A few years ago, I took a silent pledge to stop writing about Danielle Berrin because it felt like picking wings off a fly. Yeah, such writing was fun, but I hated myself for doing it. Critiquing her articles was like mocking someone with Down’s Syndrome or going to bed with a fat girl. Yeah, it was easy, but at what cost to my soul? One day I will meet my Maker and He will ask me how I have used my talents, and if I answer that I analyzed the life and thought of @HollywoodJew, surely I will be consigned to eternally burning hell fire.
Now this latest story hits and I must blog about it, and yet there is no joy because the hopeless romantic inside of me is shattered that Danielle and Ari have not found lasting love in each other’s arms.
If Danielle and Ari, Brad and Angelina can’t make a go of it, what hope is there for the rest of us?
@hollywoodjew The sexism lies in the fact that he saw you first and foremost as a prospective conquest rather than a professional peer.
— Lou (@hypocoristicon1) October 27, 2016
Thank you for telling your story, @hollywoodjew. We believe you.
— Sheila Katz (@SheilaKatz1) October 28, 2016
— Danielle Berrin (@hollywoodjew) October 27, 2016
— Samantha Millman (@SamMillman) October 20, 2016
In a nasty election that has brought to light the worst in people, here's a story of humility and grace: https://t.co/uqeJJvvpyN
— Danielle Berrin (@hollywoodjew) October 16, 2016
In 2011, Danielle dated R. David Wolpe for a few months. She met him through her work as a journalist for the Jewish Journal. I wonder how many men she’s hooked up with through her work as a journalist? It seems like a fair question given that her most famous articles are complaints about famous men groping her. How many men hot for Danielle have advanced her career? And in exchange for what?
Who’s more believable in this story? Ari Shavit or Danielle Berrin? Who is more ridiculous? Ari Shavit for making a pass at Danielle or Danielle meeting Ari at his hotel at 10 p.m. expecting a meeting of the minds? What’s more logical in that situation? Exchanging ideas or exchanging bodily fluids?
Ari’s looks are as far removed from Danielle’s as Danielle’s intellect is far removed from Ari’s.
It sounds like in the matter at hand, Ari behaved like a horny 15 year old boy while Danielle’s article sounds like the work of a tipsy 15 year old girl.
I don’t know whether Berrin realized how easily her readers, especially those familiar with Israeli media, would figure out who he was. At rate, there is only one name on everyone’s lips on social media: Ari Shavit. He is one of Haaretz’s best-known columnists and sits on its editorial board. His book, My Promised Land, was published in 2013. In 2014, it was published in English to great acclaim in the mainstream Jewish community. It hit the NY Times Bestseller list. Shavit did a 28-campus tour for Hillel International. He was represented by the famed Harry Walker Agency, which means his speaking fee was probably in the high five-figures. Reviewing Google for his speaking engagements back in 2014 reveals he was everywhere. Clearly, he spent a huge amount of time here that year. HBO announced they were turning his book into a documentary (though there has been no further word about the project since 2015).
Berrin covers Hollywood for the Jewish Journal. Her work shows a distinct liberal Zionist perspective. She specializes in a high-brow integration Israel and Hollywood glitz into the same story. Shavit’s book was the talk of the liberal Zionist world. It integrated a tough, yet humane (if you are liberal Zionist) perspective on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It was the perfect “shooting and crying” book, allowing Jews to decry the harm done to Palestinians while saying at the same time, it couldn’t be helped. He validated some of the worst prejudices Israelis hold about Nakba and Palestinian rights, while proclaiming you can still be a decent humane Zionist while embracing them. Ari Shavit, at that time, was the type of “get” any young Jewish journalist would die for.
The media watchdog, 7th Eye, notes further circumstantial support for Shavit as the culprit is that every major Israeli publication has published a story about Berrin’s piece–except for Haaretz [udpate: Haaretz published its own story shortly after this post was published, but well after other outlets had published. Naaman Hirschfeld notes that the Haaretz version leaves out key elements of the Berrin story which point to Shavit]. It protects its own.
While this sort of story could have a sort of voyeuristic element, that’s not why I published it. As readers here will know, I’ve chronicled the sexual abuse suffered by Israeli women at the hands of powerful Israeli men who believe they’re entitled to take what they want. I’ve reported on cases of rape and sexual abuse which often either aren’t prosecuted, or sometimes not even investigated. Ari Shavit unfortunately is not an anomaly. He is a ‘type.’ An Israeli type.
