Obsession Gets Some Overdue Mainstream Attention

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 Republicans’ favor. And Monday’s Atlantic online blog post by Jeffrey Goldberg, entitled “The Jewish Extremists Behind Obsession” was particularly notable.

He casts a remarkably negative light on Aish HaTorah, the Israeli organization whose U.S.-based officials, in Goldberg’s words, “are up to their chins in this project.” (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 Goldberg’s identification of the Jerusalem Post’s Caroline Glick as one of his “favorite hysterics” — I posted on one of her fulminations last June — and as those behind the project as representing the “lunatic fringe.” In addition to Glick, who also heads the Middle East program at Frank Gaffney’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, “Israel’s ‘America Problem’” in the Washington Post’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 “pro-Israel” 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 week’s election, according to the Post’s article, suffered production delays (hence, the distribution of Obsession instead).

While I haven’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 “the night when many Muslims commemorate the night flight of the prophet Muhammad on the winged horse Buraq, first to ‘the farthest mosque,’ usually identified with Jerusalem, and then to heaven and back. This [date],” he went on, “might well be deemed an appropriate date for the apocalyptic ending of Israel and if necessary of the world.” Goldberg’s words about “hysterics” and “the lunatic fringe” come to mind.

Nonetheless, it was just six months later that, with Cheney in attendance, Lewis delivered the American Enterprise Institute’s (AEI) annual Irving Kristol Lecture — in which he warned that militant Islam was launching its third attempt to conquer Europe and the West through “terror and migration.” 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 Silverstein’s blog at the Tikun Olam site.

Author: Jim Lobe

Visit Lobelog.com for the latest news analysis and commentary from Inter Press News Service's Washington bureau chief Jim Lobe.

22 thoughts on “Obsession Gets Some Overdue Mainstream Attention”

  1. Arab terrorists are becoming passe’.
    The neocons need to come up with something new.
    How ’bout anti-semitic aquatic mammals that
    want to poison our water supplies?
    We could call it “war on purpose,” I mean “porpoise.”
    Better still, how ’bout “war for the f**k of it.”

    Haven’t seen the film but I’ll be sure to miss it.
    Thanks for the heads up.

  2. As the case with the propaganda leading to the war aginst Iraq where was the MSM before the mass distrbution of video?!Joe -six-pack has aleardy that garbbage ingrained in his mind.

  3. A movie about radical Islam? Oh no! Call the thought police! The rules of political correctness have been violated! Red alert! Something must be done about this. Don’t the people who made this movie know that we have a Constitution that clearly prohibits any sort of speech that is politically incorrect and might cause anger or annoyance to Muslims (or any other minority group for that matter)? Of course, a movie about Christian or Jewish extremists would be perfectly fine and legitimate, but this clearly crosses the line. Don’t the silly people who made this movie know that respectable people are not even allowed to say the words “terror” and “Islam” in the same sentence? Anyone who does so is clearly an ignorant redneck, a neo-con Israeli spy, or just a hateful “Islamophobe” who wants to nuke all Muslim countries.

  4. “Obsession” was distributed in the Sunday paper here a few weeks ago, the full-length copy. I watched it. Hey, it was free! And what a juvenile, almost comical attempt at propaganda. The movie’s producers certainly took a hint from the neocons, though, making endless comparisons of Islamism to Nazism. My ears almost started bleeding after hearing “Nazism” 30 or 40 times.

    This movie is pretty clumsy crap, but no doubt it works its magic on the simple-minded and the knave, which make up a substantial part of the U.S. populace. Joe the Dumber would no doubt get a kick out of it. We’d better hope that T. Jefferson was right about truth triumphing when allowed free reign, because if you cannot or will not think, trite propaganda such as “Obsession” is sure to hit the mark in many cases.

