Erik OsePosted September 12, 2008 | 11:49 AM (EST) BIO Become a Fan Get Email Alerts Bloggers' Index
Pro-McCain Group Dumping 28 Million Terror Scare DVDs in Swing States
Share Print Comments(UPDATE 9/13 - 70 newspapers in swing states have been paid to distribute Obsession this weekend and next, which means not all the DVDs have been delivered yet. Check the list at the end of this post to see if your newspaper is one of them, and let them know how you feel about their participation in this shameless propaganda campaign.)
This week, 28 million copies of a right-wing, terror propaganda DVD are being mailed and bundled in newspaper deliveries to voters in swing states. The 60-minute DVDs, titled Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West, are landing on doorsteps in a campaign coinciding with the 7th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. Funding is coming from a New York-based group called the Clarion Fund, a shadowy outfit whose financial backers are unclear.
The program was originally shown on Fox News in the days leading up to the 2006 mid-term elections, and far right-wing activist David Horowitz toured the country screening the film on college campuses during 2007. Mainstream religious groups have called Obsession biased and divisive. It cuts between scenes of Nazi rallies and footage of Muslim children being encouraged to become suicide bombers.
Talking heads in the film include infamous anti-Muslim, self-proclaimed "islamophobes" like Daniel Pipes and Walid Shoebat. In 2001, Pipes claimed the "presence" and "enfranchisement" of Muslims in the U.S. presented "true dangers to American Jews." Shoebat is an evangelical Christian who falsely claims to be a former Muslim terrorist. Last year, Shoebat told the Missouri Springfield News-Leader, "Islam is not the religion of God - Islam is the devil."
As detailed in an OffTheBus report on HuffPo two days ago, the DVDs were distributed last weekend in national editions of the New York Times and Wall Street Journal within selected swing states. These included Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Colorado, Iowa, Florida, Wisconsin, Nevada, New Hampshire and Virginia.
Sally Lopez of Lemoyne, PA displays a copy of the DVD that came in the mail.
Here in North Carolina, another battleground state that John McCain must win to reach 270 electoral votes, 160,000 copies of the DVD are to be distributed tomorrow by the state's leading newspaper.
The Raleigh News & Observer reported yesterday on its Under The Dome politics blog that the paper is preparing to bundle copies of the DVD with this Saturday's newspapers. Jim McClure, vice president of display advertising for the N&O, said the "ultimate decision" to distribute the DVDs had been made by publisher Orage Quarles, and compared the propaganda to harmless household samples.
"'Obviously, we have distributed other product samples, whether it's cereal or toothpaste,' he said. He declined to say how much the agency paid."
The News & Observer recently announced deep buyouts and layoffs for its employees. It is owned by the struggling McClatchy news chain, which is slashing newsroom jobs and pages at the papers it owns around the country. Advertising revenues have plummeted during the ongoing economic downturn, and it appears the N&O is now auctioning off its journalistic integrity to the highest bidder.
The paper's announcement touched off immediate criticism from angry subscribers:
"A box of cereal? Toothpaste? Does a box of cereal or a tube of toothpaste encourage me to look with hatred and suspicion on my law abiding neighbors who have a different religion than mine? Does cereal and toothpaste lead to pogroms, religious harassment, fear and intimidation? The trailer for this video is about hate, pure and simple, and shows the video has only one goal -- to instill fear and hatred of neighbor against neighbor.
If I receive this DVD in my paper, that day, after 22 years of receiving the N&O, will be the last day of my subscription.
Please, please reconsider this decision!"
Although supposedly a 501 c(3) non-profit, this week the Clarion Fund's website featured an article supporting John McCain. Yesterday, the Patriot-News in PA reported on the DVDs showing up in Pennsylvania, and noted:
"On Wednesday, though, there was an article on the group's new Web site, www.radicalislam.org
, that backed Republican presidential candidate John McCain. The article discusses both candidates and concludes: "McCain's policies seek to confront radical Islamic extremism and terrorism and roll it back while [Barack] Obama's, although intending to do the same, could in fact make the situation facing the West even worse."
According to Clarion Fund director of communications Gregory Ross, the article "crossed the line" and would be removed.
Where else exactly are these DVDs landing, and who's funding the Clarion Fund?
If you'd like to give News & Observer executives a piece of your mind, executive editor John Drescher can be reached at (919) 829-4515, or email@example.com
. Or ask for publisher Orage Quarles at the paper's main phone number, (919) 829-4500.
(UPDATE 9/13 - Greg Mitchell of Editor & Publisher has more details. And here's a state-by-state list of most of the 70 newspapers in swing states that have agreed to deliver this garbage to their subscribers:
Colorado - Boulder Daily Camera, Centennial Citizen, Colorado Springs Gazette, Denver Post, Fort Collins Coloradoan, Greeley Tribune
Iowa - Daily Nonpareil, Des Moines Register, Iowa City Press Citizen, Quad City Times, Sioux City Journal
Indiana - South Bend Tribune
Florida - Daily Commercial, Florida Times-Union, Ft. Lauderdale El Sentinel, Ft. Myers News Press, Miami Herald, Ocala Star Banner, Orlando Sun Sentinel, Palm Beach Post, Tampa Tribune, Tallahassee Democrat, St. Petersburg Times, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Michigan - Detroit Free-Press, Flint Journal, Grand Rapids Press, Lansing State Journal
Missouri - Springfield News-Leader
Nevada - Las Vegas Review-Journal/Sun, Nevada Appeal, Reno Gazette-Journal
New Hampshire - Portsmouth Herald News, Union Leader
New Mexico - Clovis News Journal, Hobbs News-Sun, Rio Rancho Observer
Ohio - Canton Repository, Columbus Dispatch, Dayton Daily News, Middletown Journal, Morning Journal, Toledo Blade, Youngstown Vindicator
North Carolina - Charlotte Observer, Raleigh News & Observer
Pennsylvania - Bucks Co. Courier Times, Erie Times-News, Morning Call, Philadelphia Inquirer, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Reading Eagle, The Patriot-News
Virginia - Sun-Gazette, Virginian-Pilot
Wisconsin - Green Bay Press-Gazette, Janesville Gazette, Journal Times, La Crosse Tribune, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
(UPDATE 9/15 - The progressive Jewish website JewsOnFirst.org has a thorough report on the Clarion Fund's background and role in pushing these hate DVDs. Highlights include the film's past ties to the Republican Jewish Coalition, Clarion's rent-an-address location, its incorporator, New York attorney Eli Greenberg, spokesman Gregory Ross' implausible denial that the Fund also paid to distribute Obsession at both the Democratic and Republican conventions, and Ross' statement that the Clarion Fund will not disclose its donors' names.
