Aish HaTorah’s founder and leader, Rabbi Noah Weinberg, has often told his American followers that they should vote Republican. Most traditional Orthodox Jews vote Republican. Rav Yosef Soloveitchik, the late leader of Modern Orthodoxy in America, was a life-long Republican.
There are a number of connections between the Clarion Fund and a well-known organization called Aish HaTorah, an international charity founded in Israel in the 1970s.
Ronn Torossian, spokesman for Aish HaTorah, said that his group would in "no way be involved with Clarion Fund or Obsession because Aish HaTorah is a charity and must remain apolitical."
Ross, the Clarion spokesman, was listed as an Aish HaTorah international fundraiser on a federal election donation form in June 2007.
Elke Bronstein is the name written on the mail permit for the bulk mailing of Obsession DVDs in mid September from Freeport, N.Y. Reached on her cell phone, Bronstein said she worked for Clarion, but would not provide more information.
The receptionist at Aish HaTorah in New York said Bronstein worked for Aish Discovery, which produces high-tech programs and films for Aish HaTorah. Torossian said Bronstein could easily have separate jobs.
"What? You’re going to find four, five or six people who work for Clarion and Aish and claim a worldwide conspiracy? I don’t think so," he said.
Clarion’s address, according to Manhattan directory assistance, is the same address as Aish HaTorah International, a fundraising arm of Aish HaTorah. The Clarion Fund and Aish HaTorah International are also connected to a group called HonestReporting, which produced Obsession. HonestReporting’s 2006 tax return uses the same address.
"It’s news to me," Torossian said.
Two of the three Clarion Fund directors at the time of its incorporation in November 2006 appeared as Aish employees on Aish Web sites at the same time. The third appeared on the Aish executive committee. Torossian said the overlap meant nothing.
Aish HaTorah’s main purpose is to "broaden the knowledge of individuals to their Jewish heritage." Barbara Walters, Steven Spielberg and Bill Clinton have praised the charity.
A June 15, 2001, article in the Jerusalem Post said that Aish HaTorah provided $150,000 in "seed money" to create an organization called Media Watch International that took over HonestReporting, the group that made Obsession four years later.
"This is true," said Torossian, "but that association ended" before Obsession was made.
The Aish Web site offers information on Jewish heritage and religious issues, as well as links to numerous videos on Mideast politics. One of the links is to Obsession.
"Aish also tells about a woman meeting Paul McCartney. Does that mean we’re connected to him?" Torossian asked.