So this is what the controversy was about?

Now you can go to YouTube and hear for yourself the intro to Rachel’s movie by San Francisco Jewish Film Festival’s Peter Stein, the speech by S.F. Voice for Israel’s Michael Harris, and the Q&A with Cindy Corrie after the film. The video quality is not always good, but you get to hear it all (except for watching the movie itself!)

Michael Harris spoke before the movie. He spent quite some time giving a long list of people that were innocent victims of violence. He added: “Just as Rachel Corrie should be alive today, so should all these men and women.” Of course, we agree. But conspicuously absent from Harris’ long list were the Palestinians. Apparently not a single one of them is worth a mention, let alone compassion. This did not sit well with most of the audience.

As Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb described it: “The fact that the vast majority of people in the crowd at the Castro Theatre would not let the Voice of Israel representative speak his mind without interruption reflects growing frustration with the use of pubic slander, character assassination, cancellation of speakers, firing of faculty and demand for resignations by the so-called defenders of Israel. Since when are people with views that differ from AIPAC, for instance, invited into mainstream circles to speak for five minutes before a pro-Israel speech or film? The representative of Voice of Israel was not there to dialogue. Only to chastise. The crowd refused to be chastised. When the impassioned proponent of Israel mentioned JVP and AFSC in order to condemn them as virulent anti-Semites, the crowd burst into cheers and applause to honor them instead.”

Cindy Corrie spoke after the film. Those who expected to find hatred in what she had to say were sadly disappointed. Cindy addressed not only the loss of her daughter, but about the grief of Palestinian parents in Gaza and Israeli parents whose children were the victims of suicide bombs. She and her husband met with both. This is what she observed: “We encountered many people, both Israelis and Palestinians and others who have had very personal losses, and the losses are all the same.”

When asked about the controversy surrounding her presence at the festival, she answered: ‘‘this has a lot less to do with me and with Rachel that it is with the discussion that is happening within the Jewish community.” Later she added, “I hope for the sake of all people in Israel and Palestine and for us here in the US that we can have the dialogue that needs to happen, but more than dialog, the action that needs to happen to bring an end to the trauma…”

It is an open question whether those who were opposed to the film are interested in dialog.

If you want to see the full thing in YouTube, here it is:
SFJFF ’09: Rachel – Introduction (1 of 3)
SFJFF ’09: Rachel – Introduction (2 of 3)
SFJFF ’09: Rachel – Introduction (3 of 3)
SFJFF ’09: Rachel – Cindy Q&A (1 of 5)
SFJFF ’09: Rachel – Cindy Q&A (2 of 5)
SFJFF ’09: Rachel – Cindy Q&A (3 of 5)
SFJFF ’09: Rachel – Cindy Q&A (4 of 5)
SFJFF ’09: Rachel – Cindy Q&A (5 of 5)

- Sydney Levy