Who Is the Real Marc Gafni?
Injustice via the Internet: Myths, Facts, & Smear Campaigns in the Marc Gafni Story — An Exposé by Kerstin Tuschik Part 3 of 4
In Part One of this article we looked at how postmodernity regressed into the post-truth era. How we gather information in order to render judgment tells us what kind of society we live in. In Part Two we moved from general observations to specifics of the Marc Gafni Story and back to general distinctions. We talked about the litmus tests that we need to deploy in order to determine if legitimate issues are at stake or if there is a smear campaign going on hiding behind the veneer of righteous victim advocacy.
In the next part of this essay, I want to focus on the second litmus test. This second test is the need for fact checking. While Marc Gafni’s detractors fail this test — we cannot. So let us do some fact checking.
Myths & Facts Regarding Marc Gafni
Marc Gafni Myth №1:
There was a spontaneous explosion on the internet about Marc Gafni after a New York Times article about him, written by a reporter who had no agenda and was simply reporting facts as he saw them, on December 25th, 2015.
This is clearly a lie.
First, without a shadow of a doubt, I can say that this is an orchestrated campaign purposefully fabricated in ways that make it look like a spontaneous explosion.
Second, the reporter was enrolled, directly or indirectly, by Stephen Dinan to write a “hit article” on Marc.
How do we know this?
Stephen Dinan, a key mastermind behind the campaign, told Barbara Marx Hubbard’s daughter about this article as early as October 2015. I have personally read an email dated October 13th from Barbara’s daughter to Steven Hassan, a self-appointed “cult buster” who Stephen Dinan had put her in touch with to “free her mother” from the grip of Marc’s “evil magic.” In that email, Barbara’s daughter reports to Hassan what Dinan had told her:
“Stephen [Dinan] is putting his efforts toward exposing Gafni in a major way publicly with an article, possibly in the New York Times.”
On October 15th, Stephen Dinan responds into that same email thread:
“I would say that I have gone from being concerned about Barbara and the Shift Network to recognizing that this is very important not just for us but for the world. That’s actually my primary motive now. Protecting the Shift Network is by far the easiest part. Ensuring a good result for the whole is harder, which also requires intervening with Barbara, who has become one of his lead door-openers into more power/respect/trust with others.”
That was the moment when Barbara’s daughter contacted her mother and sent her the communications with the words:
“I feel like I have been royally taken advantage of by these men who one should be able to trust. Because I was wary of Gafni from the beginning I was vulnerable to their hype. I feel like they wanted me to fund your demise. It does not get lower than that.”
She later told her mother:
“If anyone tried to do this to my daughter, I would have called the police.”
Dinan claims in an email to Barbara to have had no direct or indirect contact with the NY Times reporter. There is a wealth of objective information that shows that this claim is false. The reporter also claimed in speaking to Marc Gafni and to his representatives to have no knowledge of Dinan. This was clearly not true.
In an article in the Huffington Post in October 2016, Stephen Dinan describes the exact strategy that he has enacted with Marc. This time he prescribes it as a strategy against Donald Trump. While many of us might feel that this is a good and righteous endeavor, it is striking again that his main concern is not truth (in his whole strategy there is no process for truth finding involved) but to touch people emotionally and to “neutralize a powerful person’s ability to retaliate.”
“The key to sharing your story is to NOT make it into a political statement, endorsement, or even say how you are voting. It’s about sharing your true story with as much vulnerability, honesty, and simplicity as you can. By not endorsing a candidate or sharing a party identification, you maintain your credibility.
Sharing your story needs to be on video because video is what touches people emotionally.
Then, all the rest of us can commit to amplifying these testimonial stories on Facebook and other social media, both by posting to our personal pages and by paying to boost those posts to professional and fan pages with larger audiences.
In this way, Facebook can become an ever-increasing flood of personal stories from those hurt by Trump.
As happened with Roger Ailes, it is the volume of testimony from many people in parallel during a short time period that can paint a full picture and neutralize a powerful person’s ability to retaliate.”
