Friday, October 31, 2008

Teaching at Holden Village

A personal report: I'm teaching this week and next at Holden Village, the retreat center in Washington's Cascade Mountains -

I'll have several opportunities to teach on justice and peace for Palestine and Israel and lead a discussion on Sandy Toland's The Lemon Tree -

Last night, with the power out in this remote setting, I spoke by candlelight, telling the high school class and other listeners about some of the remarkable people I have come to know in the Holy Land. Monday I will zero in on some of the specifics of occupation and oppression: checkpoints, land confiscation, home demolition, settlements, and the Wall.

Later I'll do a session on Christian Zionism and one on media criticism, plus accompaniment and advocacy.

Please pray for my effectiveness here and for a good outcome to the U.S. election on Tuesday. I voted before leaving Texas.

Thanks, Ann Hafften

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Youth from Redeemer Lutheran Church featured on the ELCJHL monthly calendar

Each month the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL) distributes a calendar page suitable for downloading and printing. This month's calendar featured activities of the youth of Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in Jerusalem. It isn't always posted on the web right away, but try this link:

And here's the text:

October 2008
ELCJHL youth enjoy trip to partner church in Germany

With its many active members, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land’s Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in Jerusalem’s Old City is a hive of activity. The church’s youth group recently enjoyed a trip to Germany. They visited the town of Bad Tölz as part of an on-going exchange program with one of the church’s international partners, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bavaria. With a special focus on the limited natural resource of water, the 13 Palestinian and Jordanian youth ages 14 to 20 participated in activities with young people of Bad Tölz’s 16 congregations. The youth enjoyed a weekend in the Bavarian forest together in addition to meeting the German church’s Bavarian bishop Johannes Friedrich.

Creator God: You have given us a world diverse in flora and fauna, in valley and mountain, in culture and tongue. May we celebrate and be enriched by this diversity even as we acknowledge that we are one in our humanity, and our praise of you. In Jesus' name. Amen.

--- ---

Folks have suggested to me that joining in the monthly prayer is a good way to be connected to the Lutherans of the Middle East.

The church's home page is

You'll find lots more there, such as the recent article about Bishop Younan's address to the Swedish Lutheran Church.

Bishop visits Sweden, strengthens partnership

ELCJHL Bishop Munib Younan addressed representatives of the world’s largest Lutheran church body and signed a partnership agreement this week in Sweden.

Speaking before the church assembly of the more than 7 million member Church of Sweden, Younan told the 251 elected representatives he commended the church for its strong theology of accompaniment and hoped that it would inspire other churches. Citing a lack of charismatic leadership in the world, Younan called on the church to address the greed that contributed to the current global economic crisis.

Humanity must have "economics with ethics and politics with morals," he said. "It's not how much you can make but how much you are accountable in what you invest."

His well received address came just days after the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land and the Diocese of Strängnäs signed a second five-year partnering agreement. The agreement calls for the Swedish diocese to stand in solidarity with the ELCJHL and remember the Palestinian church in its prayers.

Younan and a small delegation are visiting Sweden in order to renew and deepen its partnership with the Strängnäs diocese, with which it has had a relationship since 1981.

“For us in Palestine this twinning with the diocese of Strängnäs is a sign of hope which expresses itself both in word and action,” Younan said. “To be church here in Palestine is to care for people’s needs, their struggle, their sense of powerlessness and their education.” [article continues at the web site:]

--- ---

To receive regular bulletins from Ann Hafften, subscribe at the blog - A Texas Lutheran's Voice for Peace -

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Washington Report on Middle East Affairs - special election 2008 edition

I am a big fan of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs -

Here is the announcement of a special election season offer.