Obsession at the conventions.
However, one detail in this report seems mistaken, that "because it was established only recently, the Clarion Fund has not yet filed its first required disclosure (Form 990) with the IRS." According to the New York Secretary of State's website, the Clarion Fund was incorporated nearly two years ago, on December 28, 2006. So where are their Form 990's? Hello, IRS?)
Erik Ose is a veteran of Democratic campaigns in North Carolina and blogs at The Latest Outrage.
CAIR'S message on the subject:
UPDATE 9/13 - 70 newspapers in swing states have been paid to distribute Obsession this weekend and next, which means not all of the DVDs have been delivered yet. Check the list at the end of this post to see if your newspaper is one of them, and let them know how you feel about their participation in this shameless propaganda campaign.)
This week, 28 million copies of a right-wing, terror propaganda DVD are being mailed and bundled in newspaper deliveries to voters in swing states. The 60-minute DVDs, titled Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West, are landing on doorsteps in a campaign coinciding with the 7th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. Funding is coming from a New York-based group called the Clarion Fund, a shadowy outfit whose financial backers are unclear.
Anti-Muslim Film Produced by Pro-Israel Partisan Boosts McCain http://www.israelenews.com/view.asp?ID=3104
[You do the hanky-panky and you smear the other guy
That’s what it’s all about.
Yes, the right-wing pro-Israel crowd is up to its usual shenanigans I’m afraid…and going about it in their typically sly, surreptitious way. Greg Mitchell reports that the Clarion Fund, founded by Israeli-Canadian Raphael Shore, is distributing 28-million copies of the anti-Muslim propaganda film, Obsession, to voters in election swing states. This is a film that is such noxious propaganda that no major film distributor would touch it with a 10 foot pole. Until now, it’s been relegated to the university film circuit where right-wing and pro-Israel campus groups have organized screenings. Among its other subtleties, the film attempts to equate Islam with Nazism, as Mitchell writes:
The documentary showcases scenes of Muslim children being encouraged to become suicide bombers, interspersed with shots of Nazi rallies.
Raphael Shore clearly doesn’t have the funds to distribute 28 million copies of his film since one of his PR flacks acknowledged that the film was produced for less than $500,000 by a secret Sugar Daddy (I assume not Shore himself):
The film was financed by a concerned citizen who has a long standing relationship with our organization.
Therefore, one must ask who is funding this venture? If you go to the Clarion Fund site you won’t learn much. Unlike, almost every non-profit website I’ve ever visited it doesn’t list its staff or board of directors. If you visit Guidestar, which archives IRS form 990s for every non-profit in the nation, you’ll find that Guidestar oddly enough doesn’t have one on file. That’s a big IRS no-no since 990s must be available to the public and if there was one Guidestar would have a copy.
This one smells of right-wing Jewish money. I’d venture to say something connected to Aipac, Republican Jewish Coalition, Freedom’s Watch-type donors.
There is a lawyer, Eli D Greenberg, listed as Clarion Fund’s contact. He is a New York lawyer whose practice helps non-profits attain tax-deductible status. I’m wondering what kind of advice he gave to his client about this film distribution campaign since it clearly seems to skirt the edge of permissible non-profit conduct under IRS guidelines.
I’m mystified by the newspapers which have accepted advertising money from Clarion to distribute the film to their subscribers. Et tu, N.Y. Times:
New York Times Co. spokeswoman Diane McNulty about the policy on this insert. She replied:
“We believe the broad principles of freedom of the press confer on us an obligation to keep our advertising columns as open as possible. Therefore our acceptance or rejection of an advertisement does not depend on whether it coincides with our editorial positions. In fact, there are many instances when we have published opinion advertisements that run counter to the stance we take on our own editorial pages.
But tell me this, Ms. McNulty: are there many instances in which your advertising department was hoodwinked by an out and out right-wing scam to influence a presidential election via distributing a fraudulent anti-Muslim film to scare people into voting for John McCain? I’d hope the Times would re-evaluate their decision on this pronto.
Shore’s other website, Radical Islam, featured an editorial endorsing McCain for president. When an enterprising reporter pointed this out to Clarion’s PR flack, he was ‘appalled’ and promised it would be removed. But before he did, the reporter did us the favor of quoting it:
The article discusses both candidates and concludes:
“McCain’s policies seek to confront radical Islamic extremism and terrorism and roll it back while Obama’s, although intending to do the same, could in fact make the situation facing the West even worse.”
Ross said the article “crossed the line” into an endorsement of sorts and would be taken down. He added he had not been aware of the article on the site, which he said will be officially launched next week.
“I was completely appalled and taken by surprise at the article … put on our Web site. It will be taken down immediately,” Ross said. “If I had seen that article, it would never have gone up.”
That’s another big no-no: 501 c3’s don’t endorse candidates–unless they’re willing to lose their non-profit status, which hopefully they’ve just done.
In the meantime, we need to find out which Jewish donor/s are funding Obsession and this bit of electoral dirty tricks.
The opinions and views articulated by the author do not necessarily reflect those of Israel e News.
