‘I never stated that she believes in Jesus’: Rabbi sues Lihi Lapid for ‘defamation’

Rabbi Tovia Singer, a leading activist against Christian missionaries attempting to convert Jews, is suing the wife of Israeli Opposition leader Yair Lapid for defamation. World Israel News spoke to Singer and to Lihi Lapid’s spokesperson.

By Atara Beck, World Israel News

Counter-missionary activist Rabbi Tovia Singer, founder of Outreach Judaism, has filed a lawsuit against Lihi Lapid, wife of Israeli Opposition leader Yair Lapid, citing “defamation.”

In a video clip that went viral in October 2022 – just days ahead of the November 1st Israeli national election, when Yair Lapid, then caretaker prime minister of Israel, was seeking re-election – Chaim Malespin, a prominent figure in Christian ZIonist circles who describes himself as a Jewish believer in Jesus, stated, “We’re in a time with more congregations, more openness to the Gospel.

“Even the government, the Prime Minister’s wife, is a believer right now… Yair Lapid’s wife, Lihi, is a believer…a confirmed believer.”

Singer, who has tens of thousands of followers, was among those who posted the video.

The clip was part of an hour-and-a-half-long video of a lecture Malespin gave at Beth Emanuel Messianic Jewish Congregation in Phoenix. The congregation, according to its website, is “committed to following Jesus of Nazareth, trusting in Him for salvation, and teaching Messianic Judaism. Messianic Judaism is the practice of Judaism in the light and revelation of the New Testament.”

Lapid rejects allegations

According to a Jewish Chronicle (JC) report in October 2022, “Sources close to Lihi Lapid, wife of Prime Minister Yair Lapid, strongly rejected the allegations.

Malespin apologized, claiming that he was mistaken. “After that I realized the information I had was not correct, I was wrong, I did not mean to say something that was not true, and I apologize. I did not ask either Yair or his wife Lihi and I apologize for the mistake,” he said.

In his apology, considering the timing, Malespin added, “I ask all those watching me now not to use my mistake as a tool of political warfare.”

‘No one will place doubt on my Jewishness’

Lihi Lapid announced to media that she had sued Singer for spreading the “lie” that she is not Jewish.

In a Jerusalem Post article dated December 1st, titled “Lihi Lapid sues man who said she’s Christian,” she is quoted as saying on Instagram:

“I sued the man who spread the lie that I am not Jewish, because I am [in fact] the great-granddaughter of Rabbi Amiel of blessed memory. Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv.”

According to the article, Lihi Lapid said that she “sued Rabbi [Tovia] Singer because no one will place doubt on my Jewishness.”

Furthermore, “It never occurred to me that they would spread fake pictures of me and Yair with a cross, that a rabbi by the name of Tovia Singer would come and start a delusional interview campaign about my support for Christianity and spread horrific videos against me,” she wrote.

Indeed, there were fake photos like those she describes on the internet, and she was hacked. However, Singer insists he had nothing to do with any of that, including any political attacks, saying he focuses only on counter-missionary activity.

Singer posted the following video on Dec. 7, 2022.

World Israel News (WIN) contacted Singer with several questions concerning the lawsuit. Following are excerpts of the discussion:

WIN: Why are you suing Lihi Lapid? Also, did she ever sue you or not? Is this a counter-suit? 

Singer: “In November 2021, Chaim Malespin, a prominent Israel-based missionary, claimed in a talk in a U.S. church that Lihi Lapid is a believer in Jesus. He made this claim as part of a larger claim that belief in Jesus is growing in Israel and in the Israeli government, and he publicly speculated about how Yair Lapid, Lihi’s husband who was then alternate Prime Minister, might help Malespin’s missionary cause.

“Video of Malespin’s claim went viral in October 2022. On October 30, 2022, in response to a Jewish Chronicle inquiry, Malespin apologized to Lihi and Yair Lapid  for ‘something’ that he had said ‘about six months ago … in a conference abroad to Christians, friends of Zion, contributors to Israel about the honorable wife of the honorable Prime Minister Yair Lapid’ that was ‘mistaken’ and based on ‘faulty information.’

“I reported on Malespin’s claim and his apology on October 31, 2022. I included in my show a video compiled by the Jewish Chronicle that showed Malespin claiming Lihi Lapid was a believer on November 16, 2021 and apologizing on October 30, 2022.

“Mine was not the first nor the last report on Malespin’s claim.

“Lihi Lapid’s response, as published in the Jewish Chronicle, was through a spokesperson: ‘Somebody said something that is not true. This is the situation. It’s not true. It’s a lie. I don’t know why he said that. I don’t know what his interest is. I don’t know. But it’s a lie.’

“I next heard about the story in mid-November when I read in Israel Hayom that Lihi Lapid’s lawyer had sent me a warning letter claiming I had defamed her (he hadn’t sent any letter at the time, but he sent one several days after his press release). I was surprised because it was Malespin, not I, who had claimed that she was a believer in Jesus, and I was just one of many people to report on it.