Replace Trump with Gafni, and this is EXACTLY the strategy he and his collaborators have enacted during this whole smear campaign.
Even in this case, I want to point out that “the end does NOT justify the means.” Otherwise, we are not better than what we fight against. We become part of the problem instead of the solution.
Marc Gafni Myth №2:
Marc Gafni “admitted to a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old girl. He was also accused of molesting a 13-year-old girl over a period of nine months.”
This is one of the most outrageous misrepresentations I have seen so far. Not only has the author of this quote on Marc’s Wikipedia page (quoted here from 10/11/16) made two people out of one, but wherever this is quoted it looks like Marc, the 56 year old, is having sex with a 13 or 14 year old child.
Here are some facts:
- Marc met Sara when he was 19. When their relationship, which lasted for several months, began, Sara was 14. Her birthday is Nov. 30th and the short relationship began in December.
- Marc describes the relationship as profoundly loving. He says that it was limited to what is now referred to as teenage necking and that the loving nature of the relationship at the time was supported by a long letter from Sara to Marc after the relationship was over.
- His version of the story was supported by a polygraph that Marc Gafni took in 2006 with Gordon H. Barland, Ph.D., one of the leading experts in this field.
At this point, I want to emphasize that the idea that polygraphs should be dismissed is not at all accurate. Polygraphs depend in part on the expertise of the person administering the tests. Security services all over the world use polygraph as a vital tool. Dr. Barland is one of the leading experts on polygraph and has trained security services around the world. Dr. Barland was the director of polygraph research for the department of defense of the United States.
Marc Gafni took extensive polygraphs on this and a second story about a 17 year old that has been circulated. Both of these women have been in close touch with each other over decades and are in close touch with Marc’s most virulent adversaries, who have strongly encouraged them and demonized Marc to them for decades. In both stories, Marc’s version of the events that directly contradicts their assertions is supported by the polygraphs.
The question remains why Sara’s and Marc’s accounts of their relationship differ so much from each other. Of course, there is no way for us to definitely answer that question. However an important fact might shine some light upon it: Vicki Polin, a licensed therapist, who claimed in one of her articles to have been Sara’s counselor or therapist, is mainly known for her appearance on the Oprah Winfrey show in 1989. There she claimed to have memories of murdering a baby in a satanic cult. Those “memories” have been severely criticized by many experts. Although we cannot know for sure, we should at least rais the question when reading Sara’s story about Marc whether Vicki Polin “supported” Sara in the same misleading ways that she was once “supported” during the time she dealt with what many writers consider being her own false memories?[i]
Sara herself suggests in an early account she posted about this on the Internet in 2004, that she was heavily influenced by therapists and counselors who encouraged her to view this as an abuse story:
“After talking with counselors, lawyers, and professionals who advise and counsel sexual perpetrators, I learned that in 99% of cases, people who compulsively sexually abuse girls or women, especially those who were abused themselves as children, don’t stop. These are dangerous people. The more we are silent about them, the more they have the freedom to act out their sexual compulsions.”
Marc Gafni Myth №3:
In 2006, there was a formal police investigation as a result of accusations against Marc from three women. This was public knowledge.
In 2006, representatives of two women claimed in writing that they had registered legal complaints against Marc Gafni with the Israeli police. Nine years later, it turned out that — not only was the content of the complaints false which I will talk about in the next myth/fact below, but the very claim that complaints were registered with the police — was itself false.
In 2015, a prominent attorney in Israel, Nitsa Cohen, did a complete check and found that no complaints had ever been registered with the police (see here for her legal letter). There is information that suggests that the police had told the women that, since the relationships were, according to them, fully consensual, there was no ground for complaints. The women hired a lawyer from Haifa in Israel who, according to research done with prominent attorneys and clinicians in Haifa, is known as a “victim feminist” and “headline chaser.” Apparently, the women ultimately fired this attorney but not before she did great damage in the public space, making false claims in the press, in the name of the two women involved, which were — according to them and their representatives in written emails to Marc — not true.
