Who Is Behind The "Radical Islam" DVD?

The blogosphere is alive with the sound of buzz — all about an inflammatory DVD on radical Islam being distributed to millions of households at the peak of election season.

Critics are calling the DVD, "Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West," anti-Muslim hate, or politicking, or both. It doesn't mention or even obliquely allude to the presidential candidates. It couldn't, since it was made in 2006. But as whisper campaigns dog Obama with rumors that he's a secret Muslim, the DVD showed up as an insert in some 70 newspapers, with an emphasis in swing states.

The obvious question: Who is behind it?

And the answer: The DVD is distributed by the Clarion Fund, a nonprofit set up by the film's producer, Rabbi Raphael Shore. But not much is known about the group. It's a 501(c)(3) charity, which means it can't engage in partisan politics.
It did apparently have material on its Web site supporting John McCain, but then took it down.

Clarion has connections to Aish HaTorah, a strongly pro-Israel Jewish educational organization promoting Jewish identity and pride. Aish HaTorah has offices in Israel and the U.S.

Clarion's corporate filings in Delaware list the same address as Aish HaTorah New York. Clarion's two directors in 2006 were Shore and Jacob Fetman, who served as Aish's CFO. In 2007, the organization listed its directors as Shore, Henry Harris and Rebecca Kabat. Rabbi Harris is educational director at Aish HaTorah NY and Kabat has also worked for Aish.

Shore himself has worked for Aish HaTora. He told the Washington Times in 1992 that he "went to Israel 10 years ago to try to 'rescue' his twin brother, Ephraim, from Aish HaTorah," because he though it was a "big hoax." Instead, Shore became convinced and joined the organization's management. (Their other brother, David, created Fox's TV show "House.")

Aish's Ephraim Shore has also been president of the organization, which, according to Aish's Web site, helped to produce and promote Raphael Shore's film.

But don't ask where the Clarion Fund gets its funding. It's not telling. And with its 501(c)(3) status, it doesn't have to.



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These people have divided loyalties. I say this as a Jewish-American, myself, who would never operate on the principle, which these people do, that what's good for Israel is good for the United States. To me, that is an untenable position.

Sent by Larry Piltz | 6:26 PM | 9-23-2008

Tell me something I didn't know. These people are dangerous and should be watched. The FBI and Secret Service should keep track of everyone of these traders.

Sent by sims | 7:50 PM | 9-23-2008

These people think that some how McCain would send American's military to fight Israel's battles--it won't happen.

Sent by Sims | 7:52 PM | 9-23-2008

These people give Jewish Americans a bad name, and it is very unfair.

Sent by Sims | 7:54 PM | 9-23-2008

Well the DVD sounds obnoxious. However, I'm not sure what these folks have done that lead Larry Piltz to declare that they have divided loyalties. They seem concerned that radical Islamists are a threat to America. Whether it's right or wrong, that's a concern that is rooted in American interests.

As for the poster Sims, I will point out that American forces have never (as in not once) been sent to fight along side, or in defense of Israel. So, your statement "it won't happen" is correct; though, I suspect, not for the reasons you think.

There is some humor here, as well. Sims spelling of the word "traitor" is cute. But, mostly I really like this line: "Their other brother, David, created Fox's TV show "House."

Sent by PDK | 8:18 PM | 9-23-2008

I strongly disagree with the DVD (which I also received), but what is wrong with Americans, Jewish or not, trying to do what they can politically? It is not illegal to send out DVDs to people to try to convince them to agree with one's political agenda. I'm also Jewish, and I'm not ashamed of these people for exercising their democratic rights. It's long past time for Jews to cringe and not express our political views because we're afraid of what people will think of us. Antisemitism is an irrational prejudice - it really doesn't matter what Jews do, it exists to meet the personal/political needs of those who believe in it. (I would say the same thing of racism).

Sent by Rebecca | 8:21 PM | 9-23-2008

The American people will not allow another middle east war that is not based on American's interest. The neo-cons will not be allowed to use American lives and treasure as pawns in their war games.

Sent by Sims | 8:21 PM | 9-23-2008

I know Rabbi Shore from my days at Aish in Jerusalem. To say I'm disappointed in him is an understatement. In all seriousness, Aish is a dangerous, insular place where good pluralistic Jewish
American values go to die. Rabbi Moti Berger, one of their A-list educators actually told me a few minutes after
Rabin was shot that, in the thousands of years span of Jewish history, the assasin would be remembered as a hero, much like Judah Macabee. Disgusting. Lest you think all religious Jews think this garbage, we don't. I"m one and I'm all fired up for Barack Hussein. As we say in Hebrew, 'Ken Anu Yecholim!' Yes we can!!

