Exposing “Obsession”: Truth Over Fear
|Saturday, September 20,2008 06:18|
• The film opens with the statement that most Muslims do not support terrorism, but immediately sets to work undermining this idea, eventually dropping the pretense altogether.
• The intent of the film to promote fear and hatred is absolutely clear. Obsession is a shameless piece of anti-Muslim propaganda.
• The effect of Obsession is to produce anxiety, mistrust, and deep unease in the average American viewer about the presence, activities and attitudes of millions of their fellow Muslim American citizens.
• Large parts of the film present themselves as exposing Arab and Muslim hate-speech, but by misrepresenting fringe and marginal discourses as mainstream views, Obsession perpetuates the very hate speech it claims to denounce.
• Obsession presents a mirror-image of Osama bin Laden’s world view, in which all conflicts involving Muslims are fronts in a global crusade. The film’s assertions are both a-historical and absurd, revealing a mindset of reductionism, chauvinism and paranoia.
• The film Obsession was initially produced by an organization called Honestreporting.com, which has direct ties to the Israeli Foreign Ministry. Honestreporting.com’s U.S. Executive Director admitted to the Minnesota Monitor in spring 2007 that the Obsession “pushes the buttons too far.”
• Obsession should be exposed at every turn for the hateful propaganda that it is. It is shocking that at least 70 mainstream newspapers around the country would actively choose to profit from hate, and allow themselves to be used to promote fear mongering as a means to influence the outcome of the presidential election.
A DVD produced by the KKK aimed at detailing the ‘threat’ posed by African Americans, homosexuals, or Jews would never have been distributed this way – and neither should Obsession have been.
How “Obsession” Promotes Hate
Obsession is an anti-Muslim film made by an organization called Honestreporting.com. The organization was established by a group of British supporters of
Obsession is an elaboration of a theme that was developed by Israeli propagandists during the second Intifada, an idea alleging that there is something pathologically wrong with Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim culture.
Obsession serves two purposes: the first is to spread fear and hatred of Muslims in general; the second more indirect but fundamental purpose is to stigmatize Palestinians, paint their national struggle as a primal form of global terror, and to cast Israel as part of a besieged yet wholly innocent Western world under barbarian attack.
Despite the fact that the film opens with a disclaimer that it is not about all Muslims in general, but about a radical worldview and ideology - Obsession argues that Muslims are, in effect, Nazis, and that radical Muslims have embarked on a campaign of world conquest inspired directly by Adolf Hitler. The disclaimer at the start of the film is undermined from the outset, the film moves rapidly to blur any such distinctions. Obsession argues that millions of Muslims are completely interpolated into the discourse of terrorists, and that Arab media consists of a tirade of anti-American and anti-Israel incitements. The film-makers illustrate their points using footage from propaganda sources such as the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) and Palestinian Media Watch. By painting that footage as being typical of the Arab media, Arab discourse, and Arab attitudes - the filmmakers deliberately misrepresent entire populations while moving their discourse into the realm of hate-speech.
The film’s dishonesty extends to its use of Arab commentators, almost all of whom are converts to right-wing evangelical Christianity. There is no indication to the audience of the religious and political background of these people, several of whom have represented their life stories in a manner that that makes it appear as if they are Muslim. At best, the commentator’s narratives are wildly fantastic and at worst patently false.
The most troubling aspect of Obsession is the extent to which its exercise in hate-speech and defamation has been promoted and publicized by both Fox News Channel and CNN. Fox ran most of the film as a special, including an interview with the film’s director, who assured the audience that this kind of speech is mainstream in the Arab media. CNN’s Glen Beck has also tirelessly promoted the film and has shown several clips from it in his primetime special
“Exposed: The Extremist Agenda.”
Upon skeptical observation, it is clear that Obsession is a film designed to promote fear and hatred of Muslims in general. Many groups across the
In-Depth Summary & Analysis of “Obsession”
Obsession opens with the disclaimer that most Muslims do not support terror. However, the thrust of the film contradicts the unconvincing gesture. Once the link between Muslims and Nazis is firmly cemented, the pretense that the film is about radicals or extremists only is altogether dropped. The natural distinction between the majority Muslim mainstream and radical terrorists is sharply and immediately undermined by maps moving from east to west towards the
The film opens with the title, “Tuesday morning.” The frame refers to 9/11, though it does not yet say so. Followed by a shot of a yellow taxi – this sequence seems to be an unsubtle, but irresistible motif for the filmmakers – as if to say that terrorists “drive our taxis during the day.“ That sequence is followed by commentary from converts from Islam to evangelical Christianity such as Walid Shoebat and Nonie Darwish. The film gives no indication that these are converts to fundamentalist sects of Christianity, leaving the viewers to assume that these are simply Muslim Arabs who understand the subject and are willing to speak.
After the commentary, is footage of the
Nonie Darwish declares that “we need to understand the culture that produces terrorism”. That statement obviates the role of history, politics, social conditions, and all other contexts that lend themselves to the very nature of such violence. Instead the film places the issue squarely within the confines of the Arab and Islamic world. Such pathologization is one of the many irresponsible outcroppings of this film.
Further in the film, Daniel Pipes speculates that “10-15 percent of Muslims worldwide support militant Islam.” This statement is utterly unsubstantiated. It should be noted that Pipes, a known Islamophobe, has accused virtually every prominent Arab and Muslim American of being an extremist and a jihadist. Walid Shoebat points out that this is a huge number, bigger than the population of the
The Culture of Jihad
The next section, “The Culture of Jihad,” begins with simple shots of women wearing headscarves followed by men praying, again suggesting, contrary to the opening disclaimer, that terrorism is somehow built into the Muslim faith and mindset. Darwish declares that “in the
The film does admit that “jihad” originally and fundamentally means self-struggle, struggle to be a better person, but Shoebat immediately follows that with “so does ‘Mein Kampf”. This analogy introduces what becomes a fully-developed comparison of Muslim extremists, Muslims in general, and Nazis.