The question remains: Why did Marc not simply call the police in 2006 to find out if there were complaints?
There are two main reasons:
- Marc had returned to the United States immediately upon hearing about the complaints in order to recover the material that had been deleted from his computer. Without recovering the materials from the computer, Marc would have no ability to prove his innocence. For that reason, Marc traveled back to the USA where he finally recovered the deleted emails about a year later.
- Marc’s attorney mistakenly believed the press reports and took it as a given that official police complaints existed. He suggested that if Marc were to call the police, they could ask him to come back from the USA to Israel as part of their investigation. For Marc to do so would have required him to spend approximately $500k in legal and related fees — money he did not have available. In addition to that, the attorney advised Marc (even though he was fully innocent) not to engage in a legal fight on the topic of sexual harassment in a political atmosphere in Israel, between 2006 and 2010, that tended to automatically believe women, and disbelieve men.
This is an excerpt from a letter that Dr. Ruth Engel Eldar wrote to Marc after talking with Chaya, Marc’s ex-wife, who was one of the forces behind the false complaints in 2006 as well as the smear campaign in 2015/16:
“She confirmed to me what the lawyer we hired had already written in a statement, that no complaints were ever filed because the police did not register them. It was clear that she knew that no complaints were registered even though she has said many times online that there were police complaints. I was shocked to hear this because they had told you and the rest of the world that there were complaints. I remember well when I called you last year to tell you and you were in full shock and did not believe me. You burst out crying if you remember, because everything you had done for eight years was under the assumption that there were complaints.
What really revealed Chaya’s state of mind is that she did not seem aware that there was anything wrong with telling you and the entire world that there were police complaints when there were not.
As I shared with you when we talked, she must still be in love with you in a distorted way because her existence internally revolves around what she called, you “falling again”. It is also important to share that she told me that she was the one who organized the women and pushed this all forward. When you put that together with what you shared with me, that several months before this happened in 2006, she talked to you about you and her remarrying, the obsession becomes clear if not less frightening. It is very hard for people who do not know malice to recognize it. . . . I also want to say that Chaya told us clearly that she was a prime organizer of the complaints. She said it proudly with a kind of delight that surprised us.”
Marc Gafni Myth №4:
Marc Gafni sexually harassed women in Israel who were on his staff or students. This was carefully investigated in Israel and found to be true.
This myth has been repeated in countless places on the web, particularly in the Jewish media and countless Jewish websites especially those associated with the Jewish Renewal movement but not only.
This is a complete fabrication. Both Clint Fuhs in his original Integral Institute report as well as Mariana Caplan, Sally Kempton and numerous other legal and other evaluators who have read all of the extensive material available have written that this is simply not true. The claims made of sexual harassment, false promises to marry, etc. were not true. This assertion is supported by hundreds of pages of documentary evidence that comes in part from the very extensive email, skype and chart record between Marc and the parties involved.
All of this was supported by extensive polygraph, which confirmed all of the documentary evidence.
Marc Gafni Myth №5:
Marc Gafni is a sociopath… and other character attacks.
This kind of psychologizing people on the web, especially by angry ex-wives, partners, or students is not credible and is in fact a very dangerous phenomenon. It is hard to objectively refute a subjective character attack — something that is obviously wrong — but I will share with you my own experience with this.
The first time I read this “diagnosis” of Marc was in an article by his ex-wife Chaya. Hopefully, nobody reading this article will think that a disenthralled ex-wife is a good source for a clinical diagnosis. Unfortunately, Chaya does think of herself that way.
In her blog-post “I admit it, I was using Gafni, too” she is telling the story of how she wrote her Master thesis in Clinical Psychology about her ex-husband.
Are you for real? Is that what they consider a valid thesis in America? I am more than a bit flabbergasted by that, I have to admit.
