Rabbi Dov Lipman, a former Knesset member and well-known advocate for English-speaking immigrants, has been fired from his leadership position at a global Zionist movement.
Haaretz reported last month that the 49-year-old Orthodox rabbi was embroiled in a legal battle with a woman who accused him of sexual misconduct and another woman who published a Facebook post describing allegedly improper behavior on his part, which he denies.
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Lipman had been serving as secretary-general of the World Confederation of United Zionists, a centrist organization with representatives in the World Zionist Congress. He was appointed to the position late last year.
Following the Haaretz report, Confederation Chairman David Yaari notified Yaakov Hagoel, chairman of the executive of the World Zionist Organization, of the decision to remove Lipman from his position immediately.
In a letter sent to Hagoel, a copy of which was obtained by Haaretz, Yaari wrote that the Confederation took the women’s complaints against Lipman “very seriously.”
Reached for comment, Yaari issued the following statement: “The World Confederation of United Zionists honors and respects the privacy of others. Given the grave allegations against former MK Dov Lipman, it was decided to part ways in order to focus on CUZ’s vital work within the global Zionist forum.” The position of secretary-general is a salaried one.
Lipman, however, denied he had been fired, saying the position “was a part-time role which I could not continue because I am spending day and night guiding olim and their families who reach out to me for help entering Israel and for assistance in other areas.”
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Under the coalition agreement reached during the latest World Zionist Congress convention in October, it was decided that the Confederation and Hanoar Hatzioni youth movement would rotate control of the WZO department responsible for youth movements and young adults.
For the first two-and-a-half years, a Hanoar Hatzioni representative would head the Pioneering Youth and Next Generation department, and a representative of the Confederation would hold the job for the next two-and-a-half years.
According to high-ranking WZO sources, Lipman had been lobbying for the position and saw himself as the leading candidate to take over when the position was rotated. Following his ouster from the Confederation, however, his candidacy has been eliminated, the sources said.
Haaretz reported last month that Washington-born Lipman filed a libel suit against two women from his community in Beit Shemesh last summer and that one of the women had countersued, alleging that Lipman sexually harassed her.
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.
The countersuit accuses Lipman, 49, of sexual harassment before and during his time as a Yesh Atid lawmaker between 2013 and 2015, asking that he pay the woman 120,000 shekels in compensation.
Lipman acknowledged that he “filed a libel lawsuit against two women,” who, he claimed, “wrote damaging falsehoods about me” and “in response to my lawsuit against them, the first woman countersued me” for sexual harassment.
He said he believed that “the truth will come to light from my lawsuit against them,” adding, “I have never harassed or assaulted anyone in my life.”