You do the hanky-panky and you smear the other guy
That’s what it’s all about.
Yes, the right-wing pro-Israel crowd is up to its usual shenanigans I’m afraid…and going about it in their typically sly, surreptitious way. Greg Mitchell reports that the Clarion Fund, founded by Israeli-Canadian Raphael Shore, is distributing 28-million copies of the anti-Muslim propaganda film, Obsession, to voters in election swing states. This is a film that is such noxious propaganda that no major film distributor would touch it with a 10 foot pole. Until now, it’s been relegated to the university film circuit where right-wing and pro-Israel campus groups have organized screenings. Among its other subtleties, the film attempts to equate Islam with Nazism, as Mitchell writes:
The documentary showcases scenes of Muslim children being encouraged to become suicide bombers, interspersed with shots of Nazi rallies.
Raphael Shore clearly doesn’t have the funds to distribute 28 million copies of his film since one of his PR flacks acknowledged that the film was produced for less than $500,000 by a secret Sugar Daddy (I assume not Shore himself):
The film was financed by a concerned citizen who has a long standing relationship with our organization.
Therefore, one must ask who is funding this venture? If you go to the Clarion Fund site you won’t learn much. Unlike, almost every non-profit website I’ve ever visited it doesn’t list its staff or board of directors. If you visit Guidestar, which archives IRS form 990s for every non-profit in the nation, you’ll find that Guidestar oddly enough doesn’t have one on file. That’s a big IRS no-no since 990s must be available to the public and if there was one Guidestar would have a copy.
This one smells of right-wing Jewish money. I’d venture to say something connected to Aipac, Republican Jewish Coalition, Freedom’s Watch-type donors.
There is a lawyer, Eli D Greenberg, listed as Clarion Fund’s contact. He is a New York lawyer whose practice helps non-profits attain tax-deductible status. I’m wondering what kind of advice he gave to his client about this film distribution campaign since it clearly seems to skirt the edge of permissible non-profit conduct under IRS guidelines.
I’m mystified by the newspapers which have accepted advertising money from Clarion to distribute the film to their subscribers. Et tu, N.Y. Times:
New York Times Co. spokeswoman Diane McNulty about the policy on this insert. She replied:
“We believe the broad principles of freedom of the press confer on us an obligation to keep our advertising columns as open as possible. Therefore our acceptance or rejection of an advertisement does not depend on whether it coincides with our editorial positions. In fact, there are many instances when we have published opinion advertisements that run counter to the stance we take on our own editorial pages.
But tell me this, Ms. McNulty: are there many instances in which your advertising department was hoodwinked by an out and out right-wing scam to influence a presidential election via distributing a fraudulent anti-Muslim film to scare people into voting for John McCain? I’d hope the Times would re-evaluate their decision on this pronto.
Shore’s other website, Radical Islam, featured an editorial endorsing McCain for president. When an enterprising reporter pointed this out to Clarion’s PR flack, he was ‘appalled’ and promised it would be removed. But before he did, the reporter did us the favor of quoting it:
The article discusses both candidates and concludes:
“McCain’s policies seek to confront radical Islamic extremism and terrorism and roll it back while Obama’s, although intending to do the same, could in fact make the situation facing the West even worse.”
Ross said the article “crossed the line” into an endorsement of sorts and would be taken down. He added he had not been aware of the article on the site, which he said will be officially launched next week.
“I was completely appalled and taken by surprise at the article … put on our Web site. It will be taken down immediately,” Ross said. “If I had seen that article, it would never have gone up.”
That’s another big no-no: 501 c3’s don’t endorse candidates–unless they’re willing to lose their non-profit status, which hopefully they’ve just done.
In the meantime, we need to find out which Jewish donor/s are funding Obsession and this bit of electoral dirty tricks. Thanks to reader Ann of People’s Geography for alerting me to this story.
Silverstein has published Tikun Olam since 2003, It exposes the secrets of the Israeli national security state. He lives in Seattle, but his heart is in the east. He publishes regularly at Middle East Eye, the New Arab, and Jacobin Magazine. His work has also appeared in Al Jazeera English, The Nation, Truthout and other outlets.