Rabbi Dov Lipman sues 2 women amid sexual harassment accusations

Former Yesh Atid MK and activist Rabbi Dov Lipman faces counter-suits by women who accuse him of sexual harassment.

Shira Hanau, JTA ,

Dov Lipman
Dov Lipman
פלאש 90

The American-born former Israeli politician Dov Lipman was once a rising star of Yesh Atid, the political party whose leader was tasked last week with forming a new government.

Now Lipman is being sued for sexual harassment, according to a report in Haaretz.

Two women from his Modern Orthodox community in Beit Shemesh made specific accusations about Lipman, a rabbi originally from Washington, D.C. Commenting on a post in a #MeToo-themed Facebook group written by a moderator that warned communities not to hire Lipman as a scholar-in-residence, one of the women said that Lipman had inappropriately propositioned her. The second woman wrote that Lipman had engaged in abusive and bullying behavior.

Lipman sued the two women in a libel lawsuit last July, Haaretz reported.

He claimed the women’s accusations were false and made with “evil intent” and “the goal of humiliating, deriding and destroying the chances of the complainant to be chosen for public roles, to damage his ability to support his family, with the goal of destroying his life.”

In response, the women filed a counter-lawsuit that accuses Lipman of trying to silence them and “damage their right to express their truth and their positions.”

Both women had worked with Lipman on the activism that helped kickstart his political run, which involved pushing back against harassment of women and girls over modesty and other perceived religious infractions in Beit Shemesh, a city that includes a community of extremist haredi Jews.

Lipman, who was elected to Israel’s parliament in 2013, lost his Knesset seat in 2015 when his party did not win enough seats to reelect him. Lipman continued to work on behalf of the party as an English-language spokesperson but broke with the party in 2018, citing “personal reasons” at the time. In text messages cited in the woman’s lawsuit against Lipman, he said the allegations of sexual harassment were the reason for his split from Yesh Atid.

Lipman currently serves as secretary-general of the World Confederation of United Zionists, part of the World Zionist Organization.

Lipman has denied the allegations and on Sunday blasted Haaretz, accusing it of writing a one-sided "smear story".

"A newspaper wrote a smear story about me without even asking for my side of the story," Lipman wrote in a Facebook post.

"I sued a woman who wrote false and defamatory words about me about something which in her words allegedly took place in 2014."

"There was, of course, no criminal complaint against me as I was never even alone with this woman at any time. Now it is in the hands of the civil court and I am confident that the decision in my law suit against her will bring the truth to light. In the meantime I will continue to work day and night to help olim and to tell Israel’s story to the world."