Guest Post: Marc Gafni Wiki — How Wikipedia is used for Internet abuse — Part 2

Marc Gafnis Wiki page — exposed

In Part One of this article, I exposed how skillful Wiki editors can take control of a Wiki page and use it as a tool of Internet abuse. I will now turn to American Philosopher, Dr Marc Gafni ’s page to illustrate some of the issues I explored earlier.

In the first paragraph of Marc Gafni’s Wiki page, the third and fourth sentences say that “he has been accused of sexual assault by multiple women, and admitted to sexual relationships with a 14-year-old girl. He was also accused of molesting a 13-year-old girl over a period of nine months”.

The only way for the uninformed reader to understand these two sentences is to read that a mature adult rabbi, Marc Gafni, has admitted to molesting a 14-year-old girl, and was also accused of abusing a 13 year old. But that is only an assumption on the part of the reader. In fact, nowhere in the article is Gafni’s age at the time of the supposed assault disclosed.

The facts are very different:

  • There are not two women — only one.
  • Sara Kabakov, the person in question is now 51 years old. Gafni is 56.
  • Sara only claimed that there was a problem with their relationship 25 years after it was over.
  • Her story has changed many times over the years.
  • Gafni has responded to her story. He never changed his version of the story — one of innocent teenage love, which he exposes candidly in the same article.
  • Gafni was a nineteen-year-old right out of high school and Sara was in her first year of high school when these events occurred.

All of this took place some 36 years ago and contact between them was limited to nothing but what might be called “necking”, which at the time was fully mutual. His story has been validated by polygraph expert Dr. Gordon Barland, the former director of polygraph research for the US Department of Defense who administered the test and wrote that there was only .01 percent chance that Gafni was not telling the truth. The polygraph results are available on Gafni’ s website, for anyone to read. While polygraph results are not used in court, they are used extensively as a way of determining truth for the CIA, Department of Defense and leading corporations around the world.

Since Sara’s public accusations — again, 25 years after the relationship ended — Gafni has offered many times to meet her in a facilitated and mediated context. His intention is to clarify the facts and resolve any hurt and confusion that may have been caused within the normal arc of their very human relationship.

Yet, Sara has refused to have any contact preferring to attack him time and again on the Internet where her version of events cannot be challenged and she is made into a feminist victim hero. Sara is not willing to give up being a victim. According to Gafni, validated by the polygraph results, her version of the story is objectively false.

If Gafni is right then Sara is the perpetrator here. The Wiki editors however, never entertain that possibility. Parenthetically, Sara’s therapist or counselor for a significant period of time was Vicki Polin. Polin is, according to many, a discredited victim abuse advocate who appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show making the dubious claim that she murdered a baby in a satanic cult.

Polin herself has confirmed her involvement with Sara in a public post from 2006.

It’s also worth noting that Sara and Polin are both closely associated with people who have been significant political adversaries of Gafni for many years. There are a plethora of articles on Marc Gafni’s site written by very credible men and women, which provide much of this information and challenge these assumptions.

So why do these sources not appear in Wikipedia?

In Wikipedia’s interpretations, Sara has become two people and 19-year-old Marc Gafni is implied to be a mature adult rabbi — perhaps 50 old, who is abusing both a 14 year old and a 13 year old child. This means that Wiki is not providing information, but rather dis-information. Sara’s story is taken as self evident although, there is zero supporting evidence and much reason for doubt. This is just one instance of how Wikipedia’s editors handpick alleged facts, referenced to articles, taken them out of context, and avoided mentioning any additional information that would allow the public to get a clearer sense of the situation. The reasons they do so is several fold.

By introducing Gafni from the start of his page as a spiritual teacher and ex-Rabbi who was accused of molesting 13 and 14-year old girls, they are counting on the lack of rigor of the average internet reader to check facts, as well as surfing the feminist, pro-victim, liberal left bias of many Wikipedia readers. As a result in just three short introductory sentences Gafni’s distorted identity is presented as a self-evident truth, and this becomes the basis for the credibility of the rest of his page.

