Israeli columnist Ari Shavit resigns after American journalist accuses him of sexual assault

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Author Ari Shavit resigned from at least two columnist positions after being accused of sexual harassment.

Israeli columnist Ari Shavit resigned Sunday after being outed as the “lecherous” author accused of groping an American journalist during his U.S. publicity tour.

Inspired by the scandalous Donald Trump hot-mic leak, Jewish Journal writer Danielle Berrin penned her February 2014 account of “My Promised Land” author Shavit lunging at her “like a barnyard animal” during a late night interview at his Los Angeles hotel lobby.

“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,” Berrin wrote in the Oct. 19 article. “I turned my face to the left and bowed my head to avoid his mouth.”

Even though Shavit is married, he told Berrin he had an “arrangement” with his wife and then asked her to join him in his hotel room.

If she wanted the interview about his 2013 memoir, Berrin would have to return the following night.

“We don’t have to have sex,” he told Berrin. “I just want to give you a hug.”

Berrin escaped to the bathroom, but Shavit continued to badger her with dogged advances when she returned and offered to continue the interview the following night. He asked to walk her to her car parked around the corner from the hotel, but she repeatedly said no.

“I have traveled the world alone without fear, yet this, not far from home, was one of a few moments in my life that I’ve felt both threatened and powerless,” she wrote. “The irony was overwhelming: walking alone to my car at night seemed safer than walking with this escort. But what should I have done? All I could think was: ‘Get away from me, get away from me, get away from me.’ I also thought: ‘Don’t insult him. Don’t embarrass him. He’s important.’”

Although she does not identify the disgraced writer in her shocking recollection Berrin alluded to his identity as an acclaimed author and prominent Israeli journalist.

Jewish Journal writer Danielle Berrin.
Jewish Journal writer Danielle Berrin.

Shavit read her startling account the week of its publication and revealed in a statement published over the weekend on Haaretz that he interpreted their encounter as “courtship.”

“I felt that we had a friendly meeting that included, among other things, elements of courtship. I did not for a moment think that sexual harassment had occurred,” Shavit wrote, adding that he embarrassed himself. “I apologize from the depths of my heart for this misunderstanding.”

He stepped down from his position at Haaretz and Channel 10 after a second woman accused Shavit of sexual harassment.

A 26-year-old woman with pro-Israeli advocacy group J Street who was tasked with picking up Shavit from a Baltimore train station during a book tour visit claims he inappropriately touched her hand when the two stopped for coffee at a Barnes Noble store.

She described the April 2014 encounter as “hand groping,” the unidentified woman told Forward.

“I was very uncomfortable,” she added.

Berrin commended Shavit on Sunday for resigning from his positions issuing an apology.

“I’m grateful for Ari Shavit’s powerful, honest statement,” Berrin tweeted. “His resolution to do ‘heshbon hanefesh’ — an accounting of the soul — is admirable,” Berrin tweeted.

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