and was shocked to walk up to the podium and have Krohn cut off oral communications right in front of her. Nor would he listen to her appeal to allow her to speak. When Krohn threatened to have her removed, Norse responded with the Nazi Salute. Note, the SENTINEL uses the word "Nazi" twice and the name "Adolph Hitler" once in the same paragraph. Norse has characterized his salute as meaning rote obedience to a fascist authority. And Norse raised his left arm.

SENTINEL: Then-Councilman Tim Fitzmaurice interrupted Krohn to ask Norse to leave the meeting, saying the salute was an insult to the "dignity of the body"

BECKY: This was content-based. No one can say that if Norse had given a "thumbs up" he would have been arrested. Offending the "dignity of the body" can happen when citizens are redressing government grievances. Norse contends that the "rules of decorum" forbid citizens from criticizing their government.

SENTINEL: Norse refused to leave and was subsequently arrested.

BECKY: The problem with Norse raising his arm to the council was not the meaning of the salute, but rather the disruption the salute caused, according to U.S. District Judge Ronald M. Whyte, who issued the decision last week.

SENTINEL: A City Council policy states that people who "interrupt and refuse to keep quiet or take a seat when ordered to do so by the presiding officer or otherwise disrupt the proceedings of the council" may be removed from a meeting.

BECKY: It's clear from the videotapes that it was Fitzmaurice who interrupted the council meeting with his delicate sensitivities, no doubt fueled by his dislike of Robert Norse (who he has walked out on twice while speaking) and his desire to have him removed from the meeting. Attorney Kate Wells, (who McCord declined to interview) said "The Council has a practice of interrupting their own meetings and then blaming individual citizens for the disruptions they themselves caused."

SENTINEL: Norse, a council gadfly who often launches bitter attacks on the city's homeless policies, said the salute was meant as a protest to the city's refusal to deal with homeless issues.

He plans to appeal Whyte's decision to the 9th District Court of Appeals.

BECKY: No doubt this case will move forward as the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals did not see the same "disruption" that Whyte did.


SENTINEL: "This is not about the Nazis and this is not about me," Norse said Tuesday. "This is about mayoral actions that involve oppression. What I'm fighting is not the Nazi salute. I'm fighting council oppression"

BECKY: Norse has been arrested four times, three times at City Council and once on the sidewalk in front of New Leaf Market. He was not prosecuted in any of these arrests, and won a settlement from the City for the New Leaf incident where he sued for false arrest. Unfortunately, The City was able to exclude any evidence of these arrests or subsequent lack of convictions from the trial.

SENTINEL: Rules limiting speech at council meetings are absolutely necessary to conduct city business, Kovacevich said.

BECKY: Norse doesn't dispute this. He contends his Nazi Salute was non-interruptive, and protected by his first amendment rights. Otherwise, it would be okay to agree with what council is doing but not to disagree. The salute happened in the time interval in which one item had ended and the next item had not yet started.

SENTINEL: Federal law also gives added protections to city officials in cases of alleged civil rights violations. City officials can mistakenly violate a person's rights and not be held liable.

"They have to make spontaneous calls and run a meeting and not be
afraid of getting sued every day," Kovacevich said.

BECKY: This was the actual ruling by Judge Ronald Whyte: that the councilmembers are immune from liability despite a pattern of false arrests. Despite rules that violate the 1st amendment and eliminate the right of the citizen to disapprove of what the council is doing.

SENTINEL: Former Mayor Scott Kennedy, serving on the council in 2002, said Norse's salute was disruptive because he was standing in the front of the room where the council and public audience could see him.

"In my view, it was not the content," Kennedy said. "It was the time and place, and it did disrupt the meeting"

BECKY: Kennedy himself was named in another incident on Jan 13, 2004 where he arbitrarily established a system of tallies for warnings, which included calling holding a sign a "disruption" or inaudible whispering in the audience a "disruption" . His "system" , under which he had Norse physically arrested, didn't even last to the next council meeting. Norse was never prosecuted for this arrest.

SENTINEL: Councilman Mike Rotkin, not on the council in March 2002, said Norse has a long history of arguing with council members and straying from the topic being discussed.

BECKY: Kovacevich did an exhaustive analysis of every time Norse has spoken at City Council since 1999. Norse was ruled "off-topic" in less than 5% of comments. Rotkin also had Norse arrested at a council meeting in June of 2005 for violating the "5-minute rule" in which Rotkin limited comments on all consent agenda items by members of the public to a total of 5 minutes, which means that members of the public have little or no time to speak on items on the agenda, despite the Brown Act assurance that they do. Norse faced charges for 16-months only to have all charges dropped a week before trial.