  5. The words Islam and terror are never to be used in the same sentence. It is a clear violation of the rules of “political correctness.” Any movie or book that does not portray Muslims in a favorable light is clearly Islamophobic, and was probably put out by a Neo Con whose real loyalty is to Israel or by some hateful ignorant redneck. On the other hand, books or movies that portray Christians and Jews as extremists are perfectly okay, as that does not violate the strict rules and norms of political correctness. Didn’t the makers of this movie know that? Its too bad “Media Matters” or “CAIR” did not brief them on these rules earlier.

    1. Did you even watch the movie, Tim? If you want propaganda that’s effective, you don’t use construction paper and crayons to write it. Unless, of course, you’re only appealing to Joe Sixpack and his relatives. Let’s see, it’s Hitler this, Nazi that, don’t forget Chamberlain at Munich, there’s a new Hitler every month or so in the Mideast, and what an insensate bunch of raving Nazis these Islamists are. Did I mention that the movie compares them to Nazis?

      What a load of fresh, green, pig manure. An intelligent overview of the jihadists would certainly cover their terrorism against Israel and the West–terror being, of course, the weapon of the weak–while also looking into the why and wherefore they do what they do. There’s no greater ignorance than that of the Americans bleating like sheep “why do they hate us?,” or the belief that one day some Arabs got bored sitting around a campfire somewhere and decided that just for the love of evil they’d kill themselves crashing planes into buildings.

      But in Timworld, to let even a sliver of objectivity into any discussion of Israel’s enemies is to somehow drive the Jews back to the ovens, obliterate and salt Israel, and celebrate ultimate evil. It’s all right, Tim, to assume that Israel and America are not necessarily the fount of all goodness and light, and that the Muslim Mideast is not solely darkness and horror.

      1. R. Nelson,

        Yes, I did see the film and yes, its is perfectly fine to look into the motives of the Jihadists and to try to understand why they hate us. Yes, we have made some grave mistakes in our relations with the Muslim world and no, we are far from perfect. But my point here is that if it were not for the violence in their religion, stirred up by their religious leaders, they would not resort to wanton violence. They would try other means to ameliorate their percieved plight. But they would do so peacefully. Ghandi did it. Martin Luther King did it, and the Dalai Lama is doing it today. Why is is that a Hindu, a Christian and a Buddist, together with their followers, could suffer tremendous injustice and yet not resort to violence? My contention is because if you objectively look at the Hindu, Buddist, and Christian religions, they do not encourage violence. Can the same honestly be said for Islam? Particularly radical Islam?

        And by the way Mr. Nelson, who was attacking the Muslims in the mid seventh to eight centuries? Who was occupying their lands? What superpower was meddling in their affairs at that time? And yet they forcefully and ruthlessly went out and tried to conquer all of the Middle East. And they succeeded. They got all the way into Southern France before their deadly advance was halted by Charles Martel. So tell me, if it is all about the big bad United States, and evil Israel, how come they went on a killing spree and tried to spread their faith by violence long before there ever was a united States, before the re-establishment of the modern state of Israel, before the Crusades, and long before Bush, Cheney or the Neo Cons were ever born.

        1. Note that all three men you refer to as peacemakers, Tim, were not in positions of power. Now look at what Christian Americans do when in power: they attack innocent countries, cause a half million civilians to die through sanctions on goods the Christians destroyed in a previous war, side against the Arabs in the Mideast when there’s no good reason to (America was neutral up to 1967), and in general have stirred the pot repeatedly. Boy, there’s a great counterexample to Muslim violence, eh?

          Wars by professed Christians against Arab lands are current. Wars by Islam against the west are ancient. It turns out that whatever group–ethnic, religious, racial, what have you–gets big and bad enough, goes to war against others for empire. America’s doing that right now. Had I lived in Martel’s day, I might have taken the Saracens to task for warmongering. Living now, however, I take Israel and America to the woodshed for warmongering and mass killing. And at least the ancient Muslims didn’t delude themselves as to what they were doing. Explain, Tim, why there was no terrorism against America until it began meddling in the Mideast.

