Notes from the Editors: This is an edited version of our CIW Special News from November 2016. Please also see this longer version of Marc Gafni’s Response to Sara here.

First, please find a link here to two articles (1 & 2) which appeared in the Forward on Nov. 2nd.

The first piece is one part of Marc Gafni’s response to one of the central falsehoods in the smear campaign launched against him in December of 2015. The Forward did not open a comment section on this piece when it was printed. Please click the article here and read Marc’s response. Please also—if you feel it is appropriate—share this link through social media. Restoring integrity in public culture is a core part of our shared mission in evolving public culture.

This is the second in a series of responses of Marc Gafni and the Center for Integral Wisdom to the apparently orchestrated smear campaign against Marc and the Center in 2015 and the first half of the 2016. The first response was a statement by the Center’s board followed by fifty or sixty blogs posts written by dozens of leaders at the Center who have worked with Marc for years. It is also important to note at this time that Marc will respond with full disclosure, information and appropriate action regarding any future attacks.

The second piece is an editorial by the Forward’s editor Jane Eisner attacking Marc. Please feel free to leave your comments responding to the editorial in the comment section on the bottom of the page.

We were deeply saddened by the biased way in which the Forward presented this material. They went out of their way to discredit Marc’s piece by surrounding it with disclaimers and so-called expert opinion. The seeming lack of journalistic integrity in this and in so many other instances of the Forward’s coverage has been highly unfortunate and caused significant damage.

We think you will find that Marc’s response is gentle and sincere, even as it is clear and compelling. Its authenticity and integrity is we believe, self-evident to the reader. He chose not to say many important things, because he did not want to attack. Specifically, he refused to point to dramatic inconsistencies between different versions of Sara’s story, which she has told in very different ways, both in writing and orally, over the years.

We were disappointed that the Forward chose to participate in the smear campaign against Marc. Given that, however, it is not surprising that they ran Marc’s opinion piece the way they did. One of our board members, Tamar Sara, wrote a comment to the Forward’s editorial, objecting to the way they published Marc’s piece and challenged their role in the smear campaign.

The Forward did not publish her comment. They also refused to publish our comments or the comment of Barbara Marx Hubbard, our board co-chair.

We are sharing Tamar Sara’s, Lisa’s and Kerstin’s comments below. The first is from Tamar Sara; the second from us, Lisa Engles and Kerstin Tuschik, respectively.

We are committed as a think tank to the evolution of public culture and consciousness. Orchestrated smear campaigns must not be allowed to become a core methodology of internet abuse. We must as a think tank stand for the evolution of love in our public conversations. We must stand against a take-down culture where any leader, or anyone who sticks their head up, might be targeted.

We hope you are informed by reading Marc’s piece. We also hope that our unpublished comments to the Forward editorial, which we share below, will give you some context on this conversation. Please feel welcome to look at the Facts section on Marc’s private website for more information.

We also invite you to read Barbara Marx Hubbard’s and Marc Gafni’s articles on our website which talk about the need to evolve our public culture.

Marc Gafni’s article is entitled The Evolution of Public Culture: Crowd Sourcing a Witch Hunt: An Eight-Step Guide to Internet Abuse.

Barbara Marx Hubbard’s article is entitled SPEAKING OUT for the Evolution of Public Culture.

1) Comment by Tamar Sara that the Forward refused to publish:

It seems clear that the Forward has a hidden agenda in regard to Marc Gafni. Why was his opinion piece not allowed to stand by itself? I find its title strange “Marc Gafni Tells His Story And Experts Respond.” I have never seen a newspaper post an opinion piece with an editorial refutation of the opinion posted before and after the actual piece.

The Forward agreed to publish Marc’s piece. They did not tell Marc that they would embed his piece in editorial comments and experts explicitly dismissing his essay—experts that had no facts available to them, experts who had not investigated the veracity of Sara’s claims, experts who betrayed their professional integrity to lend their names to a smear campaign.

Notice that there were no experts on false memory responding to Sara’s piece. There was no investigation or challenge to Sara Kabakov’s story at all. It was taken as truth with no journalistic inquiry or challenge. Gafni was not even called to ask for his side of the story or invited to respond to her claims.

The exact opposite is true in regard to Marc Gafni response to Sara Kabakov’s piece. Before the reader is even allowed to read Gafni’s piece, the editor writes several lines explaining to the reader why he is wrong—based on ostensible experts. Does the Forward not trust its readers to make up their own minds? What is perhaps more likely is that because Gafni’ piece has the ring of authenticity and sincerity the Forward feared that it would undermine the effectiveness of the Forwards campaign against him.

Why do I call it a campaign?