This is what she wrote in the article:
“Most providentially, at that time I was getting my Masters in Clinical Psychology. I had a thesis to write. It was obvious what my topic would be. Why we women did it. Because G!d forbid I should be so mean-spirited as to focus on the abuser’s responsibilities. No, no. It was ‘What was so very wrong with me and my sisters that we got entangled with a sociopath?’”
Later on, in the same article, she writes about a popular book by Martha Stout The Sociopath Next Door. Seemingly, she thinks that this is a credible source for diagnosing someone. Oh, well… And not only that. Reading on in that article it becomes clear that she has used the typologies of that book to design her questionnaire and “prove” that she and “her sisters” indeed fell prey to a sociopath. Talk about circular reasoning… I can hardly believe that this was accepted as a thesis.
On the other hand, Marc’s detractors go out of their way to devalue any of the serious evaluations that he has posted on his website, totally ignoring the fact that some of these therapists have been working with him for long periods of time. This makes Marc one of the few, if not the only teacher in the (Integral) Spiritual community not only willing to spend time on therapy looking at his own shadows, but also making that transparent for everyone to see. Integral followers have often demanded something like this, with virtually nobody actually doing it.
The most recent of these is Peter Dunlap’s assessment of Marc. Dunlap has worked with Marc from 2011 until now and has had direct contact with at least one of the most virulent accusers.
“In light of the recent spate of attacks, let me just say that Marc is psychologically sound, a significantly empathic and ethical person whose character bears no resemblance to the projections described on the web. Marc’s goodness, commitment to transformation, and core integrity are, based on my work with him, beyond question. To even need to say this is almost inappropriate, but given the memes that have expressed themselves in the blogosphere, the self-evident may need to be stated.”
Marc Gafni Myth №6:
Marc Gafni threatens and discredits people to keep them from telling the truth.
This I have read so often and it just couldn’t be further from the truth. Actually, seeing the discrepancy between what was said here and what actually happened helped me discern facts from myths more than anything else did.
To give but one recent example, Rabbi David Ingber, one of the key actors behind the false claims in 2006 and the smear campaign in 2016, says in his video testimonial:
“And the great irony of what’s been happening in the last couple of months is that of course Gafni wants to spin this as some kind of vendetta or some kind of Internet smear campaign, and the reality is that he’s the Internet smear campaign master. He’s the one that has spoken against all manner of people to discredit them from seeing the truth.”
Nevertheless, no matter how often people have claimed that Marc had threatened them, the actual truth is that Marc never even spoke badly about a person, not in public, and not even in private. Does he sometimes criticize people? Of course he does. Has he threatened or defamed anyone? Never, ever.
Why then would Ingber say this?
Is he maybe trying to respond in advance to Marc sharing information that would appropriately discredit his own credibility or that of key people involved?
Marc has tried to let this go for ten years by consistently taking the high road. This last smear campaign of 2016 was a deliberately orchestrated campaign to destroy him and, by association, many of those he holds dearly in the world.
Many of us at the Center have urged him to break the silence, speak the truth of these matters, and reveal who these people are. To suggest that this is Marc being aggressive or threatening is ridiculous. Moreover, he did not initiate this smear campaign, nor did he trigger it in any way. In fact, he has done his best to walk away time and again for a decade.
Marc Gafni Myth №7:
Marc Gafni’s victims are taking a risk in breaking the silence.
Chaya in an article in the Times of Israel:
“Putting this two-decade chronicle into print is a risk for me.
Everyone who cares about me is begging me to just “Keep quiet”.
And yet I can’t. So, in honor of them, I leave out my name.
But in honor of the victims I share my story.”
Really? I mean: REALLY?
First of all, Marc is the one who has been silent for so long that probably nobody thought he would ever break the silence.
His so-called “victims” on the other hand have been posting their stuff all over the internet for more than a decade now — since 2003–04 — most of the time under the guise of anonymity.
The only risk they take is the risk that one day they might be found by their own conscience. How scary that must be for some of them.