SALAAM PEOPLE THIS IS SERIOUS.. IM SCARED OF THE BACKLASH, BUT THIS TIME IM AFRAID THE BACKLASH MAY ALSO BE TOWARDS CHILDREN:( THIS VIDEO SHOULD BE OUTLAWED
Oh and funny how when this video was made several yrs ago they arent releasing it till now (50 days before the election)
CAIR-FL: 'Obsession' Distributor Refuses to Name Donors
What never fails to tick me off is the fact that people who are SUPPOSED to be proficient in the English language (American-born Americans) always fail to grasp the meanings of "RADICAL" and "EXTREMIST" when used in the same sentence is "ISLAM" or "MUSLIM"..
1. Arising from or going to a root or source; basic: proposed a radical solution to the problem.
2. Departing markedly from the usual or customary; extreme
: radical opinions on education.
3. Favoring or effecting fundamental or revolutionary changes in current practices, conditions, or institutions: radical political views.
n.One who advocates or resorts to measures beyond the norm
, especially in politics.
Seriously, after seeing "MUSLIM" or "ISLAM" in the same sentence, paragraph, (heck, even ARTICLE!) people suddenly forget that talk about "RADICALS" and "EXTREMISTS" denote small MINORITIES and has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with Islam or Muslims as a whole!
I also get terribly stressed out when they think ARABS are the only MUSLIMS.
If ALL Muslims (nearly 25% of the earth's population!) were "RADICAL" or "EXTREMIST", don't they think they'd all be DEAD by now?
I try to remember to count my blessings each day because I have many:
To be thankful for my health, and that of my loved ones, the presence of my husband and the continuation of our marriage, that we can pay our bills and have food on the table..
So many blessings but often, so little thanks!
ISLAM-OPED: ‘Obsession,’ the Radical Right’s War on Islam
Posted 9/19/2008 1:51:00 PM
ISLAM-OPED: ‘OBSESSION,’ THE RADICAL RIGHT’S WAR ON ISLAM
ISLAM-OPED is a syndication service of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) designed to offer an American Muslim perspective on current political, social and religious issues.
ISLAM-OPED commentaries are offered free-of-charge to one media outlet in each market area. Permission for publication will be granted on a first-come-first-served basis.
Please consider the following commentary for publication.
CONTACT: Ahmed Rehab, firstname.lastname@example.org
‘Obsession,’ the Radical Right’s War on Islam
By Ahmed Rehab
Word count: 830
[Ahmed Rehab is strategic communications director for the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil liberties group. He may be contacted at email@example.com
You have to wonder about a film that could muster no better an endorsement to adorn its poster than that of CNN’s resident right-wing extremist Glenn Beck. "Obsession is without exaggeration one of the most important films of our time," says Beck. (Who would accuse Glenn Beck of exaggerating?)
The film Beck is lauding, “Obsession: Islam’s Radical War against the West,” is a 2005 work of anti-Muslim propaganda that has recently been widely distributed via an unprecedented campaign.
Of course, there is no denying that there are those who have misused Islam to promote an anti-Western militant ideology that is responsible for the tragic 9/11 attacks and other deplorable terrorist acts around the globe. Few would disagree that Al Qaeda and its imitators are ruthless enemies that the United States must deal with forcefully.
But “Obsession” is not an honest critique of violent radicalism. Instead, it is a propaganda piece that seeks to cast a wide net of suspicion against Muslims by blurring the line between violent radicalism and mainstream Islam. As such, it does not call on credible experts and reputable scholars but resorts to shady characters like “former-terrorist” Walid Shoebat, who has made such outlandish statements as: “Islam is not the religion of God Islam is the devil.”
In a recent commentary responding to the distribution of “Obsession,” Jeff VanDenBerg, director of Middle East Studies at Drury University, called the film “a blatant piece of anti-Muslim propaganda.” He also wrote: “The film ‘Obsession’ plays to the crudest stereotypes and promotes the simplest solutions. In the end, this kind of thinking will do far more to harm American security than it will to help it.” (News-Leader, 9/17/08)
“Obsession” begins with a brief disclaimer that states: “It is important to remember that most Muslims are peaceful and do not support terror.” However, the remainder of the film distorts facts and events in an attempt to convince its audience of the exact opposite.
The film’s ultimate goal is to lay the grounds for a larger religious war that goes beyond our national security interests and has only two beneficiaries: radical evangelicals who hold an apocalyptic worldview, and war profiteers who gamble at the expense of thousands of American lives and trillions of tax-payer dollars.
Toward that end, “Obsession” employs two main tactics.
First, it exploits Americans’ unfamiliarity with Islam and Muslims to suggest that deviant groups are somehow representative of most, if not all, Muslims. It scours the Muslim world for bizarre incidents and falsely projects them as the accepted norm. It then concludes that the Muslim world is an overall radical hotbed that wishes death and destruction upon the West.
In fact, while the Muslim world has its share of fanatics, they comprise a tiny fraction of the population and are highly at odds with a mainstream society that aspires to peace and prosperity.
Second, “Obsession” exploits the legitimate apprehension that many feel in this country as a result of 9/11 and attempts to instigate a state of full-blown hysteria. Only widespread hysteria could make questionable military excursions such as the Iraq occupation a possible sell yet again.
In fact, America faces no imminent threat from Muslim nations, who are themselves wary of the minority radicals in their midst. No Muslim nation has ever attacked our homeland, and none is likely to ever initiate such an attack.
Sensational content aside, “Obsession” ought to peak our interest for two reasons.
The first is the gargantuan size of the operation: 28 million free copies distributed via 70 major daily newspapers. That could cost tens of millions of dollars if we assume even conservative advertising rates.
The second reason is how surprisingly little we know about the operation itself.
All we know is that the film’s distribution is paid for by a shadowy organization called the Clarion Fund. For an entity so well-endowed, the Clarion Fund’s website offers no relevant information about its identity or its source of funding. Its 990 forms are not yet public.
Three important questions are begging to be asked:
First, who exactly is this Clarion Fund and what is its source of funding? The public has a right to know and reporters have a responsibility to investigate.
