Thanks to investigative reporting of Will Evans and reader Robin McLaren, we’ve uncovered the identity of one of the formerly secret producers of Obsession (you’ll recall that the Clarion Fund listed two producers’ names for the film and both were fake). His name is Erik Werth, and he’s a former Clinton Administration advisor for “homeland security issues” (though there was no such concept in the Clinton Administration) and news producer for NBC’s Dateline.
I don’t understand for the life of me why we didn’t pick up on this earlier. He was publicly named as a producer in the N.Y. Post and other right-wing media. Even stranger is why Raphael Shore, Clarion’s director would feel the need to shield the identity of someone who had already revealed his identity. Now, some enterprising reporter needs to locate Werth and ask him why he was afraid to attach his name to the film or why Clarion is keeping him a secret. Even more important, we need to know from him who the real money (that would be secret producer number 2) behind Obsession and Third Jihad is.
Evans has also dug up Clarion’s application for 501c3 status and it provides interesting reading. Whether intentionally or unintentionally, Clarion’s lawyer, Eli Greenberg, filed both incomplete and inaccurate information as part of the exemption application.
Here are some of the most interesting anomalies. The IRS asks on page 9 (Section V, 2a):
Are any of your officers, directors or trustees related to each other through…business relationships?
Raphael Shore, Clarion’s president and Rebecca Kabat, its vice-president are both employees of Aish HaTorah. I’m not sure for IRS purposes whether this constitutes a “business relationship.”
On page 11 (part VIII, 1) Greenberg erroneously answered “No” to the question: “Do you support or oppose candidates in political campaigns in any way? As reporters have noted, the Radical Islam site (hosted by Clarion) featured an explicit attack on Barack Obama’s national security credentials and an endorsement of McCain’s.
Part VIII, 12a (page 13) asks: “Do you or will you operate in a foreign country?” To which Greenberg answers “No.” I would be curious whether Clarion has hosted any screenings of either of their films in Israel. If so, this should be another violation. In addition, Raphael Shore lists his address as “Rova, Israel.” How can he be the director and NOT operate in a foreign country?
Clarion’s application is clearly false in answering this question (page 14, part VIII, 15): “Do you have a close connection to any other organizations?” Greenberg answers “No.” Many news reports have documented the overlap of personnel between Clarion and Aish HaTorah. Since Clarion has a number of employees but lists only one being paid on this application, I have a strong suspicion that Aish is paying the salaries of staff that are doing work for Clarion. If that doesn’t constitute “closely related,” then the IRS regulations have no meaning.
As part of Clarion’s supplemental IRS filing (page 13) , it offers an enthusiastic endorsement letter from Jeffrey Norwitz, professor of national security studies and John N. Brown Chair of Counterterrorism at the Naval War College. Personally, I have no idea how these things are supposed to work–but I’m extremely uncomfortable with a professor at a federally-funded military college offering an endorsement of such a hate-filled anti-Muslim piece of garbage like Obsession. Here is a summary of a few of his encomiums:
…I’ve found it [Obsession] the finest teaching tool yet in educating students about the nature of the threat posed by radical Islamic extremists.
…At the end of course [Norwitz teaches a course on terrorism], nearly every student opines that Obsession should be screened by everyone in uniform. This includes the Muslim officers from allied navies who also attend the War College.
…Obsession is a necessary corrective to broadcast media’s unwillingness to inform the public regarding the existential threat posed by fanatic elements with Islam.
How does the U.S. military propose to understand the Muslim countries in which it might have to serve or see action if it uses dreck like Obsession as the basis for “understanding” Islam?? And can you believe the chutzpah of this guy recommending that Muslim naval officers should have this film crammed down their throats too? I think it’s comic and outrageous that he thinks that Obsession will tear the scales off the eyes of Muslims to such a secret and dastardly phenomenon within their own religion. It’s mighty white of him.