The November issue of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs features special election articles, including:

- Pro-Israel PAC Contributions to 2008 Congressional Candidates -

- A Conservative Estimate of Total Direct U.S. Aid to Israel: Almost $114 Billion -

- Sarah Palin -New Darling of the Neocons -

- Muslim- and Arab-Americans Poised to Make a Difference in Battleground States -

As well as other stories, including:

- The Mines Bush Planted in Iraq Could Derail Obama Policies and Strategy There

- Al-Arian Family Reunited -But Justice for Muslims No Longer as American as Apple Pie

- The Poet Is Dead: Mahmoud Darwish (1942-2008)

We have made extra copies of this critical issue available for readers and activists to distribute throughout the country at conferences, candidates' nights, rallies or other events. We have already distributed extra copies of this issue for Eid celebrations in mosques and Islamic Centers and other special meetings.

Please donate as generously as you can to offset the printing and shipping costs. It is essential that this magazine be distributed far and wide, so do not let cost deter you from ordering. You can request extra copies by e-mailing or calling our office at (202) 939-6050 ext. 101 or 106. You may also do so online at our Web site,

When ordering, please include:

1. Name of your event.

2. Date of your event.

3. How many magazines you would like. They will come in boxes of 40.

4. The dollar amount of shipping costs you can assist with. We suggest $20 per box, though this is not required.

5. Street mailing address.

Please donate as generously as you can to help us distribute this special issue far and wide. Mail check to Washington Report, 1902 18th St NW, Washington, DC 20009.

Please also take this opportunity to subscribe [] or purchase a subscription for a friend or family member. For only $29, you will receive nine issues a year, including the latest "2008 Elections" issue. Please also visit American Educational Trust's bookstore and Palestinian Arts and Crafts (PACT) shop virtually any time or in person next time you are in Washington, DC.

--- ---

To receive regular bulletins from Ann Hafften, subscribe at the blog - A Texas Lutheran's Voice for Peace -

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Tell "The World" what you think

I have to sit down this morning and tell "The World" what I think.

At first I was pleased to hear the opening of a report on NPR/PRI’s “The World” dealing with settler violence against Palestinians during the annual olive harvest, but soon I was completely disgusted. You can hear Linda Gradstein’s report yourself at this link:

In a 5-minute, 30-second segment, Gradstein allowed a Palestinian woman (and her translator) 1:22 to tell the story of harassment and damage to her home at Asira Al-Qibiliyya. Mahmoud Abbas, Ehud Olmert and a military official were quoted. Then Gradstein dedicated over three minutes to the point of view of settlers at Yitzhar, giving voice to three people. Am I being too picky? This piece seems unbalanced at a ratio of about three to one.

Listen for yourself. You can contact producers at “The World” at this link:

Gradstein quotes figures from B'tselem, the Israeli human rights organization. There is a report of the raids on Asira Al-Quibiliyya and much more good information there:

Balance isn’t everything. In thinking about the quality of media coverage, I consider several factors, the most critical being omissions. Pay attention to what is missing from an article or radio segment.

1. Does the author provide any sense of what Palestinian daily life is like under occupation?

2. Is there any acknowledgement of international law, according to which more than 300,000 Israelis reside illegally in the West Bank settlements?

3. Does the piece acknowledge that the two sides in this struggle are not equal? One is an occupied people, the other is the occupier enjoying a highly beneficial relationship with the United States.

I might add a fourth, hoping that more reporters would add some mention of the important non-violent efforts for change coming from both the Israeli and Palestinian sides.

Maybe you will want to tell "The World" what you think -

For more of Gradstein's covereage of her trip to the Nablus area, see the Washington Post:

--- ---

To receive regular bulletins from Ann Hafften, subscribe at the blog - A Texas Lutheran's Voice for Peace -

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Lutheran Youth in the Middle East

Lutheran Youth in the Middle East

I wrote an article for Seeds for the Parish, a publication of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, about the activities and frustrations of being a Christian teenager in the West Bank and Jordan. Of course there are thousands of stories about these challenges, but my assignment focused my writing in the setting of Palestinian Lutheran congregations and youth groups.

