Why Now?

We are witnessing an insidious new wave of demonization of Arabs and Muslims in this country. The presidential race has surfaced deep prejudices that will be here long after we have elected a new leader. We are particularly concerned about the right-wing Christian and Jewish groups dedicated to denying the fundamental rights of Palestinians, who are deliberately fueling fear of Muslims and Arabs to push their unfair agenda in the Middle East. We oppose this poisoned environment. It violates our bedrock values of tolerance and diversity, marginalizes American citizens from political participation, and makes it nearly impossible to have open and reasonable dialogue about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and US foreign policy.

The Obsession DVD and Israel connection

In recent weeks, millions of DVDs of the Islamophobic video “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West” have been mailed out. The distribution–as an insert in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, and over 65 additional papers–follows highly visible giveaways of the Obsession DVD at the Democratic and Republican parties’ conventions.

The distribution of the movie has been funded by the Clarion Fund. Because it was established at the end of 2006, the Clarion Fund has not yet filed its first required disclosure (Form 990) with the IRS. It is not disclosing its donors. Under current IRS regulations, the Clarion Fund will not have to declare the name of its donors.

The Tampa Bay exposed a number of connections between the Clarion Fund and a well-known organization called Aish HaTorah, an international charity founded in Israel in the 1970s. The organization spearheaded the Hasbara Fellowships , which trains fellows that it is a “Misconception” that “Israel is occupying Palestinian territory,” and that the”Israeli settlements are completely legal according to international law.” The fellowship has flown hundreds of student leaders to Israel for intensive training training. In North America, Hasbara Fellowships guides and funds pro-Israel activities on 80 college campuses.

Ronn Torossian, spokesman for Aish HaTorah, however, said that his group would in “no way be involved with Clarion Fund or Obsession because Aish HaTorah is a charity and must remain apolitical.”

Haaretz reported last year that the film “has a largely Jewish and pro-Israel distribution network, though Shore is trying to expand the film’s appeal.”

JewsOnFist.org reports that last year the Republican Jewish Coalition was responsible for a mailing received by Reform rabbis and other Jews that included a DVD of the controversial anti-Muslim film Obsession. At least part of the mailing was sent under the postal permit of Christians United for Israel, a leading Christian Zionist organization.

JewsOnFist.org reports that a Christian right group says it will distribute this October the video Obsession to 320,000 religious congregations and an additional 10 million religious lay leaders in a campaign that ties the video’s anti-Muslim message to Sen. Barack Obama’s positions on choice and same-sex marriage.