Former MK Dov Lipman Sued for Sexual Harassment After He Sues Two Women for Libel

Over the past year, Rabbi Dov Lipman has burnished his public profile fighting for U.S. immigrants to Israel like himself, lobbying the government to ease COVID-19 rules to expedite family visits. 

But behind the scenes, the former Knesset member has been waging equally fierce battles in court against a woman accusing him of sexual misconduct, and another who published a Facebook post describing allegedly improper behavior on his part, which he denies.

Last July, the D.C.-born rabbi, 49, filed a libel suit against two women who belong to his close-knit community of Modern Orthodox, English-speaking immigrants in Beit Shemesh. The women both worked closely with Lipman in 2011 on the issue that launched his political career: advocating for women and girls harmed by violent religious extremists in the city, some 30 kilometers (18 miles) west of Jerusalem. 

According to court documents, Lipman’s lawsuit charges that comments the two women posted on a private Facebook group about alleged sexual misconduct by him damaged his reputation and harmed his career. His lawsuit asks for 100,000 shekels ($30,850) from each woman in compensation. Both women are in their 50s and married mothers.

Last November, the first woman named in Lipman’s libel action filed a sexual harassment countersuit against him for his behavior before and during his time in the Knesset, asking that he pay her 120,000 shekels in compensation.  

Then-MK Dov Lipman in the Knesset listening to his Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid in 2014. Then-Likud MK Moshe Feiglin is on the left.Michal Fattal

Lipman’s Facebook page still identifies him as a “politician,” though technically that hasn’t been true for six years. In 2015, Lipman’s three-year Knesset stint ended after his party – Yair Lapid’s centrist Yesh Atid – didn’t win enough seats to keep him in the parliament. In 2018, after three years of continued advocacy for the party, serving as its “English speakers’ representative,” he and Yesh Atid suddenly severed ties. At the time, Lipman, a married father of four, announced he had left Yesh Atid for “personal” reasons, and a spokesman for the party announced “it has been decided that Dov Lipman will no longer represent or be active in the party.”

The women’s legal response in the libel suit, part of the court documents, contains text messages exchanged between Lipman and one of the women. In one of them, the rabbi acknowledges that it was the allegations of misconduct that was responsible for his sudden break with Yesh Atid. “I have suffered immensely for my behavior,” Lipman wrote in the text message. “I stepped down from Yesh Atid which I had given 5 years to.”