Second, the film is being distributed only in swing states with the obvious strategic goal of swaying the elections. That should automatically put the burden on both candidates to speak out and clearly communicate their positions on this film and its distribution tactics. Voters have a right to know where the candidates stand and journalists have a responsibility to ask.
Third, given the sheer size of this operation and its self-described political nature, it is baffling to note the apathy with which it has been met on our primetime network election coverage. It is does not just affect Muslims, but all Americans, when sensationalism threatens to hijack honest and informed debate on the key issues in the biggest decision of our generation.
On all three fronts, the silence must be broken.
Anonymous campaigns play to fears of voters
Sharmila Devi, Foreign Correspondent
Last Updated: September 18. 2008 11:41PM UAE / September 18. 2008 7:41PM GMT
A website, obsessionthemovie.com, above, sells the DVD, ‘Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West’.
NEW YORK // Middle Eastern tensions were brought into the homes of US voters in two different campaigns last week and both were denounced by Muslim and Jewish activists as fear-mongering ahead of November’s presidential elections.
American Muslims were angered by the mass mailing of a controversial DVD titled Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West. The Clarion Fund, a non-profit group, said it was “educating the public about national security threats” but it has not revealed who funded or backed the distribution of 28 million copies of the DVD or any other details.
Meanwhile, people who claimed to be pollsters telephoned voters and asked if they were Jewish before telling them that Barack Obama, the Democratic presidential candidate, was close to the Palestine Liberation Organisation as well as other untruths.
“We’re going to see a lot more of these obfuscation tactics over the next few weeks where people resort to character assassination,” said Ari Wallach, co-executive director of the Jewish Council for Education and Research’s JewsVote.org initiative, which backs Mr Obama.
“People whose views date back to a couple of centuries ago are using 21st century technology to disseminate their biased opinions,” he said in reference to both campaigns.
Ibrahim Hooper, communications director at the Council for American-Islamic Relations (Cair), said the DVD was distributed to coincide with the seventh anniversary of the September 11 attacks and reached “a new level of propaganda”.
“The campaign must have cost at least $50 million [Dh184m] and the group behind it says it’s a non-profit but where did they get the money from? Was their backing domestic or from overseas?” he said.
“The DVDS have gone out in key swing states but there’s a law preventing non-profits from impacting candidates and another one on foreign donations. We probably won’t find out who’s behind this until long after the elections and when the damage’s already done.”
The DVD shows scenes of Muslim children being encouraged to become suicide bombers between shots of Nazi rallies. Schoolchildren are seen reciting the chant: “When I wander into the entrance of Jerusalem, I’ll turn into a suicide bomber.”
The film has been distributed via direct mailings or with newspapers such as The New York Times and Miami Herald in key election states, including Ohio, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Iowa, North Carolina and Florida.
Newspapers defended taking payment to distribute the DVD after accusations they would not have done so if the film had been about African-Americans, Jews or Hispanics.
“Some people say this is an advertisement with a political agenda,” wrote Jesse H McKenzie, executive assistant to the publisher at the Tallahassee Democrat, in defence of the newspaper. “What isn’t these days? We are bombarded every day, in every way, with advertisements from the Republicans and from the Democrats … It’s the responsibility of responsible people to read it all, to listen to it all, and then make informed decisions.”
However, the DVD has made many American Muslims fearful that they will all be marked with an “extremist” label.
“I’ve received a lot of calls from Muslims who are registered as independent and received the DVD at home. They feel frustrated at this unprecedented move of using the mass distribution of a video to instil fear against a specific minority,” said Ahmed Bedier, a radio disc jockey and president of the Tampa-Hillsborough Human Rights Council in Florida.
The film was made a couple of years ago and originally shown on college campuses across the United States. It was produced by Raphael Shore, a Canadian who lives in Israel, and was directed by Wayne Kopping of South Africa.
Mr Bedier said Mr Shore and others behind the film had links to Honest Reporting, a media monitoring group with a hawkish, pro-Israeli bias. The group did not respond to a request for comment from The National.
Neither Mr Obama nor John McCain, the Republican candidate, or their camps have made any comment.
“It will be interesting to see if Mr McCain does repudiate the DVD as anti-Muslim,” said Cair’s Mr Hooper.
Mr Wallach of JewsVote.org said the telephone calls were an example of “push polling” in which a group uses the pretence of conducting an opinion poll to attack other candidates. The technique became synonymous with Karl Rove, who helped George W Bush, the US president, win two national elections.
Some of the people who received the telephone calls were so angered by them they alerted Mr Wallach’s group, which then publicised them. The recipients were told Mr Obama had met leaders of Hamas, his church had made anti-Semitic statements and other falsehoods relating to the candidate’s alleged ties with the PLO.
“They went through every smear against Obama and turned it into a question,” said Mr Wallach, who accused a Republican Jewish group of conducting the telephone campaign. “Our feeling is those behind them should not be considered a reputable group and no longer have a legitimate right to put their feet under the Jewish table.”firstname.lastname@example.org
'Obsession' DVD a Well-Planned Con
Posted 9/19/2008 2:03:00 PM
Source: Colorado Daily Camera
Author: Judith Mohling
Last Sunday, a free one-hour DVD in splashy, theatrical packaging was slipped into millions of newspapers across the country, mostly in "swing" states.
The probable intent was to slip the DVD content cleverly into millions of American brains, scaring people into an intense fear of "radical Islam," and elevating security concerns above all others as they vote in November.
The film is "Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West." It is purported to be an educational film about the threat of Islamic terrorism.
The "O" in "Obsession" is formed with the Islamic crescent moon and a star, and the closing "N" has a silhouette of an automatic rifle as part of the letter.
Be prepared to be scared if you take the movie to heart, but, better yet, use the skills of critical thinking that we've all been taught in order to see the classical propaganda tricks used extensively throughout the film.
According to writer Denise Dennis, "American citizens have been the victim of an elaborate and well-planned con game for the past eight years -- and the game will be in full play this week," with the DVD "Obsession" being spread across the nation. "Anytime American citizens can be
frightened and manipulated into voting against their best interests, they have been conned."