Here's a link to the pfd file; scroll ahead to page 5 for the article, "Lutheran Youth in the Middle East." -

Ann Hafften

To receive regular bulletins from Ann Hafften, subscribe at the blog - A Texas Lutheran'sVoice for Peace -

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Alternative travel opportunities - October 2008 update

Alternative Travel Listing for October 15, 2008
This list is available at the website of Friends of Sabeel - North America:

7th International Sabeel Conference
Nov. 12-19, 2008 (Jerusalem)
"Beyond Remembrance: Facing the Challenges of the Future Sixty Years After the Nakba" The conference will focus on the commemoration of 60 years since the Nakba, and the complex issues of memory, narrative, and identity raised by the events of 1948. The event will include: 4 nights in Nazareth, with trips to villages that were destroyed in 1948 and visits with the local Christian community; 4 nights in Jerusalem, with trips to Jaffa, Ramle, and Lidda. Lectures, workshops, discussions, and cultural events focusing on the last 60 years and the future for Christians living in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories; optional pre-conference travel to holy sites in the Galilee; optional post-conference travel to understand the Occupation including visits to holy sites in Bethlehem and Jerusalem. For more information: or call (972) 2-532-7136.

Middle East Fellowship provides a number of ways to visit Palestine (below). For details check the web page: or email or contact Peter Ryan:
+ Olive Harvest October/November 2008
Olive Tree Harvest trip, working alongside Palestinian families and with international activists from Israel and around the world, we will help pick olives and thus help a local Palestinian family keep their farm from being expropriated by the Israeli government to build settlements, the Wall or military installations. Contact Peter Ryan:

Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation
October 20 – November 3, 2008
Pilgrimage/Fact Finding Mission: This trip is organized by Fr. Alex Kratz, O.F.M in Detroit, Michigan. This trip will include visiting the holy sites in Jordan, Israel, & Palestine (including daily Mass), meeting Christian leaders, fellowship and Sunday worship with local Christians, and overnight stays with Christian families. See the web page for general information:

Council for the National Interest Foundation
Fall 2008 "Political Pilgrimage"
November 6-22, 2008 A 16-day tour of Israel and her neighbors. We have organized several "political pilgrimages" to the Middle East over the last ten years and would now like to extend the same opportunity to CNI Foundation supporters, friends and family who are interested in learning more about American foreign policy in the Middle East. The trip is limited to 10 people per pilgrimage; therefore, we urge those interested to apply as soon as possible. The trip will last 16 days, and include visits to Egypt, Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. A more detailed itinerary will be provided in the near future. The cost of the entire trip including all transportation, food, accommodations, meetings, and activities is $6,500. To register please visit the CNI Foundation website at and go to Programs and click Political Pilgrimages, or call Shannon O'Hara at 202-863-2951, x301 with questions.

Global Exchange to Palestine/Israel
As the Israeli military continues to place Palestinian towns, villages and refugee camps under siege, Palestinians continue to resist the 39 year occupation of their land. Global Exchange delegations to Palestine/Israel strive to further the US public's understanding of the region's history and realities by giving participants first-hand exposure to the aspirations and frustrations of Palestinians living under occupation, the dimensions of the human rights crisis under Israeli rule, as well as the perspectives of Palestinians and Israelis who are working for a just peace and end to the occupation.
+Fair Olive Harvest
November 06 - 16, 2008
+ Prospects for Peace with Justice
December 06 - 16, 2008
Contact Sanaz with questions about this trip - - or call toll-free 1-800-497-1994 ext. 251. On the Web:
+ Prospects for Peace with Justice
July 25 - August 4, 2009
+ Fair Trade Olive Harvest 2009
November 05 - 15, 2009
+ Prospects for Peace with Justice
December 05 - 15, 2009

