The Clarion Fund

The Clarion Fund

compiled by Sheila Musaji


Right Web Backgrounder on the Clarion Fund

The Clarion Fund is a nonprofit organization linked to U.S. and Israeli right-wing groups that produces and distributes alarmist films aimed at alerting “Americans about the threat of Radical Islam.” The group claims to achieve its mission by conveying the “reality of radical Islam” in documentary films it produces and distributes, and through outreach efforts on the internet and on college campuses.[1]

A recent Clarion production was the 2011 release Iranium, which aims to convey the purported threat posed by Iran by “by explor[ing] the principles of the revolution, and visually demonstrat[ing] the hatred and violence exhibited by Iran’s brutal leadership.”[2]

According to a review of the film published by PBS Frontline’s Tehran Bureau, among Iranium’s core themes are “the belief that Middle Easterners respond only to shows of strength, and that, while Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama have been weak on Iran, Ronald Reagan's supposed strength was respected in the region (with the exception, of course, of his withdrawal from Lebanon after the U.S. Embassy and Marine barracks there were bombed in 1983).” The review, entitled “‘Iranium’ or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the ‘Military Option,’” adds: “After a long buildup describing Iran's desire to spread the Islamic Revolution abroad (such as through its alliance with Venezuela's Hugo Chavez), the film describes the Iranian nuclear program. Iran's public avowals of the program's peaceful aims are dismissed, and the next section—titled ‘Pushing the Button’—explains how the world won't be able to deter Iran from using a weapon.”[3]

According to the reviewers, the film’s“partisan outlook should not come as a surprise: Most of the analysts interviewed in the film are drawn from two neoconservative Washington think tanks [the Center for Security Policy and the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies] that have supported Republican policies and derided Democratic ones.”[4]

Clarion was founded in 2006 by Raphael Shore, a conservative Israeli rabbi. Clarion’s advisory board includes a number of neoconservatives and other militarist policy advocates, including Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy; Daniel Pipes of the Middle East Forum; Zuhdi Jasser, founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD) and narrator of the Clarion Fund’s Third Jihad documentary; Clare Lopez, executive director of the Iran Policy Committee; Harold Rhode, a former staffer under Douglas Feith in the Donald Rumsfeld Pentagon who serves as an adviser to the Hudson Institute; Ilan Sharon, executive director of Minnesotans Against Terrorism; and Sarah Stern, president of the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET), which has assisted in the distribution of Clarionfilms.[5]

The Clarion Fund received considerable media attention for its efforts to distribute millions of copies of the DVD version of the controversial short film Obsession: Radical Islam’s War against the West,and for its role in producing the film The Third Jihad: Radical Islam’s Vision for America, released in May 2009. Clarion’s efforts to promote the films led to accusations that the group was violating its tax-exempt status and attempting “to stir up a climate of fear in the United States in the weeks before the presidential election.”[6]

Controversy over Obsession

Some 28 million DVDs of Obsession, called “hate propaganda” by some critics,[7] were made available in newspaper inserts in several key swing states—including Florida, Ohio, and Michigan—during the lead-up to the 2008 presidential election.[8] The video, which attempts to make the case that “radical Islam” intends to “bow Western Civilization under the yoke of its values,”[9]was co-written by Raphael Shore, who founded the Clarion Fund, and Wayne Kopping, who produced the 2003 video Relentless: The Struggle for Peace in Israel, a documentary on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that focuses disproportionately on Arab hostilities. Several groups that support militarist Israeli and U.S. policies, including the American Israel Public Affairs Committeeand the Zionist Organization for America, sponsored showings of Relentless.

Obsessionpresents the views of a number of people associated with militarist or neoconservative political groups, including Daniel Pipes, Caroline Glickof the Center for Security Policy; Steven Emersonof the Investigative Project on Terrorism; and Brigitte Gabrielle,founder of American Congress for Truth and advisor to the Intelligence Summit.

After its initial 2005 release, showings of Obsession spurred heated debates regarding “Islamophobia”on U.S. college campuses,[10] where the film has been aggressively promoted by David Horowitz as part of his “terrorism awareness project.”[11] When copies of the DVD appeared in swing-state newspapers and mailings during the last months of the 2008 election season, some observers charged that Clarion and the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET), which aided the distribution effort, were running a stealth campaign on behalf of Sen. John McCain(R-AZ) and other Republican candidates who had made “battling the threat posed by radical Islamists a central platform of their campaign, while presenting their Democratic rival, Sen. Barack Obama [D-IL], as being weak on the issue.”[12]

When a small-town newspaper in Pennsylvania, the Patriot News, investigated the source of the DVD mailing, it discovered that the Clarion Fund website, RadicalIslam.org, had posted a partisan political report supporting the McCain campaign. The report stated, “McCain's policies seek to confront radical Islamic extremism and terrorism and roll it back while [Barack] Obama's, although intending to do the same, could in fact make the situation facing the West even worse." The site removed the report after the Patriot News reporter questioned Clarion’s director of communications.[13]

A spokesperson for EMET, described by the Inter Press Service as a “group of hard-line U.S. neo-conservatives and former Israeli diplomats,” claimed its goal was to take advantage of the intense media attention in the swing states  and not to influence the election.[14]

According to the New York Times, Obsession served as a “flashpoint in the bitter campus debate over the Middle East, not just because of its clips from Arab television rarely shown in the West, including scenes of suicide bombers being recruited and inducted, but also because of its pro-Israel distribution network. When a Middle East discussion group organized a showing at New York University … it found that the distributors of Obsession were requiring those in attendance to register at IsraelActivism.com, and that digital pictures of the events be sent to Hasbara Fellowships, a group set up to counter anti-Israel sentiment on college campuses.”[15]

