CAIR’s Indifference to Obsession DVD Distribution

Sheila Musaji

Posted Sep 14, 2008      •Permalink      • Printer-Friendly Version
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CAIR’s Indifference to Obsession DVD Distribution

by Sheila Musaji

9/28/08 update, see also:  Resources for Responding to “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War With the West” DVD Mass Distribution to 28 million Americans.  Who is behind Relentless, Obsession and The Third Jihad? for a background on those responsible for the production, mass distribution, and promotion of the film.  In-Depth Summary & Analysis of “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War on the West” for a point by point discussion of the film.

This week, 28 million copies of a DVD of the film “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West” will be distributed free of cost in newspapers across the country.  I was unable to find anything in the Muslim media, or on the websites of any of the major Muslim organizations in the U.S. including where is CAIR, and this leads me to ask where is CAIR when we actually need them.  (I am stressing CAIR’s responsibility only because they are the only major organization whose mission is to be an advocate for American Muslims.)  According to their vision and mission statement:  “CAIR’s vision is to be a leading advocate for justice and mutual understanding.  CAIR’s mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.”  The following is what I have been able to discover in the media about this propoganda campaign.

A DVD of the film “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West” has been bundled inside more than 70 newspapers and magazines and delivered nationwide to subscribers.  “There is no greater threat than radical Islam,” said Gregory Ross, spokesman for the Clarion Fund, a New-York based nonprofit organization that is paying newspapers to distribute the DVD. “It needs to be pushed to the forefront of the political discussion.” (Controversial film on Islam delivered nationwide, Yonat Shimron)

Copies of the DVD were distributed free at the DNC, and at the RNC by the recently formed group watch  Earlier this year, the Florida Attorney General required employees to watch this video. 

The DVD seems to only be distributed in swing election states.  (‘Terror’ DVD Getting Delivered to Millions This Weekend—via Newspapers, Gregg Mitchell)

“Aimed at voters in the battleground states the week of September 11, the film is more than a scare tactic or a campaign ploy. It smacks of classic propaganda, boosted through this clever marketing deal by association with the authority of the New York Times brand. The point is to frighten viewers and, it seems clear, to frighten American voters across the country in order to raise security concerns ahead of all other issues in the election.”  (Right-Wing Terror Film Delivered To Swing-State NY Times Readers, Denise Dennis) 

The DVD is being distributed as paid advertizing:  “According to reports in the Huffington Post, 28 million copies of the film are being delivered this week. The DVD has already been inserted into copies of The New York Times distributed in Midwestern states. This weekend and next, it is slated to be distributed in many newspapers in the electoral battleground states of Ohio, Michigan, Florida, Pennsylvania and Colorado, in addition to North Carolina.” (Muslims Rap DVD in Advertiser, Tim Funk)

“Funding is coming from a New York-based group called the Clarion Fund, a shadowy outfit whose financial backers are unclear. ... Although supposedly a 501 c(3) non-profit, this week the Clarion Fund’s website featured an article supporting John McCain.” (Pro-McCain Group Dumping 28 Million Terror Scare DVDs in Swing States, Eric Ose)

‘‘The threat of Radical Islam is the most important issue facing us today,’’ reads a paragraph on the sleeve of the DVD. ‘‘But it’s a topic that neither the presidential candidates nor the media are discussing openly. It’s our responsibility to ensure we can all make an informed vote in November.’’  (Is DVD a wake-up call or propaganda?, Josh Drobnykj)

“Anyone can see an electoral vote pattern to the targeted areas, with almost all of the battleground or “swing” states represented. (The daily newspapers in only one such state appear to have refused the ad, Minnesota.) These papers have allowed themselves to be caught up in a “neo-con” propaganda scam in the context of the presidential campaign, and during 9/11 week.  As of Saturday, September 13, the rationalizations of the publishers and ad personnel at the two N.C. newspapers were either beggarly excuses for new sources of revenue, or politically naïve in the extreme. (Delivering Propaganda, As If It is Toothpaste, William E. Jackson, Jr.)