Group Travel Directors: Holy Land visits by US church groups listed here are arranged by Group Travel Directors, Minneapolis. Meetings with indigenous Christians plus Israeli and Palestinian peace groups, as well as biblical -site visits, are included. Prices are from cities cited (other US departure points available). For details on Group Travel tours, go to - click “Find a Tour,” enter “2008,” then “Middle East.” For direct contact: Janet Tollund, 952-885-2133, 800-747-2255,
+ Faces, Spaces, Places in the Holy Land
Nov. 4-16, 2008
Led by Pr. Lowell Knauff of Annandale, VA. $3395, from Washington National. Endorsed by the Middle East Working Group of the ELCA's Metro DC Synod. Contact Pastor Knauff at 703-978-8999 or
+ Bethel Holy Land PilgrimageNov. 6-17, 2008 sponsored by Bethel Lutheran of Willmar, MN; led by Pr. Mari Thorkelson. $3250 from Twin Cities. Optional extension to Jordan, Nov. 17-20.
+ Holy Lands Tour
Nov. 6-19, 2008.
Led by Pr. Nick Doversberger of Zoar Lutheran Church. $3899, Portland OR.
+ World of the Bible: Ancient Sites, Current Struggles
Jan. 6-19, 2009, with optional extension to Egypt, Jordan; sponsored by Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, led by Profs. Barbara Rossing and Esther Menn. $3340 from Chicago.
+ Sights and Sounds of the Holy Land
Feb. 2-11, 2009, with optional 3-day extension to Jordan, led by John Califf and Jeff Clements, $2995 from Chicago.
+ Following Jesus’ Footsteps
Feb. 10-21, 2009, sponsored by Olivet Lutheran, Fargo, led by Pr. Kris Gorden. $3499 from Fargo or MSP.
+ Holy Land Pilgrimage
March 3-14, 2009 with option 3-day extension to Egypt, sponsored by St. Philip the Deacon Lutheran Church, Wayzata, led by Pr. Cheryl Mathson. $3699 from MSP.
+ Holy Land Pilgrimage
March 13-22, 2009, sponsored by Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church, Phoenix, led by Pr. Brian Erickson. $2995 from Phoenix.
+ Holy Land Faces and Places of Living Hope
April 4-14, 2009 led by Pr. Les Hoffman. $3069 from Phoenix.
+ The Holy Land
April 23-May 6, 2009, sponsored by Central Lutheran, Minneapolis, led by Pr. Rick and Annette Nelson. $3650 from MSP.

Interfaith Peace Builders
Your participation as an eyewitness to the situation in Israel/Palestine will enrich your understanding of the conflict and empower your work back in the United States. These delegations provide an excellent opportunity to meet with ‘ordinary’ Israelis and Palestinians, and people and organizations working for peace and justice. As a delegate you will confront and analyze the US role in the conflict and wrestle with ways to translate your experience to others when you return home. You will be an eyewitness to the situation—and your understanding of the conflict will be enriched and transformed.
+ Olive Harvest Delegation
November 8 - 22, 2008 Co-Sponsored with the American Friends Service Committee
Delegation Leaders: Jennifer Bing-Canar & Alta SchwartzBrochure:
+ Spring Planting Delegation: Voices of the Peacemakers
March 7-20, 2009
To express interest in this delegation and get updates and more information and so we'll be sure to add you to the March 2009 delegation mailing list, send an email to
+ Three Upcoming Delegations
May/June 2009, July/August 2009, Fall 2009. Information will be provided at

1st Annual Birthright Palestine Tour
December 5-19, 2008
Holy Land Trust invites Palestinian immigrants around the world to re-discover Palestine today through a Palestinian Roots tour. This unique program sheds a new light on the Palestine you hear about in the news and allows you to discover the beauty and pride of Palestine amidst the hardships of the current conflict. You will have an opportunity to visit important cities from Palestinian history, learn about traditional Palestinian culture, discover the dynamics of the current conflict, and return to your historical village to re-connect with your roots. For more information please visit :

Bethlehem Christmas Project 2008
December 5 - 14, 2008
We will be based out of Bethlehem Bible College but will spend a night in Nazareth. We also visit many biblical sites with expert tour guides. Join us in Bethlehem as we deliver gifts to children! We have room for ten individuals to join us, not only to distribute gifts but also to interact with the church within the West Bank and Israel. In addition to the hands-on work, participants will receive lectures from the dean of academics of Bethlehem Bible College on the biblical and historical issues related to Israel and the relationship between Israelis and Palestinians. Spend time in Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Nazareth visiting biblical sites. Contact us for project details. Space is limited; we are looking for individuals with a heart for the Middle East. If you believe you can make a difference in the region, see