Sent by aribeng | 8:52 PM | 9-23-2008

Sent by Rebecca: "I strongly disagree with the DVD (which I also received), but what is wrong with Americans, Jewish or not, trying to do what they can politically? It is not illegal to send out DVDs to people to try to convince them to agree with one's political agenda."

FROM THE ARTICLE: "It's a 501(c)(3) charity, which means it can't engage in partisan politics."

Sent by DICKERSON3870 | 9:57 PM | 9-23-2008

I'm also a Jewish American and am worried about and deeply opposed to islamist extremists, illegal israili settlers, aryan nation racists, anne coulter, rush limbaugh, and many many other peddlers of race and religious hate.
the timing of this dvd release is obviously meant to hurt obama. i suppose we can take some very small comfort in knowing that mostly it will affect those who ignorantly already think he is some kind of muslim manchurian candidate.
but that does not excuse using a 501 c3 organization for political ends, nor does it excuse one more organization spreading fear and hate. nothing excuses that.

Sent by brendan | 4:17 AM | 9-24-2008

All you need to know about this DVD is that the people behind it are cloaked. Can we figure out who they are and what they really stand for? Sure. But who cares? They're cowards, like all single-issue zealots. It's pure propaganda and it'll influence unbalanced people who do truly want to live narrow-minded simpleton lives.
Is radical Islam a real problem? Of course. One of many real and complex problems as the world shrinks and we are uncomfortably close to people not like us -- some of them evil.
In one important way, the people behind this DVD are similar to the extremists they fear -- they sling their single-minded propaganda from behind a cloak. Then they run and hide.
How can anyone take these kind of people seriously? The answer to that question might explain the why we have what we have in the White House and the rest of Washington.
Power, greed, fear, control. They story of the world and it's "leadership." Though the power is in "we the people's" hands to change that, we continue to endorse the status quo by simply tolerating it and not risking bold change. So as always, we have no one to blame but ourselves.

I have given up hope that when doing this kind of story, NPR would actually track down the people behind this propaganda and truly press them to come out in the open.

Sent by joe in deerfield | 8:14 AM | 9-26-2008

Everyone seems to have an emotional reaction to the implications of the DVD. But I haven't heard anyone comment on it's accuracy. Is it factually accurate or not? Is it spin? Or the hard, unpleasant truth?

Sent by RMN | 10:19 AM | 9-26-2008

Two copies of the DVD arrived yesterday and I tossed them. Now I will review one for content. Interesting though that they came to obscure, rural Southwestern Colorado where I live.

Sent by JoAnn Sloan | 1:06 PM | 9-26-2008

I got this DVD in the mail in west palm beach, not as part of a newspaper insert. They obviously have some mailing lists also. I didnt watch it. I had not solicited the DVD and presumed it to be either advertising or propoganda.

Sent by Michelle O'Connor | 1:16 PM | 9-26-2008

I received this DVD in my mailbox. Upon glance I wondered what hate group sent it. I live in Florida & I'm inundated with garbage from the religious right freaks that have taken over our country. I destroyed the DVD immediately and scooped my cat box over it. I'm a follower of the teachings of Christ. I pray every day that this year my vote will count. I'm voting for Obama!

Sent by Susan | 3:03 PM | 9-26-2008

I got that CD in the mail in Missouri and I'm not a newspaper subscriber. Could they be targeting union members?

Sent by GMV | 4:08 PM | 9-26-2008

Who are these "critics"? What, because it is an election season, we are not allowed to point out that there is a massive Islamic terrorist operation without being accused of being part of a whisper campaign against Obama?

Sent by quotidian | 6:52 PM | 9-26-2008

shades of the big lie! the content of the dvd are false, so much so that no theatre wanted to show the movie.

Sent by hyderabadi | 7:59 PM | 9-26-2008

The people behind this DVD are nothing but terrorists themselves. Propaganda like this does nothing but breed hate. If I ever receive one of these DVDs in my mailbox, I'll raise all sorts of hell.

Sent by Krissi D. | 1:32 AM | 9-27-2008

Try looking up Foster Friess. He has money to bankroll the DVD and has sponsored the showing of Obsession in the past. Nothing for sure but worth looking into.

Sent by justathought | 3:43 PM | 9-27-2008

It is one thing to exercise one's right of free speech in a democracy. It is quite another to lie and spew false propaganda -- hate-speech. Any Jew in his right mind makes that distinction: freedom of speech, yes; lying against others, no.

Any Jew who isn't concerned with that distinction -- so long as the target isn't Jewish -- is a bigot and racist to be condemned for, at minimum, hypocrisy.

Sent by JNagarya | 4:13 PM | 9-29-2008