When reviewing films like Honor Diaries it is imperative we know the figures behind their creation and distribution — from producers and writers to the organizations which sponsored and helped in the shaping of the films. This assessment goes beyond researching the backgrounds of those interviewed and helps us examine the presence of political agendas and ulterior motivations. Honor Diaries certainly lives up to its purpose of being “more than a movie” as we come to find that those working behind the scenes use the films theme, that of women’s rights abuses, as a way in which to obscure their involvement in histrionic anti-Islam campaigns; they continue to push their Islamophobia, this time with a semblance of legitimacy.
Producer and Writer: Paula Kweskin, who took part of the University of North Carolina’s 2009 screening of The Case for Israel: Democracy’s Outpost, a documentary by Alan Dershowitz, and wrote an article for the Jerusalem Post with Eugene Kontorovich, a professor at Northwestern University School of Law, claiming that Israel no longer occupies the Gaza Strip and in 2011 called humanitarian flotilla’s headed to Gaza part of a “political war to demonize Israel“. Kweskin was also a legal researcher for the right-wing, pro-Israel NGO Monitor, and as stunning as this may sound, is an attorney specializing in international humanitarian and human rights law.
Producer and Writer: Alex Traiman, director of the “bomb Iran” film Iranium, written and distributed by pro-Israel organization Clarion Fund (now The Clarion Project) is a resident of the illegal Israeli settlement of Ulpana in Beit El, “a colony of about 6,000 [Israeli] settlers“, and a defender of illegal settlements in the West Bank, or what he calls “Samaria“.
Executive Producer: Raphael Shore is the founder of The Clarion Project (formerly Clarion Fund), a pro-Israel nonprofit organization which aims to “educate people about the inherent dangers of Islamic extremism” and which was behind the production and distribution of Islamophobic films such as Crossing the Line: The Intifada Comes to Campus, Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West, Iranium and The Third Jihad.
From Media Matters:
According to a Center for American Progress report, the Clarion Project is funded by three of the seven top anti-Islam and anti-Muslim think tanks and organizations in the United States, including the Donors Capital Fund, Newton D. & Rochelle F. Becker foundations and charitable trust, and Anchorage Charitable Foundation and William Rosenwal Family Fund. The Center for American Progress describes these donors as the “lifeblood of the Islamophobia network in America,” and the report tracks how these donors use their money to support groups like the Clarion Project to “spread a deliberately misleading messages about Islam and Muslims that is fundamentally antithetical to our nation’s foundation and principals of religious freedom.
Executive Producer and Expert: Ayaan Hirsi Ali, prominent Islamophobic ideologue. During an interview with Rogier Van Bakel for the November 2007 edition of Reason magazine she had the following to say about Islam:
Reason: Should we acknowledge that organized religion has sometimes sparked precisely the kinds of emancipation movements that could lift Islam into modern times? Slavery in the United States ended in part because of opposition by prominent church members and the communities they galvanized. The Polish Catholic Church helped defeat the Jaruzelski puppet regime. Do you think Islam could bring about similar social and political changes?
Hirsi Ali: Only if Islam is defeated. Because right now, the political side of Islam, the power-hungry expansionist side of Islam, has become superior to the Sufis and the Ismailis and the peace-seeking Muslims.
Reason: Don’t you mean defeating radical Islam?
Hirsi Ali: No. Islam, period. Once it’s defeated, it can mutate into something peaceful. It’s very difficult to even talk about peace now. They’re not interested in peace.
Reason: We have to crush the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims under our boot? In concrete terms, what does that mean, “defeat Islam”?
Hirsi Ali: I think that we are at war with Islam. And there’s no middle ground in wars. Islam can be defeated in many ways. For starters, you stop the spread of the ideology itself; at present, there are native Westerners converting to Islam, and they’re the most fanatical sometimes. There is infiltration of Islam in the schools and universities of the West. You stop that. You stop the symbol burning and the effigy burning, and you look them in the eye and flex your muscles and you say, “This is a warning. We won’t accept this anymore.” There comes a moment when you crush your enemy.
Hirsi Ali: In all forms, and if you don’t do that, then you have to live with the consequence of being crushed.
One prominent sponsor of Honor Diaries is Steve Emerson, founder and executive director of The Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT), an organization which brags of being recognized as “the world’s most comprehensive data center on radical Islamic terrorist groups.” IPT is also behind the film Jihad in America: The Grand Deception and has published unashamedly racist, Islamophobic articles such as the following, written by one Dr.Reuven Berko:
All the evil storms of history visited upon humanity did not expose to the people of Europe (who today host well-established enclaves of radical Islam in their midst) even the surface of the slaughter and injustice carried out by Muslims in the name of Islam, “the religion of peace,” against Jews and Christians. Europe is still influenced by the fantasies of Lawrence of Arabia, captivated by the specious charms of the Arabs and Islam and unaware of the catastrophe that will be visited on the world as soon as the Islamist genie is let out of the bottle, making the World Trade Center look like three minutes of “coming attractions.”
The Museum of Tolerance, the educational arm of California-based human rights organization, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, is also listed as a sponsor of Honor Diaries. In 2005 plans for the construction of The Museum of Tolerance and Human Dignity in occupied Jerusalem were announced by the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Rabbi Marvin Hier. The Museum would be built atop the ancient Mamilla cemetery, a Muslim burial ground. The Simon Wiesenthal Center has already begun bulldozing the cemetery.
So now the question remains — should those who are actively participating in activities which further discriminatory policies and give an air of authority to acts of violence carried out against marginalized, multidimensional groups be allowed to take part in campaigns which allege to “inspire viewers to learn”?
Honor Diaries is a 60-minute reminder that the age of pre-packaged, documentary-style propaganda, meant to influence behavior and opinion against “them”, is far from over.