Christmas in Bethlehem with Elisabeth Von Trapp
December 2008
“Tidings of Comfort and Joy,” a pilgrimage to the place of Christ's birth during the Christmas season, singing hymns, bringing the "Sound of Music" to lift hearts and souls along the way. Elisabeth Von Trapp will perform concerts in Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Ramallah, and Amman, Jordan. Participants who are singers will be invited to lift their voices in song during these Christmas concerts. Pilgrimage leaders are Lutheran Pastors Michael and Susan Thomas, both well acquainted with the region, the holy places, and the situation facing all the people in the land. Meet with local families to experience a true Palestinian Christmas. Lodgings in very comfortable Christian guest houses. Approximate cost $3,300. Group Travel Directors - - is handling all arrangements in cooperation with the International Center of Bethlehem. For specific information e-mail Elisabeth Von Trapp - - or Michael Thomas - Michael.P.Thomas@Dartmouth.EDU

Christmas Pilgrimage for Peace
December 28, 2008 to January 10, 2009
The Christmas Pilgrimage for Peace is an annual program that gives people from all over the world the opportunity to experience oriental Christmas in Bethlehem celebrated with local families. Participants will learn about the Pledge for Justice and Peace. The Christmas Pilgrimage for Peace will enrich participants with the culture of the land, through living and sharing the lives of the people of the land. For more information:

The People of the Holy Land: Then and Now
January 7-25, 2009
Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary offers a cross-cultural immersion in Israel, Palestine, and Jordan. In addition to the biblical sites all the way from Mount Hermon in the north to the Red Sea in the south, we shall meet with Dr. Mitri Raheb of the Lutheran church in Bethlehem, staff of Augusta Victoria Hospital, the pastors of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Jerusalem, Archbishop Elias Chacour (author of Blood Brothers) in the Galilee, as well as Druze villagers in the Golan Heights, Jewish settlers, and kibbutzniks. Three hours academic credit are possible at the M.A.R., M.Div., S.T.M., and D.Min. levels. Contact Dr. Monte Luker for details, or (803) 787-0864. Pastors and lay professionals are encouraged to join us for continuing education credit, and lay persons from all walks of life always enrich the dialog that takes place on these study tours. A Jordan pre-tour is optional leaving three days earlier. Please note that this course is physically rigorous and intellectually demanding.

2009 Congressional Accompaniment Project
August 8 - 18, 2009
A hands-on educational experience for members of Congress, their foreign policy aides and their local constituents. The Congressional Accompaniment Project is a educational travel program by which Americans concerned for a just peace in Israel/Palestine can assist their congressional representatives and/or their foreign policy aides to be more informed regarding the “facts on the ground” in Israel/Palestine. Contact Rev. Darrell Yeaney - - or Rev. Robin Kash - - for further information. The 2009 tour, open to all, is scheduled for the congressional summer recess. For more information see the web site:

Five Insight Trips planned by Hands Across the Nile
Join us as we explore the history, religions, culture, and development efforts of one of the world's oldest nations. HANDS' Insight Trips allow visitors to look beyond the famous tourist sites to discover the vibrant, multifaceted Egypt of today. Emphasizing person to person experience across a full cross-section of Egyptian society, Insight Trips provide an intimate, eye opening introduction to a fascinating and unforgettable land. For more information see the web page:

--- --- ---

To receive regular bulletins from Ann Hafften, subscribe at the blog - A Texas Lutheran's Voice for Peace -

Friday, October 3, 2008

Jim Wall: Has Your Newspaper Put a Hate DVD On Your Front Porch?

Has Your Newspaper Put a Hate DVD On Your Front Porch?

by James M. Wall

If you live in a state too red or blue to be considered a swing state, you will not have seen newspaper ads that include a free propaganda documentary DVD film entitled Obsession. On the other hand, If your state is in the “too close to call” category in the November 4 election, then hate material that should insult your intelligence may have already landed on your front porch.

