- Co-founder and executive director of Avaaz.org
- Co-founder of Res Publica and Faithful America
- Promotes anti-Israel propaganda
See also: Avaaz.org Res Publica Faithful America Faith in Public Life
Born in the Canadian city of Edmonton, Ricken Patel is the co-founder and executive director of Avaaz.org, a global “e-advocay” organization closely associated with MoveOn. Prior to his work with Avaaz, Patel helped found Faithful America (a faith-based, movement-building enterprise), and Res Publica (a relatively small coalition of left-wing activists).
A graduate of Balliol College at Oxford University (where he studied politics, philosophy, and economics), Patel also holds a master’s degree in public policy from Harvard University. He has served as a consultant for CARE International, the Gates Foundation, the International Center for Transitional Justice, the International Crisis Group, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the United Nations. Today Patel sits on J Street’s advisory council along with Eli Pariser, who is a co-founder of Avaaz and the current executive director of MoveOn.
In 2003, Patel and other activists, notably former Virginia congressman Tom Perriello, formed the nonprofit organization Res Publica (for which Patel serves as nominal executive director). Under the stewardship of Patel and Perriello, Res Publica concentrated its early efforts on promoting left-wing activism in the American faith community.
Working with the National Council of Churches, Patel and Perriello in 2004 helped establish Faithful America, an online movement-building initiative designed to be the “religious version of MoveOn.org.” Faithful America was later taken over by Faith in Public Life, where, as of 2008, Patel was a member of the board.
As early as 2006, Patel and Perriello had initiated Avaaz as a project of Res Publica. When Avaaz became an independent nonprofit in 2007, Patel became the organization's executive director.
As exponents of radical environmentalism, Patel and Avaaz have promoted numerous initiatives that characterize global warming as an imminent threat to humanity -- one that must be solved through international regulation and wealth redistribution. In 2009, Patel joined Bill McKibben of the organization 350.org in hosting a promotional vigil to generate publicity and public support for the climate-change summit held that year in Copenhagen.
Patel is a signatory to the Global Zero nuclear-arms-reduction petition, drafted in 2008. Other notable signers include Sandy Berger, Jimmy Carter, and Mary Robinson. Dedicated to the elimination of "all nuclear weapons," the Global Zero coalition strongly supported the 2010 START treaty which was signed by Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and U.S. President Barack Obama.
In 2010, Patel (a native Canadian) and Avaaz launched a crusade against a proposed Canadian news station called Sun TV. Patel accused the conservative Stephen Harper government of conspiring with media mogul Rupert Murdoch to create a “radical-right propaganda network” in Canada. Patel also claimed that Murdoch’s Fox News had “spawned the radical right Tea Party group, and provided a platform for hate and racism” (emphasis original). Patel went on to accuse “media barons” such as Murdoch of “poison[ing] people’s hearts and polariz[ing] our world.” (emphasis original).
Patel has co-authored numerous statements that paint a distorted picture of the Arab-Israel conflict. One such statement asserted that “[t]he people of Gaza are being squeezed to death,” and, in fact, are inmates “locked up in the largest prison on earth.” Another statement claimed that after the 2009 conflict known as Operation Cast Lead, the Palestinians had been “beaten or killed ... [and] even the smallest [Palestinian] movements or actions [were] tightly controlled” by Israel’s “crushing” occupation.