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The Clarion Fund’s Second Dud: The Third Jihad

Clarion Fund

Clarion Fund

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 JihadThird 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.

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  • Peter

    The Israelis kills thousands of Palestinians and the media does not report it. The Americans killed thousands of Iraqi and Afghans nobody said that Christians or Jewish people were responsible but when it comes to a crazed terrorist who happens to be muslim the first thing mentioned is his religion. it is just not fair to label and single out one religion. Our biased policies in the middle east are the cause of radical islam. who armed the afghans:America, who armed Sadam: America. the pro israel love to blame the muslim and ignore what inhumane genocidal terrorist activities they are doing themselves.

  • ah wellll having exsperiences with islamics i have to admit to not liking them at all. that said, i watched the video and have to say, i tend to agree with a lot of what was said. obtw i did read the so called holy book of islam.
    made me sick

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  • Beautiful Muslim Doll

    Loon Watch, here is a tip for you to chase up and an update to this Clarion Fund propoganda. They’re Salon’s Justin Eliot has some interesting news about another possible funder.


    Mystery of who funded right-wing “radical Islam” campaign deepens
    By Justin Elliott Tuesday, Nov 16

    A document obtained by Salon creates new speculation about who paid for a right-wing campaign to stoke Islamophobia Video

    Now, just as Clarion is gearing up to release a new film hyping the threat of Iran, the money mystery has deepened: According to a document submitted to the IRS by Clarion and obtained by Salon, a donor listed as Barry Seid gave Clarion nearly $17 million in 2008, which would have paid for virtually the entire “Obsession” DVD campaign.

    Nonprofit groups must submit financial information including the identity of donors to the IRS — but ordinarily only basic revenue and spending data are made available to the public. In the case of Clarion, an extra page with donor information seems to have been inadvertently included in its public filing. See it here. (It was previously available on public websites that collect IRS forms submitted by nonprofits.)

    There’s only one Barry Seid Salon could find who might fit the profile of a $17 million donor to Clarion. That would be businessman Barre Seid (note the different spelling) of Illinois, a longtime contributor to right-wing and Jewish causes. But his representative flatly denied to Salon that he has ever given money to Clarion.

    The elderly and press-shy Seid is president of Tripp Lite, a large Chicago-based manufacturer of power strips that got into the personal computer market on the ground floor back in the 1980s. Seid has personally poured millions of dollars into Republican campaigns and conservative causes, and his foundation has given generously to the Cato Institute, the Americans for Limited Government Foundation, and the David Horowitz Freedom Center. This year, Seid received an honorary degree from Bar-Ilan University outside Tel Aviv for his work “supporting those organizations which will fortify Israel’s position in the world.”


    But there’s another wrinkle here. As first reported by Counterpunch, a right-leaning Alexandria, Va.-based outfit called Donors Capital Fund revealed in its 2008 IRS filing that it gave $17.7 million to Clarion that year, the same year the DVDs were sent out. Donors Capital Fund is what’s known as a donor-advised fund: It offers various tax and other advantages to people who want to make large donations to nonprofits.

    Whitney Ball, president of Donors Capital Fund, told Salon that the group acts as a charitable vehicle for individuals who give Donors Capital Fund money and tell it where they would like the money to go. “One of our clients made a recommendation for Clarion and so we did it,” she said. Ball declined to identify the client or comment on Seid.

    Seid’s private foundation has in the past made at least one donation to Donors Capital Fund. Seid’s assistant did not respond to a request for comment about whether he had made a donation to Donors Capital Fund and recommended that the money go to Clarion. So, for now, it’s impossible to say for sure why the name “Barry Seid” showed up on Clarion’s tax forms.

    Finally, here is the trailer for Clarion’s new film, “Iranium.” It will be interesting to see if any donor steps forward to pay for wider distribution.

  • George Carty

    Any thoughts on how anti-Muslim propaganda films such as these compare with official World War II propaganda films such as “Your Job in Germany” or “Know Your Enemy: Japan”?

  • Sultana

    Here is an update at Jim Lobe’s blog, Eli Clifton wrote about one of the funders of the Clarion Fund (Sy Syms who died recently) who made the DVD “Obession” and tried to subvert the US election of Barack Hussein Obama.

