Neo-cons, ex-Israeli diplomats push Islamophobic video

Discussion in 'Politics & Religion' started by sameeh55, Sep 28, 2008.

  1. Neo-cons, ex-Israeli diplomats push Islamophobic video

    By Ali Gharib and Eli Clifton

    WASHINGTON (IPS) - A group of hard-line United States neo-conservatives and former Israeli diplomats, among others, are behind the mass distribution, ahead of the November US presidential election, of a controversial DVD that critics have denounced as Islamophobic.

    The group, the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET), is working with another organization called the Clarion Fund, which produced the 60-minute video and is itself tied closely to an Israeli organization called Aish Hatorah.

    The Fund is currently distributing some 28 million copies of the DVD through newspaper inserts in key electoral "swing" states -- states like Michigan, Ohio, and Florida that, according to recent polling, could go either way in November's presidential election.

    According to Delaware incorporation papers, the Clarion Fund is based at the same New York address as Aish Hatorah, a self-described "apolitical" group dedicated to educating Jews about their heritage.

    The Clarion Fund's street address as listed on the group's website and a DVD mailer for the film is apparently not a physical address, but rather a "virtual address" that goes to a post office box in New York City.

    Critics allege that the movie Obsession is "hate propaganda" which paints Muslims as violent extremists and, among other things, explicitly compares the threat posed by radical Islam to that of Nazi Germany in the 1930s.

    At least two major metropolitan newspapers solicited to insert the paid advertisement into their product have refused to do so because of a perceived bias in the film.

    "Despite the perilous state of American newspapers, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch advertising department took an ethical stand and refused to distribute the DVD of a film that for two years has troubled American Muslims," wrote Tim Townsend, a reporter at Missouri's most influential newspaper earlier this month after it rejected the ad.

    While the initial press reports about the mass distribution focused on the Clarion Fund's financing role, it was EMET that organized and oversaw the distribution, EMET's spokesman, Ari Morgenstern, told IPS. Morgenstern, a former press officer for the Israeli embassy here, said he contacted IPS at the Clarion Fund's request.

    EMET, according to a recent press release, is "a non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to policy research and analysis on democracy and the Middle East."

    According to filings made in compliance with the organization' s tax-exempt 501(c)3 status, "the organization hosts seminars, debates and educational films featuring Middle East experts in order to educate policy makers and the public at large on the common threats facing Israel and the United States."

    Morgenstern told IPS that EMET was "partnered with the Clarion Fund" on what he called the "Obsession Project" which he identified as "an initiative of EMET." He declined to name the Project's donors. A spokesman for the Clarion Fund, Gregory Ross, has also refused to name the Fund's donors, whose identity remains a mystery.

    Morgenstern also declined to specify the cost of the DVD distribution, but did say, "it costs a great deal -- it's a multi-million- dollar effort." Outside experts have estimated the cost of the operation, including reproduction and distribution, at between $15 million and $50 million.

    Like hard-line neo-conservatives, EMET opposes any land concessions to Palestinians and takes other hard-line positions identified with Israel's right-wing Likud Party and the "Settler Lobby" there. EMET's website says, "We regard ourselves as 'intellectual revolutionaries. '"

    The group's acronym, EMET, mirrors the name of a predecessor to the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, which was called Emet. The word means "truth" in Hebrew.

    Two weeks ago, EMET sponsored a seminar series on Capitol Hill named for the controversial multi-billionaire casino and hotel magnate Sheldon Adelson, a major donor to right-wing Zionist organizations in the US; the far-right lobby group, Freedom's Watch; and the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC), whose efforts to persuade Jewish voters that Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama is aligned with radical anti-Israel forces in the Islamic world have drawn strong criticism from the mainstream Jewish press here.

    EMET's board of advisers includes a list of familiar neo-conservative figures, as well as three former Israeli diplomats, including a former deputy chief of mission in Israel's Washington embassy.

    The group is headed by Sarah Stern, who began her activism on Israeli issues in opposition to the 1993 Oslo Accords between Israel and Palestinians. She made a career out of her activism in the far-right Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) as its national policy coordinator from 1998 through 2004.

    Notable members of the advisory board include prominent hard-line neo-conservatives, including former American Ambassador to the UN the late Jeane Kirkpatrick; Daniel Pipes of the Middle East Forum; and the Hudson Institute's Meyrav Wurmser, the Israeli-born spouse of Vice President Dick Cheney's former top Middle East adviser, David Wurmser.

