Many people have asked me to respond to the reported claims of sexual harassment that were leveled against me two years ago in Israel. Until recently, I chose to remain silent. The time has come for me to speak.
Here is my response to these claims as they have been reported in several public forums and media outlets. Since I have never seen or received notice of the claims themselves, I can only respond to what has been reported in media forums and internet posts.
My purpose is to set out some basic truths and to label some basic falsehoods about the situation.
The claims against me, as they have been reported in various public forums, contain direct falsehoods. In response to these, I specifically state that:
Each of the above statements is substantiated by extensive documentary material including, but not limited to, records of my e-mail and instant message correspondence.
With the help of a data recovery company, I have successfully recovered material that had, apparently intentionally, and against my written instructions, been deleted from my hard drive. This included e-mail correspondence, instant messages, and other forms of communication regarding ALL of my relationships in the past several years.
This material makes it clear that my relationships with the complainants were affectionate, caring, and mutual, with open and honest communication about my intentions. Any claims to the contrary are contradicted by hundreds of written communications between the parties and myself.
There is more than enough clear and compelling material to fully protect myself, my children, and my close friends against potential damage from any false claims, should that ever be required.
I have also taken and passed a detailed polygraph examination on each of these matters. The examination was administered by an internationally respected expert who has trained many of the polygraph experts in Israel and around the world.
I am a teacher and a human being on the growing edge. As a spiritual and social artist, a lover of life, and a natural bohemian, my personal life has at times been at variance with conventional models of relationship.
Sometimes I got it right.
Sometimes I did not get it right and broke boundaries of conventional relationship when they might better have remained in place. More than once, I chose what I thought to be the integrity of authentic loving over the integrity of classic loyalties. Unintentionally, and to my great regret, I, like all of us, have sometimes caused emotional pain to people whom I love.
Where it has been appropriate and possible, I have asked forgiveness and I have forgiven those who have hurt me, my family, friends, and vision.
In Israel, over a period of several years, I had a series of mutual and consensual engagements with powerful adult women in my circle. Each was unique and based on affection.
Other than one relationship with a woman, who was and remains one of my closest friends, none of these connections emerged from the matrix of a formal teacher-student relationship.
In each of these relationships, as is usually the case between men and women, there were complex power dynamics in which each side had power and vulnerability.
While I never promised exclusivity to any, in retrospect I see I did fail to recognize two things. First, that my non-exclusivity might in itself be experienced as hurtful.
Secondly, that these involvements themselves, and particularly the privacy around them, might be experienced as painful or problematic. I never “swore anyone to eternal silence” as some distorted reports suggested. I merely asked for confidentiality in relationship to allow myself a private personal life separate from my public life.
I also did not understand that these private relationships, which I enjoyed, trusted, and valued, might wind up hurting people who supported me, or that they might undermine the community and the work which I cared for so passionately.
For these, as well as for any other ways in which my actions, in this or any other arena of my life, may have been unskillful or motivated by ignorance or self-seeking, I express profound regret.
If I can make spiritual amends to anyone, I will be happy to do so. To anyone who feels that I have hurt them in relationship, I apologize with all my heart and soul.
Sadly, the people who organized and supported the false claims, which caused damages beyond imagination, continue to repeat those claims in attempt to cause further damage and pain. Even if I forgive them in my heart, I will take every appropriate action to refute their false claims and protect myself and those close to me from injustice.
I have used this situation as an opportunity for life review. Where possible and appropriate, I have sent letters of apology to anyone I may have hurt in the course of my life.
Naturally, when people made or were reported to have made, false claims against me, in public or private, or threatened myself or my family, I felt that a letter of apology would be misconstrued and distorted. This feeling was confirmed by the spiritual, halachic and legal advisors who have guided me in this period. Therefore to those persons, such heartfelt letters were both not possible nor appropriate. I might add that once a person has made or is reported to have made a formal complaint against someone else, it is legally prohibited to contact them for any reason until the complaint has been withdrawn. [Editor’s note 2018: The persons involved at the time claimed to have registered formal complaints with the police. Eight years later it was revealed that these claims were a lie and that no complaints had been registered.]
However, at no time did my behavior, in any of my personal or professional relationships remotely resemble the false allegations that were reported in some media articles and on the internet two years ago. There was no sexual harassment or sexual abuse in any way, shape or form.