It’s also interesting to note that the longest part of the page is devoted to the sexual assault claims, completely overshadowing Marc Gafni’s life and life work as a scholar, philosopher and spiritual teacher.

Why does this paragraph take so much space in the article?

Marc Gafni & Evidence against Wikipedia

In my opinion, it’s evidence that Wikipedia has allowed some self-serving smear activists to takeover the page. To prove this assertion, let’s take a look at the massive number of edits made on the page in the period between December 25 2015 and November 4 2016. This period corresponds precisely to the launching of an orchestrated smear campaign against Marc Gafni, which intentionally hijacked Wiki to serve its ends –not of information but of disinformation. Two-hundred and forty-nine edits were made on this page during this single period of 11 months — compared to 51 during the period between April 2013 and December 2015. Even more stunning is the fact that in just five weeks (from December 25 2015 to January 30 2016) there are twice as many edits on Gafni’s page as there are on President Obama’s page (87 edits for Gafni, 40 for Obama).

All of these edits refer to old and new articles, which merely recycle the same rumors to which Gafni already responded to in depth in the past. I find it fascinating, that of the nearly thirty major blogs and articles published on Gafni in the last 11 months, none of them addresses anything new or positive about him. Almost all the articles cite each other and cropped up out of the blue without being triggered by any new event in Gafni’s life. It’s pretty clear that we’re dealing with an expertly woven smear campaign, which by its own admission, seeks to stop Gafni from teaching in the public sphere.

In researching for this article, I’ve become aware of mounds of evidence that unequivocally refutes the claims against Gafni. Much of this is in the form of third person articles published on Marc’s site and other places, none of which appear on Wiki. There is also is an enormous amount of information published in the public space on how the last smear campaign was organized.

The next claim against Marc Gafni is the claim that there were three women in his organization in Israel who accused him of sexual assault. (See the second and third sentences in the “sexual assaults” section of the article).

In reality, there were two women. One was a staff person with whom Marc had been having significant conflict with and they had acrimoniously parted ways on May 1st 2006. On May 11th the attack on Marc was launched with the false claims. The second woman, Mia Cohen, who initiated the complaints, was a close friend of Gafni’s key political adversary.

The third sentence in this same paragraph says: “There was a formal police investigation, which was made public”. However there were never any legal complaints filed in Israel, nor was there any formal police investigation and therefore it couldn’t be made public. These are just blatant lies that Wiki reports as true.

There is a legal letter posted on Marc Gafni’s website which corroborates that there were never any complaints registered by the police and certainly no police investigation.

Here again Wikipedia cites an article from the web but ignores other information also available online which proves the accusation is not true. The cited articles in this section were written by journalists who never spoke to or met Marc Gafni and who have ignored the huge volume of information available on his website. It’s common that, the editors who have taken over the page sideline editors who try to correct it.

The last two lines of the same paragraph say: “Back in the United States, Gafni sent a remorseful letter to his congregation saying he regretted his actions. Gafni later claimed the letter was not an admission of guilt but an attempt to cool the controversy”.

The accurate story, told in several credible articles ignored by Wiki, is that the people who organized the false complaints told everyone that the Israeli police had registered the complaints, which, as we’ve already noted, was not true. Marc Gafni heard this when he landed in Israel on May 11th 2006. He came back to the United States the very next day leaving behind his family and all he had built in Israel over the previous 10 years. Key emails had been erased from his computer, which he needed to recover so as to show that the complaints were not true. In order to cool the controversy, he had no other choice but to send a remorse letter. All of this information is available on the Internet but is ignored by Wiki. The entire backstory of what actually happened is missing in Wikipedia.

In the next paragraph of the sexual assault section, it says that there were ‘new’ allegations in 2011, which implies there were formal complaints filed somewhere. This is not true either.

