Who is behind Relentless, Obsession and The Third Jihad?
Posted Sep 20, 2008
The venom created by the films “Relentless”, and “Obsession:
Radical Islam’s War With the West” has been slowly working its way into the
hearts and minds of people across the country for a couple of years. Now the same group that brought us these
atrocities is coming out with another film “The Third Jihad”. These films are only part of what Bob Crane
has called a Tsunami of Islamophobia that seems to be rushing in ever higher
waves towards the Muslim community in
28 million copies of a DVD of the film “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West” have been distributed free of cost in newspapers across the country. The film was first released a few years ago and has been shown around the country. I wrote about my impressions and concerns when I viewed the film in 2007 and again in early 2008 when “Fitna” another such film was released. Except for David Horowitz’ use of the film as the centerpiece of his Islamo Fascism Awareness weeks for the last couple of years it has mostly been shown by local community venues and on campuses and sponsored primarily by Republican and Jewish groups. It is also sold on the internet.
Now, a DVD of this film has been bundled inside more than 70 newspapers and magazines and delivered nationwide to subscribers. Surprisingly even The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The World Jewish Digest accepted this “advertizing” insert. “There is no greater threat than radical Islam,” said Gregory Ross, spokesman for the Clarion Fund, a New-York based nonprofit organization that is paying newspapers to distribute the DVD. “It needs to be pushed to the forefront of the political discussion.” (Controversial film on Islam delivered nationwide, Yonat Shimron) The newspapers accepted this insert as paid advertizing but it was not labeled as such. I am certain that many people receiving the DVD think that this is the view of the paper delivering it to their doorstep.
Copies of the DVD were distributed free at the DNC, and at
the RNC by the recently formed group watch obsession.org headed by Tom
Trento. Earlier this year, the Florida
Attorney General required employees to watch this video. The Republican Jewish Coalition has also
distributed free copies of the film in promotional mailings to
I know from personal experience over many years of being involved with interfaith dialogue that the views that this film promotes are not the views of all Jewish people, but I also know that those who have been responsible for making this film and for promoting it widely have been primarily Jewish. It truly saddens me that members of a community who should know better and who have experienced a holocaust that resulted at least partially from widespread stereotyping and demonization of Jewish people. I believe that this marginal group within the Jewish community is so blinded by their need to defend the State of Israel at any cost that they do not see the cost of their propoganda to another community. They are a marginal group, but they are making a lot of noise. In fact, they are making so much noise that they are drowning out the voices of those in the mainstream Jewish community who have worked so hard with mainstream Muslims and Christians to build bridges of dialogue and work towards peace and justice in this world.
As Robert Salaam has pointed out ”Tragically today, it appears that the very groups who had taken up the shout of “Never Again!”, seem to have edited the shout to, “Well...maybe just this one more time...”
The film “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War With the West” has
been written and produced by Jewish people, and most of the local showings of
the film around the country the last couple of years have been sponsored by
Jewish groups, although recently Christian groups such as CUFI have also become
involved in the promotion of this film.