The Third Jihad

Produced by Clarion and released in May 2009, The Third Jihad website has changed its description of the film many times. At first, it claimed to explore a war that the “media is not telling you about” and reveal an enemy the “government is too afraid to name.”[16] In late September 2008, the film’s website claimed the movie “focuses on an FBI-discovered secret document—the manifesto of the American Muslim Brotherhood. It describes the ‘grand jihad’ goal of destroying Western civilization from within by infiltrating and dominating North America. The film reveals the agenda of the radical Muslim leaders in America and provides viewers with an impressively crafted look at the immediate dangers posed.”[17]

The synopsis reminded one journalist of the infamous, racist volume The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. “Secret, recently uncovered documents. A ‘goal of destroying Western civilization from within.’ A grand conspiracy organized by a globally networked religious minority. Sound familiar yet? Could be because it’s echoing one of the most influential and persistent conspiracy theories of all time, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion … [which] detailed the sinister Jewish plan for world domination,” wrote reporter Eli Clifton.[18]

The “experts” featured in The Third Jihad include Rachel Ehrenfeld of the American Center for Democracy; former CIA director James Woolsey; Bernard Lewis; Michael Ledeen and Walid Phares of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies; Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-CT); and former mayor Rudy Giuliani.

Likud and Neocon Connections

Some critics have called Clarion Fund a tool of Israel’s rightist Likud Party because of its close association with many Likud figures and its espousal of views in line with the Israeli right-wing. In late September 2008, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) asked the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to investigate whether Clarion was violating election laws, which prohibit foreign entities from funding campaigns. CAIR alleged that Clarion was “an Israel-based group seeking to help Sen. John McCain win the U.S. presidential election.”[19]

CAIR laid out its case in an official complaint to the FEC. “According to the website for the Secretary of State for New York, Clarion Fund Inc. is incorporated in New York as a Delaware based foreign not-for-profit corporation,” the complaint reads. “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, an organization apparently based in Israel. Also according to the Delaware Department of Corporations, the incorporators of the Clarion Fund used Aish HaTorah’s New York City address … to incorporate Clarion Fund in Delaware. Sources have reported that Rabbi Raphael Shore is an Israeli citizen who lives in Jerusalem and was employed as an executive director with Aish HaTorah International. Gregory Ross has been identified as Clarion Fund’s spokesman and communications director. According to the FEC candidate contributions database, Gregory Ross is a fundraiser for Aish HaTorah International. It was reported that distributors of ‘Obsession’ asked viewers to register for a screening of ‘Obsession‘ by visiting an Aish HaTorah website. It appears that the funding for the production, marketing and distribution of ‘Obsession’ may have originated from Israel-based Aish HaTorah International.”[20]  

Said CAIR executive director Nihad Awad, “American voters deserve to know whether they are the targets of a multimillion-dollar campaign funded and directed by a foreign group seeking to whip up anti-Muslim hysteria as a way to influence the outcome of our presidential election.”[21]

The U.S. tax code clearly delineates the extent of participation of any non-profit organization in a political campaign: “Public statements of position (verbal or written) made on behalf of the [501(c)(3)] organization in favor of or in opposition to any candidate for public office clearly violate the prohibition against political campaign activity.”[22]Thus, Clarion’s direct or indirect participation in political campaigning would jeopardize its tax-exempt status.[23]Given the content of the report posted (and later removed) at Clarion’s RadicalIslam.org, the fund was liable to lose its tax status.

According to National Public Radio’s Peter Overby and Will Evans, Clarion’s tax filings “don't provide clues as to who funded the … distribution” of Obsession, although Clarion assured them it was exclusively bankrolled by U.S. donors.[24]The reporters added, “We still don't know how closely Clarion is tied to Aish HaTorah, an international Jewish educational organization with offices in New York. Clarion's incorporation papers share the same address; the PR firm says that's no longer the case. But public filings list four directors of Clarion since its inception, and all four have ties to Aish HaTorah.”[25]

Subsequent investigative reports revealed close ties between Aish and the Clarion Fund, although as of late 2010 they no longer shared the same address. The Inter Press Service (IPS) reported that EMET, Clarion’s Obsession distribution partner, has had ties to Likud and neoconservatives groups. According to IPS, EMET advisors include ambassadors Yossi Ben Aharon and Yoram Ettinger, who “were among the three Israeli ambassadors whom then-Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin referred to as ‘the Three Musketeers’ when they lobbied Washington in opposition to the Oslo accords.”

Ettinger is a former chair at the Ariel Center for Policy Research, a Likud-aligned Israeli think tank. Likud prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu appointed another EMET advisor and former diplomat, Lenny Ben-David, to serve at the Israeli Embassy in Washington. According to IPS, “Ben-David had also held senior positions at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee for 25 years and is now a consultant and lobbyist.”[26]In mid-September 2008, EMET sponsored a Capitol Hill “seminar series” named after the multibillionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, a key donor of the now-defunct group Freedom’s Watch and the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC), which according to IPS has worked “to persuade Jewish voters that Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama is aligned with radical anti-Israel forces in the Islamic world.”[27]

IPS reported that U.S. neoconservatives who have advised EMET include the late Jeane Kirkpatrick; Daniel Pipes of the Middle East Forum; Meyrav Wurmser of the Hudson Institute; Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy; Woolsey; and Heritage Foundation fellows Ariel Cohen and Nina Shea.[28]

Sources
[1]Clarion Fund, http://www.radicalislam.org/.

[2]Iranium, “Synopsis,” http://www.iraniummovie.com/about-the-film/synopsis/.

[3]Eli Clifton and Ali Gharib, “‘Iranium’ or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the ‘Military Option’” PBS Frontline TehranBureau, January 26, 2011, http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/tehranbureau/2011/01/iranium.html.