Let's hear it for the Greensboro News & Record in North Carolina. The paper turned away the money and refused to distribute the DVD.
Its longtime editor, John Robinson, explained, "Many newspapers across the country distributed a controversial DVD today about Islam . . . I asked our publisher about it. He said it was divisive and plays on people's fears and served no educational purpose . . . As I've said on other occasions about news decisions, just because you can publish doesn't mean you should."
If in any way the creators, distributors and financiers of the DVD had in mind "softening" public opinion about the idea of bombing Iran, the tragedy of the DVD deepens.
The drumbeat for war on Iran is steady, even in this week when five former secretaries of state agreed that the U.S. must talk with Iran.
Madeline Albright, Colin Powell, Warren Christopher, Henry Kissinger and James A. Baker III all said, each in his or her own way, that talking to Iran is essential. (MORE)
(im really upset about this dvd..because im afraid it will def affect the elections as is planned to do)
CAIR Asks FEC to Probe Anti-Muslim DVDs Sent to Swing States
Israel-based group behind 'Obsession' distribution to 28 million U.S. homes
(WASHINGTON, D.C., 9/23/08) - A prominent national Islamic civil rights and advocacy group today announced that it has filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) over the distribution of an anti-Muslim film to 28 million homes in presidential election swing states.
The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is urging the FEC to investigate whether the Clarion Fund, a shadowy non-profit organization that distributed DVDs containing “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West,” is really a front for an Israel-based group seeking to help Sen. John McCain win the U.S. presidential election. (No information about a board of directors, staff or even a physical address is offered on the fund’s website.)
In its complaint to the FEC, CAIR wrote in part:
“The Clarion Fund recently financed the distribution of some 28 million DVDs containing the film ‘Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West’ in what many political analysts describe as ‘swing’ states in the upcoming presidential elections. Those same analysts say the distribution of the ‘Obsession’ DVD was designed to benefit a particular presidential candidate, namely Sen. John McCain…
“According to the website for the Secretary of State for New York, Clarion Fund Inc. is incorporated in New York as a Delaware based foreign not-for-profit corporation. According to the Delaware Department of Corporations, Robert (Rabbi Raphael) Shore, Rabbi Henry Harris and Rebecca Kabat incorporated Clarion Fund. All three of whom are reported to serve as employees of Aish HaTorah International, an organization apparently based in Israel. Also according to the Delaware Department of Corporations, the incorporators of the Clarion Fund used Aish HaTorah’s New York City address (150 West 46th Street, New York) to incorporate Clarion Fund in Delaware…
“It appears that the funding for the production, marketing and distribution of ‘Obsession’ may have originated from Israel-based Aish HaTorah International.”
To read the entire FEC complaint, click here.
There is at least one report of a person who received the DVD also getting an automated phone call asking that person to watch the film and then “keep it in mind when you go to the voting booth.”
“American voters deserve to know whether they are the targets of a multi-million-dollar campaign funded and directed by a foreign group seeking to whip up anti-Muslim hysteria as a way to influence the outcome of our presidential election,” said CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad.
Awad said CAIR has received numerous complaints from those who were sent the DVD in newspapers delivered to their homes and has recorded at least one report of an anti-Muslim bias incident directly resulting from the DVD distribution.
SEE: Ohio Muslims Fearful After DVD Released in Newspapers
Some newspapers, including the News & Record in North Carolina and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, have refused to distribute the DVDs.
SEE: Post-Dispatch Refuses to Distribute DVD Offensive to American Muslims
Interfaith leaders such as Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, president of the Interfaith Alliance, have spoken out against the distribution of “Obsession” in swing states. In a statement, Gaddy also called for an FEC investigation: “…when a cynical attempt is made to influence our nation’s presidential election by stoking fear of one religious group we believe the media along with public officials, such as the Federal Election Commission, must establish who is trying to influence our politics through religious bigotry.”
SEE: Statement of Rev. Welton Gaddy On the Distribution of the Anti-Muslim Film “Obsession” in Newspapers
An editorial in the Palm Beach Post outlined the apparent political motivation behind the Clarion Fund campaign:
“Distribution of the DVD…was timed with the post-Labor Day start of presidential election season. About 95 percent of the papers that contained the DVD are in Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada and New Hampshire.
“Notice a pattern? Right, those are the swing states that most analysts believe will determine the election. The issue on which polls consistently show John McCain ahead of Barack Obama is national security. One way to make voters worry less about the economy and more about national security would be to send out a DVD that opens with clips of 9/11 and includes scenes of Muslims chanting ‘Death to America!’”
SEE: The Secret Cell Helping McCain (Palm Beach Post)
SEE ALSO: Anti-Islam Film Targets 'Swing State' (IPS)
Editorial and letter writers nationwide have called the film “propaganda” and even compared it to Leni Riefenstahl's 1935 pro-Nazi film "Triumph of the Will.” One writer called it “misleading and dangerous.” (Broward-Palm Beach New Times, 9/20/08)
SEE: Putting Lipstick on Propaganda Doesn’t Change It (NWF Daily News)
Jeff VanDenBerg, director of Middle East Studies at Drury University, called the film “a blatant piece of anti-Muslim propaganda.” (News-Leader, 9/17/08)
Those interviewed in “Obsession” constitute a veritable who’s who of Muslim-bashers. Speakers include Walid Shoebat, who once told a Missouri newspaper that he sees “many parallels between the Antichrist and Islam" and “Islam is not the religion of God -- Islam is the devil.” (Springfield News-Leader, 9/24/07)
Others interviewed in the film include Nonie Darwish, a self-styled “former Moslem" who wrote that "Islam is cruel, anti-women, anti-religious freedom and anti-personal freedom in general,” and Daniel Pipes, who warned a Jewish convention of the "true dangers" posed by "the presence, and increased stature, and affluence, and enfranchisement of American Muslims." (American Jewish Congress, 10/21/2001)
Another “Obsession” interviewee, Brigitte Gabriel, told the Australian Jewish News: “Every practising Muslim is a radical Muslim.” She also claimed that “Islamo-fascism is a politically-correct word...it's the vehicle for Islam...Islam is the problem.”