The coup de grace is this post from the Jewish Current Issues blog which heralds the Who’s Who of the Jewish right which turned out in force for the 2007 Republican National Coalition annual dinner. And he’s got pictures to boot. If you wanted to diagram the connections between the RJC and Clarion and every other Jewish wingnut outfit, you couldn’t do better than reading this post:
There were some 600 people in attendance at the dinner, including some very prominent people: William Daroff, National Vice President of the United Jewish Communities; Avi Davis of the American Freedom Alliance; Roz Rothstein and Esther Renzer of StandWithUs; Greg Ross of Aish Ha Torah; Erik Werth of the movie “Obsession;” Si Frumkin, longtime Soviet Jewry activist; Doris Wise Montrose, President of Children of Jewish Holocaust Survivors Los Angeles; Senior Pastor of Simi Hills Christian Church Kevin Dieckilman; Mark Paredes from the Morman Church community and the American Jewish Congress; Shimon Erem, Gary Dalin and Patricia Johnson of the Israel Christian Nexus; David Justman and Adam Schreiber from JINSA (the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs); Michael Warder, Vice Chancellor of Pepperdine University School of Public Policy and Jay Hoffman from the Pepperdine Board; David Horowitz and others from the David Horowitz Freedom Center; and Dan Polisar, President of the Shalem Center in Jerusalem (when Natan Sharansky now works).
Obviously, attending a group’s dinner doesn’t necessarily provide proof that the RJC or its donors are the ones funding Obsession, Third Jihad, and the 28 million DVD mailing to swing state voters (cost=$15-50 million). But if it’s not the smoking gun, then it’s perhaps the finger that puts the bullet in the gun before firing it.
By the way, if Clarion and all these other alleged 501c3 Jewish groups are NOT supporting or opposing political candidates (remember that IRS exemption application question), then what are they doing at the RJC dinner? In particular, why is the producer of the film at a Republican-affiliated dinner and being identified with the film in this blog? Shouldn’t that make an IRS official begin to wonder whether this group is really non-partisan? And I wonder whether Clarion paid for their tickets? Wouldn’t that constitute yet another partisan activity?
And the next time you read any of these groups like Clarion, Stand With Us, JINSA or the Shalem Center claim that they are non-partisan, remind them of this passage and then laugh at the joke.
I apologize profusely for making an error on one thing. That would be that Erik Werth was the director of “Obsession”. He most certainly IS the director of Clarion’s new release “The Third Jihad” though which states is the sequel to “Obsession”
I wouldn’t have caught my error other than I attended a “premier” of TJ last night, saw his name as producer, came home and checked the date on the certificate on the link and noticed it was 2007, which was after “Obsession” was released.
Based upon my experience of attending last night’s “premier” which in all honesty, I could describe as resembling a KKK meeting, I would have some questions to ask Werth also. I attended the Santa Ana, CA showing, right by South Coast Plaza, Republican heartland. Almost all those attending had received “invitations”. The elderly gentleman sitting behind me had received his invitation from an “organization he was affiliated with in Utah”. When I asked him the name, he declined to state because they are in such “grave danger”, in fact “anyone attending last night were BRAVE Americans who are in the forefront of fighting this thing”. He was expecting the theater to fill up with “all the top executives on the West Coast who had been sent invitations” He seemed to know there was something “big” behind the “movement” As the theater filled up (btw, admission was free, 1750 bucks shelled out by someone) it became quickly apparent that there were several chapters of Brigitte Gabriel’s ACT for America in attendance, all looking for each other in the crowd, all had been “invited” or heard of it via such conduits.
Brigitte Gabriel is the founder of ACT, registered as a 501(3)(c) The mission statement for ACT in part reads: (ACT for America is the “lobbying arm” of ACT and is not registered as a 501(3)(c)
The Establishment of Grassroots ACT Activists Nationwide
Our activists network to aggressively promote and implement educational programs. These programs teach and enable citizen participation in the defense of America on the local, city, state, and national level.
ACT members are trained to be vigilant and respond quickly to anti-American and anti-Israel media bias and social, political and religious behavior.
