The Clarion Fund has released a new film following up on their 2005 movie Obsession: Radical Islam’s War against the West called The Third Jihad. Third Jihad paints a picture of a nefarious plot by a cabal that includes all mainstream Muslim organizations to take over and dominate America. The movie, reminiscent of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, centers around the purported discovery of a document describing a strategic secret plot by Muslims to undermine Democracy and replace it with Sharia’ laws (More on the movie below).
Unless you were sleeping in a cave during the 2008 Presidential election you’re probably aware that the mysterious Clarion Fund is the same organization that distributed 28 Million DVD’s of their controversial film Obsession, which compares Islam to Nazism, in newspapers in swing states across America.
The movie was widely discredited for its cast of radical and extreme pundits, some of whom (Daniel Pipes, Brigitte Gabriel, Walid Shoebat, Steven Emerson) we have featured on LoonWatch. As our articles showed, these Islamophobes have a history of bigoted and derogatory statements regarding Muslims and Islam.
The film itself was compared to Leni Riefenstahl’s 1935 pro-Nazi film Triumph of the Will. Broward-Palm Beach New Times called it “misleading and dangerous.” Jeff VanDenBerg, director of Middle East Studies at Drury University, called the film “a blatant piece of anti-Muslim propaganda.”
During the campaign to distribute Obsession, news reports at the time quickly revealed that their main motivation was to shift the focus during the Presidential election from the Economy to the issue of National Security, the area in which John McCain lead in polls:
“An editorial in the Palm Beach Post outlined the apparent political motivation behind the Clarion Fund campaign:
“Distribution of the DVD…was timed with the post-Labor Day start of presidential election season. About 95 percent of the papers that contained the DVD are in Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada and New Hampshire.
“Notice a pattern? Right, those are the swing states that most analysts believe will determine the election. The issue on which polls consistently show John McCain ahead of Barack Obama is national security. One way to make voters worry less about the economy and more about national security would be to send out a DVD that opens with clips of 9/11 and includes scenes of Muslims chanting ‘Death to America!’”
The Clarion Fund is linked to Aish HaTorah, an Israeli educational and advocacy group. During the election there was a wide outcry as to whether or not the Clarion Fund violated its non-profit status by promoting John McCain on its website.
According to the Delaware Department of Corporations, Robert (Rabbi Raphael) Shore, Rabbi Henry Harris and Rebecca Kabat incorporated Clarion Fund. All three of whom are reported to serve as employees of Aish HaTorah International.
This is the track record with which we are confronted when it comes to the Clarion Fund, dishonest techniques stripped of any context in an attempt to further their own right-wing agenda.
The Third Jihad
This leads us to the Clarion Fund’s newest hit job that paints mainstream American Muslim organizations as a fifth column, insidious secret society looking to rule the United States. The Third Jihad is essentially an updated and reconfigured version of Obsession or as some have called it “Obsession on steroids.” Instead of the overt comparisons of Islam with Nazism, or of a cosmic battle between good and evil, the object this time is to warn against a threat they term “Cultural Jihad” carried out from within by American Muslims.
In Third Jihad, just as in Obsession, there is the cliche disclaimer at the start of the film that the movie is not about the vast majority of Muslims who are peaceful, yet in Third Jihad just as in Obsession, the rest of the film quickly and completely trumps what becomes an empty disclaimer. Both films fail to make consistent distinctions between Islam and Radical Islamism, and at times conflate the two. As the IPS (Inter Press Service) notes:
Radical Muslims, by having children, spreading their faith, and ensuring their ability to practice Islam as they see fit, are working a ‘demographic jihad’ in which they see themselves emerging as a majority and making Islam the dominant religion of the U.S. – eventually to take over the nation altogether – contend Jasser and the films creators.
But that prospect seems unlikely in the U.S., where Muslim Americans are generally regarded as well-assimilated and not radicalised.
The film itself also contains inconsistencies in terms of differentiating between Islam and radical Islam.
For example, the graphic that the film used to demonstrate the spread of an Islamic state across the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe used a tiled picture of a green crescent with a star between its points. The crescent and star are the symbol of Islam in general.
The documentary was produced by the Clarion Fund, a U.S.-based non-profit that was embroiled in controversy last year when it distributed its last movie, “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West,” to nearly 30 million homes in the ‘swing states’ that normally decide U.S. presidential elections.
Its 501(c)(3) status as non-profit means the group is legally exempt from paying taxes and is prohibited from involvement in electoral politics.
IPS investigations also tied the production and distribution of “Obsession” to right-wing Israeli groups and U.S.-based neoconservatives.
The central focus of the film is the purported discovery of a document which claims Muslim organizations are seeking to “destroy” the West from within and replace Democracy with Islamic law worldwide. This ploy is similar to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion which is a tract alleging a Jewish and Masonic plot to achieve world domination. Purportedly written by a secret group of Jews known as the Elders of Zion, the document underlies 24 protocols that are supposedly followed by the Jewish people.