[4]Eli Clifton and Ali Gharib, “‘Iranium’ or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the ‘Military Option’” PBS Frontline TehranBureau, January 26, 2011, http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/tehranbureau/2011/01/iranium.html.

[5]Clarion Fund, “About,” http://www.radicalislam.org/content/about-clarion-fund.

[6]Eli Clifton, “From Clarion: A Protocols of the Elders of Islam?” LobeLog.com, October 5, 2008, http://www.ips.org/blog/jimlobe/?p=193.

[7]Ali Gharib and Eli Clifton, “Neo-cons, Ex-Israeli Diplomats Push Islamophobic Video,” Inter Press Service, September 24, 2008, http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=43983.

[8]Ali Gharib and Eli Clifton, “Neo-cons, Ex-Israeli Diplomats Push Islamophobic Video,” Inter Press Service, September 24, 2008, http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=43983; Ali Gharib, “Anti-Islam Film Targets ‘Swing State’ Voters,” Inter Press Service September 19, 2008, http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=43940.

[9]“About Obsession,” http://www.obsessionthemovie.com/about_synopsis.php (acce,ssed October 20, 2008).

[10]Karen W. Arenson, “Film’s View of Islam Stirs Anger on Campuses,” New York Times, February 26, 2007, http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/26/movies/26docu.html.

[11]Terrorism Awareness Project, http://www.terrorismawareness.org/.

[12]Ali Gharib, “Anti-Islam Film Targets ‘Swing State’ Voters,” Inter Press Service, September 19, 2008, http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=43940.

[13]Carrie Cassidy, “DVD on Radical Islam Offends Lemoyne Recipient,” Patriot News, September 11, 2008.

[14]Ali Gharib and Eli Clifton, “Neo-cons, Ex-Israeli Diplomats Push Islamophobic Video,” Inter Press Service, September 24, 2008, http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=43983.

[15]Karen W. Arenson, “Film’s View of Islam Stirs Anger on Campuses,” New York Times, February 26, 2007, http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/26/movies/26docu.html.

[16]The Third Jihad website, “What is the Third Jihad?” http://www.thethirdjihad.com/about.html (accessed October 20, 2008).

[17]Eli Clifton, “From Clarion: A Protocols of the Elders of Islam?” LobeLog.com via Iran Coverage, October 5, 2008, http://irancoverage.com/2008/10/06/from-clarion-a-protocols-of-the-elders-of-islam/.

[18]Eli Clifton, “From Clarion: A Protocols of the Elders of Islam?” LobeLog.com via Iran Coverage, October 5, 2008, http://irancoverage.com/2008/10/06/from-clarion-a-protocols-of-the-elders-of-islam/.

[19]CAIR, “CAIR Asks FEC to Probe Anti-Muslim DVDs Sent to Swing States,”http://www.cair.com/ArticleDetails.aspx?ArticleID=25495&&name=n&&currPage=1&&Active=1.

[20]CAIR, “Letter to Thomasenia P. Duncan, General Counsel, Federal Election Commission,” September 19, 2008, http://www.cair.com/Portals/0/pdf/ObessesionlettertoFEC.pdf; CAIR, “CAIR Asks FEC to Probe Anti-Muslim DVDs Sent to Swing States,”http://www.cair.com/ArticleDetails.aspx?ArticleID=25495&&name=n&&currPage=1&&Active=1.

[21]Abdus Sattar Ghazali, “FEC urged to probe Anti-Muslim DVDs sent to Swing States,” OpeEdNews.com, September 24, 2008, http://www.opednews.com/articles/FEC-urged-to-probe-Anti-Mu-by-Abdus-Sattar-Ghaza-080924-531.html.

[22]Internal Revenue Service, “The Restriction of Political Campaign Intervention by Section 501(c)(3) Tax-Exempt Organizations,” http://www.irs.gov/charities/charitable/article/0,,id=163395,00.html.

[23]Peter Overby and Will Evans, “Some Answers On Clarion, And Still Some Questions,” National Public Radio, October 7, 2008, http://www.npr.org/blogs/secretmoney/2008/10/clarion_answers_some_questions.html.

[24]Peter Overby and Will Evans, “Some Answers On Clarion, And Still Some Questions,” National Public Radio, October 7, 2008, http://www.npr.org/blogs/secretmoney/2008/10/clarion_answers_some_questions.html..

[25]Peter Overby and Will Evans, “Some Answers On Clarion, And Still Some Questions,” National Public Radio, October 7, 2008, http://www.npr.org/blogs/secretmoney/2008/10/clarion_answers_some_questions.html.

[26]Ali Gharib and Eli Clifton, “Neo-cons, Ex-Israeli Diplomats Push Islamophobic Video,” Inter Press Service, September 24, 2008, http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=43983.

[27]Ali Gharib and Eli Clifton, “Neo-cons, Ex-Israeli Diplomats Push Islamophobic Video,” Inter Press Service, September 24, 2008, http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=43983.

[28]Ali Gharib and Eli Clifton, “Neo-cons, Ex-Israeli Diplomats Push Islamophobic Video,” Inter Press Service, September 24, 2008, http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=43983.


In March of 2010, Richard Silverstein wrote the following about the Clarion Fund:

Clarion Fund Mystery Donor to Inject Millions in November Elections Throgh Iran Mushroom-Cloud Propaganda Film

Those of you who read my blog during the last presidential campaign will remember the Clarion Fund, which spent $15-million to distribute its Islam-hating Obsession to 28-million voters in swing states.  The purpose was to scare Jewish voters and others frightened of the ‘Muslim menace’ into voting Republican.  You can see how well that strategy worked.

Thanks to Sarah Posner, Justin Elliott and reader John Dickerson for alerting me to a story about those folks who brought you two perfect-storm anti-Muslim films (Obsession and Third Jihad).  They plan to do to Iran what they did to Islamism.  Note the mushroom-cloud in the film promotion and the claim that Iran will use nuclear weapons to destroy everything we in the west hold dear, including Israel.  And like their last electoral effort, this one will be timed to the upcoming November elections.