ACT civic activism nationwide ensures elected officials remain vigilant in their duties in defending and protecting the United States and its only democratic ally in the Middle East, the State of Israel.
ACT will partner with like-minded organizations to coordinate effective public relations campaigns to speak against media bias and religious bigotry wherever it exists.
Brigitte Gabriel in 2004 gave a speech at Duke which she had to apologize for:
“When I gave a speech at Duke University in 2004 condemning suicide bombers and the culture that nurtures them, saying, ‘The difference between the Arab world and Israel is a difference in values and character. It’s barbarism versus civilization. It’s dictatorship versus democracy. It’s evil versus goodness,’ I was criticized and condemned. Duke’s Freeman Center for Jewish Life apologized for my comments to the Arabs at Duke. I admit today that some so called “terrorists” do not, I repeat, do not represent the bulk of all Arabs and Muslims. Terrorists supported the killing of innocent civilians but Arabs and Muslims were willing to criticize and condemn terrorism.”
So in 2004 she stated the above, yet in 2007 she stated:
“The difference, my friends, between Israel and the Arabic world is the difference between civilization and barbarism. It’s the difference between goodness and evil [applause]….and this is what we’re witnessing in the Arabic world, they have no soul! They are dead set on killing and destruction.” – Bridgette Gabriel, CUFI 2007
The entire premise of “The Third Jihad” is that not withstanding that there have been no other terrorist attacks on the US since 9/11, we must be AFRAID, we must be VERY afraid, because the Muslims are HERE and they are engaged in a much more SINISTER Jihad, “cultural Jihad”, that by coming here to the US they are attempting to spread their faith, note, Islam is the fastest growing faith in America. Their ENTIRE goal is to take over the US and impose Shariah, don’t think it isn’t happening and GASP, you don’t even realize it because they are doing it PEACEFULLY.
BEWARE especially all whom say they are moderate Muslims, especially mainstream Muslim organizations such as CAIR because no matter what they say, they are LYING. In fact, this entire dvd leads you to the conclusion that NO MUSLIM can be trusted, except for Zuhdi Jasser playing soccer with his children, then segway to the next segment, the suitcase bomb/mushroom cloud.
NOW, in a September 3,2008 interview for Brigitte Gabriel’s
“lobbying arm” which of course is entirely separated from her 501(3)(c) body stated:
Elder asked: “What happens if a Democrat wins the 2008 election?”
“We are doomed. Our enemies want the Democrats to win. This last election,
jihadist websites were playing victory songs and declaring the Democrats are
our allies in the war against America,” she said.
As the movie let out last evening, EVERYONE that was talking was saying that McCain MUST win. ACT for America has offered a free dvd to everyone who can set up a screening of The Third Jihad by OCTOBER 31.
HELLO, are you getting the picture here?
Last night was an EXTREMELY uncomfortable situation. There was a woman ACT chapter president who was circulating taking names, giving cards, doing the “Tupperware sells hate” spiel of how everyone can help in the war against ISLAM, not “radical Islam”, no, Islam period.
There were so many takers it was just FRIGHTENING.
I would like to ask Erik Werth one simple question, “Are you pleased with yourself Erik, that you produced a film which is hiding behind 501(3)(c) status when it is MORE than clear this is a farce, a film which spreads fear and hatred of an entire faith, whose salesmen fancy themselves “soldiers” in a war against that faith? Are you pleased with yourself Erik, that you have given these nutcases a tool for their pogrom on Islam and on Muslim Americans who are EVERY BIT AS MUCH AMERICAN AS YOU AND I?”
I don’t know what else to say, other than if this trash or it’s prequel falls on your doorstep, take the time to reach out to the Muslim community in the solidarity that we are ALL Americans and you stand WITH THEM against his KKK mentality.
John Dickerson says
This is truly frightening! Thanks for the posts, Richard and Robin.
