Thursday, February 18, 2016

I am a signatory to a Change.org petition signed by more than 100 Rabbis and Jewish cultural leaders strongly warned people about our knowledge of activities of Marc Gafni, who has left a trail of decades of sexual abuse, lying, plagiarism, and betrayals of trust. More than 3000 others have joined us, many with direct testimonials you can read in the comments.

Petition update

Wilber and Gafni

David Ingber
New York, NY
Feb 18, 2016 — Dear Change.org signatories,

Thank you again for taking a strong public stand on Marc Gafni with our Change.org petition. The outpouring of support and particularly the stories shared in the comments section have been heartwarming.

The petition helped spark dozens of media pieces. Many leaders and organizations have disassociated from Marc. We are definitely making progress in preventing future harm!

However, Marc is still attracting followers, partly due to ongoing support from several key leaders, particularly Ken Wilber. Ken’s endorsements of Gafni and discrediting of the victims’s testimonies have given Gafni the credibility and prominence he’s needed to rise as a spiritual teacher despite his scandal-ridden history. Wilber needs to be motivated to break his silence and disavow his longtime alliance with Gafni, in order to help dismantle Gafni’s network of support and his ability to do future harm.

I'm writing today to ask for your help in putting pressure on Wilber, who remains one of the most prominent public defenders who has not broken with Marc.

Wilber is scheduled as a presenter at the Wisdom 2.0 conference Feb. 20-22 and we feel that conference producers should know that Wilber is enabling a serial abuser and thus should not be featured at this gathering of more than 3000 high tech and spiritual leaders.

Could you take a minute and forward the below note (personalized however you see fit) to the conference organizers at sgordhamer@gmail.com and cat@wisdom2conference.com

RE: Raising my concern about Ken Wilber as a presenter

Dear Wisdom 2.0 producers,

Please add my voice to the many raising grave concern about the damage you will do by featuring Ken Wilber as a presenter in your upcoming conference. I am asking that you please remove him as a presenter for his protection of serial abuser Marc Gafni. Protecting a serial abuser and enabling him to hurt more people is not the kind of conduct that is worthy of a Wisdom 2.0 presenter, much less a trusted spiritual leader. It is essential that we hold our spiritual leaders accountable and that Wilber is held accountable for his support of Gafni. Associating him with the quality of programming expected of Wisdom 2.0 cheapens and discredits your important work.

I am a signatory to a Change.org petition signed by more than 100 Rabbis and Jewish cultural leaders strongly warned people about our knowledge of activities of Marc Gafni, who has left a trail of decades of sexual abuse, lying, plagiarism, and betrayals of trust. More than 3000 others have joined us, many with direct testimonials you can read in the comments.

Gafni has recently been called a "New Age Cosby" in the Huffington Post. There have been more than 30 public articles about him in the last five weeks, including in the New York Times, HuffingtonPost, New York Daily News, Alternet, Forward, Tablet, Jewish Week, Times of Israel, Haaretz, and Religious News Service.

Several victims have also gone forward with their direct testimonials in recent weeks, including two who were underage when molested and his third wife, who is as yet anonymous. In addition, male spiritual leaders who were once friends and allies of Gafni have written about how they were manipulated by him, and why they no longer support him.

Here's a list of all the known pieces to date: http://integral-options.blogspot.com/2016/01/a-regularly-updated-list-of-current.html

Despite this extensive media coverage, Ken Wilber remains one of Gafni's most prominent defenders and enablers, as a co-founder of the Center for Integral Wisdom with him. Over the years he has issued several public statements such as this one, http://www.marcgafni.com/resp/on-controversy-by-sally-kempton-and-ken-wilber/, in which he praises Gafni and discredits the people brave enough to tell the truth about Gafni’s abuse.

Wilber claims to have researched Gafni's past and found nothing worse than him being an "insensitive boyfriend," a comment in the New York Times article that was devastating and infuriating to Gafni's many victims who have experienced severe trauma.

We understand that Wilber has actually been privy to many direct testimonies and in-depth allegations and seems to have chosen to minimize this history publicly to protect Gafni. I join with my fellow signatories in calling for you to investigate this matter and to dismiss Wilber from your program unless he makes a public disassociation and repudiation of Gafni.

We cannot risk having more lives traumatized.


Thank you all for your courage and for your commitment to ending ending this abuse, once and for all.

In solidarity and blessing,

Rabbi David Ingber

"But though the crimes committed by both Olmert and Katzav provide a not very attractive portrait of some members of the country’s leading politicians, Israel’s supporters should actually take some grim satisfaction from their humiliation...."

What the Rule of Law Looks Like
Ehud Olmert - The Ugly Face of Israeli Politicians

On Monday, Israelis were treated to the awful spectacle of a former prime minister starting a jail sentence. After a drawn out appeals process, Ehud Olmert, who served as Israel’s leader from 2006 to 2009, began serving a 19-month sentence on corruption charges. He’ll be housed in a special wing of one of the country’s largest prisons along with the other white-collar criminals that can be trusted to live with a man that was privy to the country’s national security secrets. Among the few prisoners who fit into that category is Moshe Katzav, who is serving out a sentence for rape.

