Clarion’s Clothiers

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 Clarion’s activities.

The obituary for ‘’retail magnate’’ Sy Syms’ ran in The Forward on Tuesday and mentioned, ‘’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.’’

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 Syms’ $25,000 contribution was a very small piece of the funding required to stage the massive DVD mailing campaign of Obsession: Radical Islam’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 stores—which now owns Filene’s Basement—in 1959 and was famous for coining his company’s slogan, ‘’An educated customer is our best customer’’.

A generous philanthropist, Syms’ contributions in 2007/2008 included a number of right-wing groups including: The Simon Wiesenthal Center—which has garnered controversy for screening The Third Jihad and building a new museum on a Muslim cemetery in Jerusalem—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 Peace—a group which runs summer camps in Maine to bring together Egyptian, Palestinian and Israeli young people—and the American Civil Liberties Union.

The other new donor—giving just $10,000—discovered today was the Wagner Family Foundation.

The foundation is run by Leon and Marsha Wagner. Leon Wagner appears to be the son of Rubin Wagner—a major property developer in Long Island—and Sima Wagner.

Read the rest of the post

Author: Eli Clifton

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