        2. The Romans were the Superpower that was meddling in their affiars at the time.The people there actually welcomed the Muslims because of what the Romans were doing to the natives.

  6. Listen guys, I know it might not be the most popular opinion right now – but this movie isn’t hate filled propoganda.

    I think we can all agree on a few basic things, regardless of our political affiliation. First is that there is a real threat out there from EXTREMIST Muslims (we all know its not the rank and file believers in Islam, its the very small minority of crazies). Secondly is that they are in fact justifying their actions using their faith. Third is, unless we pull back completely from the world, they are going to remain dedicated to killing us.

    Granted, I’ve actually worked with this film, so my bias is there – but the makers of Obsession went out of their way to make it clear they were not talking about random Muslims – but that in fact they were talking about the radical extremists that want to do us harm.

    It wasn’t a documentary on the religion if Islam – otherwise I’d say you guys would have a point in saying it was overboard. This was a specific film about a specific threat from a specific group of religious extremists.

    I believe it is a valuable commentary, even if you are politically left, or against the government’s actions since 9/11. Its still important to realize what these people are all about.

    1. Marcus, then be proud of your role in the making of such crude piece of zionist propaganda. This is simply a part of the wider attempt of various zionists to cement Islamophobia in the American mindset and chiefly to link the Palestinian resistance to it as a mean to drain the very last drops of sympathy towards the Palestinian cause. All of course, is in the service of the Likud. Did you even read the article?. Do you know how much it costs to deliver this video to 28 million people? Did you ask yourself who paid for it? and why?


    2. Well, at least you frankly stated your connection to the movie. I’d like to know if the producers had any other reason than the obvious–that of crushing reason in favor of stoking blind fury and prejudice–for calling the jihadists Nazis. There’s no comparison. For one thing, Nazi murder of Jews was purely gratuitous. Islamic terrorists, though the following doesn’t justify murder, can at least point to their own lands being invaded and assimilated into another nation, and their people killed and persecuted.

      As one of the reviewers Jim Lobe references argues, “Obsession” says it’s just about the tiny minority of terrorists, not all of Islam, but its tone and implications run otherwise.

      As far as their dedication to killing us, let them be so dedicated. We keep an eye on them, keep them there in the Mideast to stew in their own juices, and otherwise don’t give a damn. There’s considerable evidence too that if we simply left them alone their fervor and fury would fade. Some Muslims have been breathing threats against the West for at least 110 years (see William Graham Sumner) but didn’t bother to act on them until we stuck our oar in their water. “Obsession” is merely puerile propaganda.

  7. “but the makers of Obsession went out of their way to make it clear they were not talking about random Muslims ”

    Why then distribute 28 million copies!?Any one can cliam that he is not targeting awhole group or religion ,but goal is to inflame the passion and fears the viewers of such propagana against the whole group or religion that they supposdly were not talking about.May you should study the Nazi prpoganda agains the Jews to see similarties here.

  8. “It wasn’t a documentary on the religion if Islam – otherwise I’d say you guys would have a point in saying it was overboard. This was a specific film about a specific threat from a specific group of religious extremists”

    You are either very naive, or otherwise share the views of the makers of this ‘film’?

    There is clear agenda here, not matter what the makers of such propaganda might claim, and that is to inflame the passion of the viewers, intensify their fears and hate of all Muslims and Islam. Which in turn would influence US policy and actions towards Muslims countries and people, and increase the support for the Israeli actions. The makers of this DVD knew the psychology and mind set of the American public at large, and how can it be easily manipulated. You do not have to tell that they have to fear all Muslims, or that Islam is a threat, all you need few clips from here and there.

    I suggest that people study how effectively the Nazis used propaganda to inflame the German people passion against the Jews, in order to see the similarities here!

  9. Marcus,
    Maybe you should look into how the Nazis used propganda to inflame the German people passion against the Jews.And might see the similarties here!

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