Ex-MK Dov Lipman dropped from Yesh Atid as English speakers’ representative
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Ex-MK Dov Lipman dropped from Yesh Atid as English speakers’ representative

Baltimore native who came to fore as voice against ultra-Orthodox extremism says he left party for 'personal reasons'

Raoul Wootliff covers politics, corruption and crime for The Times of Israel.

Dov Lipman, January 16, 2013. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Dov Lipman, January 16, 2013. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Former MK Rabbi Dov Lipman, who served in the Knesset from 2013 to 2015 as the first American-born Israeli member of parliament in 30 years, was dropped Tuesday by the Yesh Atid party as its English-speaking community representative, The Times of Israel has learned.

In a laconic message sent to English-speaking party activists, a Yesh Atid official said that “it has been decided that Dov Lipman will no longer represent or be active within the party.”

A follow up message stressed: “No further comments will be made on this.”

Lipman, whom many Israelis who immigrated from English-speaking countries looked to as their representative in the Knesset, lost his place in the Knesset following the 2015 elections, which saw the number of Yesh Atid seats drop dramatically.

He promised, however, to continue working on issues dear to the English-speaking community, and had since been serving as an unofficial Yesh Atid representative, holding regular parlor meetings and appearing in the media on behalf of the party.

Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky, center, in brown cap, and then-Knesset member Dov Lipman, in jacket and tie at right, at a protest held by American and Israeli Orthodox and Conservative Jews outside the Chief Rabbinate offices in Jerusalem, July 6, 2016. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

In a brief statement to The Times of Israel, Lipman said he had chosen to end his relationship with the party due to “personal reasons.”

“I decided to stop my activity with Yesh Atid for personal reasons and look forward to serving the people of Israel in many other ways.”

According to party activists, however, the decision came from the Yesh Atid leadership and was not made mutually.

Lipman, a native of Silver Spring, Maryland, and graduate of Ner Israel Yeshiva in Baltimore and Johns Hopkins University, immigrated to Israel in 2004. He came to the fore in 2011 as a voice against ultra-Orthodox extremism in the city of Beit Shemesh and has consistently advocated against religious coercion and in favor of integrating the ultra-Orthodox into the military and workforce.

A self-styled moderate ultra-Orthodox Jew, he improbably wound up joining the ostensibly secular Yesh Atid and sensationally entered the Knesset as the first native-born American since right-wing extremist Meir Kahane in 1984, when the party swept 19 seats in 2013.

He lost his seat two years later when Yesh Atid dropped to 11 seats.

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