Haaretz columnist Ari Shavit issued a statement of apology on Thursday after a U.S. journalist accused him of sexually assaulting her during an interview.
“More than two and a half years ago, in February 2014, I met with Danielle Berrin in Los Angeles for a conversation. Today, I sadly understand that I misconstrued the interaction between us during that meeting,” Shavit said in a statement.
In an article last week in The Jewish Journal, entitled “My sexual assault, and yours: Every woman’s story,” Jewish-American journalist Danielle Berrin accused a prominent Israeli writer of sexually harassing and assaulting her as she tried to interview him in the recent past at an American hotel lobby.
In his statement, Shavit said that “prior to reading Berrin’s article, I thought that we had had a friendly conversation that included some flirtation.
“I did not for a moment think it involved any sexual harassment. But what I saw as flirtation, Berrin saw as inappropriate, even harassing behavior on my part.”
“As a person who deeply respects every woman and every human being, and as a person who abhors any form of sexual harassment, I apologize from the bottom of my heart for this misunderstanding. I did not mean to say anything unwelcome to Berrin, and I certainly never meant to cause her distress or hurt her feelings,” Shavit said.
In her article, Berrin wrote: “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.”
She accused the journalist of trying to force a kiss and how she rejected his suggestions that they go up to his hotel room. Berrin described how the journalist asked her personal questions including whether the man he saw her with at an event was her boyfriend.
“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.”
Hillel International said late Thursday that it was suspending the upcoming campus tour of prominent Israeli journalist Ari Shavit amid accusations of sexual assault by an American-Jewish reporter.
Shavit, a prominent Haaretz columnist and author of the best-selling “My Promised Land,” confirmed the speculations Thursday with a statement carried by the newspaper, in which he apologized for the encounter and said he had “completely misinterpreted the interaction” with Berrin and “didn’t intend to do anything that was unacceptable” to her.
Hours later, Hillel announced that “in keeping with our strong position against sexual assault, Hillel International has suspended Ari Shavit’s campus tour,” adding that it was “not aware of any allegation of sexual assault made against Mr. Shavit during his Hillel visits.”
“Hillel International will be making staff available for any student or Hillel professional interested in discussing these issues privately,” the organization said in a statement.