And, even fringe groups like the United American Committee are getting in on the distribution and advertising of this DVD and sent out an email saying:  “We are assisting in the distribution of MILLIONS of copies of the film ‘Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West’ launched by the Watch Obsession Committee. THIS SATURDAY an airplane hauling a banner with a menacing photo of bin-Laden will be flying over Los Angeles promoting the film, and at the same time a truck with the same message will be circling the streets of L.A., everyone in America must see this film and wake up to the threat posed to our way of life by Islamic aggression.”

Representatives from both presidential campaigns said they were not aware of the DVD mailing.  (DVD on radical Islam offends Lemoyne recipient. Carrie Cassidy) 

We think we have a watchdog in Washington, D.C. and that they are looking out for the community when it is under attack.  This is not the first time that that watchdog has turned out to be toothless, deaf, dumb, and blind.  This propoganda campaign against Islam and Muslims is one of the most serious concerted efforts to marginalize and demonize the entire American (and International) Muslim community that I can remember seeing in 30 years of Islamic work, and CAIR is silent when we need them to be speaking out loudly.

It is time for ordinary Muslims to demand answers from CAIR and our other national organizations.  What are their resources, and where is the money going?  Why is such a major incident being ignored? 

In 2006 a Washington Post poll found that 58% of Americans say there are more violent extremists within Islam than in other religions and 46% have a negative view of Islam.  In 2007, a CNN poll found that 53 percent of Americans believe conflict between Islam and Christianity is “inevitable,” up from 45 percent in 2003. 

You can bet that this campaign will negatively influence the attitudes of Americans towards Islam and Muslims and that a poll done anytime in the next few months will show that percentage to have risen again, dramatically.  You can also bet that lots of ordinary Muslims will have to answer questions from their co-workers, school-mates and neighbors in the coming weeks, and where will they get some help?  Why is it that our key advocacy organization with a paid staff is unable to flag and identify issues and act proactively on behalf of the community? 

As a community we need to wake up and realize that we need to be much more proactive at the grass-roots and to demand more of our national organizations.  Contact CAIR National at:

453 New Jersey Avenue, S.E.
Washington, DC 20003
Tel: 202.488.8787
Fax: 202.488.0833
.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Note:  The Huffington Post has a list of the newspapers distributing the DVD

Update 9-15 CAIR has now issued a press release asking people to write to their local papers and to ask questions about who is sponsoring the distribution of this DVD.  The press release includes the statement that [“CAIR and other groups are formulating a broader pro-active response to the “Obsession” campaign, but these are some small actions that those who actually received the DVD can take today.]

This is very encouraging and hopefully we will be able to inform you about the pro-active plan shortly.  The need for such a pro-active plan has been expressed for some time.  Hussein Ibish, the communications director for the Arab American ADC produced a a report about Islamophobia in the media back in 2006.  In that report he said:

“The problem of Islamophobia in the United States is currently undergoing a qualitative deterioration of significant and alarming proportions. The American Muslim and Arab-American communities can no longer afford to deal with the problem in a piecemeal or half-hearted manner. The highly negative perceptions being force-fed to the American public, which often has little or no other information about Islam, Muslims and Arabs, could potentially threaten every aspect of life for these communities. In the event of another tragedy or terrorist attack in the United States, or other dangerous increases in tension between our country and elements in the Middle East or the Islamic world, this cultural atmosphere could easily lead to an explosion of hate crimes, discrimination and civil liberties violations that far outstrips what was experienced after September 11, 2001. The American public is being primed by professional bigots to see American Muslims and Arab Americans as a fifth column that is disloyal, violent and anti-American. Such radical misperceptions pose extreme dangers to the fate of these communities, should events take a turn for the worst.”