SENTINEL: "The entire council meeting is not a free speech forum," Rotkin said. "We go out of our way to make ourselves open and accessible to everybody. Robert needs to follow the process like everyone else, which is what the court told us"

BECKY: The court told the council they are immune from liability no matter what they do. Norse has offered to settle for his attorney fees and minor changes in the rules of decorum at City Council meetings.

Read Judge Ronald Whyte's decision at:

SENTINEL: Contact Shanna McCord at

Friday, July 17, 2009

Peaceable Assembly in Porter Meadow on 420

by Becky Johnson
April 2o, 2009

Santa Cruz, CA. -- Parking was a bitch! Most of the streets are 2 hour parking only, and the west entrance to UCSC was closed off at 3PM. It was hotter than blazes. As the car passed River St. and Hwy One, the car thermometer read 102 degrees. As we passed the arboretum streams of students walked in clumps, most carrying water bottles. My driver continued past the West entrance (closed since it was almost 4 PM). The car left the open meadow and cut into the cool woods, quite welcome in the heat. We continued uphill in the forest on what had suddenly become a very twisty mountain road. And then I saw it. Like a beacon. It was a parked police car marking the trailhead to the bottom of Porter Meadow.

I left the comfortable air conditioned car behind and stepped into the hot summer suddenly here in the spring. I videotaped the officer at the head of the trailhead. He was too busy talking on his cellphone to pay me any mind. So I continued past, videocamera in hand. I entered an elfin glen filled with young fairies and gelflings. There were damsels, lads, naves, and engineering students with very interesting obects made into bongs.

On blankets set in the dappled forest glen, lay beautiful lasses with handblown and colorful pipes near at hand, some of which were being passed around. As I continued on, the clumps of people melded into one large clump of people, drinking iced tea, eating oranges, and smoking from some very interesting pipes.

Some groups had rolled up some formidable joints in brown rolling paper, and were puffing on them so that the entire air was permeated with the sweet smell of cannabis. I ventured out into the sunny and blazing meadow which was wall to wall people, mostly in circles, big or small, and passing around some kind of pipe, joint, or bong.

A few folks had some primitive merchandising going on, selling traditional junk food on blankets with signs written in magic markers. Everywhere students were laughing, talking, smiling, some beating drums, a few boomboxes were being carried.

In the center of the meadow, two men with huge signs saying "Are you on the Highway to Hell?" and "Repent or Perish" and something untowards about "Catholics" were bible-thumping the masses, providing the only discordant note.

There were two 420's. The "false" 4:20PM most likely had to do with the lack of synchronized watches. The REAL 4:20PM happened about a minute later. It really wasn't necessary to bring one's own stash to this event. Simply breathing deeply while walking through the crowd was enough to feel stoned.

As a UCSC alumni, of College Five no less, the forerunner of Porter College, I should have felt right at home in Porter Meadow with thousands of people committing civil disobedience against an unjust law. But I did not. This was a young person's event. It was largely absent the political trappings of the medical marijuana reform movement or even struggles colleges students face in being denied loans due to Federal cutoffs for students with even a minor marijuana conviction. This was one big party.

Students played hacky-sack in the meadow, shared drinks and munchies. I did see some people drinking beer as well, but they were in the minority. This was a smoke-fest!

In the SENTINEL on April 22, 2009, Rich Westphal of the Santa Cruz County Narcotics Enforcement Team reported that 6,000 people participated, despite the limitations on access and parking. No one was arrested.

Please enjoy the video I made of the event. Parents wanting raw footage can e-mail me directly at and, for a small fee, I may have footage of their little genius.

Move-Along Law protest and arrest of HUFF activist

by Becky Johnson
July 17, 2009

Santa Cruz, Ca. -- When Cynthia Mathews teamed up with Ed Porter, they created the "Move-along" Law which allows police to move, under threat of citation or arrest, a political table on a public sidewalk if it has been there for over one hour.

