Obsession, the Islamophobic video that has been distributed via newspaper inserts to some 28 million households in key swing states this fall, is getting some overdue negative attention from the mainstream media at last. The Washington Post carried an article about the video Sunday that made it clear that the mass distribution was intended to influence the election in the Republicansâ€™ favor. And Mondayâ€™s Atlantic online blog post by Jeffrey Goldberg, entitled â€œThe Jewish Extremists Behind Obsessionâ€ was particularly notable.
He casts a remarkably negative light on Aish HaTorah, the Israeli organization whose U.S.-based officials, in Goldbergâ€™s words, â€œare up to their chins in this project.â€ (I think IPS was the first news source to point out the connection between Aish and Obsession in an article published back in March, 2007, although more has since come out, including a recent IPS update in September which noted other Israeli connections to the video and its distribution.)
I especially appreciated Goldbergâ€™s identification of the Jerusalem Postâ€™s Caroline Glick as one of his â€œfavorite hystericsâ€ â€” I posted on one of her fulminations last June â€” and as those behind the project as representing the â€œlunatic fringe.â€ In addition to Glick, who also heads the Middle East program at Frank Gaffneyâ€™s Center for Security Policy, Goldberg would presumably apply that description to Daniel Pipes and Steven Emerson who played prominent roles in the video. It was Goldberg, a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), who wrote that passionate indictment, â€œIsraelâ€™s â€˜America Problemâ€™â€ in the Washington Postâ€™s Outlook section last May of the major national Jewish organizations, particularly the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and AIPAC, for confusing â€œpro-Israelâ€ with being pro-settler in their advocacy efforts.
Of course, the producer/distributor of Obsession was the still-mysterious Clarion Fund, which has just released a sequel, The Third Jihad about which my colleague Eli Clifton posted earlier this month. The new video, originally intended for distribution before next weekâ€™s election, according to the Postâ€™s article, suffered production delays (hence, the distribution of Obsession instead).
While I havenâ€™t yet seen it, I understand that it features commentary by Clifford May of the Likudnik Foundation for the Defense of Democracy and, more prominently, Princeton historian and neo-con icon Bernard Lewis, who, according to various accounts, helped persuade Dick Cheney, among others, that the Iraq invasion would be a very good thing for all concerned. It was also Lewis who on August 8, 2006, predicted on the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would very possibly launch an attack on Israel exactly two weeks later, on August 22, to mark â€œthe night when many Muslims commemorate the night flight of the prophet Muhammad on the winged horse Buraq, first to â€˜the farthest mosque,â€™ usually identified with Jerusalem, and then to heaven and back. This [date],â€ he went on, â€œmight well be deemed an appropriate date for the apocalyptic ending of Israel and if necessary of the world.â€ Goldbergâ€™s words about â€œhystericsâ€ and â€œthe lunatic fringeâ€ come to mind.
Nonetheless, it was just six months later that, with Cheney in attendance, Lewis delivered the American Enterprise Instituteâ€™s (AEI) annual Irving Kristol Lecture â€” in which he warned that militant Islam was launching its third attempt to conquer Europe and the West through â€œterror and migration.â€ And it was presumably after that that he sat down for a long interview with the Islamophobic makers of Obsession and The Third Jihad.
Incidentally, for a penetrating analysis of Obsession, read a review by David Shasha featured on Richard Silversteinâ€™s blog at the Tikun Olam site.