“The experience of the terrorist attacks on our country came as a bolt from the blue to the American Muslim and Arab American communities: a traumatic event which they did not at all anticipate and had no control over in any way, that completely reshaped the political and cultural landscape in which they live and suddenly thrust upon them problems of a nature and intensity that they were, and frankly still are, woefully unprepared to deal with effectively. This experience should have carried with it one over-riding message - organize yourselves and begin to exercise political and cultural power in your own defense, or continue to depend entirely on good fortune and the goodwill of your fellow citizens, which are always risky propositions. The spread of the kind of vicious, hateful propaganda that has been steadily on the rise in American media in recent months and years makes such an approach, which amounts to voluntary surrender to extreme vulnerability, completely unacceptable.”

He also called on the leadership of Muslim organizations in the U.S. to plan and prepare a pro-active campaign to defend the community against this onslaught of Islamophobia.  He said: 

“It is essential, in our own defense and for the good of our country and its culture, that American Muslims and Arabs immediately organize a serious, concerted and coordinated response to this crisis of defamation and hate speech. This brief study outlines the history of the development of anti-Arab and Islamophobic hate speech in the United States, some of the principal themes of contemporary American Islamophobia, and how the most extreme and politicized forms of Islamophobia are moving into the mainstream of American culture. This paper is intended to serve as the basis for developing, in concert with many other groups and individuals under the leadership of the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), a systematic response to this pattern of defamation that seeks to reverse these trends, expose hate speech for what it is and ensure that mainstream media stop indulging in it, and initiate a proactive dialogue with the media and our fellow citizens that decisively counters and heals the damage caused by such hate speech.”


American Muslims Must Accept That They Are Not Equivalent to Real Americans, Sheila Musaji

Anti-Muslim Film Produced by Pro-Israel Partisan Boosts McCain, Richard Silverstein

Are Muslims “The Enemy Within?”, Sheila Musaji

The Battle of the Films - Obsession and Fitna Versus Schism, Sheila Musaji

The Big Lie About ‘Islamic Fascism’ , Eric S. Margolis

The Bridge with Islam, Rabbi Haim Ovadia

Coming Soon: More Fearmongering With Obsession Sequel, Nick POatler I can imagine that historians will one day look upon this period as a time when xenophobia swept through an America that refused to look itself in the eye. Documentaries like “Obsession” may even be shown in future classrooms as a tool for understanding the uses of sensational propaganda in history, right along side “The Birth of a Nation,” which terribly demeaned African Americans in the early twentieth century, and Nazi documentaries that dehumanized Jews as vermin. And hopefully they will say that in these times it was darkest before the dawn. 3/20/07

Documentary Review: Uncovering the Obsessions of “Obsession”, David Shasha

Documentary on Islam Considered Unfair 2/07

“Fascist-Islamophobia”: A Case Study in Totalitarian Demonization - Five parts, Dr. Robert Dickson Crane

Fighting Words: The Abuse of Islam in Political Rhetoric, L. Ali Khan

Film on “Radical Islam” Tied to Pro-Israel Groups, Khody Akhavi A controversial documentary on the threat of radical Islam, promoted by the two most-watched U.S. cable news networks, was marketed and supported in part by self-described “pro-Israel” groups, according to an IPS investigation. 3/26/07

Free Speech vs Intolerance 3/2/07

GOP should accept American Muslims, Nafees Syed

David Horowitz ‘Declares’ Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week for October 22-26, 2007 on college campuses across the U.S.

David Horowitz’ Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week, An Idea Whose Time Has Passed, Sheila Musaji

Interfaith Dialogue a Moral Duty to Finding Common Ground, Louay Safi

Islamic Fascist terminology causing general racist reaction, Dave Johnson

Islamic Fascists?  Deceptive Labels & Propoganda are Counterproductive, Sheila Musaji

‘Islamo-fascism’ is an Oxymoron, Enver Masud

The Islamo-Fascist Rationale for Abandoning Liberty, by Jacob G. Hornberger 3/16/07


Islamophobia and Arabophobia: Laying The Groundwork - Us vs. Them, Sheila Musaji

Islamophobia Does Not Represent American Values, Sheila Musaji

Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas reports that a showing of Obsession is being hosted on September 5 and 6th by DATA, Anti-Defamation League and B’nai B’rith International.