Obsession was made and initially shown on the Fox television channel in 2006. The director is an Israeli-based director whose film is now being distributed in the US by a shadowy organization with ties to radical Jewish organizations.

Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West, is a documentary film that takes a few specific events, tosses in a few dark and ominous clips of radical Islamists, mixes in bits of distorted history and ties it together with angry and, at times, naive interviews. The result: An absurd conclusion that Muslims of the world are plotting to destroy the United States. The film is total nonsense. [See an ad at but take care, the audio is loud.]

To the great shame of American journalism, over the course of two week-ends in mid September, 28 million copies of Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West DVD were delivered in local newspapers to voters in swing states, including Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Colorado, Iowa, Florida, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Nevada, New Hampshire, and Virginia.

The film would have viewers believe that Muslims everywhere are a threat to the United States. This includes, dear friends, any friendly neighborhood Muslim family (including yours, if you happen to be Muslim), which faithfully attends Friday prayers at the local mosque. Would these newspapers have agreed to toss 28 million copies of a hate propaganda film onto America’s front porches attacking Christianity or Judaism?

Think about that for a moment, and then reflect on the low and crass level of behavior in American journalism, behavior that includes such major national newspapers as the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. These publications sent DVDs to their readers only into those states that, you guessed it, are considered “too close to call”. The ad buyers dictated the DVD distribution, not the newspapers.

Obsession opens with a phony disclaimer that not all Muslims are bad, sounding very much like one of those old “sex education” films that assures viewers that the doctor explaining everything is a real doctor. Right. After that deceptive opening, the documentary moves swiftly to assure the viewer that since you cannot determine between the bad and the good, better safe than sorry. All Muslims are a threat.

Which candidate for president benefits from such distortion. Is it the candidate who has been subjected to false rumors that he is a “closet Muslim”? What do you think? Such an attack on Barack Obama, a lifelong Christian with great respect for Islam, is offensive to our political process.

It is absurd to make a film that implies that all Muslims, not just a handful of radical militants, want to destroy the United States. The film ignores the fact that the total number of radical Islamic terrorists that share the views of the September 11 attackers is so small that the survivors of that plot can still hide in a few caves along the Afghan-Pakistan border.

There are, no doubt, other radical Islamists who are at this very moment plotting terror attacks from their lairs in Hamburg or London or Los Angeles. But consider one simple fact before you are seduced into a state of fear by a free DVD delivered to your front porch:

The total number of Muslims in the world is 1.6 billion. [] How many radical Islamists are in that 1.6 billion population? The answer: About the same percentage of radical extremists may be found in either Judaism or Christianity worldwide, perhaps less.

Erik Ose, writing for the Huffington Post web site, traces the ugly narrative of Obsession’s circulation route. [] His report includes a list of newspapers which initially agreed to run the ad and a few that refused. (Read Ose in the Huffington Post to find out which newspapers sent out Obsession and which refused to do so. The refusniks are few in number):
"The program was originally shown on Fox News [] in the days leading up to the 2006 mid-term elections, and far right-wing activist David Horowitz toured the country screening the film on college campuses during 2007. Mainstream religious groups have called Obsession biased and divisive. It cuts between scenes of Nazi rallies and footage of Muslim children being encouraged to become suicide bombers [].

"Talking heads in the film include infamous anti-Muslim, self-proclaimed “islamophobes” like Daniel Pipes [] and Walid Shoebat []. In 2001, Pipes claimed the `presence' and `enfranchisement' of Muslims in the U.S. presented `true dangers to American Jews.' [] Shoebat is an evangelical Christian who falsely claims to be a former Muslim terrorist []. Last year, Shoebat told the Missouri Springfield News-Leader, `Islam is not the religion of God - Islam is the devil.'"

The website, has found that the Clarion Fund, which it identifies as a ‘little known” and “shadowy” non profit organization, is behind the distribution of the DVD. The “targeted states” marketing campaign set up by Clarion, according to JewsOnFirst, have led to news reports that the distribution is designed to build support for the Republican presidential campaign. Gregory Ross, director of communications for the Clarion Fund, denies this allegation.