    Jim Lobe is editor of IPS, and has an influential blog that specialises in exposing the Neo-Conservatives in America. The Clarion Fund and the creation of the “Obsession” DVD was something that they were monitoring at the time.

    Clarion’s Clothiers
    By Eli Clifton
    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.

  • Suleyman

    5. Excuse Me, I’m Going to Be Sick: Clarion Fund Congratulates Obama
    6. Tikun Olam Files IRS Complaint Against Clarion Fund
    7. What Do Aish HaTorah, Rabbi Irwin Katsof, Rick Davis, the Ukraine and John McCain Have in Common?

    8. Snag Films Drops Third Jihad, CNN Asks Whether ‘Foreign’ Money Funds Clarion October 15th, 2008

  • Suleyman

    Tikun Olam’s Richard Silverstein did file a complain with some election body watchdog, and so did CAIR. Check the 9 links below

    Richard Silverstein, the progressive Jewish blogger, who runs Tikun Olam which exposes the neo con Zionists, has some excellent research and background material on the Clarion Fund, which is an American Israeli far right settler outfit, that funded The Third Jihad to subvert American elections. Please see the links below for Richard’s excellent work at his blog.

    Perhaps LoonWatch can do a follow up on the Clarion Fund, and Rabbi Irwin Katsof, the extremist founder of the Clarion Fund that is linked to Christian Zionists and the neocons. Note Sarah Posner’s blog too, she exposed Rabbi Katsof.

    1. Jewish Axis of Evil: Clarion Fund and GOP
    In other words, Clarion Fund is practically a bought and paid for arm of the Jewish wing of the Republican Party. Aish HaTorah, in turn, as Jeffrey Goldberg has noted, is practically an arm of the rightist settler movement. All this leads one to believe that a group of far-right Israeli-American Orthodox Jews have teemed up with Republicans in order to kill two birds with one stone. They can exploit fears of Muslims and Islam to drum up American Jewish support for a pro-settler/pro-Israel political agenda AND flay the Democrats, who allegedly are soft on terror, specifically Muslim terror.

    2. Clarion Fund: Anti-Muslim DVD to All U.S. Clergy on Behalf of Evangelicals Supporting McCainJewish Axis of Evil: Clarion Fund and GOP

    3. Clarion Fund Snags Coup, ‘Third Jihad’ Distributed Online by Snag Films
    In the story, Clarion’s PR flack, Gregory Ross, refuses to reveal who’s financing all the garbage, but pointedly denies that it comes from “foreign” (i.e. Israeli) money. Which ignores the obvious conclusion that the funding is coming from an American Jew who supports Aish HaTorah, Clarion, the Republican Party, and anti-Muslim hysteria. Wonder who that could be?

    4. Rabbis, Muslim Leaders, Hollywood Star and L.A. Sheriff Condemn Clarion Fund’s Obsession and Third Jihad

  • sk8er_2U

    I think loons should not take only parts of sharia, such as jihad, and equate that with all* that Islam is.

    Sharia evolved over time and through community. Just as any religion has various schools of thought, so does sharia and that includes jihad. So, I really meant that the way some see jihad (media portrayal) is not how it is interpreted by all of Islam.
    It’s just been thoroughly confused.

  • tope_gudgeon

    re: “I don’t think sharia law should be equated with Islam, as it so often is.”
    Do you mean it’s not part of Islam?
    Sharia is not Islam, in that it is a mixture of cultural mores and religious teaching.

  • Hey, thanks for posting a comment at my site. I didn’t know of your site prior to this & am glad to know of it now. I had no idea Jasser was also affiliated with ME Forum though it figures.

    Have you written at all about Geert Wilders?

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  • DrM

    Get off the zionist kool aid, Pete. There are no “Muslim no-go areas” in Europe. As for religious arbitration courts for Muslims, So bloody what? You have them for Catholics and Jews as well. Sharia law applies only to Muslims, and it’s none of your bees wax how I like my meals prepared or my kids educated. Unless of course you would like to be open about the desire for Muslims to be second and third class citizens.

  • sk8er_2U

    I don’t think sharia law should be equated with Islam, as it so often is.

  • Pete DiOrio

    What do you make of what’s happening in Britain, Denmark, and Sweden where Sharia courts have been instituted and Muslim no-go areas exist?


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