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Saturday, September 27, 2008

A dangerous obsession By Ali Gharib and Eli Clifton

WASHINGTON - A group of hardline United States neo-conservatives and former Israeli diplomats were behind the controversial, allegedly Islamaphobic DVD which was recently distributed in US swing states ahead of November's presidential elections. The 60-minute movie,Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West , was an initiative of the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET), but produced by the Clarion Fund, an organization described as a "front" for Israeli group Aish Hatorah. Some 28 million copies of Obsession are currently being inserted in newspapers and delivered by mail in key electoral swing states - such as Michigan, Ohio and Florida which, according to recent polling, could go either way.

Critics allege 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 refused to run the movie because of its perceived bias. "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," Tim Townsend, a reporter at Missouri's most influential newspaper wrote this month. 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. Its street address, as listed on the group's website and a DVD mailer for the film, is a "virtual address" that goes to a post office box in New York City. While 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 and a former press officer for the Israeli Embassy in Washington, Ari Morgenstern, told Inter Press Service.


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