Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West

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Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West
ObsessionRadicalIslam.jpg
DVD cover art
Directed by Wayne Kopping
Produced by Peter Mier
Raphael Shore
Written by Wayne Kopping
Raphael Shore
Edited by Wayne Kopping
Distributed by Clarion Project
Release date
Language English
Arabic
French
Persian

Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West is a 2005 documentary film about the perceived threat of radical Islam to Western civilization. The film makes use of extensive Arab television footage depicting Islamic radicals preaching hate speech and seeking to incite global jihad. It also draws parallels between World War II's Nazi movement and Islamism and the West's response to those threats.[1]

Wayne Kopping of South Africa co-wrote and directed the film. Raphael Shore, a Canadian-Israeli, co-wrote and produced the film, and is the founder of The Clarion Fund, the film's distributor. The movie has received praise from conservative media personalities such as Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity,[2] but others criticized it as Islamophobic with a political agenda, and for its association with pro-Israeli groups.

Segments of the movie were broadcast on CNN Headline News and in several specials on Fox News. The movie was also screened on 30 college campuses and Capitol Hill. The unusual distribution of 28 million free Obsession DVDs as an insert in over 70 newspapers predominantly in swing states before the United States 2008 presidential election, garnered much attention, with 5 newspapers refusing to distribute the DVD. National Public Radio reported that it was unclear as to who funded Clarion's distribution of the DVD.[3]

Plot[edit]

The movie begins with the following statement:[4]

This is a film about radical Islamic terror. A dangerous ideology, fueled by religious hatred. It's important to remember most Muslims are peaceful and do not support terror. This is not a film about them. This is a film about a radical worldview, and the threat it poses to us all, Muslim and non-Muslim alike.

The film uses many images from Arab TV, provided by the Middle East Media Research Institute and Palestinian Media Watch.

Contributors[edit]

The following people were interviewed in the movie:[5]

Khaleel Mohammed, an associate professor of religious studies[6] at San Diego State University and the only Islamic Studies Professor interviewed[7] discussed the meaning of jihad and its misuse by extremists.[8] Mohammed later distanced himself and apologised for his participation claiming he had believed the film would be "used objectively, focusing on (the) fanatics who seek to spread violence" rather than Islam itself.

Production[edit]

Wayne Kopping co-wrote, directed, and edited the film.[9] Raphael Shore co-wrote and produced the film.[9] Shore, a Canadian-Israeli film writer, producer, is also founder of The Clarion Fund.[10] Kopping and Shore previously collaborated on Relentless: The Struggle for Peace in the Middle East. Brett Halperin, named as the production manager, is an alias according to Shore.[11][12]

Executive producer Peter Mier, an alias for an unnamed Canadian Jewish businessman, provided about 80 percent of the film's $400,000 budget, according to Raphael Shore.[11][12] According to IRS documents obtained by the Center for Investigative Reporting, financial support for the film came from an organization named Castello Limited.[13] In 2008, Donors Capital Fund, a nonprofit donor-advised fund, granted $17.7 million to The Clarion Fund.[14][15]

Promotion and screenings[edit]

The film was initially promoted via the internet by HonestReporting and later through campus and Washington, DC screenings and later mass DVD distribution by the Clarion Fund. HonestReporting, a media watch organization run by Ephraim Shore, the twin brother of Obsession producer Raphael Shore, was involved in the initial internet-based promotion of the film.[16] During production in 2005, HonestReporting promoted the film as one of its projects.[16] Later when the film was released, HonestReporting promoted the film on its website describing it as an "affiliate" project.[16] The group, in an interview with The Jewish Week, says it was not involved in the film's production.[16]

CNN Headline News has shown segments of the film.[17] Fox News has shown and hosted on its website segments of the film.[18] Seven times in November 2006, Fox News showed a one-hour special incorporating segments from the film.[19]

The documentary has been screened on 30 major campuses including Hofstra, Pace, USC, UCLA, NYU,[17] and McGill.[20][21]

