As a reporter for the Los Angeles Jewish Journal, Danielle Berrin, a graduate of Miami Palmetto Senior High School, wrote an article last week detailing an unwanted sexual encounter she had with “accomplished journalist from Israel.”
“In the end, I guess, I consider myself lucky. Very, very lucky,” she wrote in the article, headlined, “My sexual assault, and yours: Every woman’s story.’’
“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.”
Her article prompted a second woman to come forward with accusations of sexual harassment against senior journalist Ari Shavit, who resigned Sunday from Haaretz, a prominent Israeli daily newspaper, the country’s oldest. He also resigned from Israel’s Channel 10.
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“I am ashamed of the mistakes I made with regards to people in general and women in particular,” Shavit said in a statement released to Haaretz Sunday. “I am embarrassed that I did not behave correctly to my wife and children. I am embarrassed about the consequences of what I did.”
While Berrin did not name Shavit in her article, Shavit, the author of the acclaimed “My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel,’’ apologized a few days later in a statement he gave to Haaretz.
“More than two and a half years ago, in February 2014, I met with Danielle Berrin in Los Angeles for a conversation,” he said in a statement that was published on the paper’s website Thursday evening. “Today, I sadly understand that I misconstrued the interaction between us during that meeting.
“I thought we 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.’’
He went on to say that he apologized “from the bottom of my heart for this misunderstanding.”
Berrin, who had met with Shavit to discuss his book, rejected Shavit’s explanation.
“His claim is absurd,” she wrote. “The only thing I wanted from Ari Shavit was an interview about his book. No person of sound judgment would have interpreted his advances on me as anything other than unwanted, aggressive sexual contact.’’
She then recounted what happened that evening: “... he engaged in physically aggressive behavior — grabbing the back of my head, lurching at me for a kiss, pulling and pawing at me, and pressuring me to enter his hotel room,’’ she wrote.
Berrin said she first wrote about the incident after Donald Trump’s lewd comments about women came out in the “Access Hollywood’’ video between Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, and the broadcaster Billy Bush. Since then, more than 10 women have come forward, accusing Trump of unwanted sexual touching. Trump has denied their allegations.
After Shavit’s apology, Berrin took to Twitter: “I’m grateful for Ari Shavit’s powerful, honest statement,” she wrote. “His resolution to do ‘heshbon hanefesh’ — an accounting of the soul — is admirable.”
This is not the first time Berrin has used her platform as a journalist to share a personal story. In 2014, Berrin wrote a piece about Steven Sotloff, the American journalist who was beheaded by ISIS.
Berrin said she grew up with Sotloff, whose family lives in Pinecrest, at Temple Beth Am in Pinecrest.
“My heart broke for my friend Steven, for the terror, fear and anxiety he must have felt all year long; for the stories and insights he must have been burning to write but was instead left bereft,” she wrote.