This appears to be part of a concerted effort to marginalize the Muslim
community. An ad published by the
American Jewish Committee in the New York Times last year called “
And, at a 2006 showing of Obsession in Philadelphia, a Jewish
Exponent article said: “In a show of
unity in the face of mounting international Arab extremism, as well as
anti-Israel sentiment on America’s college campuses, some 800 people turned out
for last weekend’s sold-out screening of “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War
Against the West” at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Welcoming those to the March 26 event -
organized by Aish Philadelphia, the Jewish Community Centers, the Jewish
Federation of Greater Philadelphia, Hillel of Greater Philadelphia and Akiba
Hebrew Academy - Michael Wachs, one of the evening’s sponsors, said that “the
true blessing of this event is Jews standing united as one. ‘Obsession’ is a
wake-up call.” How does a film supposedly about Radical Islam and terrorism and
Jews standing united as one relate? As
part of his introduction of the guest speaker, Gary Erlbaum - co-chair of
Federation’s Center for
An early review of Obsession posted on the Jewish Virtual
Library site includes the statement: ”A film like this would have been
difficult to make a few years ago when it was rare to hear Muslims speaking in
their own language.” Exactly what language is the Muslim language? I only speak English and am an American
Muslim. The same article also said: ”Jimmy Carter and the Iraq Study Group
members should be required to watch the film so they will be disabused of their
delusion that Israeli policy is the obstacle to peace. Obsession makes clear
the real obstacles are the Islamists’ refusal to recognize
This film is most likely seen by these individuals as a way to marginalize Islam and Muslims and put all of the focus strictly on Muslims as the source of all of the problems in the world, particularly as the source of opposition to some Christian and Jewish fundamentalists ideas about the State of Israel and its relation to end times prophecy. An extremist religious belief that should not be the source of policy, and that is at least as dangerous as the confused religious beliefs of extremist Muslims. The fact that the film Obsession and these folks in general do not see any possibility that actual historical events and political policies could have anything at all to do with the motivation of any worldwide disputes involving Muslims in any way is odd. The fact that many in other countries do see such possibilities doesn’t influence their close minded views. For example, a 2006 ICH poll of British citizens shows that 72% believe that foreign policy is feeding terrorism.
What happens when such propoganda is spread through society
with no alternative voice? We have seen
what happens in the not so distant past in places like
If the people who are promoting this believe that it is only
the Muslims who will be affected, and that is a price they are willing to pay
in order to achieve their goals, I believe that they are mistaken, and they are
playing with fire, and adding fuel to that fire by bringing religion into the
political mix. There are a whole lot
more folks out there who believe that
That there is a line to be crossed between legitimate discussion of political issues and anti-Semitism is clear even to Robert Wistrich (one of the talking heads in the Obsession film), or at least it is clear when it comes to anti-Semitism. In an article on Qantara.de he said: “Does he or she rely on classic anti-Semitic stereotypes in so doing: for example, by dredging up the alleged Jewish/Zionist “conspiracy” to dominate the world, or by evoking Jewish/Israeli “warmongers” who supposedly run American foreign policy; or through referring to an all-powerful “Jewish Lobby” that prevents justice in the Middle East. If the “anti-Zionist” critic holds Jews to be responsible for the chaos and troubles that currently afflict the world, he is surely an antisemite. If he criminalizes Israeli behaviour, by gratuitously branding it as “Nazi” or intrinsically “racist”, then we are talking anti-Semitism.” What if he or she relies on classic anti-Muslim or anti-Arab stereotypes, or dredging up an alleged Muslim conspiracy to rule the world, or by evoking Muslim “warmongers” (no matter how marginal), or through referring to some all powerful terrorist organization that has the ability to destroy western civilization, or gratuitously branding political groups as Nazi, or attaching the name of the religion with terms like nazi, fascist, and terrorist - would that make the person an Islamophobe, and equally desicable?
Once the demons of religious, racial, or ethnic stereotyping
are released, they are impossible to control.
What has been the result of the barrage of anti-Muslim propoganda over
the last few years? The real fascists
are rearing their ugly heads again in
Those behind the production of the Obsession film and those behind the recent distribution of the DVD in newspapers and by mail are attempting to be very secretive about exactly who they are, and who is financing this endeavor.
The Obsession website lists only the filmmakers, Wayne
In an interview on
I think that he Kassandra Project blog asks a very good question about this: “Why all the aliases and secrecy I wonder. Maybe it has something to do with that pesky federal U.S. 501(c)(3) law prohibiting foreign political institutions or foreign organizations from contributing to the Clarion Fund’s operations. Given that both the producer and the director are foreigners (with an anti-Muslim agenda), and the financial backers are anonymous, it all looks very suspicious.” This is a much more likely motivation for all the secrecy.