  • Because he has been mentioned in the Forward almost fifty times in the last months—despite the fact that he has nothing to do with the Jewish community.
  • Because the Forward has never once called to interview Marc, to genuinely check the deep facts of this story or open to a perspective different from the smear campaign.
  • Because the Forward’s coverage appears to have been coordinated with a NY Times piece by Mark Oppenheimer—who wrote for the Forward as recently as 2014. Oppenheimer himself actually told a close friend of mine who is a board member of the Center’s that he had heard “a rumor” that a piece in the Forward was being prepared. He shared this in October 2015 shortly after he contacted Gafni. I also checked and learned that the Forward did not call Gafni about this piece until just before the piece appeared in January. The Forward only called after the piece was already written. It was apparently a perfunctory call to check some missing technical facts without any interest in getting a different perspective or hearing any information or facts that might contradict the narrative of the smear campaign. Sadly for the Forward, it seems like narratives “trumps” facts. This is exactly the tragedy of the Trump ca mpaign. That is the method of the “Alt right”. It feels like the Forward is what Marc has referred to as the “Alt left” – whose operating prodedure is “Narrative Trumps Facts.”
  • Because David Ingber, who was a key figure in the smear campaign, and some of his close associates have a close relationship with the Forward. (Ingber’s synagogue and the Forward share staff and many tight social relationships.)
  • Because based on the timeline, and the emails that have been forwarded to the Center, which as a board member I have reviewed, and the many social links at play, it would appear self-evident that the Forward, Ingber, Oppenheimer and others have coordinated their apparent smear campaign.
  • Because there is nothing to make the recycling of this very old and to my mind discredited story, which has been reported on and responded to numerous times in the last 12 years, newsworthy yet again.
  • Because the Forward has previously refused to publish substantive comments which challenge its editorial position and I imagine they will not publish my comment either.

I have been tracking, along with many friends, the Forward’s coverage of Gafni over many months and have been truly appalled by the utter failure of the Forward to genuinely check facts or acknowledge their apparent bias. One cannot help associate to the Rolling Stone Magazine article, which according to the courts were guilty of actual malice in the false claims they made in their Rape on Campus article. I am now reading all of the articles in the Forward carefully with a group of my colleagues and will be happy to share with the Forward the results of our analysis at a later date.

My hope is that there are voices in the Forward that are brave enough to seek truth and higher resolution after genuinely investigating all the perspectives and checking the perspectives against objective facts and records.

I would like to believe that those involved are also good people who feel they are fighting for a good cause. However, their refusal to check the most elementary facts, combined with their failure to read the voluminous material refuting the false claims posted on his website, certainly give me pause as to the integrity of their motives.

Marc was a nineteen year old boy when he met Sara. He has a very different story of the events that occurred some 36 years ago. His story has been validated by expert polygraph. We all know the debate on polygraph. The Forward’s experts who so blithely dismiss polygraph, ignore the fact that Dr. Gordon Barland, the former director of polygraph research for the Department of Defense who administered the test, wrote that there was only .01 percent that he was not telling the truth. Given the fact that the events under discussion took place 36 years ago, expert polygraph was an important method available for Gafni to establish the truth.

His voice deserves to be heard just as much as Sara’s without the attempt to discredit his voice before the reader has had a chance to hear him. Yet the Forward continues to grossly misrepresent the facts by repeating Sara’s story without challenge. The Forward also ignores the gross discrepancy between Sara’s current story, which is very different from the story she told on the web in 2004 and other oral versions of her story.

The Forward also ignores the fact that Vicki Polin, according to many a discredited victim abuse advocate, (who appeared on the Oprah Winfrey show in the 1980s with the questionable claim that as a child she murdered a baby in a satanic cult)—claimed in an article on the web to have been either Sara’s therapist or at least an important voice in guiding her. It is not much of a stretch to surmise that Polin and others may have had a hand in shaping Sara’s story. Polin’s involvement with Sara was also confirmed in a Maariv newspaper article from 2004. The Forward is aware of Polin’s involvement and yet refuses to write about it.
Finally the Forward ignores Polin’s and Sara’s long standing connection with political adversaries of Gafni’s. Sara herself has written in an earlier account on the web how her therapists and advisors shaped her view.

Eisner, in her editorial also includes a picture of Gafni as a 55 year old man alongside President Elect Donald Trump and Ari Shavit with the headline “Responding to Sex Abuse Claim, Men Behave Badly.” Again, Gafni was a 19 year old boy just out of high school when he met Sara. Putting a current picture of him 36 years later instead of a picture of him at 19 is an attempt to collapse the timeline, which to my mind seems to be a gross failure of journalistic integrity.

I would ask the reader to entertain for a moment what it would mean if the claims of abuse in Sara’s story are not true.

I understand how crucially important it is that women’s voices be heard when they talk about their own sexual abuse. But I also know that it is crucially important not to make a false or distorted claim and then say, “Don’t challenge me because that would be victim shaming!” Think of the impact of the false telling of a story that has been told for so many years, and the devastating effect that it has had in the dozen plus years on so many people’s lives.

In the end it is not Sara whom I hold primarily accountable. I hold accountable the people who have used Sara and others over the years to attack Gafni—many of them for hidden ulterior motives, even as they are dressed in the fig leafs of victim advocacy.

