By Eli Clifton
Eli D Greenberg—the former attorney and listed contact for the Clarion Fund—has resurfaced as the head of an independent committee tasked with policing and encouraging greater transparency in the nonprofit foundations within the Sephardic communities in New Jersey and New York according to an article last week in Jewish Week. Non-profits operating in Syrian, Egyptian, Moroccan and Israeli Sephardic communities in the US have been on the receiving end of increasing criticism for their secretive operating structures since the arrest last month of three Syrian rabbis for an alleged money-laundering scheme.
For those who don’t remember, the mysterious Clarion Fund produced the anti-Muslim documentaries The Third Jihad and Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West and funded a massive distribution of 28-million DVD inserts of Obsession in swing state newspapers shortly before the 2008 presidential election.
Greenberg is an interesting choice for an attorney to help promote transparency and good governance since the Clarion Fund was widely seen as serving to hide the identity of wealthy donors who wished to influence the presidential election and spread unsubstantiated fears about Muslims in America.
The Federal Election Commission (FEC) investigated accusations that Clarion may have violated its non-profit 501c3 status by explicitly endorsing John McCain in a statement on one of its websites, Radicalislam.org.
The statement, which was later removed, read:
“McCain’s policies seek to confront radical Islamic extremism and terrorism and roll it back while [Barack] Obama’s, although intending to do the same, could in fact make the situation facing the West even worse.”
Further muddying the waters was the appearance that Clarion was not only trying to influence the presidential election but that the funding—or at least the organizing—for the effort was coming from Aish HaTorah, a Jewish Orthodox Ashkenazi organization based in Israel.
Clarion has denied any organizational links but its four listed directors all have had close relationships with Aish. Clarion’s assertions that Aish and Clarion are completely independent entities are undermined by the facts that: Rabbi Raphael Shore, Clarion’s founder was employed as Aish HaTorah International’s executive director; Gregory Ross, Clarion’s spokesman and communications director was a fundraiser for Aish HaTorah International and the Clarion Fund shares a mailing office with Aish’s office in Manhattan.
All of the above doesn’t mean that Clarion necessarily did anything illegal but it does suggest that Clarion isn’t the poster-child for transparency and that its counsel didn’t impose the stringent ethical and good governance guidelines that presumably he will impose on the Sephardic charities in New York and New Jersey.
Greenberg seems to have a specialty in nonprofit foundations within the Syrian and Sephardic communities.
Four Mamiye brothers—Charles M., Charles D., Hyman and Abraham—gave $25,000 to the Clarion Fund in 2007 through their nonprofit foundation. Their nonprofit—Mamiye Foundation—gives primarily to the Sephardic Syrian communities in New Jersey and New York.
Greenberg serves as an attorney for a Mamiye held company.