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Did Sheldon Adelson Fund Anti-Obama Propaganda DVD?

Raphael Shore: from Aish to anti-Muslim impressario

Raphael Shore: from Aish to anti-Muslim impressario

Here’s an update on last night’s post about the dirty tricks campaign involving the circulation of 28 million DVDs of the anti-Muslim propaganda film, Obsession, in U.S. swing states.  In my last post, I noted that Obsession was produced by Raphael Shore with the financial backing on an anonymous backer.

Wikipedia reports that the film’s producer is an Orthodox rabbi.

Haaretz has already reported that Sheldon Adelson personally distributes copies of Obsession to participants in the Taglit-Birthright Israel indoctrination tours he funds.  Given this, plus his deep pockets support for neocon groups like Freedom’s Watch, it almost seems a no-brainer to guess that Adelson may be the sugar daddy.


The Republican Jewish Coalition has also distributed free copies of the film in promotional mailings to U.S. rabbis and other Jewish mailing lists.

Jews on First reports that Obsession has been distributed by other highly partisan neocon/Islamophobic groups:

Tom Trento, who heads www.watchobsession.org, the group that distributed the movie at the Democratic and Republican parties’ nominating conventions, told JewsOnFirst that their goal is to awaken the country…before the election so everyone can “see the insidious nature of radical Islam.” Trento said, his group’s website then directs viewers of the video to “a scorecard that shows how elected officials have voted” on terrorism-related issues so they can decide “how they can intelligently vote” in November.

The scorecard is on the website of Act for America, a group that says it has tabulated electeds’ “votes related to national security and the threat of Islamofascism.” Its Senate scorecard consistently favors Republicans over Democrats…

Brigitte Gabriel heads Act for America. In an interview last month with the New York Times about her anti-Muslim book They Must Be Stopped, Gabriel said “The moderate Muslims at this point are truly irrelevant.” The Times called Gabriel a “radical Islamophobe.”

Asked how he thinks the political parties compare on the issues raised by Obsession, Tom Trento said, “In my personal opinion, the Republicans seem to get it much better than the Democrats — and they get it that the problem is not a police problem, but a military problem.”

Joachim Martillo notes that Aish HaTorah is also involved in the propaganda campaign to promote Obsession:

NEW EXCITING JOB OPPORTUNITIES AT AISH HATORAH
……………………..

1. ONLINE ACTIVISM FACILITATOR: NY, JERUSALEM OR HOME-BASED

The Clarion Fund – a new organization dedicated to educating people about the threat of radical Islam – is seeking to hire an Activism Facilitator for a new website-based project.

Launching in conjunction with the new documentary film “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West”, this website will serve as a resource of historical and current information about the issue, and ultimately facilitate the transfer of people’s desire to get involved into organized, concrete action…

2. “OBSESSION” WEB AND RETAIL MARKETER: JERUSALEM

The Clarion Fund is seeking to hire a web and retail marketing professional for the new film “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West.” This rewarding and exciting role requires an experienced web marketing expert with superior communication and writing skills.

Your primary responsibilities will include marketing “Obsession” over the web, which involves advertising on a variety of websites and generating links from other sites as well as promoting the film using e-groups and e-lists. You will be required to form retail deals with major stores, distributors, chains and websites for the purpose of maximizing exposure and public access to the film. You will also need to coordinate press with “Obsession’s” PR firm in the lead-up to the March 2007 launch of the film…

A Haaretz story about the film reveals Shore’s direct affiliation with Aish:

Shore, incidentally, was the director of both Aish HaTorah International and the Hasbara Fellowships, a pro-Israel advocacy group.

Aish Hatorah is making common cause with Jewish anti-Muslim activists. Several weeks ago the N.Y. Times featured a glowing article about Aish rabbis tutoring Jewish alpha male executives in the comfort of their own corporate lairs for the cool sum of $10,000+ a year. I’d urge anyone who knows such a corporate titan to point them to this post and the film to see if this is the way they’d like their donation to Aish spent.  Teaching Torah is one thing and a goal almost every Jew approves of–but teaching hate?  Is that something Aish wishes to be known for?

Shore also helped found the pro-Israel media watchdog, HonestReporting, which serves similar functions to advocacy groups like MEMRI, CAMERA, and the Israel Project.