This news cannot be good for Haaretz. It already publishes a columnist regularly, Yitzhak Laor, who’s been accused by his female students of rape. Another editor, Benny Ziffer, once justified the right of artists to engage in illicit sex for the sake of their art in one of his columns. Now one of the newspaper’s most well-known journalists faces grave charges of sexual assault. Haaretz, like much of the Israeli media is heavily male-dominated. The publisher, managing editor and much of the senior editorial staff are men. I can’t recall a female managing editor the entire time I’ve been reading Haaretz (the English edition is edited by a woman). It seems to me that what ails Haaretz is what ails much of Israeli society: an overweening domination of the levers of power by men. The attitudes that arise from this toxic phenomenon encourage sexual predation and aggressive behavior toward women. Of course there are women journalists, and very good ones. But they don’t carry the same weight and often don’t get to make the major decisions in the way men do.
I suspect that when she was beautiful, Danielle, sadly, she’s no longer a ten, was able to get many famous men to open up to her. I wonder if her access diminishes as she ages or perhaps the wisdom that she accumulates makes her even more compelling to alpha males?
Why would Ari Shavit or any accomplished man want to talk to Danielle if she were not attractive? For her soaring intellect and prose style? In my experience, few men care much about what women think. When you ask college professors who are their brightest students, they usually name men. Women tend to get better grades because they are more likely to color between the lines. Women tend to be conformist. They rarely innovate.
I had this girlfriend who was all offended that this older guy, a macher in Jewish philanthropy, took her to dinner to pick her brain one night and then it turned out he thought it was a date. Just as my ex-girlfriend would never have dated him, this guy would never have talked to her mind if he didn’t think he had a shot at her body as well.
Feminism is all about diminishing male sexual choices and expanding female sexual choices. Steve Sailer’s First Rule of Female Journalism is: “The most heartfelt articles by female journalists tend to be demands that social values be overturned in order that, Come the Revolution, the journalist herself will be considered hotter-looking.” This is probably not applicable here because Danielle likely has few doubts about her beauty.
Media criticism website The Seventh Eye reported Thursday that Channel 10 said if Ha’aretz columnist and New York Times bestselling author Ari Shavit turns out to be the person Berrin hinted at, then he will be removed from their Friday night news panel. Ha’aretz publisher Amos Schocken denied a report that Shavit was put on unpaid leave and declined to comment further.
Berrin, however, in an interview with The Jerusalem Post, said she is disappointed in the Israeli media’s focus on a “whodunit” about the perpetrator’s identity, which is distracting from the real issue at hand, that women feel emboldened to talk about sexual assault after a tape of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump bragging about grabbing women by their genitals surfaced.
Berrin explained that she told her personal story in the first place in order to bring attention to the issue of sexual assault in the community that is the Jewish Journal’s audience, Jews in the Los Angeles area., and to contribute to the national conversation parked by the Trump tape.
“I think the obsessive focus on the identity of the person is an utter distraction from the conversation we need to be having about sexual assault and violence in our communities and the world, what that looks like and how we create awareness,” she said. “It’s not about [my assailant], it’s not about Trump or any one person. It happens every day to women around the world, and we need to be talking about that, not about this one person in Israel.”
‘Haaretz’ journalist Ari Shavit answers sexual assault accusations
Shavit: We met in 2014 and I never thought the encounter constituted sexual harassment.
Senior Haaretz columnist Ari Shavit admitted Thursday night that he was the Israeli journalist accused of sexually assaulting Los Angeles Jewish Journal reporter Danielle Berrin in a column she published last week. In the column, Berrin recounted her story of the alleged assault.
Berrin’s cover story for the newspaper, “My sexual assault, and yours: Every woman’s story – How the Trump video launched a collective soul-searching over sexual harassment and assault,” began to circulate on Israeli Twitter and Facebook accounts on Wednesday, a week after it had been published. In it, Berrin said the journalist – who she declined to name – pawed at her and tried to convince her to come up to his hotel room.
Shavit, for his part, said he saw their 2014 meeting differently, until he read Berrin’s column.
“I thought we had a friendly encounter which included elements of courtship,” he wrote on Haaretz’s website late Thursday evening. “I never thought for a moment that this constituted sexual harassment, but what I saw as courtship Berrin saw as unacceptable behavior and even harassment.”
Shavit is one of the paper’s senior columnists and the author of the bestselling My Promised Land, which came out in the US in 2013.
Shavit wrote that he respects “every woman and person” and “apologized from the bottom of his heart for the misunderstanding.”
