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Israeli journalist accused of sexual assault, apologizes for ‘misconstruing the interaction’

American journalist Danielle Berrin published a front-page article in last week’s Jewish Journal addressing the larger issue of violence against women by giving her own story of being attacked by an Israeli journalist; Ari Shavit has said that he did not intend to harass her and apologized ‘from the bottom of (his) heart.’

Haaretz journalist Ari Shavit was accused by the American Jewish Journal writer Danielle Berrin in a column that she published last week of having sexually assaulted her when she came to interview him at his hotel.

Berrin’s article, the cover of last week’s Jewish Journal, covers the particulars of the encounter, though she refrained from naming Shavit. She explained on her Twitter account, “My story about sexual assault is not about a person; it’s about an issue. To treat it otherwise is to miss the point entirely.” However, Shavit released a statement of apology that

Allegedly, after asking several questions at the beginning of their encounter, Shavit “lurched at (Berrin) like a barnyard animal” and tried to to physically force her to kiss him.

Berrin continued that she attempted to talk her way out of the assault, bringing up Shavit’s wife and children, but the Israeli correspondent, who was in town for a book event, turned such conversation to lasciviousness, stating that he was “not done yet” having children.

The Los-Angeles based American continued that she managed to leave the hotel despite Shavit’s overt attempts to keep her there and convince her to join him in his hotel room to “hug.” Though she was in a crowded lobby, the journalist wrote that she felt unsafe.

Her article goes on to draw parallels to Shavit’s actions and those boasted by US presidential candidate Donald Trump in a 2005 recording, addressing the greater societal issues of rape culture and violence against women. She wrote, “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.”

Shavit publicly admitted to being the Israeli journalist Berrin had met, apologized and minimized the encounter as a misunderstanding.

In a statement published on Haaretz, Shavit said, “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.”

He claimed, “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 regularly appears on television’s Channel 10’s Friday evening news program. However, this Friday, it was decided that he will not be present. His permanent status on the program has yet to be decided.

Ynet News. Ran Boker contributed to this report: Israeli journalist accused of sexual assault, apologizes for ‘misconstruing the interaction’

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