By Dr. Aslam Abdullah
More than 28 million copies of the Obsession were distributed last week in over 70 conservative newspapers owned and operated by those who identify as supporters of Israel and evangelical Christian groups. The funding to the distribution of the documentary has come from Clarion Fund INC, a New York based group. The majority of donors are either Israelis or pre-Israeli businesses and individuals and right-wing Christian evangelical groups.
The DVD was distributed in all those states where the Republican Party is struggling to retain the support of independent voters. The purpose is to create fear and hatred against Islam and Muslims. The goal of the distributors seems to be to ensure that Muslim Americans are seen as fifth columnists, suspect in the eyes of average Americans. This would mean that the doors of public institutions would remain closed to them and would drastically diminish the trust given to them.
The documentary is nothing but propaganda, probably compiled from the archives of the state of Israel.
Apparently, major evangelical groups and leaders, including Peter Hagee, the guru of the Republican nominee McCain, have given their blessing to the movie. The movie is a major international enterprise, unmatched in the history of Islam and west relations. Not even during the crusade was propaganda machinery mobilized so swiftly and professionally as it has been done now.
There are a few things that Muslim Americans can seriously work on.
1. A national summit of Muslim leaders to look at the issue and develop a unified and coordinated strategy. On October 10 and 11, the Las Vegas Islamic Society of Nevada is hosting its sixth annual Qur`an conference to be attended by many prominent Muslim leaders. This conference can devote a few sessions on developing a unified strategy.
This would happen only when Muslim masses exert pressure on their leaders to become proactive on this issue.
2. Islamicity, and many other Islamic websites, have access to information about Islam and Muslim Americans–they should plan to produce a documentary on Islam and Muslim-West relations, citing incidents of hatred against Islam and Muslims in recent times. They should prepare a budget for research and production and present it to the community and proceed with it on an emergency footing.
3. Muslim organizations should approach interfaith groups in their localities to develop a unified response to this challenge. Muslim community in those states where local newspapers distributed the DVDs should buy a full page ads to introduce them to the general public.
4. Muslim Americans should offer their lives as living examples of peaceful and law-abiding citizens. There is no shame to say that thousands of Muslim medical professionals in the country are busy saving the lives of fellow Americans day in and day out, sometimes saving the very people spreading propaganda against Islam. Scores of engineers are involved in maintaining the essential infrastructure of the nation with full responsibility. Millions of workers are engaged in running the economy and contributing to its growth. Not only here in America, but all over the world, Muslim communities are standing up against terror and injustice and working for the good of all.
5. Muslim Americans should engage in public debates in the upcoming election. They should be visible in walks through neighborhoods at the precinct levels. They should speak up and take a stand against those who are perpetuating hatred against Islam.
Moreover, they should remain alert about the Islamophobic campaigns going on in the country. They should know the background of all those who are hatemongers and they should be willing to expose them.
The Clarion Fund, Inc. is behind the movie. Here is background information. If anyone has more research on the group, please forward it to the author of the article.
CLARION FUND INC is classified as a tax-exempt Internal Revenue Code 501 (c)(3) organization) The organization receives a substantial part of its support from a governmental unit or the general public. The founder of the Clarion Fund is Raphael Shore, a Canadian citizen, who lives in Israel and is the producer as well as co-writer of Obsession.
Shore is a director of the organization, as is Richard Green, of Miami/Ft. Lauderdale.
An article published in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz under the title â€˜Obsessionâ€™ stokes passions, fears and controversy–the following information was included in that article:
â€œâ€™Obsessionâ€™ gives the picture that unfortunately no one else does,â€ says Raphael Shore, the Canadian-Israeli living in Jerusalem who produced the film.
For one, it has a largely Jewish and pro-Israel distribution network, though Shore is trying to expand the filmâ€™s appeal. According to news reports, at a screening earlier this year at New York University, distributors of the film required viewers to register at IsraelActivism.com, the Web site of Aish HaTorahâ€™s Hasbara Fellowships.
Shore, incidentally, was the director of both Aish HaTorah International and the Hasbara Fellowships, a pro-Israel advocacy group. He also tries to play down the filmâ€™s Israel connection, simply because â€œIt isnâ€™t helpful,â€ he says.â€I donâ€™t want it to be only Jewish and Israel-related.
The issue is further complicated as funding sources for the film remain hazy. Shore and director Wayne Kopping of South Africa are the only figures associated with the film willing to release their real names and appear in media interviews; the executive producer is listed as Peter Mier, while the production manager is listed as Brett Halperin. But Mier and Halperin are just aliases, Shore says. …According to Shore, about 80 percent of the filmâ€™s $400,000 budget was provided by Mier.
â€œMany evangelical Christians are waking up and becoming passionate about this issue,â€ says Shore.
Shore is also the founder of HonestReporting, which is a Zionist media watchdog outfit.
Similar enlightening information can be compiled on others who spread falsehoods about Islam and Muslims. This information will be helpful for Muslims to convince our fellow citizens that those who are promoting this hatred are part of special interest groups committed to racial and religious bigotry.
Above all, we must not remain silent. We might not have the resources to counter the propaganda that spews out against our holy religion. But we have the determination and inspiration to expose those who would cast their venomous lies into America.