Last time around, a media expert quoted by Ali Gharib and Eli Clifton estimated that the Obsession DVD distribution cost between $15-50-million.  Justin Elliott does his homework and finds that Clarion took in $18-million in 2008 and spent $15-million, most of this on the cost of duplicating the DVD.  The Fund’s 990 report doesn’t specify who gave the $18-million, but there are any number of right-wing Jewish Republican fatcats who’d be only too pleased to do so.  In the past, several have speculated it might be Sheldon Adelson.  But given Clarion Fund is an extension of the far-right pro-settler Aish HaTorah, my money is on a fellow far-right Orthodox donor.  Someone like Irving Moskowitz or Rabbi Irwin Katsof, a billionaire co-founder of Aish.

Elliott’s piece gives us an early warning of the shenanigans planned by the Jewish crackpot-right like Clarion and the Republican Jewish Coalition.  I like to say that it’s good that they waste their money on such ineffective projects.  If they didn’t, they might actually discover an effective way to do damage against the Democrats.  Garbage like this won’t.  So I say, along with a thankfully retired president, “Bring it on.”

During the last election, much of the Jewish media featured distorted, misleading ads from the Republican Jewish Coalition touting fear of Barack “Hussein” Obama as anti-Israel.  No doubt, Clarion’s Jewish Daddy Warbucks will pay for swank ads in the same publications touting the Iran mushroom cloud film.  I’d urge them to consider what Clarion Fund is and consider the lies of their previous two films.  Jewish Week, The Forward, Haaretz and JTA clearly need revenue in this terrible climate for print media, but do they need it so badly they have to take funds promoting such garbage?

Here are a few choice quotations from the film’s finely calibrated press release:

Since the inception of the Islamic Revolution in 1979, Iran has displayed hatred for the West.  Coupled with an extremist and apocalyptic messianic ideology, this regime has terrorized the world at large for over 30 years.

…The film will document…the West’s inability to recognize the true nature of an extremist Islamic Revolutionary regime…

I was just glancing at Clarion’s website, Radical Islam, when I noticed this absolutely hilarious Facebook feed:

Al-Qaida is laying deadly “booby traps” by equipping its female suicide bombers with explosive breast implants [!] that are impossible to be detected at airport security checkpoints…

The source?  That impeccable font of anti-jihadi wisdom, Robert Spencer’s Jihad Watch!  Should we speculate how Orthodox settlers might conceal their explosives should they ever turn to suicide bombing as a tactic for killing Palestinians?  Perhaps explosive tallises (which they wear as an undergarment)?  SOURCE:  Tikun Olam

In December of 2010, Lee Fang wrote an article Memos Reveal Anti-Muslim Group’s Early Efforts To Bring Islamophobia Into The Mainstream

Last month, Salon’s Justin Elliott published new clues about a mysterious anti-Muslim front organization called the Clarion Fund. Clarion produced “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West,” a graphic film depicting Muslims as terrorists bent on world conquest, and during the 2008 presidential campaign, distributed 28 million copies of the DVD to households in swing states like Pennsylvania and Florida. Producers of the film have taken credit for the recent surge in Islamophobia, pointing to the anti-Muslim protests sweeping the nation earlier this summer and the protests against the planned Park51 Muslim community center in downtown Manhattan as evidence of the movie’s influence.

Elliott obtained a 990 tax form showing that someone named “Barry Seid” (note the spelling) financed Clarion’s distribution and media outreach in 2008 with a donation of $17 million. However, no public record exists for a millionaire named “Barry Seid,” but Salon pointed out that a Chicago-area manufacturing executive named “Barre Seid” has a long history of funding anti-Muslim groups and activists like FrontPageMag’s David Horowitz. Barre Seid denied any involvement with Clarion, despite the 990 form Elliott obtained. It’s likely that either Seid or a small set of wealthy donors underwrote Clarion effort. Reporter Pam Martens discovered that a firm called Donors Capital Trust gave $17 million to the Clarion Fund in 2008 in nine installments. Donors Capital Trust helps wealthy right-wing donors anonymously give to right-wing front groups. A copy of the Donors Capital Trust 990 with the donations to Clarion can be viewed here.

ThinkProgress has obtained new documents, left open to the public by the Clarion Fund’s webmaster, that offer an insight into the ideas behind the organization’s websites and films. An e-mail from Clarion Fund communications director Gregory Ross to the webmaster, outlines the campaign to promote Obsession during the 2008 presidential election (view a copy here). Ross explains how he would like to brand Clarion’s anti-Muslim campaign with “something pleasing to the eye, edgy, hip and fun!” To bring Obsession’s anti-Muslim themes into the mainstream, Ross wanted to make a symbol or slogan with wide appeal, like “google, banana republic or even coca-cola”:

I’d like something more compact, and not as busy as we have now (http://www.clarionfund.org), however something that stands out and is not boring. In fact, we can just do something with our name; symbols don’t have to be used. Think google, banana republic or even coca-cola and how they made something out of their name only. [...] Lastly, we will also need a logo done for “Yes We Must”. This phrase will be used as a rallying cry for all organizations that are combating radical Islam to ban together. It must be something pleasing to the eye, edgy, hip and fun! We will want everyone to put it on their websites. Think of it as something that you’d almost make into a button that you’d put on your t-shirt. This would be like the slogan Barak [sic] Obama is using for ‘Yes We Can’.

Another memo, a collection of notes written by the webmaster (view a copy here), offers a striking contrast with Clarion’s stated mission of addressing “a minority of vocal and often violent radicals.” It shows the calculations behind selecting scary images depicting Arabs and Muslims on the Obsession website:

The Roots of Violent Islamist Extremism and Efforts to Counter It – Picture of U.S. government hard at work or seeking diplomatic goals or commingling with Arabs or perhaps a picture of violent extremism (like 9/11).  This is a long piece given to Congress about the history of arab terrorism and efforts to counter them. [...]