There were no new allegations of sexual misconduct filed anywhere or made before any formal professional or investigative body. What happened at this time is that some of the key figures behind the false complaints manufactured against Marc Gafni in 2006 tried to foment a second internet scandal in 2011. They used the Internet to bypass all need for fact checking. When Wiki reports this as “new allegations”, readers are left with some very serious disinformation.

To support this distortion the Wiki editors cite an article that appeared in 2011 by Gary Rosenblatt. Rosenblatt it turns out, is someone who has been close to Gafni’s key nemesis for more than 30 years. Rosenblatt never called Gafni to check facts. His journalistic negligence instead becomes enshrined on Wiki as if it were the truth.

The Wiki article also suggests that “Gafni was a Scholar in Residence at the Integral Institute, and the Director of the Integral Spiritual Experience, but left after the 2011 allegations of his sexual impropriety”. Simple research however reveals a different story.

The Integral Spiritual Experience (ISE) was initiated by Marc Gafni, together with Ken Wilber. Wilber is the key figure and leader of the Integral movement. Robb Smith who was CEO and co-founder of Integral Life with Ken Wilber at the time, was in a constant political clash with Gafni, partly due to the contrast between ISE’s great success, and his own initiatives which were lackluster or failures. Smith had been trying to remove Gafni from the Integral Spiritual Experience since its inception and he helped foster the internet controversy in 2011 in order to oust Gafni from the Integral scene. Wilber continued to work with Gafni at the Center for World Spirituality think tank while the Integral Spiritual experience was left to Robb Smith. Smith however killed the event as he killed so many other programs on the integral scene. There was only one more ISE after Gafni left, which he had already organized before his departure. The program died immediately after this last iteration, lacking Gafni’s vision and leadership. It would therefore be more accurate to say that Gafni left Integral Spiritual experience as the result of a corrupt power play by Robb Smith which utilized the smoke screen of contrived sexual controversy that he and his staff helped flame, to accomplish his political ends. None of this more accurate narrative however is reflected in Wikipedia.

Finally, the last line in this section refers to Sara again, but this time her name is disclosed so we don’t know it is the same girl who is cited in the first paragraph. This time we are told that she has been abused “since the eighties”, suggesting that Gafni has abused her for decades. The reader has no way of knowing that these claims are unfounded.

These are but a few of the examples of how Wikipedia can become a source of disinformation. Wiki is known to strongly lean toward the liberal left wing whose one core tenets is that alleged victims always tell the truth, especially when they happen to be women. Wiki is also known as having a strong bias against spirituality. When facts are taken out of context and when all contextual information, which would allow us to understand the real situation is not mentioned, it becomes easy to create a monster on a Wikipedia public page.

Through exposing Gafni’s page, I have attempted to demonstrate how, by exploiting Wikipedia’s left liberal, pro-victim feminist, and anti spiritual inclinations, self-serving parties have tried to shape Marc Gafni ‘s public image for the sake of their own hidden vendettas. This information is laid out in greater details a thorough article by Clint Fuhs. The article is well researched and carefully argued.

The fact that the allegations against Marc Gafni are based almost exclusively on an interrelated group of people who have not checked facts and are driven by ulterior motives and hidden agendas is of course lost on the Wikipedia reader. Unless the accused possesses substantial funds to engage a publicist or finds a skilled Wikipedia editor to restore his page, he has little recourse to defend his reputation and refute these baseless allegations. In today’s world, where information is driven not by facts but by click baits Wikipedia has become a major source of this new kind of pseudo-journalism. Sadly, it has becomes easier to accuse a spiritual or a political leader of sexual assault than it is for him to defend himself.

About Sam Alexander

Sam Alexander works as a Preaching Coach and as a Persistent Pain Coach - and yes, I sometimes wonder if the two are integrally related :-). He is the former pastor of First Presbyterian Church of San Rafael and also serves as Adjunct Instructor in Homiletics at San Francisco Theological Seminary. His website, describes the breadth of the work he does. Sam is the author of Evolving Christianity; Life After Faith Crisis which is available on Amazon or through his website.