He told JewsOnFirst that as a non-profit organization, Clarion “makes a distinct point of reminding people that we are not trying to influence the elections.” Ross said the purpose of distributing Obsession is to teach that there is “no greater threat than radical Islam.”

A New York Times spokesperson, Diane McNulty, told JewsOnFirst that her newspaper included 145,000 copies of the DVD in home delivery packets on Sunday, September 7th. She said the one-time insert went into packets delivered in Denver, Detroit, Kansas City, St Louis, Cincinnati, Milwaukee and Madison, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, and Miami, Palm Beach, Tampa and Orlando.

The Wall Street Journal, the Denver Post, the Miami Herald and the Detroit Free Press also delivered inserts of the Obsession DVD, according to the Charlotte News Observer [].

Subscribers to the weekly paper edition of the respected academic weekly Chronicle of Higher Education received 70,000 DVDs, for which the Clarion Fund paid the Chronicle $28,000. JewsOnFirst asked editor Phil Semas why Clarion decided to advertise in his paper. His reply: “I assume they felt we were an influential audience.”

JewsOnFirst adds: “The Chronicle publishes reports of interest to educators and academic officials, some of whom might be affected by the campaign to show the video on campuses.”

National Public Radio reports that the Clarion Fund is a nonprofit set up by the producer of Obsession, Rabbi Raphael Shore[]. Little is known about the group, which should have been a warning sign to the publications. JewsOnFirst examined Clarion’s standing in the non-profit community and discovered that “Because it was established only recently, the Clarion Fund has not yet filed its first required disclosure (Form 990) with the IRS. It is not disclosing its officers.”

NPR also found that Clarion has connections to Aish HaTorah [], a strongly pro-Israel Jewish educational organization which promotes Jewish identity and pride. Aish HaTorah has offices in Israel and the U.S. Clarion’s corporate filings in Deleware has the same address as Aish HaTorah New York [].

In 2006 two Clarion directors were Rabbi Shore, Obsession’s director, and Jacob Fetman []. In 2007, Clarion listed its directors as Shore, Rabbi Henry Harris and Rebecca Kabat []. Rabbi Harris is also educational director at Aish HaTorah NY [].

NPR found that Aish’s Ephraim Shore has also been president of the organization, which, according to Aish’s Web site, helped to produce and promote Raphael Shore’s film.

The New York Times requires that political or opinion advertisements must include the advertiser’s contact. To satisfy that requirement, Clarion listed 255 West 36th St., Suite 800, in Manhattan, as its address. This, JewsOnFirst discovered, “turns out to be Grace Corporate Park Executive Suites [], an office-space rental operation which also rents ‘virtual office identity packages’ for as little as $75 a month.”

Erik Ose concludes his Huffington Post story with this disturbing news update:
"On Sept. 26, four days after the Dayton Daily News in Ohio, distributed Obsession to its subscribers, there was a cowardly attack on three hundred American Muslims at a Dayton mosque. Unknown assailants, described by a witness as two white men, sprayed a toxic substance through a window of the mosque into a room where infants and children were waiting as their parents conducted Ramadan prayers. Chris Rodda of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation has the full story [], including excerpts from a graphic e-mail sent out by a family member of children who were gassed. Dayton police are refusing to treat the attack as a hate crime []."

What could possibly qualify as a hate crime in the state of Ohio? Anti-semitic slogans painted on the walls of a Jewish temple ? The desecration of an altar in a Catholic or Orthodox church? Of course both would be treated as hate crimes.

What about two white men “spraying a toxic substance into a mosque where infants and children wait for their parents to complete Ramadan prayers?” Apparently that is not a hate crime in Ohio where the Dayton Daily News recently distributed DVDs to its readers distorting and attacking the Muslim faith.

[My thanks to Jennifer Grosvenor, of Portland, Oregon, who provided extensive research in the preparation of this posting.]

--- --- ---

To receive regular bulletins from Ann Hafften, subscribe at the blog, A Texas Lutheran's Voice for Peace -