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Monday, September 10, 2007

Jennifer Hsu Under Attack for Deciding to Observe the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel; Please Spread Widely

I just received the following email which is very disturbing. Please distribute this information widely as asked in the email and write letters or send emails in support of Jennifer Hsu

Dear Pro Peace & Justice Community,

The San Diego Women's Film Festival jury selection committee and festival director, Jennifer Hsu, have fallen under attack for deciding to observe the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel. The Israeli community, spearheaded by the Jewish American Association and General Consulate of Israel, contacted the highest levels of the festival's corporate sponsors to apply pressure on the board and staff to rescind the boycott statement and to fire the festival director. The San Diego Women Film Foundation Board of Directors panicked and buckled to the crushing and antagonistic outcry by posting a public apology and declaration of being "embarrassed and horrified" of the festival director and jury's position ( They then issued an ultimatum to the Festival Director demanding humiliating stipulations of apology and inclusion of an Israeli film, or termination of contract.

We join the global community of artists and cultural leaders who act in the wake of the Anti-Apartheid boycott movement of South Africa 20 years ago. Although that pioneering boycott was against an apartheid of racism, this boycott is against the forced separation of two peoples for the acquisition of land. We firmly believe that we are standing in the Peace camp with other people of conscience.

As judges of artistic films serving a festival that provides a platform for women's films to be screened, it was a difficult decision to exclude some artists based on their nationalist affiliations and source of funding. However, as conscientious members of the world, we found this festival to be an opportunity to bring awareness to an issue too easily hidden from the public. Jennifer, more than anyone on the judging committee, has risked her name, professional career, and even a sense of safety by confronting these extremists who continue to harass her. These risks have been taken to serve justice on behalf of the Palestinian people living under occupation and in exile.

Jennifer continues to be attacked on all fronts. Besides the Board's statement on the festival website, there are already several articles on blogs and in publications (mostly Jewish) that attack her and continue to criticize the board for not having fired her immediately. These articles will continue to flood the internet and possibly mainstream media. There is already a strong campaign against us and we realize that this is the time to stand as a community or allow our already faint voices to be drowned out in false accusations and blatant lies.

We are prepared to stand by our convictions, rather than cower, knowing that our silence would be the greatest risk. But, we cannot do this alone.

We'd like to call the community to action: please mount a media response that is at least equal to, if not larger than, the coverage that has already been organized that slanders, distorts and muzzles the discussion around the boycott and also the larger Israeli Palestinian conflict. Reach out to all your media contacts, write to local papers, call the board, the festival sponsors, and news sources and express your support of the festival director and jury's right to observe the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel. Contact information is listed below.

Let us rally around this cause to continue what the San Diego Women's Film Festival director and jury have begun- to shed light on an unmitigated humanitarian crisis and on non-violent methods of resistance.

Thank you,
Jennifer Hsu & Bassemah Darwish

"A boycott is directed against a policy and the institutions which support that policy either actively or tacitly. Its aim is not to reject, but to bring about change."- John Berger, art critic, novelist and painter

San Diego Women Film Foundation Board of Directors:

Yvonne Silva
Multicultural Events Coordinator for The San Diego Union-Tribune
(619) 293-2605

Amy Berry
Community Relations Manager for Cox Communications
(619) 266-5286

Renee Herrell
Founder of San Diego Women Film Foundation, Nonprofit Fundraising Consultant
(619) 688-9498

Carrie Shields
Public relations manager for Bailey Gardiner (BG)
(619-295-8232 x108)

Shannon O'Connor

Festival Sponsors:
Cox Communications
Sony Electronics
San Diego Daily Transcript
Channel 933
Museum of Photographic Arts
Pick Up Stix
Karl Strauss

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