Fascism, Islamism and Anti-Semitism – Talks about Arab anti-semitism, Americans turning the other cheek, makes references to Hitler, holocaust denial, etc……… [...]

Where are the Liberal Muslims? – We need some picture to suggest (or ask the question) that a “moderate” Islam exists.  Whether it is a nice looking calm Muslim shaking hands with someone else, or something else entirely… you get the idea. [...]

Understanding Radical Islam – We just need a picture of “radical islam” — whether it is arabs on the march, people with bombs attached to them, kids with machine guns, etc.

Like the movie, which obscures the history of Middle East conflicts and paints the entire Muslim world as dominated by radical terrorist groups, the pictures were selected to elicit a charged emotional response. Although the Obsession movie was presented as a factual documentary, the memo reveals that the creators of Obsession were not strictly addressing “radical Islam,” but were motivated by a desire to spread Islamophobia.

The webmaster memos also underscore how pivotal Clarion has been in bringing Islamophobia into the mainstream — like a consumer brand. Clarion director Frank Gaffney helped organize several of the protests outside of mosques last summer. Hate blogger Pam Geller, who instigated the right-wing hysteria over the Park51 community center, has been one of the most outspoken supporters of the film since it was launched in 2006 and called for her readers to watch it. Several of the groups organizing anti-mosque protests this year, like the Florida Security Council, have specifically cited the film as their inspiration. And one of the loudest voices of anti-Muslim bigotry, Glenn Beck, was quick to help publicize and support the movie.

Clarion’s selling of Islamophobia has been a success in many ways. In recent months, scores of anti-Muslim political candidates were elected to Congress, there has been a surge in the number of attacks on mosques, and prominent politicians like Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin have adopted increasingly harsh anti-Muslim rhetoric. After groups supported by Clarion rallied against Park51 last summer, polls showed a majority of Americans opposed its construction.

In November of 2010, Eli Clifton wrote about THE CLARION FUND’S ADVISORY BOARD:

Starting in 2008, we began writing about the films produced and distributed by the mysterious Clarion Fund, as well as questioning the money trail. A new page on their RadicalIslam.org website offers a revealing insight into the organization’s web of connections in the Islamophobia and neoconservative echo chamber.

The Clarion’s website “About Page” lists the organization’s Advisory Board, composed of some of the most high-profile and established propagators of Islamophobic rhetoric.

It includes:

  • Clare M. Lopez- A  Senior Fellow at the Center for Security Policy and Executive Director of the Iran Policy Committee. (Our reporting on the Iran Policy Committee can be found here and here.) The Iran Policy Committee has pushed for greater U.S. engagement with Mujahedin-e Khalq, a group designated as a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department.
  • Daniel Pipes- The Director of Middle East Forum and a well known propagator of Islmophobic rhetoric. Pipes has defended the Dutch anti-Muslim politician Geert Wilders, who has been attacked for his inflammatory comments that include referring to Mohammed as a “devil” and demanding that Dutch Muslims “tear out half of the Koran if they wish to stay in the Netherlands.” Pipes called Wilders “a charismatic, savvy, principled and outspoken leader who has rapidly become the most dynamic force in the Netherlands.”
  • Dr. Harold Rhode- A foreign affairs specialist who worked in the Pentagon’s Office of Net Assessment. According to a Mother Jones  article by Robert Dreyfuss and Jason Vest, “Rhode worked with [Douglas Feith] to purge career Defense officials who weren’t sufficiently enthusiastic about the muscular anti-Iraq crusade that Paul D. Wolfowitz and Feith wanted.” “Rhode accosted and harangued a visiting senior Arab diplomat, telling him that there would be no ‘bartering in the bazaar anymore…. You’re going to have to sit up and pay attention when we say so.’
  • Ilan Sharon- The Executive Director of Minnesotans Against Terrorism. Clarion describes Sharon as, “A son of Jewish refugees from Libya and Egypt, Sharon lectures frequently on the issue of terrorism, the threat of Radical Islam, and the struggle for Peace in the Middle East. He aided in the production and distribution of Obsession, The Third Jihad, and Iranium

The Clarion Fund’s advisory board represents a whose-who of the Islamophobia industry and the neoconservative far-right.

Clarion writes that their latest film, Iranium, will:

…[T]target influential U.S. interest groups and policy makers while remaining both straightforward and down-to-earth.  After viewing the film, the general public will be able to understand the critical nature of the threats and encourage a movement aimed at preventing the further advancement of the Iranian regime and its nuclear arsenal.

Given its list of advisers with their long history of propagating Islamophobic rhetoric and advocating for a militant U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East, it remains to be seen how the Clarion Fund can present a balanced viewpoint on the complexities of U.S.-Iran relations.