Jews on First adds even more credence to this interpretation. “Because it was established only recently, the Clarion Fund has not yet filed its first required disclosure (Form 990) with the IRS. It is not disclosing its officers. The address Clarion used to satisfy the New York Times’ requirement that political or opinion advertisements include the advertiser’s contact information—255 West 36th St., Suite 800, in Manhattan—turns out to be Grace Corporate Park Executive Suites, an office-space rental operation which also rents “virtual office identity packages” for as little as $75 a month.” This is just about as shady as it is possible to be.
Erik Ose in an article on The Huffington Post raises an even more pertinent issue: “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?)”
I have done what I could to collect as much information as possible about the organizations and individuals involved in the production of Obsession and in the promotion and distribution of the film. As I am able to find out more I will update this. If you have any additional information please let me know. I find it very interesting that these groups and individuals are so intertwined. The dubious credentials of most of the “experts” are also interesting. What is most interesting is that an organization that has not filed proper paperwork with the IRS, doesn’t have a legitimate address, and lists aliases on the cover of its “advertising” insert was still accepted as legitimate by so many newspapers (and of course, that doesn’t even touch on the matter of the content of the Obsession insert).
9-23-08 update: According to an article by Tim Townsend in the St. Louis Post Dispatch (who refused to distribute the DVD’s) “Jen Wood, the Post-Dispatch’s vice president of advertising, said her department received the request to include the DVD as an insert at the beginning of the summer. She said the advertiser provided the newspaper only with a trailer, and refused when Wood asked to see a copy of the entire film - something she described as “not an unusual request.”"I didn’t have enough information to make a decision, so I said ‘no thank you,’” said Wood. “It wasn’t clear what exact message they were trying to send.” This makes the Post-Dispatch along with the Greensboro North Carolina News-Record one of only two newspapers to have refused to participate in this campaign.
9/23 update: CAIR has issued a press release saying that they are asking the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to Probe Anti-Muslim DVDs Sent to Swing States http://www.theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/cair_asks_fec_to_probe_anti_muslim_dvds_sent_to_swing_states/0016749
ORGANIZATIONS INVOLVED IN THE PRODUCTION OR PROMOTION OF OBSESSION
When the Israeli Foreign Ministry sought to combat
anti-Israel ideas on college campuses, it called on Aish HaTorah to develop the
HASBARA FELLOWSHIPS. This program has flown hundreds of student leaders to
Aish also founded HONEST REPORTING, a web-based operation
that monitors the media for ‘anti-Israel bias’. Honest Reporting has claimed to
be independent from Aish for several years, but its
This is a shadowy group who organized and paid for the
distribution of the Obsession DVD to 28 million Americans by newspaper inserts
and direct mailing. Clarion was founded
CHRISTIANS UNITED FOR
This group headed by Pastor John Hagee helped pay for a mass mailing of the Obsession video some months ago. According to an article on Israel eNews: “At the July 16-18, 2007 Christians United For Israel (CUFI) yearly conference in Washington D.C., Senator Lieberman lavished praise on Christians United For Israel’s founder, Texas megachurch evangelist Pastor John Hagee, likening Hagee to Moses, calling Hagee a “man of God”, and stating that, like Moses, Hagee was the leader of a ‘mighty multitude’. But on July 18, 2007, at the nonprofit 501(c)(3) group’s “A Night To Honor Israel” capstone event of it’s three-day conference, CUFI Regional Director Billye Brim suggested that “God has a plan” for the Dome of The Rock, Islam’s 3rd holiest site on Earth and the spot from which Muslims believe Moses ascended into Heaven. In the eschatolgical, or “End-Time” belief system held by most Christians United For Israel members, The Dome Of The Rock must be removed or destroyed to make way for the construction of a 3rd Jewish temple.” According to that article Brim went on to say:
“Upon that hill, there is a rock. Upon that rock there is a dome. God has a plan for that hill.” Bruce Wilson, the author of the article adds that “Billye Brim did not directly call, on July 18th that night, for the destruction of The Dome of The Rock, but the message was clear--the Dome had to go--and in an undated audio recording I have discovered, from Billye Brim addressing a moderate sized and nearly orgiastic religious gathering, Brim makes the point more directly, stating that while she was with a group of evangelical Christians who were covertly praying around and on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount Brim received a message directly from God which told her “that dome’s coming down” and Billye Brim suggested that she knew the very date on which The Dome Of The Rock would be destroyed. “That dome’s coming down,” exulted Brim to her audience, and then she emitted what could be called nothing other than a triumphant ululation of victory.” This is the sort of inflammatory rhetoric that could easily be used in a documentary showing the danger that this version of Christianity poses to all of civilization.
