WASHINGTON – San Francisco's LGBT community has launched a PR campaign for Israel, in an effort to restore the state's image in one of the most pro-Palestinian areas in the US.
Until the end of April the Israeli Consulate, with help from Jewish LGBT organizations, will be holding a culture festival called 'Out in Israel', which features the best of Israel's gay and lesbian singers.
The festival, backed by the Foreign Ministry, has been receiving extensive media coverage as well as a number of very warm responses.
The festival exposes the San Franciscan public, generally wary of Israel, to its pluralistic and tolerant side. In a country with a "don't ask don't tell" policy, many are coming to appreciate Israel for a policy in which one can ask and tell.
Israeli films are also being shown in the Castro District, generally recognized as LGBT territory, and one of the most influential suburbs in the US.
The halls generally remain full, and a dance event that took place on Saturday attracted hundreds. A small anti-Israeli rally was held before the Roxy Theater, but was immediately countered by a pro-Israel protest.
Among those appearing at the festival are singer Yael Deckelbaum and MK Einat Wilf, who took part in a panel on Zionism and gay pride. Gil Hovav held a cooking workshop, and Yossi Berg and Oded Graf's production, 'Four Men, Alice, Bach, and a Deer' was shown at the Herbst Theatre.
"It is only proper for the Israeli Consulate to try to expose proud Israeli culture in San Francisco, a politically influential area capable of appreciating such original and pioneering art," Consul Akiva Tor explained.