The movie also suffers from a lack of credibility with most of the pundits it chooses to interview. For example one of the pundits is Tawfiq Hamid (!) who is labeled an ex-terrorist. Tawfiq’s story is not corroborated by any independent sources, he has also made blatant statements describing Muslims as terrorists and Islam as evil. On the Orla Barry Show he stated, “the majority of Muslim are all passive terrorists. They believe in this evil. They support it either by money or emotionally they are not against it.” He is also featured on radical Islamophobe Walid Shoebat’s website and has appeared with him on talk shows and other venues.
This hate movie is available online and its central protagonist is Zuhdi Jasser who is also the narrator of the film. Jasser is cast as an all American hero, clips of him having moments with his family are reminiscent of episodes out of Full House, complete with sentimental muzak equivalent to the quality one hears in elevators. Jasser is the lone American Muslim (all the others are either “scared” or “silent”) standing up against radicals. He is the “moderate” who is seeking to reform Islam while at the same time save America from the ignored threat of “homegrown radical Muslims.”
Is Jasser an unbiased chronicler of American Islam, and is he the right advocate to counter radical Muslims?
Considering his radical associations and partisan attachment to the far right wing of the Republican party, the answers are no.
As Richard Silverstein writes, “To put it plain and simple, Jasser is a Muslim neocon.” He created a 501c3 designated organization AIFD (American Islamic forum for Democracy) whose agenda is a “barely concealed” form of radical Republicanism. 501c3 designated organizations are not allowed to meddle in partisan politics.
Jasser has himself publicly participated in the political process. In this endorsement of a far-right pro-Israel Colorado Republican legislative candidate, he strangely takes aim at the candidate’s Republican American Muslim opponent:
“A brief word about Mr. Sharf’s primary opponent. Mrs. Rima Barakat Sinclair has no apparent record, prior to this election of…any traditional conservative issues. Previously, her sole political agenda seems to have been anti-Israel activism. Her candidacy seems to be more a product of Islamist politics than of ideas central to conservative American principles and activism. Sadly, candidates out of this mold, who conflate the Israeli-Palestinian crisis with their Islamic identity actually harm more than they help the genuine pluralistic advancement of American Muslims. Most Muslims are actually quite diverse in their domestic and foreign policy politics and do not accept the collectivist agenda of political Islam (Islamism).”
It is certainly no accident that Sinclair’s opponent, Joshua Scharf, is a right-wing pro-Israel militant.
In this National Review interview, Jasser enthusiastically promotes a Republican agenda:
“Lopez: Do you like what you’re hearing out of any of the presidential candidates?
Jasser: (First a necessary caveat – the following is my personal opinion only and in no way that of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy).
Yes, I think most of the Republican presidential field is much more honest than the Democrats in articulating the real stakes in this war of ideas of the free world versus the Islamists. While most of the Republican candidates are in the right anti-Islamist arena, only a few have been able to articulate it clearly enough and with enough candor to get my attention. I am far from making up my mind on a candidate yet, but am encouraged by a lot of what I see from some of the candidates.
I am most heartened by what I am hearing from Rudy Guliani’s campaign, with Governor Mitt Romney very close behind in my mind. Mayor Guliani understands the toxicity of the Saudis and their Wahhabis…He is not afraid to articulate the conflict in ideas between Western freedom and Islamist theocracy…He names our enemies by name, and is not afraid to stand for principle and substance in foreign policy over diplomatic platitudes (i.e. against the Saudis, Iran, the Muslim Brotherhood), and other Islamists.
Governor Mitt Romney’s campaign has also demonstrated a willingness to mince no words when discussing the ideologies we are facing. He identifies jihadists as our enemies and uses his important position of national and global leadership to clearly frame the debate as one between the ideology of Islamism (Caliphism, jihadism, and theocracy) versus freedom.
…John McCain’s articulation of the stakes in the Iraq war has always been very impressive, and I hope that other candidates can look to his clarity on the issue as an example of principle.”
His disclaimer is a laugh since the group’s website lists him as founder and president. Only one other individual is listed on the entire website as a staff member of the group. No board members are listed (though he refers to the existence of one). So Jasser IS AIF. If Jasser is a right-wing Republican, so is AIF. Which makes a 501c3 designation problematic.
Jasser is also a member of the Middle East Forum created and ran by neo-con Daniel Pipes as well as “the pro-Israel and neocon Committee on the Present Danger. He has spoken before the Hudson Institute. He writes for Family Security Matters, Middle East Quarterly, and other far-right websites.” If this doesn’t give you a hint about the agenda that drives Jasser and the purpose of this film nothing will.
Third Jihad is the newest product that Clarion Fund and its supporters are seeking to peddle after Obsession failed to make Americans believe that there was an insiduous global conspiracy by Muslims to destroy the West. Its use of innuendo, hearsay, questionable associations and disreputable pundits makes the film fit nicely into the long history of demonizing propaganda that seems to be the hallmark of the Clarion Fund.