The Haaretz story also notes the surreptitious funding of Obsession:

…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 film’s $400,000 budget was provided by Mier.

I find it odd that some of America’s finest newspapers would allow themselves to disseminate propaganda of this “quality” essentially meant to bolster John McCain’s campaign.  They’re sending 28-million Americans copies of a film whose producers won’t even reveal who financed their project?  One has to ask why the latter are holding back?  What are they afraid of?  Why would a Sheldon Adelson, Michael Steinhardt or other similar Republican Jewish Coalition donor try to hide their association with this film?  And why should America’s newspapers be a party to this fraud?

Joachim also reveals that besides Shore, another Clarion Fund director is Richard Green of Miami-Ft. Lauderdale.

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{ 16 comments… add one }
  • The Golem September 15, 2008, 12:37 AM

    Someone more learned than I may know the answer to this question. Are we not forbidden to teach Torah for money, as it says, “emet knai, v’al timkor,” “Buy truth and do not sell it?”

    I don’t know how we lost this tradition generally, but teaching corporate executives Torah for 10 G’s seem particularly eggregious.

    Anyone have more information?

  • ellen September 15, 2008, 3:15 AM

    I am wondering about the legality of this? Can anyone (anyone who has millions that is) pay the newspapers to include an insert? No matter what it is?
    For example, denying the Holocaust, or supporting the Klan, or promoting any ideology whatever?

    ellen

  • Robin September 15, 2008, 9:03 AM

    Just a note on the Shore brothers, another brother, David,was a producer and scriptwriter of “NYPD Blue”, “Law and Order” and creator of “Dr. House”. Very interestingly, in an interview he gave in Haartz, July 18, 2008, he states his brother’s lifestyles are very different (they both being rabbis), but of the character he created, Dr. House, he stated:

    “”I personally think that the American networks underestimated the capacity of the audience to embrace a character like this. And it was sort of to my benefit. Because now they’re all scrambling to get that type of character on. But I think American audiences, the networks, all want the likable character and they mistake that for nice. And I think we like to watch Dr. House. He’s not likable in the traditional sense, but we like to watch him, and obviously that’s what really matters.”

    One of the key phrases used in the show is “everybody lies.” House says it a lot. That’s a very pessimistic view for network TV in America.

    “Again, I didn’t expect it to be this popular. I wrote that line in the pilot; it was just another line in the script. And then as we were doing the pilot, actually filming it, it suddenly became, obviously, … the defining thing about the show. And it’s not as pessimistic as it sounds. It’s more that everybody has secrets, and everybody sees the world their own way. It’s really a line that speaks to this character’s pursuit of truth. And that truth doesn’t come from just asking a person a question and getting an answer. Truth comes from digging deeper and finding out what’s behind that answer and what that answer really means. And even when a person’s not consciously lying, they are seeing a version of the world that may not be exactly the real version of the world. This character wants to find out the ultimate truth.”
    http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1001012.html

    Considering the shadowiness of the Clarion Fund, it’s statement that “Meir” and “Halperin” are aliases, it’s refusal to state where the donations, in particular the sugar daddy donation for the mass mailing come from, I find David’s statement about “everybody lies”, truth as a matter of perception shrouded in personal secrets very illuminating. We don’t like to watch him, but we do, don’t just ask questions, dig deeper, get at the answer and what the answer really means.

    Indeed, so true in the case of the mass distribution of “Obsession”, who ALL is behind it, and what is their goal.

    Are they even Americans? No. Ephraim and Raphael Shore are Israeli/Canadian citizens.

  • Richard Silverstein September 15, 2008, 11:40 AM

    @Robin: Very illuminating comment, Robin & thanks for connecting these important bits of information. The issue of citizenship is also important since Shore is attempting to influence a U.S. election & is not a citizen.

  • Zhubajie September 15, 2008, 3:33 PM

    So how should I treat my Muslim students, according to these geniuses? I have probably half a dozen in every class.

    Zhu Bajie

  • John Dickerson September 15, 2008, 6:27 PM

    I remember reading an article wherein Sheldon Adelson was pressuring someone to produce (and/or distribute) a film/video of this type. They told him that they could not do so, because it contained inaccuracies/untruths. Adelson replied that he would do it on his own.

