The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a prominent national Islamic civil rights and advocacy group, Tuesday filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) over the distribution of an anti-Muslim film to 28 million homes in presidential election swing states through mail and bundled in newspaper deliveries to voters in swing states.
The CAIR is urging the FEC to investigate whether the Clarion Fund, a shadowy non-profit organization that distributed the DVDs containing "Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West," is really a front for an Israel-based group seeking to help the Republican presidential candidate, Senator John McCain, win the U.S. presidential election.
Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, President of the Interfaith Alliance, has also called for an FEC investigation. In a statement he said: "when a cynical attempt is made to influence our nation's presidential election by stoking fear of one religious group we believe the media along with public officials, such as the Federal Election Commission, must establish who is trying to influence our politics through religious bigotry."
The Clarion Fund, founded by Israeli-Canadian Rabbi Raphael Shore, paid millions of dollars to get the DVD out. Not surprisingly, the Clarion Fund has refused to disclose its board of directors or donors. No information about the board of directors, staff or even a physical address is offered on the fund's website.
Clarion Fund Inc. is incorporated in New York as a Delaware based foreign not-for-profit corporation. According to the Delaware Department of Corporations, Robert (Rabbi Raphael) Shore, Rabbi Henry Harris and Rebecca Kabat incorporated the Clarion Fund. All three of them are reported to serve as employees of the Israeli-based Aish Ha Torah International. 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.
Raphael Shore is listed as producer and Wayne Kopping as director of the propaganda film. According to Haaretz newspaper, "Shore and director Wayne Kopping of South Africa are the only figures associated with the film willing to release their real names. The executive producer is listed as Peter Mier, while the production manager is listed as Brett Halperin. But Mier and Halperin are just aliases, Shore says. He describes the real Mier as a Canadian Jewish businessman who wanted to do something significant, but asked to remain anonymous for fear of his safety. According to Shore, about 80 percent of the film's $400,000 budget was provided by Mier."
Who is Raphael Shore, the founder of the New York-based Clarion Fund? His biographic sketch on Wikipedia says little. In part it says: "Raphael Shore is an Israeli-Canadian film writer and producer. He is the founder of The Clarion Fund, a non-profit organization that seeks to advance the idea that the United States faces a threat of radical Islam. Shore is also a regular critic of the media coverage on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, coverage which he alleges is regularly anti-Israel."
Wikipedia bio doesn't say that Raphael Shore is a Rabbi and the program director of Jerusalem-based Aish HaTorah ("Fire of the Torah"), which is making common cause with Jewish anti-Muslim activists.
"American voters deserve to know whether they are the targets of a multi-million-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," said CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad.
The Palm Beach Post (Florida) was blunt in pinpointing the political motivation behind the Clarion Fund campaign: "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!"
Not surprisingly, an automated phone service is asking the people who receive the anti-Muslim propaganda DVD to watch the film and then "keep it in mind when you go to the voting booth."