The idea that a former prime minister and president are currently doing time is a discouraging one for the Jewish state and its friends. But though the crimes committed by both Olmert and Katzav provide a not very attractive portrait of some members of the country’s leading politicians, Israel’s supporters should actually take some grim satisfaction from their humiliation. Say what you want about the intemperate and sometimes downright crazy nature of Israeli politics, as well as the unfortunate tone of much of its discourse or the not particularly elevated nature of its popular culture. What happened to Olmert proves that, for all of its flaws, Israel is a country where the rule of law still reigns supreme.

Olmert is a product of the generation that came just after Israel’s founders and the contrast between his behavior and his predecessors speaks volumes. Whereas men like David Ben Gurion and Menachem Begin lived simply, if not as ascetics, Olmert always lived large. And in contrast to many of his colleagues who spent their formative years in senior military positions (or his successor Benjamin Netanyahu, who had been a commando as a young man and then served in diplomatic posts until getting elected to the Knesset), Olmert was a hotshot lawyer and political fixer. Like other American journalists who met and interviewed him, I always thought that unlike most top Israeli politicians, Olmert seemed to be a very familiar type and would have fit in nicely in any urban political machine in the United States.

It is interesting that, even as he entered jail, Olmert was not only still denying his guilt but also claiming that his downfall was a political conspiracy. His intention is to muddy the waters of public opinion to rebuild his tarnished legacy. That is, of course, nonsense. If anything, the pace of the investigation of his crimes while serving as mayor of Jerusalem was slowed by the fact that he was pushing ahead with the peace process and some in the judicial establishment were loath to disrupt his administration because of ethical lapses. Indeed, there were many in Israel that thought the investigations of Ariel Sharon’s sons’ dubious ethical behavior (which eventually led to a corruption conviction for one of them) was also held back because of his decision to unilaterally withdraw from Gaza as he began his journey from the right to the center.

Olmert’s claims that the corruption case unfairly ended his political career are also absurd. Though he entered office on the coat tails of the fallen Sharon after the former general was stricken by illness, Olmert was among Israel’s least popular prime ministers. His disastrous conduct of the 2006 Lebanon War sealed his political fate and, even a year later when I saw him in his office, he was in full bunker mode. At that point, his poll ratings were in the single digits — actually within the pollsters’ margin of error — leading some wags to question whether anybody, including the prime minister’s wife, actually approved of his conduct in office. But as a former Likudnik who joined the peace camp, Olmert remained popular with American liberals and is, no doubt, hoping he can resume getting lucrative speaking fees from credulous Jewish groups after he is eventually sprung from jail.

But the real lesson about Olmert is not so much about his future prospects as it is about the triumph of justice. Olmert’s attitude toward his transgressions was the same we hear from a lot of American politicians who are caught behaving badly: everybody does it. His routine corruption and confidence that he could bribe witnesses into silence (for which he was also convicted) are depressingly familiar. But despite all the factors that might have led Israeli prosecutors into giving him a pass, they pressed ahead and, despite the difficulties of nailing an influential and wealthy individual who could afford a top defense team, they won.

The contrast between Israeli law and what goes on in the Palestinian territories is instructive. The Palestinian Authority is a notorious kleptocracy as Fatah officials run the West Bank in a manner more befitting mafia chieftains than political leaders. PA President Mahmoud Abbas is, after all, currently serving the 11th year of the four-year term to which he was elected in 2005.

But we don’t have to compare Israel to the Palestinians or the corruption of other neighboring Arab countries where the rule of law is a myth. Americans need to remember how we give some of our leaders a pass when it comes to breaking the law. President Bill Clinton’s perjury under oath was excused as just being about sex. His wife Hillary’s blatant violations of U.S. security regulations for handling classified and top secret material would land any lesser being than the former secretary of state and likely Democratic Party presidential nominee in jail. Indeed, many in the security apparatus, even famous people, have been disgraced for less. Just ask former general and CIA director David Petraeus if you don’t believe me.

Yet there aren’t many who think the hold of the rule of law in this country is strong enough for the administration to give Mrs. Clinton the same treatment others receive. I don’t think Hillary Clinton must go to jail in order for Americans to be able to claim that their judicial system is as impartial as that of Israel. But if she gets a pass for law breaking, it will be a blot on the honor of the Justice Department.

American justice is generally the envy of the world, and we know that of Israel is imperfect. But the sight of Olmert heading to jail where he’ll share a cellblock with Katzav is a reminder of the Jewish state’s high standards and ability to treat the mighty as being just as accountable as the marginal. When the dust settles on the Clinton email scandal, let’s hope Americans can say as much of their justice system.