Berrin told The Jerusalem Post she was disappointed with the Israeli media’s focus on “whodunit” about the perpetrator’s identity, which was distracting from the real issue at hand: that women feel emboldened to talk about sexual assault after a tape of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump bragging about grabbing women by their genitals surfaced.
Berrin explained that she told her personal story in order to bring attention to the issue of sexual assault in the community that is the Jewish Journal’s audience – Jews in the Los Angeles area – and to contribute to the national conversation sparked by the Trump tape.
“I think the obsessive focus on the identity of the person is an utter distraction from the conversation we need to be having about sexual assault and violence in our communities and the world, what that looks like, and how we create awareness,” she said. “It’s not about [my assailant], it’s not about Trump or any one person. It happens every day to women around the world, and we need to be talking about that, not about this one person in Israel.”
As for the argument that naming the journalist who assaulted her could prevent him from doing the same to other women in the future, Berrin said a “national conversation” that helps people identify and stop tolerating this kind of behavior, and for people to share their stories, will create systemic change.
“It’s not about meting out justice to one person,” she added. “I think we have to be very careful about how much attention we want to put on one man…It’s a systemic problem, we have to remember that.”
Berrin said she was sorry how the emphasis had been changed, saying “I regret that any kind of description I offered in my story led to this” focus on the perpetrator’s identity. “That was not my intention.”
(JTA) — A reporter for a U.S. Jewish newspaper alleged in a cover story that she was sexually assaulted by “an accomplished journalist from Israel” during an interview.
Danielle Berrin did not name the journalist in her column published last week in the Jewish Journal of Los Angeles. She said the incident took place several years ago in the lobby of a hotel.
News of the alleged assault, reported in a column titled “My sexual assault, and yours: Every woman’s story. How the Trump video launched a collective soul-searching over sexual harassment and assault,” began circulating Wednesday in the Israeli media and on social media.
“I’d agreed to meet him, an accomplished journalist from Israel, at his hotel around 10 p.m. He was in the United States only for 48 hours, and told me he was completely booked during the daytime. I believed him,” Berrin, who has worked at the Jewish Journal for the last decade, wrote of the encounter.
“Back then, the book he’d written was among several titles having an impact on the Jewish conversation, and many local community leaders wanted to meet with him. If I was going to be a part of this conversation, this was my opportunity.”
Berrin said the journalist put the interview on hold to ask her some personal questions.
“I’ve learned that if you’re Jewish and younger than 35, your relationship status is typically the first thing another Jew will ask about,” she said. “Besides, the man was married, with children, and a public figure. I figured I was safe. But after I answered one of his questions in a way that moved him, he lurched at me like a barnyard animal, grabbing the back of my head, pulling me toward him.
“I turned my face to the left and bowed my head to avoid his mouth,” she wrote, adding that he asked her to go up to his hotel room and said he had an “arrangement” with his wife.
“In the end, I guess, I consider myself ‘lucky.’ Very, very ‘lucky.’ Because although I was groped and grabbed and pulled — sexually assaulted — I was not raped or otherwise harmed. Many women do not emerge from such situations still whole. Nevertheless, none of this feels like a gift,” Berrin wrote.
She said she told her story in response to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s derogatory and lewd comments about women that were captured on video, providing the impetus for many women to step forward and talk about being sexually assaulted.
This also wasn’t the first time a man I went to interview has treated me like I was a loaf of warm bread. In fact, my first notable article described another instance of sexual assault on the job — when film director Brett Ratner molested me during my first big Hollywood interview.
In my nearly 10 years in Jewish journalism, I have felt physically vulnerable in professional situations a handful of times. I’ve been demeaned, objectified and infantilized more times than I can count — because I am a woman.
But my story is not unique. Every woman — probably every single woman in this world — knows the feeling I felt walking to my car at night with a man who couldn’t keep his hands to himself. Most women — and even some men — have stories of sexual harassment, abuse or exploitation over the course of their lifetime. Sometimes it happens in private, sometimes in the light of day. But almost always, these stories remain secret because the consequences of coming forward to expose them often far outweigh the benefits.
Thanks to Donald Trump, that appears to be changing.
The public exposure of the Republican presidential nominee’s lewd comments to Billy Bush of “Access Hollywood” awoke a sleeping giant in our culture and put sexual assault at the forefront of the national conversation.
“I think it’s crazy fantastic,” Oscar-nominated filmmaker and activist Amy Ziering told me in an interview.