Judeo-Christo-Fascism Awareness Week Comes to American Campuses!, Rabbi Arthur Waskow

The Language of Islamophobia, Dr. Jeremy Henzell-Thomas

Bernard Lewis speaks and Obsession film shows at same program at Hebrew University of Jerusalem 2/07

Mission statement of Honest Reporting, producers of Obsession

Muslims rap DVD ad in the Observer

Muslims Who Fought Against the ‘Real’ Fascists, Sheila Musaji

Neo-Kharijite’s Not Islamic Fascists, Dr. Hesham A. Hassaballa

Obsession:  Radical Judaism’s War With Islam, Sheila Musaji

Obsession Over Obsession: the Power of Propoganda, Michael Garberich - In a film that so adamantly rails the influence of self-sequestered mass media, it ironically ignores the possibility of its own bias and its influence over a public possessing limited, mediated communication with a foreign culture.

Obsession With Islam (Review of film)

Obsession Review by Jared Cinman This film makes one important point: there are extremists out there, and they are dangerous. Point taken. But surely we already knew that? There is nothing new in this documentary apart from the extreme tone with which it is composed. And by presenting such a de-contextualised and one-sided story, it becomes an example of the kind of propoganda it deplores. Far from offering new and shocking insight into radical Islam, it pours petrol onto the fire of the hatred growing on both sides of this religious, political and economic impasse.

Obsession Generates Applause and Controversy

Obsession: Radical Islam’s War With the West - a positive review

Obsession Sparks college debates 3/2/07

Obsession Promotes Intolerance of Islam 3/18/07

Obsession: Radical Islam’s War With the West - film review

Obsession Obsessed With Conflict Not Solutions, Aaron Greenblatt 1/07

The Paranoid and Abhorrent Obsession with Muslims in the Media, By Jeremy Henzell-Thomas

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Jewish Community to Show “Obsession” film and Host Dennis Prager

an article on Daniel Pipes site reports that Sharona Shapiro, the AJC’s Michigan Director noted in an article that “Finally, the antisemitic placards at the rally were a horrendous display of Israel as Nazi obsession. Signs compared President Bush to Adolf Hitler and equated Stars of David with Nazi swastikas; one sign read, “Israel Nazi Are the Same Thing.” This ugly comparison demeans the victims, Jewish and non-Jewish alike, of Nazi genocide, demonizes Israelis, and dehumanizes those who support Israel.” regarding an Arab rally in Detroit.  This is interesting because of the similarity between this demonization and that of all Muslims in the film “Obsession”.

Pro-McCain Group Dumping 28 Million Terror Scare DVDs in Swing States, Eric Ose

Reform Jewish leader tells U.S. Muslims at ISNA Convention that Islam is being demonized 9/2/07

Republican Jewish Coalition mails Obsession and book by CUFI’s executive director to Rabbi’s (2/07)

Resources for responding to Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week, Sheila Musaji

Review of Film Obsession: Radical Islam’s War With the West “But Obsession is at its essence a predictable product of the propaganda genre. Proclaim objectivity about the subject. Frame it at the beginning and end with Edmund Burke’s famous quotation about how all that is needed for the forces of evil to triumph in the world is for good people to do nothing.  Show the interviewees who hold favourable opinions through flattering camera angles and clear focus, their faces carefully made up and lit with studio lighting. These are obviously intelligent, rational, knowledgeable people. Show all who hold enemy views in grainy, jumpy newsreels or home-video style that makes “them” look as unattractive as possible, distorted, even less than human.  ... Pick a point of view and repeat it over and over. Ignore contradictory evidence or viewpoints. Add enough scenes of blood and carnage for a Hollywood thriller. Draw repeated comparisons to Hitler and his Nazi designs for world domination—complete with a map of the Nazis spilling across Europe like black ink.  The radical Muslims are at war with the Jews and the Christians. Don’t be fooled like Neville Chamberlain holding aloft the deal-with-the devil paper bearing both his signature and that of Hitler, proclaiming “peace in our time.” The painful became the absurd toward the end of the “documentary” when the focus is on Jews as targets of radical Islam. The propaganda-laden Obsession shows how Arab news and entertainment media broadcast images that portray Jews as sub-human or evil. True, but the irony was laughable, except that no one was laughing in the Imax.”

