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.