  • John Dickerson September 15, 2008, 6:30 PM

    From “crooksandliars.com”:

    “Key West resident Joelna Marcus received a phone call today. She was asked if she is Jewish, and she replied in the affirmative.

    She was asked if she was religious.

    She was then asked if her opinion of Barack Obama would change if she knew that Obama had given lots and lots of money to the PLO.”

    SOURCE- http://www.crooksandliars.com/2008/09/15/rovian-push-polling-in-florida-links-obama-to-plo

  • John Dickerson September 15, 2008, 6:41 PM

    “Dr House” Asks, Who Is Behind The Mass-Mailing of Obsession?
    by Robie
    Mon Sep 15, 2008 at 03:21:06 PM PDT

    The following is research done delving in to who is behind the 26 million household mass distribution of the so called documentary “Obsession”

    While news outlets as well as bloggers are trying to get to the bottom of who financed this endeavor, the below information pertains to the film’s producer as well as founder of the Clarion Fund who claims responsibility for raising the funds……..

    SOURCE- http://www.dailykos.com/story/2008/9/15/164654/544

  • Robin September 15, 2008, 6:59 PM

    Richard,
    The link you give up above to what Joachim Martillo found, the job description for the director of the Clarion Fund posted by Aish Ha Torah has gone POOF. I KNOW it had been there on the yahoo group. It reads,

    The group biushiur is temporarily unavailable

    I went to Joachim’s site just to make sure it wasn’t your link that was bad, but it’s the same thing, The group biushiur is temporarily unavailable

    (that’s my post on DK, the user name Robin was already taken, so I used my nickname)

  • mia September 18, 2008, 12:20 AM

    “Taglit-Birthright Israel indoctrination tours”

    Yes, Sheldon Adelson is one of several funders of Taglit-Birthright Israel. I think for the last 2 years he was the largest donor in fact. However, to characterize the organization as the purveyor of indoctrination tours is grossly inaccurate. Taglit-Birthright Israel merely funds the trips which are run by a wide assortment of trip providers and organizations. Taglit’s requirements are minimal – trip providers are required to visit Jerusalem, have a holocaust education session, food has to be kosher etc. Other than that, the educational components are left to the discretion of the trip providers who have been vetted in part on their ability to provide an appropriate trip. As such you have trips run by religious organizations, student organizations, political organizations of all kinds etc. Thus it is not surprising that trips have been offered by both Stand With Us and the Progressive Zionist Caucus. Participants can go on tours geared towards religious Orthodox Jews or Gay Jews – writers and journalists with Mayanot or bloggers with Jewlicious. To call these “indoctrination trips” is grossly inaccurate. I myself was on a trip with an organization called IsraelExperts and if anything, their orientation was decidedly leftist. Even then, we were encouraged to learn more and make up our own minds. I have heard the same assessment from other friends of mine who have gone on Taglit-Birthright Israel trips with different providers. Of course there are some that report a different experience but that only proves that there does not exist an overriding directive from Taglit and Aronson insisting that a particular political stance be promoted to the exclusion of all others.

    I make this assertion based on my own personal experience as well as that of my close friends and acquaintances. Birthright trips are a frequent topic of conversation with us – we either recount our experiences to each other or are asked for advice on who to go with by friends who haven’t gone yet. What was your characterization based on?

    I’m not trying to pick a fight either, it’s just that you are usually so meticulous with facts that your off the cuff assertion seemed a little out of character.

  • Richard Silverstein September 18, 2008, 1:23 AM

    @mia: You are right. There are many Birthright trips sponsored by many diff. organizations. It is possible (though not easy) to find a balanced, fair Birthright trip. But I assure you that Sheldon Adelson didn’t give $25 million to Birthright so that it would produce Jews like Shulamit Aloni or Yossi Beilin. He believes that sending thousands of Jewish kids on these tours will produce future right-wing Jews in his mold. If you know anything about Adelson he doesn’t do things for the sheer good or joy of it. He always has an ulterior motive. That is true here as well.

    I’ve written quite a bit about Birthright here & you should Google that term to search for previous posts. In one of them you’ll find a link to a fascinating post & comment thread at Jewschool which takes a decidedly diff. view of Taglit than you. If you don’t find the link e mail me & I’ll research it for you.

