A pro-Israel think tank has pulled out of “The Obsession Project.”
The decision by the Washington-based Endowment for Middle East Truth, or EMET, comes days after a Muslim advocacy group filed a complaint about the effort.
EMET had agreed to write a policy paper and lead an educational outreach effort subsequent to the distribution of 28 million DVDs of the film “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War With the West.” The DVD distribution was funded and arranged by the Clarion Fund, a nonprofit organization based in New York whose main focus is educate Americans about the threat of radical Islam.
Sarah Stern, EMET’s founder and director, had told JTA on Sept. 26 that she had been taken advantage of by the project and had never spoken with Ari Morgenstern, who was quoted in news reports as speaking for EMET and the project.
But the communications strategists for the project, Baron Communications LLC and 30 Point Strategies, shared e-mails and phone records showing that Stern had at least four telephone conversations earlier in the week with Morgenstern. In addition, they produced an e-mail from Sept. 22 showing that Stern approved a news release and other materials announcing EMETâ€™s participation.
Another e-mail a day later from Stern included a lengthy note backing the projectâ€™s mission and the sign-off â€œSoldier On!â€
Stern now acknowledges having spoken to Morgenstern and approving involvement with the project, but says she â€œmade a mistakeâ€ in not getting approval from EMETâ€™s board before agreeing to became a partner. She said she still supports efforts to encourage Americans to watch â€œObsession.â€
The Council on American-Islamic Relations asked the Federal Election Commission on Sept. 23 to investigate the distribution of the DVDs and whether it was intended to influence the election, even though the film includes no partisan political content. The DVDs were inserted into dozens of newspapers in swing states.
CAIR claims that Aish HaTorah International is behind the project. A spokesman for Aish HaTorah denied the organization was involved, but said employees of the group may be involved in their free time.