In December 2006, U.S. Representatives Eric Cantor (R-VA), Chief Deputy Majority Whip, and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) co-sponsored a screening of the film on Capitol Hill.[citation needed] Cantor's cousin and Wasserman's constituent, Daniel Cantor Wultz, was killed in an attack by an Islamic Jihad suicide bomber.[22]

Distribution[edit]

Following the failure of traditional film distributors to pick up Shore's films, The Clarion Fund retained a non-exclusive agreement to distribute Obsession, Relentless and The Third Jihad.[16][17]

The film was initially distributed to college campuses in 2007 and in September 2008, the Clarion Fund, in cooperation with the Endowment for Middle East Truth,[23] distributed 28 million DVDs of the film by mail,[24] and in newspaper advertising supplements, predominantly in swing states.[17][25] The timing of the release and the unrevealed funding for the distribution, estimated to have cost around $50 million, stimulated controversy and speculation about who distributed the film.[26][27] The Council on American–Islamic Relations filed a complaint about the distribution with the Federal Election Commission.[28]

The film was included in the first issue of the publication "The Judeo-Christian View", which was sent to priests and pastors in churches and synagogues in the United States.[8][29][30]

The DVD was also distributed to all 30,000 members of the Republican Jewish Coalition.[31]

Newspapers[edit]

Newspapers distributing the DVD included The New York Times, The Charlotte Observer, The Miami Herald, the Raleigh News & Observer,[32] The Chronicle of Higher Education,[11] and The Oregonian.[33][34] The New York Times distributed approximately 145,000 DVDs in their national edition to Denver, Miami, Tampa, Orlando, Detroit, Kansas City, St. Louis, Philadelphia, and Milwaukee.[35] According to a News & Observer blog post, whether the advertisement should be accepted was discussed, but publisher Orage Quarles made the "ultimate decision". The newspaper's vice president of display advertising noted, "Obviously, we have distributed other product samples, whether it's cereal or toothpaste."[36]

Refusals to distribute[edit]

Many of the newspapers distributing the DVD also published articles about the film, including The Morning Call[37] of Allentown, Pennsylvania, The Charlotte Observer,[38] and The News & Observer[39] of Raleigh, North Carolina. Newspapers that refused to distribute the DVD included the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,[40] the Detroit Free Press, the News & Record of Greensboro, North Carolina, and The Plain Dealer of Cleveland, Ohio.[41][42] News & Record president and publisher Robin Saul said: "It didn't meet our advertising standards. We were told its purpose was educational. We didn't see it as educational at all. It was fear-mongering and divisive."[43][44] The editor John Robinson wrote: "As a journalist, my default position is to provide people with more knowledge, however troubling, rather than less. Were this truly an issue of the freedom of information, I would have argued to publish. But this was a paid advertisement presenting one side of an inflammatory issue."[43]

New Films International acquired the film for international distribution.[45]

Reception[edit]

Conservative media praised the film.[46] Glenn Beck described "Obsession" as "one of the most important movies of our lifetime".[47] Emmett Tyrrell of CNN wrote that "Obsession," is "one of the most riveting films about the struggle the civilized world faces",[48] while Kyra Phillips encouraged CNN Newsroom viewers to see the movie which according to her "provides an incredible education".[46] Additional endorsements were published on Fox News,[49] on Townhall,[50] in National Review,[51] in FrontPage Magazine,[52] in The Times Gazette (OH) [53] and on conservative radio programs such as The Rush Limbaugh Show, the highest-rated talk radio show in the United States.[54]

Criticism and controversy[edit]

The film's depiction of radical Islam and Islamists was criticized as Islamophobic. Initially supplied to college campuses for free screenings, the film ignited controversy with 30 airing the film, while several declined including the State University of New York at the request of Jewish groups. Students attending the screenings at New York University were required to register with IsraelActivism.com with photographs of the event forwarded to Hasbara Fellowships, an organization that brings students to Israel and trains them to be pro-Israel activists on college campuses. The forwarding of names was criticised for stifling dissent and intimidating people.[17]

