Sheila Musaji reports on the showing of an Islamophobic “documentary”, Obsession: Radical Islam’s War With the West , by the Orthodox Jewish outreach and educational organisation Aish HaTorah in St Louis.
“Over 1,000 people (including children) attended the screening, among them was our little group of 6 Muslims. Fortunately, we sat together because as the evening progressed we drew comfort from each others presence. The audience seemed to be primarily Jewish, but with a large Christian contingent also. The film was a classic propaganda piece – in its 1 hour and 17 minutes, except for a disclaimer that this was not meant to be about all Muslims, the balance of the film was relentless in its depiction of issues, political movements, individuals, and positions as connected to the religion of Islam….
“Bigotry and hatred can be found in all communities – for every photograph or speech in this film another could be shown just as virulent from another community, e.g. American protestors burning the American flag, Jewish Israeli children signing missiles with love, photos of Christian clergy with Hitler, Hitler’s statements about Christianity, Nazi insignia with Christian symbols, statements by Meir Kahane or other Jewish Defense League members, or by Christian white supremacist clergy, Jewish Israelis having a party to celebrate the Hebron massacre. Statements by extremist rabbis that during time of war the enemy has no innocents, or that call for the extermination of the enemy. Signs in a U.S. shop window calling Palestinians pigs and cockroaches. The list is long, and the effort to demonize each other pointless….
“Two weeks after the event we are still experiencing physical and emotional distress primarily due to the positive reaction of the audience – including applause and standing ovations, and to some of the hateful comments we overheard from individuals sitting around us. The fact that some of us saw people we knew, who saw us and said nothing and avoided eye contact was very disturbing….
“Aish HaTorah, the producers of this film say that their objective as an organization is to revitalize the Jewish people by providing opportunities for Jews of all backgrounds to discover their Jewish heritage in an atmosphere of open inquiry and mutual respect…. Can one people be ‘revitalized’ by the demonization of another?”