SEE: The World According to Brigitte Gabriel (Australian Jewish News)
When asked whether Americans should “resist Muslims who want to seek political office in this nation," Gabriel said:
"Absolutely. If a Muslim who has -- who is -- a practicing Muslim who believes the word of the Koran to be the word of Allah, who abides by Islam, who goes to mosque and prays every Friday, who prays five times a day -- this practicing Muslim, who believes in the teachings of the Koran, cannot be a loyal citizen to the United States of America."
SEE: 'Obsession' Stars Have Lectured at U.S. Military Colleges
CAIR, America's largest Islamic civil liberties group, has 35 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
- END -
CONTACT: CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-488-8787 or 202-744-7726, E-Mail: email@example.com; CAIR Communications Coordinator Amina Rubin, 202-488-8787, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Muslim Children Gassed at Dayton Mosque After "Obsession" DVD Hits Ohio
by Chris Rodda
Sun Sep 28, 2008 at 08:50:29 PM PDT
(From the diaries -- kos)
On Friday, September 26, the end of a week in which thousands of copies of Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West -- the fear-mongering, anti-Muslim documentary being distributed by the millions in swing states via DVDs inserted in major newspapers and through the U.S. mail -- were distributed by mail in Ohio, a "chemical irritant" was sprayed through a window of the Islamic Society of Greater Dayton, where 300 people were gathered for a Ramadan prayer service. The room that the chemical was sprayed into was the room where babies and children were being kept while their mothers were engaged in prayers. This, apparently, is what the scare tactic political campaigning of John McCain's supporters has led to -- Americans perpetrating a terrorist attack against innocent children on American soil.
* Chris Rodda's diary :: ::
I read the story as reported by the Dayton Daily News, but this was after I had received an email written by a friend of some of the victims of these American terrorists. The matter of fact news report in the Dayton paper didn't come close to conveying the horrific impact of this unthinkable act like the email I had just read, so I asked the email's author for permission to share what they had written. The author was with one of the families from the mosque -- a mother and two of the small children who were in the room that was gassed -- the day after the attack occurred.
"She told me that the gas was sprayed into the room where the babies and children were being kept while their mothers prayed together their Ramadan prayers. Panicked mothers ran for their babies, crying for their children so they could flee from the gas that was burning their eyes and throats and lungs. She grabbed her youngest in her arms and grabbed the hand of her other daughter, moving with the others to exit the building and the irritating substance there.
"The paramedic said the young one was in shock, and gave her oxygen to help her breathe. The child couldn't stop sobbing.
"This didn't happen in some far away place -- but right here in Dayton, and to my friends. Many of the Iraqi refugees were praying together at the Mosque Friday evening. People that I know and love.
"I am hurt and angry. I tell her this is NOT America. She tells me this is not Heaven or Hell -- there are good and bad people everywhere.
"She tells me that her daughters slept with her last night, the little one in her arms and sobbing throughout the night. She tells me she is afraid, and will never return to the mosque, and I wonder what kind of country is this where people have to fear attending their place of worship?
"The children come into the room, and tell me they want to leave America and return to Syria, where they had fled to from Iraq. They say they like me, ... , and other American friends -- but they are too afraid and want to leave. Should a 6 and 7 year old even have to contemplate the safety of their living situation?
"Did the anti-Muslim video circulating in the area have something to do with this incident, or is that just a bizarre coincidence? Who attacks women and children?
"What am I supposed to say to them? My words can't keep them safe from what is nothing less than terrorism, American style. Isn't losing loved ones, their homes, jobs, possessions and homeland enough? Is there no place where they can be safe?
"She didn't want me to leave her tonight, but it was after midnight, and I needed to get home and write this to my friends. Tell me -- tell me -- what am I supposed to say to them?"
When acting as a representative of Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), the 501(c)3 non-profit organization that I work for, I cannot engage in political activities. The distribution of Obsession, however, although a political campaign scheme, clearly crosses over into the mission of MRFF. So, I'm going to make two statements here -- one in my capacity as MRFF's Research Director, and another as an individual whose disgust at the vile campaign tactics of John McCain's supporters completely boiled over when I opened up the email about children being gassed.
My statement as MRFF's Research Director:
The presidential campaign edition of the Obsession DVD, currently being distributed by the Clarion Fund, carries the endorsement of the chair of the counter-terrorism department of the U.S. Naval War College, using the name and authority of an official U.S. military institution not only to validate an attack the religion of Islam, but to influence a political campaign. For these reasons, this endorsement has been included in MRFF's second lawsuit against the Department of Defense, which was filed on September 25 in the Federal District Court in Kansas.
My opinion as an individual and thoroughly appalled human being:
John McCain has a moral obligation to publicly censure the Clarion Fund, the organization that produced Obsession and is distributing the DVDs; to denounce the inflammatory, anti-Muslim message of Obsession; and to do everything in his power to stop any further campaign activities by his supporters that have the potential to incite violence.
Tags: Obsession movie, 2008, John McCain, Ohio, Islamophobia, Domestic Terrorism, Clarion Fund, Dayton, Recommended, digg, Front Paged (all tags) :: Previous Tag Versions
I received this as well. I think those 300 people should file a law suit against the newspaper there for inciting hate. Money talks. We should also send this to our current newspapers as a preventative measure.
here's a sample letter:
I hope that you seriously consider whether the distribution of the film Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West by America's newspapers had any contributing influence on the recent chemical attack against the Islamic Society of Greater Dayton, where 300 people were engaged in a Ramadan prayer service.
While your paper may not be circulated in Ohio, I hope that you will make the effort to balance your participation in the promotion of this inflammatory film with a proper investigation of the source of the funds that have underwritten the film's distribution of 28 million copies during this election season.