 

SEE ALSO:

Americans are becoming indifferent to Obsession, Sheila Musaji http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/americans_are_becoming_indifferent_to_obsession/ 
American extremists use Islamic extremism to fuel anti-Muslim hate, Ray Hanania http://www.arabisto.com/p_blogEntry.cfm?blogEntryID=1242
American Muslims Must Accept That They Are Not Equivalent to Real Americans, Sheila Musaji http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/american_muslims_must_accept_that_they_are_not_equivalent_to_real_americans/
Anti-Muslim Film Produced by Pro-Israel Partisan Boosts McCain, Richard Silverstein http://www.israelenews.com/view.asp?ID=3104
anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, Aziz Poonawalla http://blog.beliefnet.com/cityofbrass/2008/11/antisemitism-and-islamophobia.html
Are Muslims “The Enemy Within?”, Sheila Musaji http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/are_muslims_the_enemy_within1/
The Battle of the Films - Obsession and Fitna Versus Schism, Sheila Musaji http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/obsession_fitna_and_schism/
The Big Lie About ‘Islamic Fascism’ , Eric S. Margolis http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/the_big_lie_about_islamic_fascism/
Bigger, Badder Jihad Plot in ‘Obsession’ Rebooted, Ali Gharib and Eli Clifton http://ipsnorthamerica.net/news.php?idnews=2247
The Bridge with Islam, Rabbi Haim Ovadia http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/the_bridge_with_islam/
Can only Muslims be terrorists, Kamran Memon http://iviews.com/articles/Articles.asp?ref=IV0307-2020
Claim that all terrorists are Muslims ignores history, Sheila Musaji (TAM article collection http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/claim_that_all_terrorists_are_muslims_ignores_history/0012587
Clarion Fund Discloses Hawkish “Advisory Board” Before Launch of Iran Documentary, Eli Clifton http://www.lobelog.com/clarion-fund-discloses-hawkish-advisory-board-before-launch-of-iran-documentary/
The Clarion Fund’s Film Jihad Against “Islamism” http://islamonmyside.com/wordpress/?p=484
The Clarion Fund and EMET: Pushing Islamophobia, Eli Clifton & Ali Gharib http://www.rightweb.irc-online.org/articles/display/Pushing_Islamophobia
Clarion Fund puts lipstick on pig documentary http://popprog.blogspot.com/2008/09/clarion-fund-puts-lipstick-on-terrorism.html
Clarion Funds second dud “The Third Jihad” http://www.loonwatch.com/2009/05/the-clarion-funds-new-hate-the-third-jihad/
Clarion plans a sequel to Obsession called “The Third Jihad” http://frontpagemag.com/Articles/Printable.aspx?GUID=3F1BB207-6426-4F2D-9382-3321B29E766F
Clarion Fund, distributor of DVD refuses to name sources (VIDEO) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n1CS4wmhIbo
The Clarion Fund’s Second Dud: The Third Jihad, Loonwatch http://www.loonwatch.com/2009/05/the-clarion-funds-new-hate-the-third-jihad/
Clues Emerge About Who Funded The Anti-Islam DVD Sent To Swing-State Voters In ‘08, Rachel Slajda http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2010/11/clues_emerge_about_who_funded_the_anti-islam_dvd_s.php
Coming Soon: More Fearmongering With Obsession Sequel, Nick POatler http://www.huntingtonnews.net/columns/070320-patler-comment.html 
Conservatives Stoke Fear of Fifth Column, Sarah Posner http://www.religiondispatches.org/blog/2004/conservatives_stoke_fear_of_fifth_column
Debunked: Ten Conservative Myths About National Security, By Sara Robinson http://www.alternet.org/audits/98766/debunked:_ten_conservative_myths_about_national_security/
Did Sheldon Adelson Fund Anti-Obama Propaganda DVD Distribution?, http://www.richardsilverstein.com/tikun_olam/2008/09/14/did-sheldon-adelson-fund-anti-obama-propaganda-dvd/
Faith leaders condemn anti-Muslim sentiments of Obsession http://www.santafenewmexican.com/Local%20News/Faith-leaders-condemn-anti-Muslim-sentiments
The Far Right’s Secret Slush Fund to Keep Fear Alive, Pam Martens http://www.counterpunch.org/2010/10/26/the-far-right-s-secret-slush-fund-to-keep-fear-alive/
“Fascist-Islamophobia”: A Case Study in Totalitarian Demonization, Dr. Robert D. Crane (5 parts) http://www.theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/fascist_islamophobia_a_case_study_in_totalitarian_demonization/0014837
Fighting Words: The Abuse of Islam in Political Rhetoric, L. Ali Khan http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/fighting_words_the_abuse_of_islam_in_political_rhetoric/
Film on “Radical Islam” Tied to Pro-Israel Groups, Khody Akhavi http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=37090 
Howard Gordon Withdraws Endorsement of “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West”, Sheila Musaji http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/howard_gordon_withdraws_endorsement_of_obsession_radical_islams_war_against/ 
Hate Messages Have No Place in Our Community, Miami-Dade County CRB http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/hate_messages_have_no_place_in_our_community/
History of Obsession: Radical Islam’s War With the West, Sheila Musaji   http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/history_of_obsession_radical_islams_war_with_the_west/
David Horowitz ‘Declares’ Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week for October 22-26, 2007 on college campuses across the U.S.  http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/islamo_fascism_awareness_week/
David Horowitz’ Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week, An Idea Whose Time Has Passed, Sheila Musaji http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/david_horowitz_islamo_fascism_awareness_week_an_idea_whose_time_has_passed/
In-Depth Summary & Analysis of “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War on the West”  http://www.theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/in_depth_summary_analysis_of_obsession_radical_islams_war_on_the_west/0016753
Interfaith leaders condemn anti-Muslim DVD, call for greater understanding http://al-amana.net/home/2008/10/10/interfaith-leaders-condemn-anti-muslim-dvd-call-for-greater-understanding/ 
Iranium: Clarion Fund’s Third Crusade http://www.loonwatch.com/2010/12/iranium-clarion-funds-third-crusade/