Think tank researcher Jennifer Bryson gave the film a mixed review, saying that while it does show how, "Islamist radicalism poses a grave threat to the freedoms of constitutional democracies, the film largely ignores potential solutions and a host of moderate Islamic voices that have gone unheard."[55]

The film has been criticized for "portraying Islam as a threatening religion bent on the destruction of Western civilization, interspersing incendiary commentary with images of Nazis and suicide bombing indoctrination".[56] The Jewish Telegraphic Agency wrote: "Producers of the documentary insist that it only targets a radical minority among Muslims; however, a number of the interviewees in the documentary are on the record as describing Islam as inherently prone to hegemony."[57]

Jack Moline, the Spiritual Leader of the Agudas Achim Congregation, described Obsession as "the protocols of the learned elders of Saudi Arabia." Aish HaTorah has been criticized by Rabbi Moline over its close links with The Clarion Fund.[16][58] On the matter of the shared staff between Aish HaTorah and the Clarion Fund, Moline said "It is distressing to me that they [Aish HaTorah] would continue to have someone who has promulgated such awful, awful stuff sitting on their board or staff.”[16]

The left-wing group Hate Hurts America,[59] launched a campaign against the film titled "Obsession for Hate," calling it a "classic work of hate propaganda, thinly disguised as a critique of radicalism, that attempts to subliminally demonize Muslims and their faith wholesale."[60][61]

In Dearborn, Michigan, local religious leaders called a free screening of the documentary on September 11, 2008 a divisive publicity stunt.[62] Joe Wierzbicki[60] of the King Media Group,[63] Russo Marsh & Rogers,[64] and the Our Country Deserves Better PAC,[65] said: "There is a problem with an acceptance of radical Islam in Dearborn more so than anywhere else than I know of," according to the Detroit Free Press, quoting Wierzbicki as a spokesman for a California-based public relations company hired to promote the film.[62] Wierzbicki later said Right Reel,[specify] a distributor of conservative films, hired him.[66]

The Council on American-Islamic Relations asked for the Federal Election Commission to investigate the Clarion Fund's DVD distribution claiming that it was an attempt to influence the 2008 US Presidential Election. As evidence of inappropriate political bias on the part of The Clarion Fund, AP cited Patriot News of Harrisburg, Pa. reporting "that a Clarion Fund Web site ran a pro-McCain article before it attracted notice and was taken down." Ari Morgenstern, a spokesman for Middle East Truth, denied that it was intended to influence the election result. Gregory Ross, spokesman for the New York-based Clarion Fund stated: "We are not telling people who to vote for, we're just saying no matter who gets in office, the American people should know radical Islam is a real threat to America. We don't feel radical Islam is getting its fair share of press."[67]

The Endowment for Middle East Truth withdrew support for promoting the film.[68]