Correction, I apologized for what I thought was a mistake, that is that I had taken my info that Werth was the director of “Obsession” from the photocopy of the receipt to the Clarion Fund which I had not noticed was dated after Obsession was released, therefor not proof of THAT connection, but rather to the “Third Jihad”.
However, the post from the Jewish Current Issues blog states:
“Greg Ross of Aish Ha Torah; Erik Werth of the movie “Obsession”.
So while the receipt concerned his producer’s connection to the “Third Jihad”, it seems he was also the producer of “Obsession” according to Jewish Current Issues.
Allow me to summarise …
“Muslims can’t be trusted. Taqiyya. Their religion teaches them to lie. But we’re not racists because Islam isn’t a race but a religion. Still, even the most so-called moderate Muslims are untrustworthy. And you, it’s Islam-101 that you are Muslim if you’re dad’s a Muslim. That explains why Barack Obama is lying about his past.”
It all reminds me of the anti-Semite’s favourite prayer …
The strategies of hatred being used against Muslims are almost identical to those used against Jews in the years leading upto the Holocaust.
Thank you for documenting what could (and I hope doesn’t) become the road to the next Holocaust.
I Love USA says
As a American, a Citizen, i am offended by the hate propoganda of DVD Obession.
I believe it’s goal is to try to spread hate among Americans of different faith. America has always been and will be the land of free.
I could not belive that good Americans would spend their hard earned money on spreed of hatred. I followed up and read some reports that stated ‘who financially back this up’ and it turn out to be a radical group, Aish Ha Torah, from east coast.
As Americans we need to say “NO” to such hate and send a message to all involved, do not pull us in to your mess and do not use our people or our political process to advance your hatred. If we, Americans, support or believe such hate propoganda then we are doing a disservice to our selves and our children. Regardless of who you Vote for in this upcoming election, do not Vote for hatred by supporting the DVD Obession.
Theologian, Francis David, 500 years ago said “We do not need to think alike to love alike.”
We have come a long way baby! We, The American’s, are not about to go backwards.
Cliff Alsberg says
I’ve seen “Obsession”, and every sequence/scene in it shows Muslim leaders speaking in their own words to their own people. So, I fail to see where all the “hate-filled” propaganda is, otherthan with them. The film in its entirety looks like 100% FACT to me. I also don’t know of any other people or religion who publicly danced in the streets when Americans lost their lives on 9/11, nor do I know of any other people who publicly behead non-Muslims live on the Internet. Sorry, but I found “Obsession” to be truthful, comprehensive and chilling.
Richard Silverstein says
@Cliff Alsberg: Hey, no need to apologize for yr prejudice & ignorance. Why bother. Obsession merely confirms all your worst ideas and fears about Muslims w/o having to rely on anything but the slightest relationship with truth or fact.
Hey, you mean you think that Muslim nations have no quarrels whatsover with the U.S.? Just look at the headlines every day to see which nation is killing Muslims in an attempt to make Muslim nations safe for U.S. style democracy.
As for beheadings, you’re a bit behind the times since that horrid terrorist act hasn’t been committed in several yrs. But I’m sure you’ll keep your catalogue of horrors handy so you can trot it out whenever you need it. It reminds me of those images of dead fetuses that anti-abortionists use to horrify women contemplating abortions.
Barry Weiss says
To:Richard Silverstein Having watched hundreds of Muslim sermons and demonstrations urging the takeover of our country, inciting violence, and using lies to arouse their followers, I know you need to inform yourself. 3 years ago I turned to the cabbie in NYC who had an Egyptian name and asked, “How are we going to get peace in the Middle East?” He exclaimed, “Never as long as you Jews keep raping our women and killing our children for their blood to make matzoh!” I asked, “Where did you learn we do this?” At my mosque, he replied. Where is your mosque? In Queens. So much for this so-called religion and its privileges in our country. Here is something to consider:
[comment edited for violation of comment rules]
Richard Silverstein says
@Barry Weiss: You watched “hundreds of Muslim sermons and demonstrations?” Pardon me for expressing disbelief at this statement. Why should anyone believe you. And if you’d exaggerate in making this statement what are we to think about the veracity of your taxicab story?