[Your full name, address and phone number]
Orlando Sentinel email@example.com
The Observer TheObserver@rrobserver.com
Denver Post firstname.lastname@example.org
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel email@example.com
Florida Times-Union firstname.lastname@example.org
Grand Rapids Press email@example.com
A cruel display of anti-Muslim hate in Ohio
Nicole Colson looks at an attack on worshippers at an Ohio mosque--and the role an anti-Muslim DVD may have played in inciting it.
October 2, 2008
Protesting the racist occupation of Iraq (Josh On)
A DAYTON, Ohio, mosque was attacked last week, but police are refusing to label the incident a hate crime.
The attack came September 26--during the holy month of Ramadan--at the Islamic Society of Greater Dayton. As approximately 300 worshipers were preparing for evening prayers, they heard their children, who were in a separate room, begin coughing. Soon, the mosque had to be evacuated, as some worshipers were overcome with fumes.
Worshipper Baboucarr Njie told the Dayton Daily News that he began coughing and had to evacuate the building. "I would stay outside for a minute, then go back in, there were a lot of kids," Njie said. "My throat is still itchy."
According to police, it appears that two men sprayed an irritant directly through a window into a room where infants and children were waiting while parents took part in prayers. One 10-year-old girl, who was helping care for the other children, was sprayed directly in the face.
Police later found a can of pepper spray near the mosque, although a HAZMAT team was unable to determine if that was what had been sprayed.
A friend of some of the victims--a mother and her two small children who were in the room where the chemical was sprayed--described the incident in an e-mail to Chris Rodda of the Huffington Post Web site:
[The mother] told me that the gas was sprayed into the room where the babies and children were being kept, while their mothers prayed together their Ramadan prayers. Panicked mothers ran for their babies, crying for their children so they could flee from the gas that was burning their eyes and throats and lungs. She grabbed her youngest in her arms and grabbed the hand of her other daughter, moving with the others to exit the building and the irritating substance there.
The paramedic said the young one was in shock, and gave her oxygen to help her breathe. The child couldn't stop sobbing.
This didn't happen in some faraway place--but right here in Dayton, and to my friends.
Many of the Iraqi refugees were praying together at the Mosque Friday evening. People that I know and love. I am hurt and angry. I tell her this is not America. She tells me this is not Heaven or Hell--there are good and bad people everywhere.
She tells me that her daughters slept with her last night, the little one in her arms and sobbing throughout the night. She tells me she is afraid, and will never return to the mosque, and I wonder what kind of country is this where people have to fear attending their place of worship?
The children come into the room, and tell me they want to leave America and return to Syria, where they had fled to from Iraq. They say they like me...and other American friends--but they are too afraid and want to leave. Should a 6- and 7-year-old even have to contemplate the safety of their living situation?
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SO FAR, authorities are refusing to call the attack on the mosque an anti-Muslim hate crime. According to Dayton Police Chief Richard Biehl, "The men didn't say anything to [the girl before she was sprayed]. There was nothing left at the scene or anything that makes us believe this is a biased crime."
But as several commentators have noted, the attack came in the same week that millions of copies of a right wing-produced anti-Muslim DVD were released in Ohio and elsewhere.
Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West is a pseudo-"documentary," produced in 2006, by the right-wing Clarion Fund. The film openly compares Islam today to Nazism prior to the Second World War, showing images of Nazi rallies inter-cut with images purportedly of Muslim children being exhorted to be suicide bombers. The film features prominent right-wing Islamophobes like Daniel Pipes and Alan Dershowitz, among others. Last year, arch-conservative David Horowitz screened the film on several college campuses as part of his "Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week."
During the last two weeks of September, the Clarion Fund--which has run at least one article supporting John McCain's presidential bid on its Web site--paid to distribute more than 28 million copies of the DVD through 70 different newspapers in 14 "swing" states, including Florida, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and, of course, Ohio.
Shamefully, even some so-called "liberal" papers like the New York Times have distributed the DVDs to subscribers, arguing that because they were sent as paid advertisements, the newspaper isn't responsible for the content.
Jim McClure, vice president of display advertising for the Raleigh News and Observer, was quoted in the paper's "Under the Dome" politics blog comparing the DVD to common samples of household products that are sometimes sent out: "'Obviously, we have distributed other product samples, whether it's cereal or toothpaste,' he said. He declined to say how much the agency paid."
Except, of course, what's being "sampled" in this case is misinformed bigotry. Angry subscribers wrote back to denounce the decision. As one commented:
A box of cereal? Toothpaste? Does a box of cereal or a tube of toothpaste encourage me to look with hatred and suspicion on my law-abiding neighbors who have a different religion than mine? Does cereal and toothpaste lead to pogroms, religious harassment, fear and intimidation? The trailer for this video is about hate, pure and simple, and shows the video has only one goal--to instill fear and hatred of neighbor against neighbor.
If I receive this DVD in my paper, that day, after 22 years of receiving the [News and Observer], will be the last day of my subscription.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
CLARION FUND spokesman Gregory Ross has denied that the DVD is design to influence the election, telling the Los Angeles Times that it is simply "a reminder that a 9/11 could happen again, and we need to remember the past."
But Ibrahim Hooper, president of the Council for American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), told the LA Times there were some reports that DVD recipients in Ohio also received automated phone calls referencing the film, saying, "We hope you take it into consideration when you go into the voting booth."
A multi-faith coalition called "Hate Hurts America" has launched a Web site to counter allegations made in the DVD. CAIR is also asking the Federal Election Commission to investigate Clarion for possible violations of campaign finance law.
In Oregon, approximately 70 protesters turned out September 30 at the offices of the Oregonian to denounce the paper for distributing the film as an advertisement. As Rev. Chuck Cooper, of the progressive Christian community Micah's Village, told the Associated Press, the newspaper has a moral obligation "to inform, not misinform." He added that the paper should donate any profits from the advertising to charity. CAIR is also suggesting that people who receive the DVD break it in half and send it back.
