If there’s a documentary that you need to purchase and invite all of your friends and neighbors over to watch, it’s Obsession: Radical Islam’s War against the West, a new film from HonestReporting.com. This follows up on their previous documentary, Relentless: The Struggle for Peace in the Middle East, an equally excellent film that chronicled the long history of failed international diplomacy concerning the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.
But Obsession, their most recent effort, couldn’t be more timely, as it seeks to help its viewers better understand the religious, social, and political forces at work behind the current events in the Middle East. This movie is shocking, but in a way that avoids gratuitous scenes of dismembered body parts and heavy-handed polemics, which would seem to be temptation for anyone dealing with the (pardon the pun) explosive subject of radical Islam. The movie progresses at a quick pace and keeps your attention for its full 73 minutes.
The power of Obsession is its clarity and balance. From the very outset, the producers make it clear that the focus of the film is not to impute the violence of radical Islamists to most Muslims. The movie immediately qualifies that Islam itself and its overwhelming majority of peaceful, law-abiding adherents worldwide are not in view. In fact, in the first segment of the movie, Daniel Pipes makes a very important point:
The Islamists hate everything other than what they are themselves. They killed, for example, over 100,000 Algerians who disagreed with their brand of Islam. These are [their] fellow Muslims.
The message is hard to overstate: not only are Westerners being killed by the violence fueled by the virulent and toxic ideology of radical Islam, but so are Muslims who reject that ideology. In a recent article for the Weekly Standard, Olivier Guitta discussed the ongoing violence in Algeria, with dozens of Muslims being killed monthly by Islamist groups. One would only have to read the daily body count of the dozens – sometimes hundreds – of Muslims killed in Iraq by insurgents every day to get a sickening sense of the slaughter being driven by an ideology that has no reservations about killing its own.
The overriding theme of the film is that radical Islam is a greater threat than most everyone in the West will really admit, and that the West is in denial that. The first few minutes of the movie poses a challenge to any viewer who would dismiss or diminish that threat, recounting a litany of terror attacks against the West or Westerners. As the attacks of 9/11, Madrid, Bali, Istanbul, Beslan, London, and others are quickly revisited, it is hard to avoid coming to terms with the scale of the conflict; and that the West, regardless of what a particular country’s political leanings, has been put in the crosshairs of this extremist worldview. Regardless of what the West is willing to admit, war has been declared on us by a determined enemy prepared to fight to the death to advance their ideology to every corner of the planet. And our very existence is an obstacle to that goal.
The second and third segments of the movie identify the critical elements of the radical Islamic worldview. Rooted in pretended grievances against the West mixed with rabidly anti-American sentiments, framed by bizarre conspiracy theories (many shared with the fringe constituency of the moonbat Left in the West) and outright paranoia, radical Islam has transformed its mother-religion by synthesizing these elements through the filter of Western revolutionary thought to create an ideological system for actuating Sorelian apocalyptic violence.
To help dissect this ideology, the film enlists the help of several former adherents, including Walid Shoebat, a former PLO terrorist, and Nonie Darwish, the daughter of a high-level Egyptian Fedayeen unit commander who was killed by Israeli forces. They help explain the culture of jihad that is the heart of a program of indoctrination that many Muslims in the Middle East encounter at a very early age. Adherents of radical Islam are taught to intentionally equivocate on their usage of particular terms for apologetic purposes, like “jihad,” when talking to Westerners. While many imams will preach about jihad, when questioned about it, they describe it as an internal, subjective struggle with oneself. As Shoebat notes, however, the “dual usage” terminology cannot mask the unavoidable consequences of such language:
People think about it, yes, jihad does mean self-struggle, struggle within. But so does Mein Kampf. Mein Kampf means “my struggle.” But what struggle? Nazism had a struggle against what? What did the Jews do to tangle with Nazi Germany? Jihad is being used in the Middle East with struggle with the Jewish people, struggle with the West.
This deconstructive terminology and methodology are the practical elements for concealing from unwitting Westerners the culture of hatred that is engendered by the religious, educational, government and media institutions where radical Islam dominates. Beginning with an antithetical view that divides the whole of humanity into camps of Dar al-Islam (the House of Islam) and Dar al-Harb (the House of War), and through a process of dehumanizing and demonizing the West, added to an inflated sense of the cultural superiority of Islam, radical Islamic ideology not only justifies violence against their designated enemies, it makes violence a religious, moral and social obligation.
