The Money Behind Telos
You may have heard of multibillionaire George Soros and his liberal, global agenda. You may not have heard that he provides significant funds to an organization with ties to the broader evangelical community. His financial clout is being used in an attempt to reshape how evangelicals view the conflict in the Middle East, and the result is not pro-Israel.
According to the NGO Monitor, a nonprofit organization in western Jerusalem, Soros has allegedly used the Open Society Foundations (OSF) to shift U.S. public opinion against Israel, fund anti-Israel organizations seeking to delegitimize Israel globally, and support fringe opposition groups within Israel.1
Soros, born in 1930 in Hungary, is a Jewish atheist who emigrated to England in 1947 and New York City in 1956, where he made his vast fortune.
An NGO Monitor report also reveals Soros’s foundation “funds close to thirty organizations that spend inordinate time and resources condemning Israel.”2 OSF has provided up to half of Telos Group’s funding since its inception.3
Headquartered in Washington, DC, the Telos Group (formerly the Kairos Project) was founded in 2009 by Gregory Khalil and Todd Deatherage. Khalil is an Arab-Christian lawyer who was an advisor to Arab leaders involved in peace negotiations with Israel. Todd Deatherage is an evangelical Christian from Arkansas who once served in the State Department.
Sean Savage, reporting for the JNS.org news service, suggests the goal of the funding is “to undermine support for Israel among the Evangelical Christian community.”4
Convinced that a two-state solution is the only viable option in the Arab-Israeli conflict, Telos Group uses three primary means to communicate its vision: pilgrimages, speaking tours, and national outreaches.
Each year it hosts pilgrimages to Israel to enable “influential Americans to personally encounter multiple Israeli and Palestinian narratives.”5 The appeal is ‘“human connection’ and ‘immersion’ into the cultural, religious, and social facets of the region.”6
Offering home stays, interfaith activities, environmentally friendly tours, wilderness treks, and cycling tours through the West Bank, the trips are designed to attract college and university students.
The Telos message is skillfully framed with emotional snapshots and sound bites for the evangelical audience, and the itinerary is carefully controlled to maximize the impact of a one-sided message that Palestinian-Arabs are the so-called victims of Israeli oppression.
Using language that creates the illusion of fairness, the message ignores the Arab refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, Arab terrorism against Israeli civilians, and corruption within the Palestinian Authority.7
Exposing the Telos Group’s peace messaging as a cover for anti-Israel bias, Dexter Van Zile, Christian Media Analyst for CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America), called Telos “a group that gives Palestinian leaders access to influentials in the Evangelical community that they would not otherwise have. These influentials then lend their credibility to the anti-Zionist cause.”8
Although Telos’s mission statement claims to be “pro-Israeli, pro-Palestinian, pro-American, and pro-peace, all at the same time,” its speakers are predominantly pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel, and sometimes anti-American.
Rev. Mitri Raheb, for example, promotes the belief that the Jewish people are not the true people of the land of Israel. “From his point of view,“ wrote expert Tricia Aven, “Palestinians are the indigenous people of the land, and Jesus was a Palestinian.”9 She said Archbishop Elias Chacour, a former Melkite Catholic bishop, fallaciously asserts Israelis are the new Nazis.10
The Telos Presidential Advisory Council even includes a member of the Muslim Public Affairs Council. As a result, the Israeli narrative is buried under a skewed version of the Palestinian-Arab story that appears to be at the heart of the Telos Group’s messaging.
For those who want to undermine Israel on the world stage, the strategy is simple: Divide and conquer. In this case, polarize the group providing Israel’s strongest support—the evangelical Christian community—and weaken its influence.
Though mature Christians firmly grounded in God’s Word may not be influenced by the slanted Arab story, the narrative resonates with young people who did not witness God’s hand in the rebirth of Israel and are either unfamiliar with or uninterested in Bible prophecy.
It is vital that young people receive a biblical perspective on Israel. Or, as David Brog has said, “We who care about sharing the truth in the Middle East need to find the funds to compete with these very deep pockets.”11
- Dr. Alexander H. Joffe, “Bad Investment: The Philanthropy of George Soros and the Arab-Israeli Conflict,” NGO Monitor, May 2013 <ngo-monitor.org/soros .pdf>.
- Dr. Tricia Aven, “Telos Group Promotes Anti-Zionist Narrative in Evangelical Community,” CAMERA, March 18, 2014 <tinyurl.com/avenTL>.
- Sean Savage, “Do funders like George Soros pose a threat to Evangelical Christian support for Israel?” JNS.org, March 2, 2014 <tinyurl.com/sorosJNSS>.
- “Educational Pilgrimages, “The Telos Group <telosgroup.org/programs/pilgrimages>.
- Janet Levy, “An Anti-Israel Tourism Subterfuge,” American Thinker, April 9, 2014 <tinyurl.com/telosss>.