The agenda behind the anti-Muslim film screened to NYPD: protecting Greater Israel

Israel/PalestineMiddle EastUS Politics
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Revelations that the New York Police Department (NYPD) showed 1,500 officers an Islamophobic film (Phil Weiss covered it here) filled with images of “Muslim terrorists” killing Christians and children is testament to how anti-Muslim sentiment has become the norm in law enforcement. But just as important to recognize is the right-wing Zionist agenda–protecting the Greater Israel project– behind the film’s distribution.

As the New York Times‘ Michael Powell reported, the film, “The Third Jihad,”

was financed by the Clarion Fund, a nonprofit group whose board includes a former Central Intelligence Agency official and a deputy defense secretary for President Ronald Reagan. Its previous documentary attacking Muslims’ “war on the West” attracted support from the casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, a major supporter of Israel…

Repeated calls over the past several days to the Clarion Fund, which is based in New York, were not answered. The nonprofit group shares officials with Aish HaTorah, an Israeli organization that opposes any territorial concessions on the West Bank. The producer of “The Third Jihad,” Raphael Shore, also works with Aish HaTorah.

And financing the Clarion Fund are a familiar host of philanthropic organizations that are tied to West Bank settlements, according to a Think Progress document Ali Gharib and Eli Clifton released yesterday.

The agenda of the people behind this film are clear: protecting Israel’s illegal settlement project and entrenching further U.S. support to Israel and its colonies.

Sheldon Adelson (to take one example of many) opposes any evacuation of illegal settlements in Jerusalem, and is a financial backer of the group One Jerusalem, which advocates for continued Israeli control of the holy city. Other major backers of the Clarion Fund include: the Jewish Communal Fund ($27, 880), a donor to a Christian Zionist group that has provided settlement infrastructure and to the Hebron Fund; the Irving I. Moskowitz Foundation, which provides much of the financial muscle to evict East Jerusalem Palestinians from their homes; and the Newton and Rochelle Becker Charitable Trust, which (as I reported here) gave “$25,000 [in 2006] to the Central Fund of Israel (CFI), which the New York Times described as a multimillion dollar ‘vehicle’ used to ‘channel donations’ to West Bank settlements.”

But why attack Islam and American Muslims if your number one concern is protecting Israel’s settlement project? The answer is that it fits into their goal of entrenching further U.S. support to Israel and its colonies and squelching any political opposition to it.

Muslim-Americans are a natural constituency for those looking to boost support for the Palestinians in the U.S. Thom Cincotta, the author of a important report that traces how tax dollars flow to anti-Muslim law enforcement trainings, told me last year that:

All of the rhetoric around these [anti-Muslim] trainings leave very little room for Muslim-Americans to dissent from U.S. foreign policy or domestic counter-terrorism policy. There’s the notion that if anyone is outspoken, then they are providing ideological support for terrorism…

So when you demonize, or paint legitimate advocacy groups or community groups as potential terrorists merely for speaking out against U.S. policy and because there is some vague overlap between the political goals of, say, an al-Qaeda—related to for instance, U.S. occupation of a foreign land—it leaves very little room for dissent and it stifles free speech.

You could see these trainings through the lens that by stigmatizing groups like the Council on American Islamic Relations or the Islamic Society of North America and other groups, in the domestic political sphere, it’s an attempt to silence a key bloc who support Palestinian rights in the United States. Without that vocal bloc pushing Congress, it’s hard to see how U.S. foreign policy with regard to Israel is going to change.

And the Islamophobic political climate that the Adelsons and Moskowitzes have helped create has found a home in the NYPD–the same department who has been arbitrarily spying on New York City Muslims in a program characterized by a former police official as “modeled in part on how Israeli authorities operate in the West Bank.” It all comes full circle.

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