This culture of hatred has a counterpart in the West – the culture of self-loathing and morbid introspectionism that is endemic to Western academia, media and “progressive” politics. Questions that dominate their discourse are very familiar: “Why do they hate us” and “How are we to blame” automatically assume that the guilt for the violence and hatred of radical Islam should be placed entirely on the West, portraying the rage as a rational response to “Western occupiers.”
The most effective element to Obsession is that it allows radical Islam to speak for itself. Using a number of clips recorded and translated by MEMRI and Palestinian Media Watch, along with clips taken directly from a number of Middle Eastern television networks, there is no way to avoid the violent messages and images that are all part of the theatre of radical Islam. Seeing thousands of Hezbollah fighters chanting “Death to America” in Lebanon, hearing an Iraqi cleric preaching a Friday sermon about cutting the heads off the infidels, or watching a three and a half year-old Palestinian girl questioned on a children’s TV program about how Jews are apes and pigs, more than adequately communicates how widespread and how dangerous this worldview has become.
A point clearly made in Obsession is that radical Islamic ideology is fueling a global jihad movement. Caroline Glick, Senior Fellow at the Center for Security Policy, states:
Ever single country is dealing with this on one level or another. You see that the Thais are dealing with it, the Philippinos are dealing with it, the Europeans are dealing with it in Madrid, the Russians are dealing with it in Chechnya, the British are dealing with it in London and Manchester. And of course you see it in the Middle East, whether it is in Iraq, Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, and of course, Israel and Saudi Arabia. And then you go to Africa, and you see that jihadis are operating from Djibouti to South Africa. All of these areas that we refer to as separate wars, the Palestinian war in Israel, the Iraq war – they see all of these not as specific wars but as fronts in a global jihad.
But according for former federal prosecutor John Loftus, who was directly involved in many high-level terrorism cases for the U.S. government, many political and cultural leaders in the West have deliberately chosen to ignore the overwhelming evidence of the global jihad movement operating amongst us:
The infiltration of radical Islam is so deep, it’s shocking. And everyone is in denial about it. The minute you say this is an extremist group, all of a sudden it’s “Oh, you’re not being politically correct.”
As the movie demonstrates through statements made by radical Islamic leaders, the Islamists make no bones about their willingness to turn the values of our pluralistic society against us. They don’t believe in our pluralistic values and they want to destroy those values, but they readily admit that they are useful tools to make it easier for them to undermine the West and accomplish their goal of global domination.
What is disconcerting is that the Western media is very receptive to the duplicity offered by radical Islamic leaders. The media’s lack of attention to this issue transcends mere negligence. In the movie, for example, we see a 2002 interview with British Al-Muhajiroun leader Anjem Choudary, who denounces the 9/11 attacks as acts of terrorism. And yet in September 2003 he is recorded at an Al-Muhajiroun event praising the “Magnificent 19” – that is, the 9/11 hijackers.
Western governments are complicit in this duplicity, as well. Al-Muhajiroun disbanded in 2004 before the British government could designate it a terrorist organization, but Choudary reappeared representing a new organization, Al Gurabaa, which was also designated a terrorist organization just this month. An article in the Guardian this past weekend states that Choudary and his associates are redirecting their efforts to dozens of other radical organizations, but the Blair administration is reluctant to deal decisively with Choudary and his cultural combatants.
What the treatment of Choudary demonstrates is the lengths to which Western governments (the Bush administration would just as easily qualify here, as well) will go to avoid confronting the domestic threat from radical Islam by allowing well-known organizations and personalities advancing an extremist worldview to operate openly and without hindrance, despite any direct ties they might have to terror organizations. In America, one example will more than suffice to prove this point: the Council for American-Islamic Relations.
The final segments of Obsession draw a historical parallel between the failure by the West to confront the threat from Nazism in the 1930s and the current failure to come to terms with the global threat from radical Islam. We have many Neville Chamberlain’s today proclaiming “Peace in Our Time” and arguing for appeasement of radical Islam’s demands. But capitulation didn’t work for Chamberlain, and it is unlikely to prove more successful today.
