Lihi Lapid sues man who said she's Christian, cites Tel Aviv Rabbi ancestor

Lapid expressed outrage at rumors spread during the elections accusing her of being Christian.

 Israeli journalist and author Lihi Lapid speaks at an event at the Tel Aviv International Salon on August 12, 2013 (photo credit: MIRIAM ALSTER/FLASH90)
Israeli journalist and author Lihi Lapid speaks at an event at the Tel Aviv International Salon on August 12, 2013
(photo credit: MIRIAM ALSTER/FLASH90)

After rumors were spread claiming Israeli author and journalist Lihi Lapid, the wife of Prime Minister Yair Lapid, is Christian, she revealed, in an Instagram post expressing shock at the rumors, that she is the great-granddaughter of former Tel Aviv Chief Rabbi Moshe Avigdor Amiel.

“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,” wrote Lapid on Instagram. “He was the chief rabbi of Antwerp for 16 years and then he was called to come to the Holy Land – and he came. The rabbi in whom Zionism burned, came in 1936 to be the chief rabbi of the young city that rose in the sands.”

Lapid stated that she sued Rabbi Tovia Singer, an American rabbi who founded an organization called Outreach Judaism, for publicizing the rumor in a campaign during the Israeli elections.

“I sued Rabbi [Tovia] Singer because no one will place doubt on my Jewishness.”

Lihi Lapid

“I sued Rabbi Singer because no one will place doubt on my Jewishness,” wrote Lapid. “Because my Judaism together with my Zionism is my identity, and it is a pulsing and active part of my life, starting from the family Kiddush every week with challah on the table, through the holidays to being a proud mother whose son enlists in the armored corps to protect the country.”

Singer denied all the claims made by Lapid against him.

The prime minister’s wife explained that a few days before the election, her website was hacked, and the hacker began publishing false posts in her name, including a claim that she isn’t Jewish.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Lihi Lapid (@lihilapid)

“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.

“Rabbi Tovia Singer realized his mistake. He will issue an apology. It is of course too late, as they planned, and I am sure his apology will not reach everyone who believed this lie. It will certainly not reach the hundreds of thousands of followers of the nimble Likud tweeters who spread this lie. They dance on the blood and attach a fake photo with a fake cross to it.”

Lapid added that Singer has already apologized to her and that she is not demanding payment from him. “The money is not important to me. What’s important is my name. What’s important is my Judaism.

 Rav Moshe Avigdor Amiel (credit: The religious kibbutz archive via the PikiWiki) Rav Moshe Avigdor Amiel (credit: The religious kibbutz archive via the PikiWiki)

“My Judaism is Zionist and Israeli and full of warmth and love – one where the holidays and Shabbat are part of life, we do Kiddush on Fridays, Liori blesses the challah, and yes, I fast on Yom Kippur,” wrote Lapid. “I sued because I will not allow them to shame the memory of my dear father, peace be upon him, and the memory of his father’s proud Jewish family, the people of the Old Yishuv in Jerusalem and the builders of the land (the respected Mann family in Jerusalem), some of whom still wear a kippah.”

Singer responds

In response to the claims raised by Lapid in her post, Singer wrote the following: 

"On Friday, hours before sundown and the beginning of Shabbat, Lihi Lapid, outgoing Prime Minister Yair Lapid’s wife, published a lengthy post about me on Facebook and Instagram. It was republished in full by Arutz Sheva, and echoed in news reports in The Jerusalem Post and Maariv, Channel 14 news, and several news portals. None of the media outlets that published her attack – whether directly (like Arutz Sheva) or indirectly as news reports of Ms. Lapid’s comments – contacted me to check the facts.

"Lihi Lapid described her foes as the “machine” and “them,” naming only one individual, who she described as “a rabbi named Tovia Singer,” “the man who spread lies” and as the man she sued.

"Most importantly, Ms. Lapid’s attack on me was comprised of falsehoods, other than correctly identifying me as a rabbi named Tovia Singer, including her claims that she sued me.

"The background for Ms. Lapid’s attack was a claim made in November 2021 by Chaim Malespin during a live-streamed talk to an Arizona church audience. Malespin is a prominent figure in the Israel-based missionary community aimed at proselytizing Jews to Christianity.

"When video of Malespin’s claim went viral nearly a year later, he was interviewed by The Jewish Chronicle in October 2022, to whom he said “I said something about the honorable wife of the honorable Prime Minister Yair Lapid. 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.”

"Hours after The Jewish Chronicle article, I addressed Malespin’s claims for the first time on my show. I showed video of Malespin’s initial claim and of his subsequent denial, and I discussed the issues.

"Ms. Lapid’s response to The Jewish Chronicle was through a spokesperson who said, “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.” 

"Several weeks after my report, Yesh Atid’s lawyer, representing Lihi Lapid, wrote to threaten me with a defamation lawsuit, demanding that I apologize, retract my accurate reporting with an “admission” that I had lied, and pay her 100,000 shekels.

"Then, on Friday, Lihi Lapid singled me out for attack in an article that combined a personal attack on me with a long claim that Lihi Lapid is Jewish.

"In her article, Lihi Lapid claimed that I had denied she was Jewish (I didn’t) and that she had sued me (she has not). She wrote that I was part of a larger conspiracy connected to an alleged hack into her website before the elections (I wasn’t and have no idea whether there was such a conspiracy), and perhaps to the distribution of allegedly faked photos of her and her husband (I have no knowledge about and certainly no connection to any such alleged acts).

"Lihi Lapid claimed that my activities were planned by unnamed “them” (my activities weren’t planned by any “them”), that I distributed “horror videos” against her (I didn’t), and that I “opened” a hallucinatory series of interviews about her (I broadcast footage that was compiled, published and distributed by The Jewish Chronicle).

"Lihi Lapid wrote that I lied about her (I didn’t), that I “understood my mistake” (I wasn’t mistaken in my earlier reporting, so cannot have understood myself to be mistaken), that I apologized to her (she has never spoken to me and I certainly did not apologize to her), and that I would apologize to her in the future (I did not agree to apologize and will not apologize for telling the truth).

"The rest of Lihi Lapid’s article was devoted to a defense of her Jewishness, which, of course, was never at issue. Ms. Lapid’s article said nothing about Chaim Malespin either. Malespin’s claim appeared on the internet for eleven and a half months before he disavowed it to a reporter two days before Israel’s elections. 

"It’s not easy to be targeted for attack by the wife of the prime minister. She has more money at her disposal than do I. More lawyers. More media connections. More journalists willing to publish her false claims about me.

"Perhaps Lihi Lapid thought this would intimidate me. If she thought so, she was right. I am certainly fearful of the vast resources she can bring to bear to silence and besmirch me, and I am all too aware of the limited resources I have to defend myself. I view the prospect of going to court as, at best, mildly more pleasant than a root canal. I know that lawsuits are costly even where you prevail.

"Yet, despite my fear of Lihi Lapid’s power and resources, I cannot allow her to silence me or to let her lies about me to go unanswered – my credibility on these issues is my life work. I have no choice but to continue to tell the truth."