After a showing on November 13, 2007 at the University of Florida, the Gainesville campus was rocked by controversy over the film. A forum entitled "Radical Islam Wants You Dead" was sponsored by Law School Republicans, prompting Patricia Telles-Irvin, the University's vice president of student affairs, to call for apology for "promoting a negative stereotype".[69] Faculty and community members were split over the situation's inherent free speech issues. In a December 13 opinion editorial, the Tampa Tribune criticized Telles-Irvin's criticism on constitutional grounds and called for Patricia Telles-Irvin's replacement.[69]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West". IMDb.com. 2011. Retrieved February 11, 2011. 
  2. ^ "Obsession – Radical Islam's War Against the West – What people are saying". 
  3. ^ "Some Answers On Clarion, And Still Some Questions". National Public Radio. 
  4. ^ "Terrorism: Looking for context". The Florida Times-Union. Jacksonville, Florida. 2008-09-17. Retrieved 2011-05-15. 
  5. ^ "Interviewees". Obsession the movie. 2008. Retrieved October 8, 2008. 
  6. ^ Mohammed, Khaleel. "Welcome to Prof. Khaleel Mohammed's Web site". San Diego State University. Archived from the original on July 8, 2008. Retrieved October 13, 2008. 
  7. ^ "Khaleel Mohammed, PhD". obsessionthemovie.com. 2008. Retrieved October 13, 2008. 
  8. ^ a b "Swing states targeted with "anti-Muslim propaganda"". Observers. France 24. October 13, 2008. Retrieved October 13, 2008. 
  9. ^ a b "The Filmmakers". Obsessionthemovie.com. 2008. Retrieved October 12, 2008. 
  10. ^ "Clarion Fund: National Security Through Education". New York City: Clarion Fund. 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-29. 
  11. ^ a b c Shatz, Adam (October 9, 2008). "Short Cuts". London Review of Books. Retrieved October 3, 2008. 
  12. ^ a b Berman, Daphna (June 28, 2007). "'Obsession' stokes passions, fears and controversy". Haaretz. Retrieved October 7, 2008. But Mier and Halperin are just aliases, Shore says. 
  13. ^ Kabat, Rebecca (July 23, 2007). "Clarion Fund correspondence with Internal Revenue Service" (PDF). Center for Investigative Reporting. Archived from the original (pdf) on 2008-10-10. Retrieved October 10, 2008. The film 'Obsession' was produced by Castello Limited. 
  14. ^ Elliott, Justin (November 16, 2010). "Mystery of who funded right-wing "radical Islam" campaign deepens". Salon. Retrieved February 21, 2015. 
  15. ^ "Donors Capital Fund". Council on American–Islamic Relations. November 10, 2014. Retrieved February 21, 2015. 
  16. ^ a b c d e f g Sarah Posner. Aish HaTorah’s New ‘Obsession’. The Jewish Week. October 29, 2008.
  17. ^ a b c d e Arenson, Karen W (February 26, 2007). "Film's View of Islam Stirs Anger on Campuses". The New York Times. Retrieved October 14, 2008. 
  18. ^ "Documentary Portrays Islamic Extremists' Call to Arms Against the Free World". Fox News Channel. November 3, 2006. Retrieved September 14, 2008. 
  19. ^ Akhavi, Khody (March 26, 2007). "Film on "Radical Islam" Tied to Pro-Israel Groups". Inter Press Service. Retrieved October 15, 2008. 
  20. ^ "Taking Liberties". Montreal, Quebec, Canada. February 9, 2006. Retrieved October 17, 2008. 
  21. ^ Smajovits, Daniel (November 30, 2006). "Obsession screened to full house at McGill" (pdf). The Jewish Tribune]. B'nai Brith Canada. Retrieved October 17, 2008. 
  22. ^ Cantor, Eric; Wasserman Schultz, Debbie (December 5, 2006). "Reps. Cantor, Wasserman Schultz Statement on Capitol Hill Screening of 'Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West'". United States House of Representatives. Retrieved October 18, 2008. 
  23. ^ Gharib, Ali; Clifton, Eli (September 24, 2008). "Neo-cons, Ex-Israeli Diplomats Push Islamophobic Video". Inter Press Service. Retrieved October 7, 2008. 