And btw, don’t paste entire articles written by yrself into this comment thread. That’s not what the thread is for.
I wonder which language the hundreds of sermons Barry speaks about were delivered in. Presuming they were Friday sermons, chances are at least 15% of the content would be devotional prayers in Arabic. The rest would be in the local language. With 1.2 billion Muslims across the world, Barry would need to be the world’s best linguist to understand even 10% of these sermons.
I have nothing against cabbies, and I’ve met a few extremely well-read and/or educated cabbies in my time. But somehow I don’t think 1 cabbie represents the collective opinions of 1.2 billion people.
Spreading hate against a religion should be a crime. Any organization that spreads hate should be classified as a Terrorist organization. It is all false propoganda to influence the election by indirectly portraying Obama as a Muslim. The world would do lot better without the hatemongers no matter what religion they follow.
All Muslims I have met are peaceful and caring. Its shocking to see this drama shot in a Geo political atmosphere being used to create fear,hatred and influence political decisions.
Brad Johnson says
“Spreading hate against a religion should be a crime. Any organization that spreads hate should be classified as a Terrorist organization.” Is there no other sane reader/writer of these comments and rants who is not a bit alarmed by this kind of talk?
Seems to me, an objective viewing of Obsession, for those who are still intellectually capable of the same, should lead all such viewers to the same conclusion: Islam and Muslims are not the problem (which is explicitly stated by the film’s narrator more than once). But they HAVE a problem. And that is radical, political Islamist ideology, which at its core is nothing more than pure hatred toward all non-Muslims, especially Westerners and Jews.
But in the topsy-turvy, through-the-looking-glass world that some people on this site seem to inhabit, exposing such hatred in some very bad people equates with spreading hatred against innocent people, smearing their religion, and all kinds of other terrible things. How, dare I ask, would you propose, then, that one go about shining a light on bad behavior, if you think it should be the policy from here on to shoot the messenger?
Technically, I guess Richard Silverstein is right about one thing. Obsession is a hate-filled film, but he conveniently fails to mention whose hate it is filled with: That of rabid Islamist radicals and their children. And, if anything ought to be criminilized, it should be teaching children to hate (which is disturbingly exposed in this important movie), because that’s exactly how the evil of hatred perpetuates itself — not by naming the hater. Quite to the contrary!
Richard Silverstein says
Ridiculous. Islam has no more a problem than Judaism or Christianity or any other major religion has with its own zealots who preach moral superiority and attempt to debase anyone who is not of the faith. Every religion has crazies prepared to kill for the cause. We Jews have had MANY such throughout our history to the present day. To think that Islam has a monopoly on this problem is racist.
Unlike you, I believe that every religion should be prepared to acknowledge its faults & attempt to make tikun or teshuvah for them. I don’t single out any particular religion and say it or its adherents are especially evil. I’ll lv. you to do that.
Oh & if you want to criminalize teaching children to hate will you arrest the settler parents who teach their children to spit on innocent Palestinian passersby in Hebron? Not to mention the same children who throw pails of excrement on the Palestinians’ heads? Or is some hate more understandable & acceptable than others?
Thus far, I have not found a coherent definition of the term “Islamism”. Some define it as political Islam. But then, why is political Islam inherently evil? After all, in South Africa, political Islam took the form of anti-apartheid activism. Some say Islamism is jihadism. But what is jihadism? And what is jihad? Mahatma Gandhi used jihad verses in the Koran as his inspiration to start the Natal Indian Congress. Is Gandhi a jihadist?
Some say Islamists are evil because they want to establish an Islamic state ruled by sharia. Are they not the same as people wishing to establish a Jewish state where Jewish sacred law is extreme? And can someone tell me how many Muslim-majority states have as high a proportion of theocrats in their Parliaments or governments as Israel?