Despite the reluctance of police to label the attack on the Dayton mosque a hate crime, there should be no doubt that the wide distribution of hate-filled propaganda like Obsession has been a factor in at least some attacks on Arabs and Muslims since September 11--including verbal and physical assaults, as well as arsons at mosques and high-profile incidents in which Arab and Muslim passengers have been barred from airplanes.
As the e-mail sent to the Huffington Post's Chris Rodda noted:
Did the anti-Muslim video circulating in the area have something to do with this incident, or is that just a bizarre coincidence? Who attacks women and children?
What am I supposed to say to them? My words can't keep them safe from what is nothing less than terrorism, American style. Isn't losing loved ones, their homes, jobs, possessions and homeland enough? Is there no place where they can be safe?
Finally news of this broke the top 10.
Make sure you call your local paper and complain. Even if they are not carrying the DVD and if you can send mail to the papers that have distributed it!!
Newspapers get complaints for DVD ad on Muslims
By ANICK JESDANUN, AP Business Writer 46 minutes ago
NEW YORK - Newspapers that carried an advertising supplement in recent weeks containing a DVD critical of radical Muslims have faced complaints from readers and questions about whether newspapers should offer a platform to everyone willing to pay for distribution.
Although a few papers refused to carry the DVD, about 70 including The New York Times distributed it on the grounds that rejecting it would violate the sponsor's right to free speech. The decision generated letters, cancellations and even a protest.
The Clarion Fund, a nonprofit founded in 2006 to address "the most urgent threat of radical Islam," spent millions of dollars distributing the DVDs mostly in battleground election states. That targeting led to further outcry about the group's motives.
"This is definitely the most feedback that I've gotten to an ad," said Ted Vaden, public editor for The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C. "It's among the heaviest reaction I've gotten to anything. The great majority of the reaction was negative."
Vaden said the paper received about 500 e-mail and phone messages and had some 50 cancellations. He said the paper may have sparked some of the complaints by writing a front-page story calling attention to "Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West," the DVD insert that critics have denounced as anti-Muslim propaganda.
The decision over running the ad was similar to what online services like Google Inc.'s YouTube and Yahoo Inc.'s Flickr face when they let users freely share provocative video or photos. They get complaints of promoting unpopular viewpoints when they try to uphold free-speech principles; they get complaints of censorship when they don't.
Newspapers generally insist on giving a platform to a variety of viewpoints, but readers who complained were largely critical.
"I cannot believe that I was sent the hate-inflaming, fear-mongering video disk `Obsession' in my newspaper!" Margaret Lewis of Durham, N.C., wrote to The News & Observer. "What will you enclose next? KKK robes?"
Kelly McBride, head of the ethics faculty at the journalism think tank Poynter Institute, said papers generally reject ads only if they promote illegal activity or might incite violence. The "Obsession" DVD, at most, makes people angry, she said.
"It's pretty hard to make an argument to reject it," she said. "It's hard to articulate a standard that would give you the opportunity to reject something like the `Obsession' DVD but allow other types of political, religious or anti-religious speech."
The Clarion Fund, which has declined to identify all of its board members or the sources of its funding, is working with the Endowment for Middle East Truth on "The Obsession Project," which is to include research publications and issue forums.
Clarion Fund spokesman Gregory Ross said the group spent several million dollars in donations from individuals he would not name, and he said running the ad in swing states was a means of drawing media attention and not meant to influence the election's result, a move barred by federal tax law covering nonprofits.
"We found (newspapers were) the most economical and best way to get it out there," Ross said.
Dozens of people protested outside The Oregonian's offices on Monday, the morning after the Portland, Ore., newspaper carried the DVD. One said he canceled his subscription. Mayor Tom Potter had tried to persuade the paper not to run the ad.
Publisher Fred Stickel, who did not return phone calls from The Associated Press for comment, has said The Oregonian tries to keep its advertising channels open, regardless of whether the paper agrees with the sponsor's message.
But Elizabeth Brenner, the publisher of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, told reporters at the Milwaukee Press Club that based on complaints from its readers, the paper likely would not carry it again if faced with the same decision. She declined further comment to the AP, saying she didn't want to re-ignite the issue.
"Obsession," an hour-long movie that features graphic images of terrorism, video of anti-American speeches from Mideast television and comparisons with Nazi Germany, has been sent to about 28 million households through newspapers and direct mail.
Ross questioned whether many of the video's critics actually had seen it, and he noted that it carried a disclaimer saying it was not about the majority of Muslims, who are peaceful.
Some readers expressed support.
"It's refreshing to see something other than the `politically correct' drivel most Americans seem to accept as fact," Steven Earle of Clifton, Colo., wrote to The Denver Post, which distributed a half million copies.
The News & Record of Greensboro, N.C., rejected the DVD, considering it inflammatory and hateful without contributing much educational value.
"We got a lot of e-mails from across the country applauding the decision," Editor John Robinson said, adding that most feedback for and against came from outside his paper's region.
The Detroit Free Press, The Plain Dealer of Cleveland and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch also declined to carry the ad.
The glossy color insert to which the DVD was attached described it in tiny print as a "Paid Advertising Supplement."
As at other newspapers, The New York Times' decision to run the ad in some markets outside New York came from its advertising department, not the newsroom.
"Just as we print advertisements that rebut New York Times editorials, news articles or critical reviews, we print ads that differ from our editorial position," spokeswoman Diane McNulty said. "We do so in the belief that it is in the best interests of our readers for our pages to be as open as possible."
The Miami Herald got dozens of letters and e-mails, mostly critical. But Anders Gyllenhaal, the newspaper's executive editor, said the outcry led to good discussions with the region's Muslim community about the principles of free speech.
But Anders Gyllenhaal, the newspaper's executive editor, said the outcry led to good discussions with the region's Muslim community about the principles of free speech
Is it just me, or does this quote sound kinda bigoted, like "Well, now we get a chance to teach those backward Muslims the concept of free speech."
Maybe I'm reading something into it that just isn't there...
weird i dont rmember putting ne poll on here