    The overall director of Birthright has made some damaging admissions as well about the partisan nature of the program. That’s also quoted in my previous post I believe. I would ask you how many Birthright trips bring participants to speak with Israeli Arab political or social activists? How many bring participants face to face with a Palestinian Arab? How many bring participants face to face with the Israeli poor?

  • Edward September 19, 2008, 11:00 PM

    Any criticism of Radical Islam as in the film “Obsession” is “anti-Muslim”, “Islamophobic”?

    Puleeeze.

    Richard, you sound just as foolish as someone saying any criticism of Israel is “anti-semitic”.

    I look forward to any comparison between democratic Israel and ANY Muslim entity.

    The way Muslims treat women, gays, non-muslims, from Morocco to Sudan to Saudi Arabia to Pakistan to Indonesia, the southern Philippines, would be very revealing.

  • peter england September 23, 2008, 11:29 PM

    everyone, with the exception of edward, seems to be making a mstake. the film, i dont know if any of you have watched it, highlights the clear and stated goal of fundamentalist islamic groups. it does not talk about muslims in general, nor does it mean to. there are neo nazis in germany. to talk about them is not to imply that all germans are still nazis.
    the intelligent apporach here, is to watch the film, heed its message ifit speaks to you are warn others of the dangers that fundamentalist islam poses to western freedoms.

    that is not the same as pretending that that the film encourages anti muslim hysteria. to suggest that diverts focus from a very serious problem, which is a huge mistake.

    p

  • Richard Silverstein September 23, 2008, 11:54 PM

    @peter england: If you believe that “radical Islam” truly poses a threat of “world domination” as this film posits, then it’s just yr ticket. If you’re like 98% of the rest of the world in thinking this claim is a crock of s(&t, then why bother watching this piece of turd-dung?

    From the DVD packaging here are the interviewees listed:

    Alan Dershowitz
    Walid Shoebat
    Daniel Pipes

    Among the endorsers with blurbs are:

    Michael Medwed
    Herbert London, Hudson Institute
    Jeffrey Horvitz, U.S. Naval War College

    Those names alone tell you all you need to know about this film.

  • nancy September 25, 2008, 1:22 AM

    Richard, thanks for pointing attention to this. I’m a Catholic-raised, Hispanic woman married to a Muslim man for over 20 years now. I’m not strictly religious, but he practices. We’re both attracted to mysticism, and spirituality. My husband’s family is very respectful of other people, and their religious beliefs. I used to take my brother-in-law to midnight mass every Christmas when he lived in our state. He also attended service at a Jewish temple at the invitation of one of his professors.

    I have been canvassing for Obama, and I’ve come across quite a number of people that will not vote for Obama because he is a “Muslim.” Being “Muslim” is bad enough. If you read the posts that appear in articles discussing the airing of this DVD, it is obvious that people are not concerned about “militants”, the claim is that “all Muslims” are the same. This video is all about inciting hatred, and that hatred is directed at all Muslims. After 9/11 my husband received several harassing phone calls at work, one serious enough that a police investigation was started. It was not because of anything he had said or done, they simply found his “Muslim-sounding” name in the directory.

    I think that you have to be a fool to not know that their are Muslim terrorists, which seems to be the only point of this film. So, what it is that they are supposed to be “educating” people about is beyond me. The “education” excuse is absolute BS. Unless, they are just educating people on how to fear and hate indiscriminately. I fear they are succeeding.

  • nancy September 25, 2008, 1:37 AM

    For the record, Edward. Absolutely, there is official discrimination against women in some Muslim countries, and there are “social rules” that discriminate against women, as well. A lot of the times, however, how well or how poorly a woman is treated depends on the level of education of a family. Thankfully, there are Muslim men and women that want a better future for the women in their societies. And hopefully, that number will continue to grow. That said, as I mentioned in an earlier post, I’m Hispanic, and I’ve seen quite a bit of Machismo from Hispanic males towards their wives, and I’ve seen it in the U.S. by white males, as well. I’m luckier than quite a few of the women I know. I’m by far not submissive. I’m completing a doctorate which has taken me away from home, at times for over 8 months, and honestly, I would not be able to get to where I am without my husband’s support or encouragement.

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