Marc Gafni Myth №8:
Marc Gafni does not have a PhD from Oxford.
This is clearly a lie. You can read his doctorate together with a letter of recommendation by his doctoral thesis supervisor Moshe Idel published in the two-volume book Radical Kabbalah. You can also look up his doctorate in the registry of doctorates of Oxford University.
Marc Gafni Myth №9:
Marc Gafni has often been convicted of plagiarism.
First of all, I want to repeat and support Daniel Schmachtenberger’s personal experience with Marc as expressed in his February 2016 post on the Center for Integral Wisdom Statement:
“Re plagiarism — I have experienced Marc credit me and others for things he’s learned, more than anyone else I have worked with professionally. This actually stands out.”
I have seen Marc quote others in his oral teachings as well in the footnotes or the main text of his books. I have also seen him rely on others to take care of this for him. Yet, in good academic tradition, I know that this is very important for him. And yes, that actually does stand out.
I am aware of exactly two times where this issue came up.
One was in an article that Marc had written half of with a co-author. The part written by the co-author inadvertently used material from an article that was not cited. Marc published that article on the web without carefully reviewing the material of this co-author. His co-author wrote Marc directly and apologized saying “my bad.”
The second time was a position paper that he had worked to support, which a staffer inadvertently posted as Marc’s. It was one of thousands of pieces published by that staffer on his site. Once he became aware of it, he immediately took it offline and apologized.
This however is mixed in with claims made after the false claims in Israel — during the period of time when Marc was forced to go silent while trying to recover deleted emails from his computer. During that time, one of the organizers of the false complaints, his former wife Chaya Lester, made the claim that she had written substantive parts of Soul Prints. Marc substantively debunks these claims fully in his response to Lester.
Marc has written and published at least ten serious and highly original books and because I work at the think tank I know that there are many more on the way.
Chaya has written and published… what was it again? Ah, her dubious master thesis and a couple of blog-posts. Really?
The other claim was made by a close associate of Chaya’s and former associate of Marc’s with whom he parted ways many years ago. This claim in regard to a book they co-authored and published together on Lilith and the nature of feminine shadow is compellingly debunked by Marc here.
Even after knowing these facts, it might still be difficult to understand how a story like this could unfold. I would recommend some of the articles below that tell the story of the smear campaign in more detail. Most of them have been written in the last few months and are just being published. This is the larger field that I am making a contribution to.
- 1. The response to the 2016 smear campaign by the Center for Integral Wisdom board and the fifty comments by communal leaders and colleagues of Marc that will give you a sense of who Marc really is.
- Clint Fuhs’ epic study called Anatomy of a Smear, which deals in depth with the smear campaign of 2016 and the prior dimensions that caused it.
- Lisa Engles’ response to the absurd attacks on the former board chair of the Center for his association with Marc, which also deals in depth with some of the key false stories as well as here longer article called “How Fake News Is Used to Undermine Leaders: A Case Study”.
- Claire Molinard’s article on Wikipedia flaws and the false portrayal of Marc
- Rev. Sam Alexander’s article on Patheos on one aspect of the smear campaign
- Marc Gafni’s response to Chaya Lester
- It is also worth looking at the CIW Newsletter that I wrote, which talks about the nature of one piece of the Jewish Forward’s involvement and coverage of the smear campaign.
- There are also some key extant articles on the smear campaign and false complaints of 2006 and the web attack of 2011, all with many of the same people involved behind the scenes, which are all available here.
- In particular, you may want to read Marc’s article about The Evolution of Public Culture: Crowd Sourcing a Witch Hunt: An Eight-Step Guide to Internet Abuse.
- For a full response to the smear campaign in all of its dimensions, see WhoIsMarcGafni.com.
There is, however, another story with a deeper mythological storyline that deserves to be told. It is the story of the Murder of Eros that I will address in my fourth and final part of this exposé.
For more information on Marc Gafni and his story, please visit WhoIsMarcGafni.com.