ENDOWMENT FOR MIDDLE EAST TRUTH
On 9/23 The Detroit Free Press reported that: Endowment for Middle East Truth, is a partner with the Clarion Fund in “The Obsession Project,” which will also include research publications and issue forums.
HonestReporting.com was founded by AISH HATORAH, and now
exists as an independent organization.
An article on the
Honest Reporting bills itself as a watchdog organization
that monitors the media for bias against
Honest Reporting, in addition to media watch activities,
produced a documentary discussing the Jewish-Muslim conflict in association
with The CLARION FUND. This film was entitled “Relentless: The Struggle for
Peace in the
The translations in the film Obsession were provided by
Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) which, according to Source Watch,
is connected to Israeli intelligence organizations and Christian evangelicals
and is funded in part by the right wing OLIN FOUNDATION. Obsessions production credits include the
Middle East Media Research Institute.
According to an article in Common Dreams: MEMRI is a translation service
founded in 1998 by Col. Yigal Carmon, who spent more than 20 years in Israeli
intelligence and later advised two Israeli prime ministers; and the PALESTINIAN
MEDIA WATCH, an Israeli group founded by Itimar Marcus, that monitors
Palestinian news organizations for alleged anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic
propaganda. According to the Jewish
Daily Forward: “MEMRI was co-founded by
Meyrav Wurmser and Colonel Yigal Carmon, formerly of Israeli military
intelligence, “both of whom were early critics of the
According to Source Watch “MEMRI’s stance is that it is opposed to Islamic fundamentalism, not Islam itself, although the integrity of this position may be questioned because of links on MEMRI’s website to certain evangelical Christian organizations who take a harder line on Islam. Yigal Carmon, MEMRI’s founder, is a former advisor on terrorism to the Israeli Prime Ministers, Yitzhak Shamir and Yitzhak Rabin, so he actually worked for both Labor and Likud governments. Praise for MEMRI should be taken with a grain of salt since it is almost always motivated by politics, not the quantity or quality of MEMRI’s work.”
The quality of their translations has been challenged over
the years, including their famous Mickey Mouse look-alike translation, their
translations of the articles of Prof. Halim Barakat of
RADICAL ISLAM.ORG http://www.radicalislam.info/ a site copyrighted by the CLARION FUND.
REPUBLICAN JEWISH COALITION Richard Silverstein on Tikkun
Olam has raised the question of whether or not the Republican Jewish Coalition
had something to do with this mailing, and he notes in another article that The
Republican Jewish Coalition has distributed free copies of the film in
promotional mailings to
TERRORISM AWARENESS PROJECT promotes the film and says on
its site: Terrorism Awareness Project is
a program of the
INDIVIDUALS INVOLVED IN THE MAKING AND PROMOTING OF OBSESSION
Sheldon Adelson The press has already reported that Sheldon Adelson personally distributes copies of Obsession to participants in the Taglit-Birthright Israel indoctrination tours he funds. This article makes an educated guess that he is the financier behind this DVD distribution
Nonie Darwish identified in Obsession as the daughter of a Fedayeen terrorist. She is the founder of a group called ARABS FOR ISRAEL.
Alan M. Dershowitz The honesty of his attacks on Prof.