“Several weeks later, Lihi Lapid claimed that she had sued me – she hadn’t, but she did several days later – in a lengthy post on Facebook and Instagram. In her post, she insinuated that I was part of a conspiracy that had hacked into her website and distributed fabricated photographs of her and that my reporting was subject to the control of a mysterious ‘them.’ She claimed that I had denied she is Jewish, she claimed that I had said she was a missionary, and she claimed that I had admitted my ‘mistake’ and apologized to her and agreed to apologize publicly. Every single one of those claims by Lihi Lapid was a lie.”

Name ‘Malespin’ never mentioned

“What’s most bizarre about this,” Singer continues, “is that in Lihi Lapid’s attack on me, she never once mentioned the name Malespin. Anyone reading Lihi Lapid’s printed attack on me would get the idea that I was the one who came up with Malespin’s claim that Lihi Lapid is a believer in Jesus. Certainly no one would know that Malespin’s claim was widely reported by people other than me.

“My work in reporting about missionaries and responding to them depends crucially on my credibility and accuracy in reporting the facts. Her lies about me not only harm my reputation; they threaten to destroy my life’s work. That’s why I counter-sued Lihi Lapid for her defamation.”

WIN: Have you ever claimed that Lihi Lapid is a believer in Jesus?

Singer: “No. I reported that Chaim Malespin, a deceptive missionary about whom I’ve reported in the past, had publicly stated that she is a believer in Jesus—as it turns out, he’s done that multiple times.

“I’ve also reported, and I will repeat it: Malespin is dishonest, and I don’t know whether Malespin lied when he claimed she believes in Jesus, or whether he lied later, when he apologized for ‘something’ he said.

“I’ve suggested that Lihi Lapid clear the air and publicly state that she does not believe in Jesus in order to put Malespin’s claim to rest, but she has declined my suggestion for reasons she has not publicly shared.

“I have never stated that she believes in Jesus, and I can tell you why. She hasn’t made any public statements either way, and I don’t know Lihi Lapid well enough to know what her beliefs are beyond her public statements.”

WIN: Do you know if she’s suing anyone else?

Singer: To the best of my knowledge, she has not sued anyone, warned anyone, threatened anyone or publicly attacked anyone other than me in relation to Malespin’s claim that she is a believer in Jesus. As far as I can see, she hasn’t even publicly commented on Malespin. As far as I can see, all the reports about Malespin’s claim are still publicly available.

“My response to Lapid’s defamation was originally published by the Jerusalem Post, but was removed by that newspaper without explanation one day later.”

Lapid spokesperson: ‘Absurd and offensive’

WIN also emailed Lihi Lapid, asking if she has sued anyone else who publicized the video claiming she was a believer in Jesus and why it appears she had never sued Malespin.

Also, WIN asked, “would you like to take this opportunity to clarify whether or not you are a believer, notwithstanding any Jewish traditions that you observe or your lineage? If you have already done so, please send me a link to that statement.”

WIN received the following response from her spokesperson:

“Mrs. Lapid is proud of her Judaism which makes up an essential part of her identity. She has made clear on multiple occasions that she is neither a messianic Jew nor a missionary. The attempt to call that into question is absurd and offensive.

“She is the granddaughter of a Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv and the hurt caused by these lies and the refusal to apologise for them is significant.”

Furthermore, “The repeated invasion of her privacy is outrageous. The timing of the circulation of this issue, a few days before Israel’s general election was no coincidence, and the manner in which it was amplified by those seeking to politically harm Mr. Lapid makes that clear.

“The initial video claim has been deleted and an apology was issued. Mrs. Lapid, through her representatives, reached out to those who published and circulated this claim asking them to retract and remove it. The majority did so and apologized for any offense caused.”

WIN asked the spokesperson who else had apologized but received no answer.

‘Singer is the exception’

“Mr. Singer is the exception to that and has insisted on continuing his campaign against Mrs. Lapid despite knowing the truth. Any claim to the contrary is clearly misleading and he should long ago have retracted his comments and ended his attacks on Mrs. Lapid,” the spokesperson continued.

“His refusal to do so has left Mrs. Lapid with no other recourse except the courts where her aim is clear – to force Mr. Singer to remove the offensive videos and apologize for his campaign against Mrs. Lapid.”

WIN: “You write that Singer ‘is continuing his campaign against Mrs. Lapid despite knowing the truth,’ and my understanding is that Singer has denied this. Just to make sure I understand you correctly, are you saying that Singer knows the truth that Mrs. Lapid does not believe in Jesus? And how do you know that Singer ‘knows’ this?”

There was no response to that question either.

“Let me be clear,” the spokesperson repeated in a new email. “Mrs. Lapid does not believe in Jesus, and any claims to the contrary, by Mr. Singer or anyone else, are false.”

WIN then asked if it would be OK to quote Lihi Lapid directly as saying “I do not believe in Jesus, and any claims to the contrary, by Mr. Singer or anyone else, are false.” rather than attibuting it to a spokesperson, in order to put the issue to rest, once and for all.

The response: “No, you can attribute it to a spokesperson.”

The post ‘I never stated that she believes in Jesus’: Rabbi sues Lihi Lapid for ‘defamation’ appeared first on World Israel News.

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