Have you received a copy of "Obsession" in the mail? I have... I really didn't know what to make of it until I read this article in the LRB:
If you live in an American swing state you may have received a copy of ‘Obsession’ in your Sunday paper. ‘Obsession’ isn’t a perfume: it’s a documentary about ‘radical Islam’s war against the West’. In the last two weeks of September, 28 million copies of the film were enclosed as an advertising supplement in 74 newspapers, including the New York Times and the Chronicle of Higher Education. ‘The threat of Radical Islam is the most important issue facing us today,’ the sleeve announces. ‘It’s our responsibility to ensure we can make an informed vote in November.’ The Clarion Fund, the supplement’s sponsor, doesn’t explicitly endorse McCain, so as not to jeopardise its tax-exempt status, but the message is clear enough, and its circulation just happened to coincide with Obama’s leap in the polls.
Although there are interviews with the usual ‘terrorism experts’ – Daniel Pipes, Alan Dershowitz et al – the film’s portrayal of the region is mostly left to native informants like Nonie Darwish (a leader of Arabs for Israel and the daughter of a slain fighter from Gaza), Brigitte Gabriel (the Lebanese-Christian author of They Must Be Stopped) and Walid Shoebat, a ‘former PLO terrorist’ who operates under a pseudonym – for security reasons, of course. Shoebat runs the Walid Shoebat Foundation, described on its website as an ‘organisation that cries out for the Justice of Israel and the Jewish people’. He’s made a career of recounting his journey from Islamic terror to Christian Zionism before audiences at Evangelical gatherings and the US Air Force Academy. It’s not clear, though, that he ever laid a hand on anyone. According to a relative, ‘the biggest act of terror he ever committed was to glue Palestinian flags on street posts.’
Pretty clearly Obsession is a piece of propaganda attempting to scare people around election time.
I actually saw Walid Shoebat when he came to UM campus. He spewed all sorts of hatred and bile at his former faith, which the crowd of right-wingers ate up. I was clear he knew exactly what the bigots wanted to here. I left very skeptical that he had ever been a terrorist (one of his associates claimed to have killed 300 people, mainly with a knife... does that sound likely?). Indeed, I was skeptical as to whether he was a real Palestinian.
I was reminded of the scene in Huck Finn where Huck and Jim are traveling around with two con men. One trick these con-men use is telling churchgoing people that they are pirates who found Christ.
Walid Shoebat's song and dance is the same... he claims to be an former Muslim terrorist who found christ, the only difference between the routines is that the con-men at least didn't preach hatred.