Michael Ganoe: From Chocolate Hero to Zero

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Back in 2012, a non-Jewish Israel supporter by the name of Michael Ganoe began an organization called Hersheys for Heroes, which delivered Hershey chocolate bars to soldiers on bases all over the country. Besides this organization, Ganoe ran ‘Insight to Israel’, and would also broadcast weekly on American web radio his love for Israel.

Seeing this American Christian man – who was living in Israel – manifest his support for us in this way certainly ingratiated him with many Israel supporters.

But he had his critics – like the Times of Israel, who in 2016 reported a darker side to his jovial IDF base visits:

With a “good old boy” southern accent and a cheerily named organization, the head of the “Hershey’s for Heroes” organization has been disseminating anti-Islamic and Evangelical Christian sentiments on a regular basis to soldiers on IDF bases, apparently with the army’s sanction.

Most recently, Michael Ganoe, who runs the aforementioned group, spoke with a group of soldiers — teachers in the army’s Education and Youth Corps — who had gathered in a community center in the Tel Aviv suburb of Bat Yam for a day of lectures on December 16.

Ganoe, who regularly hands out chocolate bars to soldiers at bus stations, shopping malls and even on IDF bases, was the last speaker of the day.

His speech in Bat Yam did not deviate from his standard fare — heaps of praise for the IDF mixed with anti-Muslim sentiments — though it was perhaps more subtle than his Facebook posts.

“He started talking about how much he loves the Jewish people, how Israel is great and how America loves Israel,” one soldier said. “But if you listened in between the lines, you could hear the problematic things that he was saying.”

Ganoe, for instance, applauded the IDF’s “fight against Islam” since Islam, he claimed, was “the root of the world’s evil,” the participant said — not Islamic extremists or Islamic extremism, but the entire religion.

Though there were no Muslim soldiers in the room, Ganoe’s claims may have been a shock to the approximately 1,500 Muslims, mostly Bedouin, who serve in the IDF.

“At the end, I wanted to go up and speak to him and ask him, ‘What the heck?’” said the soldier, who found Ganoe’s remarks to be offensive and upsetting.

Some of the people present at the event tried to understand Ganoe’s comments as condemnations of “the bad Muslims,” not Islam as a whole, the soldier said, but a glance at the Hershey’s for Heroes Facebook page reveals Ganoe’s true intention.

“Mohammed was a blood-thirsty, child-raping, self-appointed false prophet. The Koran is a lie. There is no Allah,” he posted on the Hershey’s for Heroes Facebook page on the same day he addressed the Education Corps soldiers.

In August, he met with a group of army instructors — soldiers who educate other soldiers about Judaism and Zionism as part of the IDF’s Nativ program — on their base. He spoke for at least half an hour, telling them to be proud of their Jewish identities and lauding Israel.

But in the middle of his praise, he also mentioned to the army educators that he wished the Dome of the Rock would be blown up.

“In the 1990s we watched the First Gulf War,” Ganoe told the soldiers. “We watched the Scud missiles coming from Iran (sic). And we hoped and prayed that one of those Scud missiles would hit the Dome of the Rock so that you could rebuild the Temple.”

The soldiers laughed at Ganoe’s anecdote, perhaps not realizing he was expressing an Evangelical Christian belief that the Jewish Temple must be rebuilt in order to bring about the second coming of Jesus Christ.

I wasn’t paying too much attention to Ganoe until last year, when a friend of mine pointed out to me Ganoe’s anti-vaxx posts. Besides the fact he was flaunting being on public transport without wearing a mask – at a time when the country was required to do so – his posts were making comparisons between the Israeli government and the Nazis, something that is antisemitic and incredibly offensive.

Then earlier this year, Ganoe left Israel after living here for 9 years and moved to Bucharest, Romania I am not sure whether he left on his own accord or was kicked out after his visa renewal was rejected:

He left with these fighting words:

I had not given much thought to Ganoe again until now, when a friend of mine alerted me to the following recent video rant of his. Note: it is very long, but I distilled some of the vilest parts for you below it.

In the video, Ganoe comes across as a madman. Among other things, he engages in antisemitic rhetoric, says we brought antisemitism, the Holocaust and terrorism on ourselves, and calls for us to hang our leaders. He also comes out of the evangelical closet after seemingly being careful not to proselytize while a guest in Israel (he used to work for the Salvation army when in the US). For him, even an observant a Jew who observes the Torah is going to hell, because he doesn’t believe in Jesus.

(make sure to click on the right arrow to go to each subsequent video)

Believe it or not, Ganoe still receives donations from people with Israeli names. Perhaps they are willing to turn a blind eye to his hateful rhetoric because they agree with his anti-vaxx stance, which would make them as bonkers as he seems to be.

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David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media