I and many people who know Gafni well speak for his integrity and for the importance of his contribution. Please take a moment to read the responses of the Center’s leadership to the smear campaign six months ago. As I know many of us have, interacting with him over these past ten months, seeing how he kept his heart open, kept all of our spirits up as he was being maligned, and refused to malign Sara, even as he has pointed towards the truth, has been a constant reminder of what integrity looks like.

It is telling that Marc—despite being terribly smeared—has remained willing to sit down and seek peace and resolution. Is anyone else willing?

2) Comment by Lisa Engles that the Forward refused to publish:

As a woman, and a mother of a 14 year old girl, I stand against all forms of sexual abuse. At the same time, we need to remember that how we gather information and make judgements tells us volumes about the ethical nature of our society. The internet has become the ‘wild-wild west’ where anything goes. Facts don’t matter. Journalism has turned into sensationalism. And sadly, people actually believe the sensationalism. There is no discernment.

In the case of Marc Gafni, a quick search reveals that the Forward suddenly started reporting on him in January 2016 and has obsessively written article after article filled with extreme bias and factual distortion. Of course the timing of the Forward’s coverage coincided precisely with the exact dates of the smear campaign. The Forward has either intentionally or negligently, I do not know which, allowed itself to become the instrument of a public smear campaign rooted in distortion and motivated by hidden agendas. So in Marc Gafni’s case, I’m afraid that HE is actually the victim.

Have you ever considered that women lie, just as men do? As Cathy Young noted in an excellent discussion in Slate, the myth of the lying woman has been replaced by the myth of the woman who never lies. Even more tragic are men who use women—like patriarchy has always done—by turning them into victims in order to further their own shadowy male agendas of ego and power. That is part of the dynamic that is I believe at play here.

I find Gafni’s case an example of the tragic regression we have made in justice, dignity and integrity in the internet age. Consider this, please. Telling a false story, or making false sexual claims, and then using the internet to spread these claims in order to commit social murder is what I would like to call the weaponizing of sex.

Dear Ms. Eisner, if you really care about justice and human dignity, for ALL PEOPLE, not just women, stop using your articles to aid and abet the crowdsourcing of a witch hunt in a story which you have not genuinely investigated.

3) Comment by Kerstin Tuschik that the Forward refused to publish:

What Jane Eisner is doing here in terms of Marc Gafni is not only bad sensationalism but also plain unethical.

Placing Gafni’s case alongside with Trump’s and Shavit’s is manipulative to say the least; as is her opinion piece published “as context” under Gafni’s authorship together with his honest response.

What she totally refuses to see is the larger context, which is a well-organized smear campaign against Gafni that has been at play for quite some time now. And yes, context DOES matter.

Is this really what journalism has devolved into nowadays? What happened to good journalistic principles, like Truth and Accuracy, Independence, Fairness and Impartiality, Humanity, and Accountability?

What happened to the human principles of justice? Of “innocent until proven guilty”? Has that, in the age of the internet, become “guilty until proven innocent”?

While we need to certainly protect men and women from sexual abuse, we live in a culture in which the abuse of the sexual – for the sake of sensationalism, grenvy, and revenge – has become the norm. In this climate, sexually alive men are seen as perpetrators and predators, while sexually alive women are seen as seducers; victim shaming abounds, while name rape via the internet which refuses to check either or investigate motivation has replaced civil public debate.

Let’s just admit it: we are all confused about the sexual. Marc Gafni has the courage to offer a new narrative of the Erotic and the sexual. Is that why he needs to be destroyed?


Just as we are about to send this letter, Sara posted another piece in the Forward responding to Marc’s refutation. The Forward did this even though they told us clearly that they would not do so. The Forward also promised us the opportunity to respond to any comments or responses to Marc’s refutation. They reneged on that commitment. In her final post, Sara lied again. But repeating a lie does not make it true. She dismisses the extensive polygraph that Marc took which undermines the truth of her story. Even though polygraph is not admissible in court it is agreed by most experts to be an effective instrument for checking truthfulness. It is so effective that government agencies including the department of defense use it extensively in security screenings for their own employees.

Sara again made up events in her memory that in Marc’s words, validated by extensive expert polygraph, “never happened”. Whether Sara’s statements are intentional lies or false memories is not ours to say. It was sad to see that once again the Forward was afraid to challenge Sara’s story. Tellingly the Forward did not allow comments to Marc’s essay and did allow comments to both Sara’s original piece at the beginning of the smear campaign and to this last piece that she just wrote. But here sadly comes the next piece of shocking lack of integrity. Sara’s new piece received twenty comments. Most of them were not from people affiliated with the Center or Marc. For the first time since this all began people had the opportunity to read Marc’s piece and Sara’s piece side by side and evaluate their truthfulness. 17 out of 20 comments went against Sara. What did the Forward do? They took down the comments to “protect” Sara.

Here is a link to the disqus comment section that was taken off of her article.

However, we are glad to have set the record straight through Marc’s piece and now need to get back to constructive work.

Thanks for taking the time to read.


Kerstin Tuschik and Lisa Engles

Co-Executive Directors of the Center for Integral Wisdom