Finkelstein of De Paul University has been questioned. At the time of Robert Kennedy’s
assassination, Dershowitz said: “It was
in some ways the beginning of Islamic terrorism in
Steven Emerson, Executive Director, THE INVESTIGATIVE
PROJECT, produced the critically acclaimed PBS documentary “Jihad in
Brigitte Gabriel heads ACT FOR AMERICA. In a recent interview with the New York Times
about her anti-Muslim book They Must Be Stopped she said: “The moderate Muslims at this point are truly
irrelevant.” As noted in another Times article which called Gabriel a “radical
Islamophobe” she has made a number of statements which show that she has a
problem with all Muslims. Statements
including: “Every practicing Muslim is a radical Muslim.” The author of this
article notes: Gabriel believes that
Muslims cannot serve loyally in the
Sir Martin Gilbert is Winston Churchill’s official
biographer, a historian, and the author of Holocaust: The Jewish Tragedy
(published in the
Caroline Glick is a Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Affairs
at the CENTER FOR SECURITY POLICY, and deputy managing editor of the Jerusalem
Post. A former officer in the Israel
Defense Forces, she was a core member of
Rev. John Hagee leader of CHRISTIANS UNITED FOR ISRAEL,
author of Jerusalem Countdown. He
preaches an extremist Christian message that “… Muslims—that’s all Muslims—have
a “scriptural mandate” to kill Christians and Jews. But don’t worry.
Brett Halperin, alias for unknown individual.
Alfons Heck identified as a Former Hitler Youth Officer. Actually, that is all the information that I need to ignore anything he says.
Discover the Network Site  (Kurt Nimmo), attack on
Professor Nadia Abu El-Haj,
Glenn Jenvey is identified on the Obsession site as a former spy for several unnamed countries and freelance terrorism investigator - not much else on him anywhere. Even Wikipedia has no more information than to reprint just about word for word what is published on the Obsession site.
Wayne Kopping the director and co-writer - also produced “Relentless”
John Loftus, President of The Intelligence
Itamar Marcus is director of PALESTINIAN MEDIA WATCH based
Peter Mier, alias for unknown individual.
Daniel Pipes. This is a fellow that has had so much to say about Islam, Muslims, and Muslim organizations in the U.S. (all of it negative) that there is no point in doing more than pointing out a few of the responses that have listed in the past to his claims. ... Daniel Pipes article attacking Khaled Abou El Fadl , “Identifying Muslim Moderates” , and  (Sheila Musaji) and 4 (Louay Safi), and response to Daniel Pipes attack on The American Muslim logo  (Sheila Musaji) and  (Jeremy Henzell-Thomas), and collection of articles on religion building , on Pipes’ position on Palestinian right of return  (Habib Siddiqui), on Campus Watch  (Valerie Saturen), nomination to USIP by President Bush , Pipes and the Mujahedeen-e Khalq (MEK) , Pipes history [], interview with Andrew Potter  (Sheila Musaji). He is on the advisory board for the ENDOWMENT FOR MIDDLE EAST TRUTH.
Gregory Ross the communications director of the
Walid Shoebat identified in Obsession as a Former PLO Terrorist. He paints a one sided picture. Claims about his former terrorist background have been disputed by more than one source. I’ve even written about his claims previously. Although he is a born again Christian he has written a book “Why We Want to Kill You”. He is on the advisory board of THE ENDOWMENT FOR MIDDLE EAST TRUTH.
Tom Trento, who heads http://www.watchobsession.org, the
group that distributed the movie at the Democratic and Republican parties’
nominating conventions. Trento also
heads something called the
Robert Wistrich Chair,
American Muslim Resources - article collections http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/american_muslim_resources_collections_of_articles_and_references/
Exposing “Obsession”: Truth Over Fear, MPAC http://www.theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/expoing_obsession_truth_over_fear/0016721
Obsession: Radical Misinformation and the War Against Islam, Muhammad al-Darsani http://www.theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/obsession_radical_misinformation_and_the_war_against_islam/0016708
Resources for responding to Obsession DVD distribution, Sheila Musaji http://www.theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/resources_for_responding_to_obsession_dvd_mass_distribution/0016707
Schism film in English http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dGw6rsQ8xHk&feature=related
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