And is it the case (I could be wrong) that the makers of “Obsession” are linked to an Israeli theocratic party?
Richard Silverstein says
You’re close to making the same mistake the Islamophobes make vis a vis Islam. The current Jewish state does not reflect “Jewish sacred law” in its own laws. It is a secular state, though it does accord Orthodox Judaism control of certain civil matters like marriage & divorce. But this is much diff. than what Islamists propose who support Shaaria.
I should make clear that I do NOT support an Israel in which the Orthodox control any aspect of civil life. But I think it’s important to understand the distinction I make above.
Now, if you want to talk about settler extremists they DO propose a halachic Jewish state in which sacred law rules EVERY aspect of Israeli life. Not to mention that they would rid Israel of non-Jews. These people are truly extreme, but they have not yet achieved their goals.
Richard, just to clarify.
I am not talking about the modern state of Israel. I’m not suggesting the modern Jewish state was established to be a theocratic state anymore than Pakistan was established to be a Muslim theocratic state.
I am talking about certain people, certain theocratic political factions, inside Israel who wish to transform it into a theocratic state. And I am inquiring if there is any link between the makers of Obsession and such theocratic parties.
Hope that clarifies my line of inquiry.
Richard Silverstein says
@Irfan: Ah yes, I think that there is. Aish HaTorah clearly supports a right-wing pro-settler agenda. The question is how extremist are Clarion-Aish’s views? Do they go as far as wishing the secular state would be overthrown and replaced with a halachic-theocratic state as the most extreme settlers seek to do?
Barry Weiss says
For the world to have peace, religion must PROMOTE SOCIETAL WELL BEING, which means peace, harmony, tolerance, human rights, womens rights & civil rights. ISLAM, the very word means SUBMISSION, does NONE of these essentials for peace. The 613 commandments of the Torah do promote societal well being. The Koran does not! Show me protests by moderate Muslims against terror. I see only riots and exhortations to violence and murder. Most who would be moderate are intimidated or killed. Would you say that a Jew declaiming Hitler’s Final Solution was “hate filled”? I cited the lies believed by a Muslim mosque-goer in Queens, NY to demonstrate the Third Jihad we must combat if we are to remain free. When will you wake up?
Wow. The only way to respond to terrorism is to protest. Forget about tipping off law enforcement officials about possible attacks (as happened in UK, Canada, Spain, Australia etc). Forget burying your own terror victims (more Muslims die from such such attacks than non-Muslims). Forget trying to rebuild broken and shattered families. Just get on the streets and protest so that Barry and stop seeing the speck in your eye whilst ignoring the log in his own.
Barry, I’m sure all Israeli women are jumping for joy at the Israeli Beth Din’s treatment of their family law disputes. And which one of the 613 commandments taught “religious” settlers to bash the living daylight out of indigenous West Bank women and children?
Still, I shouldn’t do what you do, Barry. I won’t ask you whether you marched in the streets when the IDF bombed Southern Lebanon. Because I know that both Jewish and Islamic sacred laws have plenty of wonderful teachings and aren’t limited to amputating limbs without anaesthetic. And because aggression, whether carried out by Jews or Muslims, is less interested in implementing religion and more in misusing it.
Richard Silverstein says
Lord preserve us, it’s another ignorant Islamophobe. Submission to God, not man you moron. Where did you learn about Islam? From the Benny Morris-Dan Pipes-David Horowitz School of Pseudo-Islamic Studies?
Judaism also preaches a similar dogma. Or haven’t you heard of the concept of accepting the “yoke of heaven” or “yoke of the Torah?” If you haven’t, I’ll give you Hillel’s advice: “Go and study.”
No protest by Muslims against terror? More lunacy. Do a Google search on precisely those search terms & you’ll find thousands of separate web pages devoted to precisely the subject you claim doesn’t exist.
You’re a precise mirror image of the Arab haters of Judaism who claim it is a religion of hate. Neither one of you knows a thing about the other’s religion except what you ea. learn in yr propaganda tracts.