    Other prominent neo-conservative members of the board include Center for Security Policy (CSP) president Frank Gaffney; former CIA chief James Woolsey; and Heritage Foundation fellows Ariel Cohen and Nina Shea, who has also served for years on the quasi-governmental US Commission for International Religious Freedom.

    The US-born and -educated hard-line deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post and senior fellow for Middle Eastern Affairs at Gaffney's CSP, Caroline Glick, is also an adviser.

    Glick, Pipes, and Walid Shoebat, a "reformed" terrorist and EMET adviser, are all featured as experts in Obsession.

    Also among the top names of listed advisers to EMET are three Israeli diplomats. Two of them, Ambassadors Yossi Ben Aharon and Yoram Ettinger, were among the three Israeli ambassadors whom then-Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin referred to as "the Three Musketeers" when they lobbied Washington in opposition to the Oslo accords. Indeed, Stern began her career at the behest of three unnamed Israeli diplomats who were based in Washington under Rabin's predecessor, Yitzhak Shamir, according to EMET's website.

    Ettinger was at one time the chairman of special projects and is still listed as a contributing expert at the Ariel Centre for Policy Research, a hard-line Likudist Israeli think tank that opposes the peace process.

    Ben Aharon was the director general -- effectively the chief of staff -- of Shamir's office.

    The third Israeli ambassador, Lenny Ben-David, was appointed by Likud prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to serve as the deputy chief of mission -- second in command -- at the Israeli embassy in Washington from 1997 until 2000. Ben-David had also held senior positions at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee for 25 years and is now a consultant and lobbyist.

    But EMET is not the only group involved in the Obsession controversy to have direct ties to Israel.

    The Clarion Fund has also been criticized for initially denying its ties to the Israel's Aish Hatorah, which were first disclosed publicly by an IPS investigation last year.

    Honestreporting. com, an organization set up by Aish Hatorah and also a client of Ben-David, admitted to IPS that it had aided the production of the film.

    The Clarion Fund and Aish Hatorah are headed by twin Israeli-Canadian brothers Raphael and Ephraim Shore, respectively. The two groups appear to be connected as Clarion is incorporated in Delaware to the New York offices of Aish Hatorah.

    "It seems that the Clarion Fund, from what we can tell, is just a virtual organization that is a front for Aish Hatorah," Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), told IPS. "They don't have staff, they don't have a physical address. Nothing."

    Little is known about the shadowy Clarion Fund, which is listed with the New York Secretary of State's office as a "foreign not-for-profit foundation." The group has rejected requests for information about its donors.

    IPS has, however, uncovered one donor to the Clarion Fund, the Mamiye Foundation, which gave it 25,000 dollars in August of 2007, according to tax filings. Four Mamiyes, Charles M., Charles D., Hyman and Abraham, are listed as trustees on the forms.

    According to filings with the New York Secretary of State, a contact listed for a Mamiye company is also the same man listed as a contact and counsel for the Clarion Fund -- Eli D. Greenberg of the law firm Wolf, Haldenstein, Adler, Freeman and Herz.

    Foreign nationals and companies, and domestic tax-exempt 501(c)3 non-profits are prohibited by federal election law from attempting to sway US elections at any level through either contributions to campaigns or advocacy.

    Morgenstern, EMET's spokesman, said that the DVD distribution only went to "swing states" because media attention is focused there, and EMET is hoping to spark a public debate about the threats posed by" radical Islam."

    But CAIR has filed a complaint asking the Federal Election Commission to review the actions of the Clarion Fund both as a foreign entity and as a non-profit.

    The complaint by Nadhira Al-Khalili, CAIR's legal counsel, asked that both charges be investigated.

    Jim Lobe contributed to this story.

    All rights reserved, IPS - Inter Press Service (2008). Total or partial publication, retransmission or sale forbidden.
  2. Foreign nationals and companies, and domestic tax-exempt 501(c)3 non-profits are prohibited by federal election law from attempting to sway US elections at any level through either contributions to campaigns or advocacy.
  3. Muslim Children Gassed at Dayton Mosque After "Obsession" DVD Hits Ohio{/b]

    by Chris Rodda
    Sun Sep 28, 2008 at 05:32:40 PM PDT
    http://www.dailykos .com/storyonly/ 2008/9/28/ 203016/697/ 536/613742

    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.

    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.
  4. The question is who is the distributer/ creater, the question is:

    Does the video accurately portray the Arab world and many would say yes.