Ziering and her partner, Kirby Dick, were nominated for an Academy Award for their 2012 documentary, “The Invisible War,” about sexual assault in the U.S. military. Because of the overwhelming response to that film, which screened at the highest levels of the U.S. government, they followed up with the 2015 doc “The Hunting Ground,” about the scourge of sexual violence on college campuses. Despite some criticism of the second film, Ziering and Dick’s work has been widely credited for bringing sexual assault into the national spotlight. But even Ziering is stunned that this topic would become so central in a presidential campaign.
“Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that the essential talking point on the national platform for both parties would be sexual assault,” she told me. “And that the two [campaigns would be] duking it out over which team harbors the worse predator. That’s ironically an odd gift that Donald has given the conversation. ‘Make America talk rape again’ should be his slogan.”
Though Trump has dismissed his comments as “locker room talk,” Ziering said such “talk” is still harmful.
“Studies show that actually words lead to incidents of violence,” she said. “When you have cultures that turn a blind eye to derogatory discourse about any kind of ‘other,’ you definitely see a remarkable uptick in violent crimes against the people being disparaged.
“Why are we so offended about using certain terms to describe Black people? Because they correlated to violent acts. We shouldn’t look at these words as so innocent.”
The daughter of a Holocaust survivor, Ziering noted that Hitler’s rhetoric — in his writings and speeches — paved the way for policies of extermination.
“We saw this all through Nazi Germany,” Ziering said. “Hitler was very clever in rhetorically renaming Jewish people. It was a campaign over several years, but when you did that, and equated Jews with rats and vermin over and over again, then starting to do things against them was normalized.”
A never-married child of divorce who’s had relationships with at least two rabbis, there’s something broken in the way Danielle relates to men and in the way she uses the Jewish Journal to try to exorcise her demons.
“Dear Friends,” the letter began. “With the high holy days a month away, I write to share some painful news …”
It came from the president of the Miami congregation I grew up in, telling us our longtime senior rabbi had self-reported to the Reform movement’s Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) that he had engaged in “moral failures” during his service.
Because of this, he is now required to undergo an intensive teshuvah process and has been suspended indefinitely “from the practice of the rabbinate in any institution.”
There are emotions we feel at moments in our lives that are indescribable. For me, this was one of them. And it was compounded by the fact that this was not about my private feelings alone, it was an event that shook our entire community. Most especially, it hurt my rabbi’s family — his four amazing sons and his former wife, a true eshet chayil and balabusta, if ever I’ve met one. For many people, the fallout from this quake will endure.
I first met my rabbi when I was in sixth grade and a student in the synagogue’s day school. We became fast friends when, at 12, I told him he was destroying our community with his plans to remodel our campus and build a new sanctuary. He reported to my mother that I was “petulant.” I took it as a compliment — proud that my personality inspired a word I had to look up in the dictionary.
I still remember the 30 minutes I got to spend with him while preparing for my bat mitzvah. I was mesmerized by the way he opened up the possibilities of Torah and made it a book I wanted to read. I still remember our conversation, how excited I was to write and deliver my drash. In just one meeting, he had awakened me to the essence of Jewish tradition and created in me a craving for Torah that lives to this day. He did the same for my mother, who grew up in a Christian home after her own mother died, inspiring her to re-engage her Judaism as an adult and create a Shabbat experience for her family.
Over the years, my rabbi became a kind of father figure to me. I can’t recount how many times I sat in his study, sharing my struggles and dreams, and seeking his wisdom, which he offered unreservedly. He encouraged me to make the most important decision of my young life — to move to California — and in doing so, helped me become an adult.
Part of me understands why he faltered. That he had a burning need to explore parts of himself and his dreams that had long been prohibited by his circumscribed life as a religious leader. I can imagine the strain he must have felt with all that responsibility — to take on the problems of the world, the politics of a community, the private pain of individual congregants, the needs of a growing family — and how all that left very little space for himself.
But another part of me is disappointed and hurt. He was supposed to be the model of morality, not the transgressor. He was supposed to do better than everyone else.
In the weeks since I read the letter, I’ve wrestled with a central question: Is it unreasonable to expect that our spiritual leaders (and, dare I say, political leaders) should behave better than we do?
Years ago, a young rabbi that I knew told me that, sometimes, what he most craved was “the opposite of responsibility.”
Danielle reminds me of a female friend who keeps getting raped. She keeps getting into bed naked with men and is then shocked when they take her. She visits men at their place and indulges in long lingering hugs and is then astounded by what they do to her. She’s worked for an Orthodox rabbi who she says took advantage of her sexually. She’s a permanent victim.