The Culture of Hatred
In the film, Khaled Toameh says that “the main theme in most of the Arab media is hostility to
Obsession explains that propaganda is used to recruit terrorists, that it is needed to upset people so they have a reason to fight the West. This is followed by a clip of an Arab saying that the Arab channels are the “media of terrorism” - a statement that would seem to undermine rather than confirm the idea that there is only one point of view on Arab televisions. This featured clip is a rare piece of actual programming from a mainstream Arab television station (
Jihad in the West
This section of the film opens with footage of extremists from the now-defunct pro-al Qaeda British organization “Al Muhajiroon“ demonstrating in
“Not all Muslims are like that,” says Darwish, “but we have been infiltrated and we have to wake up because we are strangling ourselves with our political correctness.” Such a formulation can only imply that Muslims are generally a danger to the
are losing the battle,” again arguing that it is impossible to believe what any Muslim says, and therefore all Muslims pose a danger or a potential danger.
The film then shifts to a long section about extremist Muslims in
many others were from
The Culture of Denial
This section of the film opens with Martin Gilbert’s analogy of Islam to Nazism. All efforts to think independently or critically about the “all wars are functions of jihad” argument of Obsession are condemned as denial due to fear. Gilbert states that people don’t want to face the fact that Islam is a global threat. He discourages viewers from trying to think about the phenomenon in terms other than what the film proposes. What the makers of this film do not acknowledge is that by following Gilbert’s prescription, viewers are in danger of the same complacency that led to World War II and the Holocaust. This is followed by a long and mystifying detour into the history of the origins of World War II. Then, fade to black.
The film returns with Itamar Marcus condemning “the press” for not alarming people in the West sufficiently about “what they should be alarmed about.” “History is repeating itself,” declares Shoebat. According to the film, Muslims, especially the Palestinians, are simply and exactly… Nazis.
A veteran of the Hitler youth is then interviewed about the effects of extremism on the minds of young people, a set of obvious and valid observations that would apply to any youths interpolated into radical politics of any kind. It is a pattern that is generic, not specific to Nazis and Muslims, as the films suggests. He asserts that one can only understand “the radical Muslim world today” through the prism of Nazi Germany, but provides no arguments to sustain the contention.
Next, the film shores up its argument by depicting images of Palestinian youths with outstretched arm salutes, falsely implying that these are Nazi gestures. The same sort of imagery is shown for Hizbullah fighters in
Common Denominators [between Nazis and Muslims]
In Obsession, the first common link mentioned to prove that Muslims are neo-Nazis is that they both “demonize the Jews.” This is followed by a montage of terrorism and incitement against
The Hitler Youth veteran, indicating that he has not grown as much as he may think he has since his Nazi past, blames the involvement of Palestinian youths in the conflict with
Hitler and The Mufti
The film discusses Nazi efforts to reach out to Arabs and Muslims in the 1930s and 1940s, as if similar efforts were not made with regard to the other colonized peoples in the British and French empires. These policies are not presented as predictable attempts to cause problems for global rivals, but as demonstrating some kind of special affinity between Arabs and Nazis. The alliance between Amin al-Husseini and Hitler is not presented as one between political figures brought together by mutual enemies, but as an inevitable linking of kindred spirits. Loftus claims that “Arab Muslims from all over the world“ served under Croatian officers in SS units in the Balkans – as opposed to the truth – which is that only a small group of Bosnian Muslims served the SS. The films implies that Muslims, above all Palestinians, were Nazis during the WWII, and were clamoring to serve Hitler’s agenda. Obviously, no mention is made of the tens of thousands of Muslims who served in the allied armies and played a role in the defeat of
To add insult to injury, Shoebat instructs the viewer that Nazism is “less dangerous than Islamofascism,” which is “way more dangerous.” He warns of the emergence of “several Nazi Germanies” in the Islamic world.
What Do Radical Muslims Want?
Loftus says that radical Muslim goals are the “same as Hitler’s goals: kill all the Jews, crush democracies, destroy western civilization.” The film continues with footage of an unidentified British extremist rant on about the superiority of Islam intercut with images of “Muslim desecration” of non-Muslim holy sites around the world. The film then cuts to extremists proclaiming the need for the world to come under some form of Islamic rule follow. These images, interspersed with Loftus’s critique, only serve to further drive the false fear of all Muslims as potential extremists into the minds of the viewer.
We Have Been Here Before
In what is possible the most dishonest section of Obsession – the filmmakers mix and match freely between sounds and images that do not actually correspond with each other in order to reinforce the ideas that Muslims are Nazis and that Palestinians are the epitome of Muslim extremists. The film again depicts the Second World War era - more images of Hitler and a world enveloped by swastikas. Sounds of
Ironically, the film closes with a final montage of invocations of freedom. Due to its heavy anti-Palestinian message, one must ask whose freedoms are being promoted. Given the filmmakers ties, and the film’s subject matter - one can only assume that the freedoms being referred to are only those of the Israeli people.
In the final analysis, Obsession provides a very elaborate explanation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as the roots of a campaign by a demented and camouflaged Muslim extremist movement, that is similar to and worse than the Nazi movement, with sights set on world domination.
If that sounds preposterous, that is because it is. The majority of Muslims, both in the