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defending the First Amendment against the Christian right ...

Jews On First!

... because if Jews don't speak out, they'll think we don't mind

Rebutting Obsession

Historical Facts Topple Film's Premise That Violent Muslim Fundamentalists are Nazis' Heirs, Expose its Fear-mongering

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3. What's This in Aid Of?

Viewed cold, the film, titled Obsession, appears to be concerned with a single issue: what its subtitle calls "Radical Islam's war against the West." However, as has been well documented, the Clarion Fund, the 501(c)(3) organization that produced and promotes distribution of the film, appears to be composed of people with links to the organized conservative movement in the United States and to the Israeli political right.25

For fear of seeming partisan, and because he has had second thoughts about the hatred and suspicion that this film may provoke, Howard Gordon, executive producer of the TV series "24," has recanted his endorsement of Obsession, which was quoted on the box containing the DVD. As quoted in The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles,26 Gordon said: "The goal of co-existence and tolerance is not being served by films like Obsession."

In this context, it is useful to look at a key talking point of 2008 Republican presidential candidate John McCain. It must be emphasized here that the use of this example is not intended to indicate that the McCain campaign had a direct hand in making or distributing Obsession, or that the Clarion Fund's effort will cease after the November election. (To the contrary: a second film, The Third Jihad, expected to have a life after the election, is already in the works.) On the other hand, it is worth paying heed to the words of Tom Trento, founder of the website watchobsession.org, who says: "I'm doing a major educational outreach effort with this movie that will continue long after the election, but certainly I have a goal to wake people up and have them vote intelligently for our national security … John McCain is the best choice."27

Senator McCain has been consistent in referring to what he calls "the struggle against radical Islamic extremism" as a "transcendent struggle between good and evil."28 McCain also has said: "Any president who does not regard this threat as transcending all others does not deserve to sit in the White House."29 All other threats and in all contexts? (One immediately wonders about where nuclear proliferation or, in that context, the growing tension between the United States and Russia, or the threat of a global economic depression might fit.) Along those lines, it is not insignificant that, on October 6, a McCain adviser was widely quoted as wanting to "turn the page" on the economic crisis.

That favorite adjective, "transcendent," is telling. We are not only being distracted from the manifold, unglamorous, murky aspects of our economic calamities, we are invited to direct our gaze upward — we are uplifted — into a glorious heroic narrative. In the face of squalid and baffling everyday frustrations, we are offered a gift of permanent meaning.30

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25 JewsOnFirst.org, "Insertion of millions of Obsession DVDs in swing-state newspapers appears to aid McCain campaign," September 14, 2008.

26 Rob Eshman, The Jewish Journal, October 15, 2008, "Return to Sender."

27 Ibid.

28 See, for example, The New York Time's transcript of the 3rd Republican debate, p. 28, and "Remarks by John McCain to the Los Angeles World Affairs Council," March 26, 2008, from www.johnmccain.com.

29 "Remarks by John McCain to the Los Angeles World Affairs Council," March 26, 2008, from www.johnmccain.com.

30 The extent to which the worldview expressed in Obsession mirrors that of the forces it seeks to opposed is demonstrated by Al Queda’s enthusiasm for John McCain, who shares their vision of a glorious, epic battle, albeit from the other side. "The Endorsement From Hell," by Nicholas D. Kristof, The New York Times, October 25, 2008



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Rebutting Obsession