Review of Obsession Film Toronto Showing “Day isn’t here to say anything that could help Canadians understand the terror issue today. He’s here to ratchet up the fear. This is the order of the day, and Obsession delivers the goods. As mind-numbing a propaganda piece as there ever was, Obsession is a relentless journey through the entrails of Islamofascism.  There are shocking clips from Palestinian TV of children singing about killing the infidel. Young men are shown training to be suicide bombers. An endless procession of frothy imans spew invective at just about the whole of humanity except those who fall within their narrow comfort zone.  Indeed, the film really has me, scares me to death, in fact, until near the end when we see the iconic and fraudulent footage of the statue of Saddam being brought down in central Baghdad just after the U.S. invasion. 
Come on, folks. This footage has been definitively discredited and acknowledged for what it is: staged U.S. propaganda. The fact is, Obsession may be a wake-up call, but to buy into its premise requires its audience to ignore the obvious question: Why is there this purported worldwide hate-on against the West?  Day’s simple-minded assumption laces the entire Obsession narrative. We “need to come to grips with the fact that terrorists do this out of sheer hatred of differences,’’ he tells the crowd.  Nice try, but it conveniently ignores the elephant in the room: generations of mistreatment of the Muslim world by meddling Western powers propping up despotic, corrupt and sometimes, ironically, Islamist regimes; Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land; the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq; and now a Canadian-backed onslaught in Afghanistan which is killing not just Taliban fighters but civilians as well.

Selected images from Obsession

Selective Hearing of Muslim Voices Against Extremism and Terrorism, Sheila Musaji

Shoebat, Saleem, and Anani - Three Arab Villages Are Missing Their Idiots, Sheila Musaji

Should Muslim Americans Be Afraid?, Sheila Musaji

Spiritual jihad against terrorism, Sheila Musaji (5 parts)

Us vs Them, Paul Craft 3/10/07

VIDEO: Obsession: Radical Islam’s War With the West 12 min. summary version

Walid Shoebat’s New Incarnation “the audience had eaten up every word of Shoebat’s speech. Most affected were the visitors from off-campus, but it was clear that many of the Wesleyan students were transfixed as well. Here was an irrefutable source, impervious to accusations of bias or racism, exonerating them of responsibility for the terrible situation in the Middle East–and dumping it on the other side. Shoebat had confirmed the deeply-rooted Jewish communal fear of destruction–in this case at the hands of the Palestinians–while absolving the Jews from blame in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  ... For all of his railing against pro-Palestinian propaganda, Shoebat himself preaches a gospel of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that is utterly black and white. Shireen Tawil, an American with a Lebanese-Palestinian background and a 2004 graduate of Wesleyan, was struck by Shoebat’s analysis. “He presented the Palestinian-Israeli conflict as a religious war, Muslims vs. Jews, which is a very dangerous oversimplification,” said Tawil. “He presented all Palestinians as Muslim terrorists, never delving into what living under occupation is like, the human rights abuses that occur, the psychological effects of living under occupation, or anything of the sort.”

Walid Shoebat Preaches Violence Not Peace

Why Are Some Florida Jewish Groups Sponsoring Anti-Muslim Hate Speech?, Ahmed Bedier

Walid Shoebat Denied Entry Into Canada

War against tolerance, Chris Hedges

When Language Grows Darker and Darker, Joan Chittister

Wrong War, Wrong Word, Katha Pollitt