Islamic Fascists?  Deceptive Labels & Propoganda are Counterproductive, Sheila Musaji (TAM article collection) http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/islamic_fascists1/ 
“Islamic terrorists”:  Who are they insulting?, Sheila Musaji   http://www.theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/who_are_they_insulting/0016647
‘Islamo-fascism’ is an Oxymoron, Enver Masud http://www.twf.org/News/Y2005/1025-Oxymorons.html
The Islamo-Fascist Rationale for Abandoning Liberty, by Jacob G. Hornberger 3/16/07 http://www.fff.org/comment/com0703f.asp
ISLAMOPHOBIA: MEDIA, PROPOGANDA & PERCEPTION - article collection http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/media_radio_tv_film_print_free_speech/
Islamophobia and Arabophobia: Laying The Groundwork - Us vs. Them, Sheila Musaji http://www.theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/islamophobia_laying_the_groundwork_us_vs_them/0016128
Islamophobia Does Not Represent American Values, Sheila Musaji http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/islamophobia_does_not_represent_american_values/
Islamophobia, From Screen to Capitol Hill, Sarah Posner http://www.prospect.org/csnc/blogs/tapped_archive?month=10&year=2009&base_name=islamophobia_from_screen_to_ca
Islamophobia worse in America now than after 9/11, survey finds, Analysts blame politicians and media coverage http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2006/mar/10/usa.religion
Rabbi Steven Jacobs confronts Clarion Fund’s Gregory Ross on Obsession http://thehollytree.blogspot.com/2008/10/rabbi-steven-jacobs-confronts-clarion.html
Jewish Voice for Peace statement on Obsession http://www.westandwithyou.org/
Jewish Week Uncovers Aish HaTorah’s Illegal Election Meddling – New Film Produced By Aish’s Clarion Fund Claims Muslims Seek Sharia Law In US http://failedmessiah.typepad.com/failed_messiahcom/2008/10/expos-jewish-we.html
Judeo-Christo-Fascism Awareness Week Comes to American Campuses!, Rabbi Arthur Waskow http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/judeo_christo_fascism_awareness_week_comes_to_american_campuses/
The Language of Islamophobia, Dr. Jeremy Henzell-Thomas http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/the_language_of_islamophobia/
Bernard Lewis speaks and Obsession film shows at same program at Hebrew University of Jerusalem http://www.cross-currents.com/archives/2007/02/11/islamists%E2%80%99-historiography/ 
The License to target Islam, by Ghassan Michel Rubeiz http://usa.mediamonitors.net/content/view/full/54747
Mission statement of Honest Reporting, producers of Obsession http://www.honestreporting.com/a/page.asp?page=4
Mistranslation in Obsession http://obsession.swflnet.com/obsession_lie.htm
Museum of Tolerance screens Third Jihad, Richard Silverstein http://www.richardsilverstein.com/tikun_olam/2009/05/21/museum-of-in-tolerance-screens-muslim-hating-film-third-jihad/
The Muslim Boogeyman, Anouar Boukhars http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/?id=28525
Muslim Voices Against Terrorism and Extremism - article collections http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/muslim_voices_against_extremism_and_terrorism_2/
Muslims and people of conscience we have to fight against this “Obsession”, Robert Salaam http://www.theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/muslims_and_people_of_conscience_we_have_to_fight_against_this_obsession/0016738
Muslims rap DVD ad in the Observer http://www.charlotteobserver.com/100/story/190032.html
Muslims Who Fought Against the ‘Real’ Fascists, Sheila Musaji http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/muslims_who_fought_against_the_real_fascists/
Mystery of who funded right-wing “radical Islam” campaign deepens, Justin Elliott http://mobile.salon.com/politics/war_room/2010/11/16/clarion_fund_obsession_dvds/index.html
National Council of Churches Interfaith Relations Commission warns against Obsession DVD http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/national_council_of_churches_interfaith_relations_commission_warns_against_/
Neo-Kharijite’s Not Islamic Fascists, Dr. Hesham A. Hassaballa http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/neo_kharijites_not_islamic_fascists/
never again? Simon Wiesenthal Center to screen Islamophobic film “The Third Jihad”, Aziz Poonawalla http://blog.beliefnet.com/cityofbrass/2009/05/never-again-simon-wiesenthal-c.html
New anti-Muslim DVD ‘The Third Jihad’ released this week: A protocols of the elders of Islam?  http://www.progressiveislam.info/diary/715/
Not all Muslims are terrorists, but ..., Dr. Hesham Hassaballa http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/not_all_muslims_are_terrorists_but/
Not all terrorists are Muslims, M. Shahed Alam http://www.counterpunch.org/shahid10242006.html
NYPD Used Anti-Islam Film ‘Third Jihad’ To Train Officers, Rachel Slajda http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2011/01/nypd_used_anti-islam_film_third_jihad_to_train_off.php
Obsessed With Defamation and Slander, Imam Zaid Shakir http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/obsessed_with_defamation_and_slander/
Obsession: Hate and the conspiracy of silence, Jeff Siddiqui http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/obsession_hate_and_the_conspiracy_of_silence/
Obsession:  Has Your Newspaper Put a Hate DVD On Your Front Porch?, James M. Wall http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/obsession_has_your_newspaper_put_a_hate_dvd_on_your_front_porch/
Obsession:  Radical Judaism’s War With Islam, Sheila Musaji   (TAM article collection)  http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/obsession_radical_judaisms_war_with_islam/
The “Obsession” film: Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in America?, Rabbi Arthur Waskow http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/the_obsession_film_is_there_something_wrong_with_being_a_muslim_in_america/
Obsession:  Deja Vu! Never Again?, by Jeff Siddiqui http://www.theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/obsession_deja_vu_never_again/0016723
Obsession, Fear and Loathing from Israel, John de Groot http://blogs.browardpalmbeach.com/pulp/2008/09/obsession_local_newsapers_dist.php
Obsession Generates Applause and Controversy http://www.stljewishlight.com/topstories/372310241815237.php