  24. ^ Cassidy, Carrie (September 11, 2008). "DVD raises awareness, its source says". The Patriot-News. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: PennLive.com. Retrieved October 18, 2008. 
  25. ^ Jackson, William E., Jr. (September 13, 2008). "Delivering Propaganda, As If It is Toothpaste". Editor & Publisher. Nielsen Business Media. Retrieved October 18, 2008. 
  26. ^ Feyerick, Deborah; Steffen, Sheila (October 15, 2008). "Muslim DVD rattles voters in key battleground states". American Morning. CNN. Retrieved October 16, 2008. 
  27. ^ Anonymous campaigns play to fears of voters The National September 18, 2008
  28. ^ Laughlin, Meg (2008-09-26). "Senders of Islam movie 'Obsession' tied to Jewish charity". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved 2016-08-24. 
  29. ^ http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story/every-usa-church-synagogue-gets/story.aspx?guid={1A4EE358-1ACF-454F-838B-EB6BCEC260F9}&dist=hppr
  30. ^ http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=9231
  31. ^ http://www.thejewishweek.com/viewArticle/c37_a13850/News/National.html
  32. ^ Mitchell, Greg; Strupp, Joe (September 13, 2008). "Newspapers Deliver Millions of 'Terror' DVDs to Subscribers – In 'Swing States'". Editor & Publisher. Nielsen Business Media. Retrieved October 29, 2008. 
  33. ^ "'Oregonian' Distributes 'Muslim Terror' DVD – After Mayor Asks It to Refrain". Editor & Publisher. Nielsen Business Media. September 28, 2008. Retrieved October 3, 2008. 
  34. ^ Graves, Bill (September 28, 2008). "Critics call DVD insert unfair hit on Islam". The Oregonian. Oregon Live. Archived from the original on October 8, 2008. Retrieved October 6, 2008. I could find no reason to reject this. 
  35. ^ Gharib, Ali (September 19, 2008). "Anti-Islam Film Targets "Swing State" Voters". Inter Press Service. Retrieved October 12, 2008. The documentary, despite an initial disclaimer that the material covered applies only to radical Islamists and not all Muslims.... 
  36. ^ "N&O subscribers to receive Islam DVD". Under the Dome. The News & Observer. September 11, 2008. Retrieved September 14, 2008. 
  37. ^ Drobnyk, Josh (September 13, 2008). "Is DVD a wake-up call or propaganda?". The Morning Call. Allentown, Pennsylvania. Retrieved September 14, 2008. 
  38. ^ Funk, Tim; St. Onge, Peter (September 13, 2008). "Muslims rap DVD ad in Observer". The Charlotte Observer. Charlotte, North Carolina. 
  39. ^ Shimron, Yonat (September 13, 2008). "Controversial film on Islam delivered nationwide". The News & Observer. Raleigh, North Carolina: The McClatchy Company. Archived from the original on September 18, 2008. Retrieved October 14, 2008. 
  40. ^ Townsend, Tim. "Post-Dispatch refuses to distribute DVD offensive to American Muslims". stltoday.com. [St. Louis Post-Dispatch]. Archived from the original on April 18, 2009. Retrieved September 22, 2008. 
  41. ^ "The Papers". Obsession For Hate. Hate Hurts America. 2008. Retrieved October 8, 2008. 
  42. ^ Jesdanun, Anick (October 4, 2008). "Newspapers get complaints for DVD ad on Muslims". Associated Press. Retrieved October 7, 2008. The Detroit Free Press, The Plain Dealer of Cleveland and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch also declined to carry the ad. 
  43. ^ a b Robinson, John (September 21, 2009). "Why we didn't distribute "Obsession"". The Editor's Log. Greensboro, North Carolina: Greensboro News & Record. Retrieved October 12, 2008. 
  44. ^ Mitchell, Greg (September 15, 2008). "One Newspaper Refuses to Distribute 'Islam Terror' DVD". Editor & Publisher. Nielsen Business Media. Retrieved October 13, 2008. The longtime editor, John Robinson, explained his reasoning in a column yesterday. 
  45. ^ "Obsession (Radical Islam's War Against The West)". New Films International. 2007. Archived from the original on May 8, 2016. Retrieved October 23, 2008. 
  46. ^ a b "Official website". Obsessionthemovie.com. 2008. Retrieved February 10, 2011. 