As historian, Sir Martin Gilbert, Winston Churchill’s official biographer, notes during the documentary, the real problem is with those who fail to recognize the problem, and those that do, yet who choose to do nothing:
In the 1930s, the danger of Nazism was there, it was in everything Hitler wrote and said, and everything Nazi authorities did. In the corruption in a whole generation of German youth through the propaganda of Nazism in schools. But people thought, “Well, this is a German problem, it is a limited problem. We have our own problems, we have our unemployment.” And I think the same is true today. They don’t connect the dots. They don’t connect the acts together. They don’t see that Islamic fundamentalism is a global network and a global problem…People don’t want to feel that this is part of a single threat, because if you come to that conclusion, and I’m sure it is the true conclusion, then you have to do something about it.
The intent of Obsession is to challenge viewers in the 21st Century to begin to do something in the face of as grave a threat as Nazism posed to the world in the 20th Century. The movie both begins and ends with a quote from 18th Century British parliamentarian, Edmund Burke: “The only thing needed for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”
Since the rise of radical Islam in the 1970s and 80s, the West has really done little to respond to the escalating threat. In the 1990s, the Clinton Administration and the Republican-led Congress were perfect examples of “do-nothing” government in response to the repeated terrorist acts against our country during that decade. The 9/11 attacks were the result of that failed “do-nothing” policy. As with Nazi Germany, all the signs were there: Osama bin Laden had already openly declared war on the United States and launched several attacks, and radical Islamic terrorists had already tried to bring down the World Trade Center. What more evidence did we need? And yet America slept and continued to do nothing.
Since 9/11, America has finally responded. It eradicated al-Qaeda’s Taliban haven in Afghanistan and took down Saddam Hussein’s regime, which had been one of the most active sponsors of state-supported terrorism directed at the West. But still that is far from enough. In many respects, we are still following many of the same “do-nothing” policies of the past three decades. Regardless of any successes in Afghanistan and Iraq, the threat is not only growing internationally, but inside the United States as well, without any response whatsoever.
There are additional observations and elaborations I could make based on the film about how the Western media distorts what’s really going on; how radical Islam perceives its conflict with the West as a religious war; how institutionalized the extremist worldview is within the Islamic world; and how the culture of death and violence is taught in their schools, preached in their mosques, supported by their leaders, and broadcast by their media; but I’ll let the movie speak for itself on those points.
The last comment I would make, however, is that this movie puts the current conflict between Israel, Hamas, Hezbollah, Syria and Iran in context. What Obsession establishes beyond any reasonable doubt is that the conflict between Israel and radical Islam is a proxy war by Islamic extremists against the West. In recent days, critics of all stripes put the blame on America’s foreign policy towards Israel, but what exactly is it that they have a problem with? When we leaned on Israel to withdraw from Gaza and the West Bank, did the attitude of radical Islam worldwide suddenly change? No. What then is their real problem with our policies towards Israel? Their real beef with America is that we have cooperated in Israel’s continued existence.
As George Santayana once said, those who forget the past will be condemned to repeat it. In a cosmic historical twist, the Jews in Israel are faced again with extinction for the religious and cultural values they represent, and the West is forced to consider what to do. During the 1930s, the West did nothing, and the world was inflamed with war and tens of millions of innocents died at the hands of Nazism. As Nazism spread and the concentration camps were filled (and emptied), denying that there was a conflict became a moot issue and those who choose to do nothing became irrelevant. And this time, the threat is not confined to nation-state. The battlefield for radical Islam is the entire world.
Whether you are a skeptic or a believer in the global threat of radical Islam, Obsession is a film everyone needs to see. It should be shown in churches, mosques and synagogues; Lion’s Club meetings and Kiwanis lunches; corporate board rooms and cafeterias; public libraries and legislative offices. And the reason it needs to be seen is for no other reason that in light of the immediate danger posed by radical Islam, each one of us is going to have to decide, what will we do? This will not be a battle in which anyone will be able to sit on the sidelines. The silent witness of the 3,000 Americans killed on 9/11 bears testimony to that. The obsession of radical Islam to destroy the West and to impose their ideology globally will not allow anyone to remain untouched. The question stands: what will you do?
You can view a trailer or purchase a DVD of Obsession: Radical Islam’s War against the West by going to the movie’s website.
Click Here to support Frontpagemag.com.