“Obsession” is a Shallow Fear-Mongering Propaganda Piece, Junaid M. Afeef http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/obsession_is_a_shallow_fear_mongering_propaganda_piece/
“Obsession” - Happy Ramadan:  “The Third Jihad” - Happy Eid, Sheila Musaji http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/the_third_jihad_happy_eid/
Obsession Promotes Intolerance of Islam http://media.www.mtsusidelines.com/media/storage/paper202/news/2007/03/19/Opinions/obsession.Promotes.Intolerance.Of.Islam-2779546.shtml
Obsession Review by Jared Cinman http://jarredcinman.wordpress.com/2006/10/01/movie-review-obsession-radical-islams-war-against-the-west/
Obsession Review http://www.honestreporting.com/obsession/
Obsession site’s timeline of Islamist linked terror, Sheila Musaji http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/through_the_looking_glass_muslim_timeline_for_world_rule/
‘Obsession’ stokes passions, fears and controversy, Dapha Berman http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/873843.html
`Obsession` Stars Have Lectured at U.S. Military Colleges; U.S. Navy Uses Film http://www.israelenews.com/view.asp?ID=3168
Obsession, War Against the Truth http://www.onmilwaukee.com/myOMC/blog/show/1982
The Paranoid and Abhorrent Obsession with Muslims in the Media, By Jeremy Henzell-Thomas http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/the_paranoid_and_abhorrent_obsession_with_muslims_in_the_media/
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Jewish Community to Show “Obsession” film and Host Dennis Prager http://www.jewishexponent.com/ViewArticle.asp?ArtID=2697
Protocols of the elders of Islam: Third Jihad, Nick Schou http://blogs.ocweekly.com/navelgazing/the-hilarious-haters/protocols-of-the-elders-of-isl/
Rebutting Obsession, Rabbi Haim Dov Beliak, Eli Clifton, Jane Hunter and Robin Podolsky http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/obsession/
Republican Jewish Coalition mails Obsession and book by CUFI’s executive director to Rabbi’s (2/07) http://www.jewsonfirst.org/08a/cufi_obsession.html
Resources for Responding to Obsession DVD Mass Distribution, Sheila Musaji (TAM article collection)  http://www.theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/resources_for_responding_to_obsession_dvd_mass_distribution/0016707 
Walid Shoebat Preaches Violence Not Peace http://www.usforacle.com/home/index.cfm?event=displayArticle&ustory_id=c4c6f849-2ec2-420b-9f0d-fdac22304338&page=1 
Selective Hearing of Muslim Voices Against Extremism and Terrorism, Sheila Musaji http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/selective_hearing_of_muslim_voices_against_extremism_and_terrorism/
Shoebat, Saleem, and Anani - Three Arab Villages Are Missing Their Idiots, Sheila Musaji http://www.theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/print/walid_shoebat_kamal_saleem_zacharia_anani/
Walid Shoebat’s New Incarnation http://www.newvoices.org/cgi-bin/articlepage.cgi?id=238
Walid Shoebat Preaches Violence Not Peace http://www.usforacle.com/home/index.cfm?event=displayArticle&ustory_id=c4c6f849-2ec2-420b-9f0d-fdac22304338&page=1
Walid Shoebat Denied Entry Into Canada http://www.canadianchristianity.com/cgi-bin/bc.cgi?bc/bccn/0704/04israel
Should Muslim Americans Be Afraid?, Sheila Musaji http://www.theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/should_muslim_americans_be_afraid/
Robert Spencer’s Obsession With Islam:  What Would Jesus Do?, Khaleel Mohammed http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/robert_spencers_obsession_with_islam_what_would_jesus_do/ 9/08
Significant Terrorist Incidents, 1961-2003: A Brief Chronology http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ho/pubs/fs/5902.htm
Spiritual jihad against terrorism, Sheila Musaji (5 parts) http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/a_spiritual_jihad_against_terrorism_part_i/
Statement of Concerned Scholars about Islamophobia in the 2008 U. S. Election Campaign http://www.theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/statement_of_concerned_scholars_about_islamophobia_in_the_2008_u_s_election/0016801
Statement on the Film Obsession, Rabbi Jack Moline http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/statement_on_the_film_obsession/
Statement from American Religious Leaders in Response to Mass Distribution of ‘Obsession’  http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/statement_from_american_religious_leaders_in_response_to_mass_distribution_/
Terrorized by ‘War on Terror’, Zbigniew Brzezinski http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/03/23/AR2007032301613.html
Terrorism, Neocons and Islamophobia, Jeff Siddiqui http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/terrorism_neocons_and_islamophobia/
Uncovering the Obsessions of “Obsession”, David Shasha http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/documentary_review_uncovering_the_obsessions_of_obsession/
Us vs Them, Paul Craft http://www.stanfordreview.org/Archive/Volume_XXXVIII/Issue_2/Opinions/opinions4.shtml 
War against tolerance, Chris Hedges http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/20080211_the_war_against_tolerance/
What is The Clarion Fund? - Marketing Hate to the Masses, Joachim Martillo http://eaazi.blogspot.com/2008/09/what-is-clarion-fund.html
When Language Grows Darker and Darker, Joan Chittister http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/when_language_grows_darker_and_darker/
Why Are Some Florida Jewish Groups Sponsoring Anti-Muslim Hate Speech?, Ahmed Bedier http://ahmedbedier.blogspot.com/2006/03/why-are-some-florida-jewish-groups.html 
Who is behind Relentless, Obsession and The Third Jihad?, Sheila Musaji http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/who_is_behind_relentless_obsession_and_the_third_jihad1/
Who Put Hate in My Sunday Paper?, Omid Safi http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/obsession_dvd_who_put_hate_in_my_sunday_paper/
Will America Tolerate Anti-Muslim Discrimination,  Moustafa Bayoumi http://www.courant.com/news/opinion/editorials/hc-bayoumi0911.artsep11,0,5275389.story
The world according to Brigitte Gabriel http://www.ajn.com.au/news/news.asp?pgID=3403
Wrong War, Wrong Word, Katha Pollitt http://www.thenation.com/doc/20060911/pollitt

 


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