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National Library board chief resigns over sexual harassment hush money allegations

David Blumberg, accused of paying employee NIS 240,000 to silence complaints, blames scandal on unspecified enemies seeking revenge, says he is too old and tired to keep fighting

David Blumberg lighting a ceremonial torch for Independence Day on April 15, 2013. (Screenshot/YouTube)
David Blumberg lighting a ceremonial torch for Independence Day on April 15, 2013. (Screenshot/YouTube)

The chairman of the National Library of Israel’s board of directors resigned from the post Tuesday, days after being accused of paying off a former employee to silence her sexual harassment complaints.

In December 2020, David Blumberg paid his accuser NIS 240,000 ($77,000) in exchange for a signed agreement barring her from disclosing his sexual harassment of her, according to a Channel 13 report last week.

In a bitter resignation letter to library employees Tuesday, Blumberg claimed he “fell victim to a fierce and vicious attack… motivated by political and personal revenge,” Hebrew media reported.

“Among other things, I fell victim to personal attacks that included smearing my integrity, motivations and conduct, attacks of such magnitude and power that they significantly harmed my public standing, a standing that I acquired over years of honest, hard work,” he wrote.

Blumberg, 77, described the decision to resign as one meant to protect the library and his family after being exhausted by trying to clear his name at his advanced age.

“I am no longer built to fight back, and I am no longer willing to expose the National Library, and my family — my wife, my children and my grandchildren — to the relentless media meddling in the affair,” he wrote.

Blumberg in the letter did not deny the accusations against him, though he claimed that the “attacks” against him included “baseless inventions which I reject and deny with disgust.”

According to the Channel 13 report, Blumberg got a lawyer to draw up a hush money agreement after the woman became fed up with his alleged physical and verbal harassment toward her and sent him an email demanding that he halt the behavior.

Last week, Blumberg told Channel 13 in response to the charges that he “apologizes to anyone he hurt, and anyone who was hurt by him in the 80 years of his life.”

He claimed he had “enemies” due to his association with former state prosecutor Shai Nitzan, whom Blumberg appointed to a top post at the National Library. Nitzan was a key figure in the graft case against former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and a frequent target for Netanyahu’s Likud party.

An official from the library told the network that Blumberg was a “very domineering” director, and he had many women working under him, the report said.

The woman, who is decades younger than Blumberg, was an employee of Blumberg’s, rather than of the library, the report indicated, although she would often come to his workplace. She has not been identified and has refused to speak to the media on the record.

A former banker who previously headed the Bank of Jerusalem and Mizrahi-Tefahot, Blumberg joined the library board as chairman in 2007 and had been helping oversee the construction of a new National Library facility next to the Knesset. The project has a budget of around a billion shekels.

In a letter to employees, the library expressed regret over Blumberg’s departure. “Blumberg made large, crucial contributions to the library’s renewal process over the last decades,” it said, according to Channel 13.

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