Insights into who funded the mysterious Clarion Fund remain few and far between, but new information about two funders surfaced this week giving a better outline of the network of donors who supported Clarionâ€™s activities.
The obituary for â€˜â€™retail magnateâ€™â€™ Sy Symsâ€™ ran in The Forward on Tuesday and mentioned, â€˜â€™Through the Sy Syms Foundation, Syms supported various Jewish and non-Jewish causes, including the UJA-Federation of New York, The Clarion Fund and the Inner-City Scholarship Fund.â€™â€™
I looked into the Sy Syms Foundation most recent tax returns and found a $25,000 contribution to the Clarion Fund in 2007/2008.
Sy Symsâ€™ $25,000 contribution was a very small piece of the funding required to stage the massive DVD mailing campaign of Obsession: Radical Islamâ€™s War Against the West before the November presidential election. Until now the only other known contributors were the Mamiye brothers who, like Syms, contributed $25,000 and are in the clothing business. Among other brands, the Mamiye brothers distribute Hello Kitty-branded kids clothing in the US.
Sy Syms started the Syms discount clothing storesâ€”which now owns Fileneâ€™s Basementâ€”in 1959 and was famous for coining his companyâ€™s slogan, â€˜â€™An educated customer is our best customerâ€™â€™.
A generous philanthropist, Symsâ€™ contributions in 2007/2008 included a number of right-wing groups including: The Simon Wiesenthal Centerâ€”which has garnered controversy for screening The Third Jihad and building a new museum on a Muslim cemetery in Jerusalemâ€”and Friends of the IDF, but the majority of his philanthropy went to mainstream Jewish organizations and progressive social causes.
These included: Yeshiva University, the United Nations Association, Meals on Wheels, Amnesty International, SEEDS of Peaceâ€”a group which runs summer camps in Maine to bring together Egyptian, Palestinian and Israeli young peopleâ€”and the American Civil Liberties Union.
The other new donorâ€”giving just $10,000â€”discovered today was the Wagner Family Foundation.