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Mass delivery of anti-Islamic DVDs in swing voting states

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Voters in swing states across the United States began receiving a one-hour DVD of Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West over the weekend. The video was produced and distributed by Clarion Fund, a non-profit organization connected with Zionist and pro-Israeli organizations. The DVDs were delivered with leading newspapers mostly in swing states such as Ohio, Florida, and Michigan.

Obsession:Radical Islam's War Against the West has stirred both outrage and praise.

The film focuses on drawing parallels between "Islamo-fascists" and Nazis, and opens with a series of videos of terrorist acts. It features interviews with counter-terrorism analysts, footage from Arabic TV, and interviews with former terrorists.

The film's website states that the filmmakers "are against the Radical Islamists [sic] who want to impose their violent, oppressive world view, with little value for life and the manifold pleasures within", but that they feel they share the same values and fears as most Muslims. The goal of the film, they say, is to raise public awareness, link isolated terrorist events to global origins, correct media misinformation, recognize efforts for Muslim tolerance, and promote efforts to fight "the Radical Islamic threat".

Obsession has drawn both criticism and praise in the U.S. "Obsession is without exaggeration one of the most important films of our time," wrote CNN's Glenn Beck. The film received awards at numerous film festivals like the Liberty Film Festival.

But outraged Muslims have objected to the film and its distribution. According to the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which has received a large amount of calls over the matter, Muslims feel it is "an attempt to not only marginalize and demonize the American Muslim community, but also to sway the election by targeting swing states".

The film has been criticized for misquoting sources, poor fact checking, and including biased witnesses and testimony. Several of the analysts featured in the film have been criticized as being racist and anti-Islamic. Daniel Pipes, one of the talking heads in the film, was reported as saying that Muslims in America present "true dangers to American Jews". Nonie Darwish, also featured in the film, has been widely criticized for his belief that "Islam is the devil" and thinks "Islam is cruel, anti-women, anti-religious freedom and anti-personal freedom in general."

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Clarion Fund, which also sells a DVD titled The Third Jihad, states copies are being distributed to 28 million homes but there is no intent to sway voters. The organization's focus, however, is only on radical Islamic threats to national security, and the group also runs a website RadicalIslam.org which recently endorsed John McCain.

An investigation by Inter Press Service in 2007 revealed that Obsession's production was... closely tied to right-wing Zionists both in America and Israel. Rabbi Ephram Shore, brother of Clarion Fund's founder Raphael Shore, is the head of an Israeli group which was involved in the film. Various weblinks on the group's website focus on anti-Semitism and Israel.

The funds for the production of the movie were reported as having been borrowed, but there is no word on where the funds for the distribution came from. A spokesman for CAIR, Ibrahim Hooper, commented that he "can't imagine that you can produce, package, distribute and advertise this product for less than 50 million dollars".

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