  47. ^ "Glenn Beck – CNN headline News". 2008. Retrieved February 10, 2011. 
  48. ^ "R. Emmett Tyrrell, CNN.com: Hollywood's blind spot". 2006. Retrieved May 15, 2011. 
  49. ^ "Documentary Portrays Islamic Extremists' Call to Arms Against the Free World". Fox News. November 3, 2006. Retrieved February 10, 2011. 
  50. ^ "Obsession". Townhall.com. 2006. Retrieved February 10, 2011. 
  51. ^ "New Censors’ Obsession". 2008. Retrieved February 10, 2011. 
  52. ^ "Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West". 2006. Retrieved February 10, 2011. 
  53. ^ "'Obsession' is required viewing". 2008. Retrieved February 10, 2011. 
  54. ^ "'Obsession' – on radio programs". 2008. Retrieved February 10, 2011. 
  55. ^ Islam: Obsession Reorientation by Jennifer S. Bryson, November 11, 2008, Public Discourse, The Witherspoon Institute. Summary reads:As the recent film “Obsession” points out, Islamist radicalism poses a grave threat to the freedoms of constitutional democracies. But “Obsession” largely ignores potential solutions and a host of moderate Islamic voices that have gone unheard.
  56. ^ Varela, Ileana (September 16, 2008). ""Obsession" DVD Raises Concerns Over Propaganda". WFOR-TV. Miami, Florida: CBS Television Stations. Archived from the original on September 20, 2008. Retrieved October 12, 2008. 
  57. ^ "Islamic council wants probe of 'Obsession'". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. September 25, 2008. Archived from the original on September 28, 2008. Retrieved October 8, 2008. 
  58. ^ Rabbi Raphael Shore, the executive directory of The Clarion Fund is a full-time employee of Aish HaTorah. Ephraim Shore "heads Aish’s operations in Israel". Two of the three Clarion Fund directors are Aish employees while the third is a member of the Aish executive committee. Elke Bronstein who signed the mail permit for the DVD bulk mailing works for Aish Discovery, which produces films for Aish HaTorah. Clarions mailing address is the same address as Aish HaTorah International, a fundraising arm of Aish HaTorah.St Petersburgh Times
  59. ^ "Hate Hurts America". 2008. Retrieved October 8, 2008. 
  60. ^ a b Overby, Peter (September 26, 2008). "Charity Floods Swing States With Anti-Islam DVD". Morning Edition. National Public Radio. Retrieved October 7, 2008. Wierzbicki, the movie promoter, also works for two political organizations. 
  61. ^ "About". Obsession For Hate. Hate Hurts America. 2008. Retrieved October 8, 2008. 
  62. ^ a b Warikoo, Niraj (September 11, 2008). "Critics slam screening of Muslim documentary today". Detroit Free Press. Freep.com. Archived from the original on September 19, 2008. Retrieved October 7, 2008. 
  63. ^ "Joe Wierzbicki – Director of Public Relations". King Media Group. Retrieved October 7, 2008. 
  64. ^ "Principals". Russo Marsh & Rogers. Retrieved October 7, 2008. 
  65. ^ "Board Members and Staff". Our Country Deserves Better PAC. Archived from the original on September 1, 2008. Retrieved October 7, 2008. 
  66. ^ Overby, Peter; Evans, Will (October 7, 2008). "Some Answers On Clarion, And Still Some Questions". The Secret Money Project. National Public Radio. Retrieved October 10, 2008. He said he was hired by Right Reel, a distributor of conservative films, but he expressed doubt that Right Reel was the ultimate funder of the screening. 
  67. ^ Gorski, Eric (September 23, 2008). "Muslim group seeks probe of 'radical Islam' DVD". Associated Press. Retrieved October 7, 2008. 
  68. ^ "Think tank quits 'Obsession Project'". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. October 2, 2008. Archived from the original on October 6, 2008. Retrieved October 14, 2008. 
  69. ^ a b "Suppressing Speech On Campus Hurts University's Prestige". The Tampa Tribune. Tampa, Florida. December 13, 2007. Retrieved October 17, 2008. 

External links[edit]