Councilmember Ed Porter claimed he was inspired by the Voluntary Street Performers Guidelines which said that if one performer desires the location of another performer, he can ASK him/her. They then have one more hour in that location. Ed, took the "voluntary" out of the law, and turned a courtesy and a consideration, into a criminal act if not obeyed, and enforceable, not by complaint, but simply by any police officer who chooses to enforce it. Mathew Hartough was willing to openly disobey to the point of arrest and jail, MC 5.43.020(2) -- a subsection of the "Display Devices" ordinance. In the video you can see that Corey McDonald, better known as Mr. Twister, was allowed to continue his use of a display device for three hours. HUFF later learned that the owner of the Pacific Trading Company liked Mr. Twister but disliked HUFF, demonstrating how such a law is inevitably selectively enforced.

This video was taken on July 6, 2003, but the Move-along Law is still being enforced, usually against political tables, street performers, and homeless people.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

9th Circuit Court hears arguments on "Nazi Salute" case

Photo of Robert Norse speaking at a City Council meeting on a different occasion dressed in his bathrobe with his Teddy Bear, which he wears in deference to homeless people who must do things out of doors, housed people would choose to do in a bathrobe.

by Becky Johnson
July 15, 2009

Santa Cruz, Ca. --- What Robert Norse called "a fascist salute" and what Councilmember Tim Fitzmaurice called "a Nazi Salute" has wended its way for a second time to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, CA.

Here is the 40-minute audio statements by Attorneys for the plaintiff, David Beauvais of Berkeley, Ca. and his co-counsel, Attorney Kate Wells of Santa Cruz, Ca. City Attorney, George Kovacevich appears on behalf of the City of Santa Cruz.

The two tapes referred to are the normal City Council video that is made at each meeting. There were two of these. One for the meeting in 2002 where Mayor Christopher Krohn ejected Robert Norse for a brief, silent, hand gesture. The second meeting in 2004, Mayor Scott Kennedy ejected and arrested Robert Norse for "whispering." I was at both meetings and filmed with my own camera. The justices also saw my footage which shows that the Sgt. of Arms, Loran "Butchie" Baker saw the "Nazi Salute" directly and took no action to stop Norse's behavior nor to arrest or eject him, although he had the power to do so. The tape also shows Baker telling Norse he doesn't know what charge he is being arrested under, and he goes and talks to the City Attorney who listens and then responds and then Baker returns to Norse to tell him he is being arrested for misdemeanor "disrupting a public meeting".

"We've already spent more time on this case than we did with the Exxon Valdez." --Circuit Court Justice in her conclusions on this "Nazi Salute" case.

Robert Norse who was born Robert Kahn is Jewish.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Rachel Corrie film not acceptable at Jewish Film Festival

Photo of Rachel Corrie's parents, Cindy and Craig Corrie receiving a plaque from Palestinian Authority president, Yassir Arafat in 2003

EDITORS NOTE: The San Francisco Jewish Film Festival is planning on showing Simone Bitton's film "Rachel" and has invited Rachel Corrie's mother, Cindy Corrie to speak at the event. Since both Bitton and Corrie have over and over again demonstrated their anti-Israel and anti-Jewish bias should not be featured by a reputable Jewish film festival. Tammi Benjamin of Scholars for Peace in the Mideast, and a lecturer at UCSC has written Peter Stein, the Executive Director of the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival. Those wishing to send their own message can e-mail him at: The SFJFF runs from July 23rd - August 10th, 2009.

July 10, 2009

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


Thursday, July 9, 2009

Hat Company posts the pledge

by Becky Johnson
July 9 2009

Santa Cruz, Ca. -- For five weeks, every Saturday for about two hours, HUFF and the HRO held a joint tabling event in front of Bunny's Shoes. HUFF has been protesting a declaration submitted by the owner of Bunny's Shoes against Anna Richardson and Miguel deLeon for sleeping in a back hallway near a door to her office. Bunny's Shoes shares a doorway with the Hat Company.

Early on July 4th, the owner of the Hat Company came out and spoke to Robert Norse of HUFF. She told him that while our table has been there, her business has been off 75%. Robert Norse urged her to put our small pledge in her window saying that he could then bring it up as an item on the HUFF agenda at our next meeting to discuss removing our protest from near her business. At our July 1st HUFF meeting, we voted that if the Hat Company put up our pledge in her window, that then we would move our protest table to in front of Borders Books--another business that had filed a declaration in the civil injunction against a homeless couple for sleeping around downtown too much.

During our July 4th protest, a notice was placed in the window which included in its entirety our pledge. We considered the text around it to be the owners freedom of speech and right of editorial. We also noted that nothing in the message contradicted the message in the pledge. After some discussion, we removed our table and packed up our things one hour before our initial scheduled ending. Was this a HUFF victory? I'm not sure.