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Ari Shavit's non-apology

Haaretz columnist Ari Shavit apologizes for sexually assaulting an American journalist. Well, kind of.

President Shimon Peres (L), and Haaretz correspondent, Ari Shavit (R), at the Israel Conference for Peace, David Intercontinental Hotel, Tel Aviv, Tuesday July 8, 2014. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

President Shimon Peres (L), and Haaretz correspondent, Ari Shavit (R), at the Israel Conference for Peace, David Intercontinental Hotel, Tel Aviv, Tuesday July 8, 2014. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Eight days after American journalist Danielle Berrin published allegations of sexual assault against an Israeli journalist who she refused to name, Haaretz columnist and author Ari Shavit identified himself on Thursday and issued an apology “from the bottom of his heart for this misunderstanding.”

Those eight days were filled with speculation that the “dark eyed” and “black haired” author of a highly popular book in the American Jewish community was in fact Shavit. In the Israeli media, there was far more talk about uncovering his identity than about the act itself and its implications. In that sense it is unfortunate that she didn’t name him, especially since her story describes no less than sexual assault — the crime of forcible touching.

In his apology Shavit writes that he “wrongly interpreted the interaction between us” and that until he read her story, he considered it to have been a “friendly encounter” that included “elements of courtship,” and that he did not mean to cause her any discomfort or hurt her feelings.

Berrin’s hints left almost no question it was in fact Shavit, so it makes sense that Haaretz understood Shavit would have to identify himself and issue an apology to try and get ahead of the story. Haaretz has yet to issue any statement* — neither a condemnation of Shavit nor the act itself — and it remains unclear whether it has plans to take any action against him.

Shavit is one the paper’s most prominent columnists, and is especially well known among the American Jewish community, to which he regularly speaks. Israel’s Channel 10, which employs Shavit as a commentator, has said it is deliberating how to respond. Hillel, the North American campus group, already issued a statement last night that it is suspending Shavit’s campus tour.

Asked for comment, Haaretz Editor-in-Chief Aluf Benn told +972 he has no comment at this time, and will update if there is. My sense is that they are still deliberating what to say, and whether this will blow over and they will only have to issue a formal condemnation — without actually suspending or firing Shavit. But the clock is ticking. Meanwhile the silence of Haaretz and many of its prominent columnists is deafening. I have only seen their diplomatic correspondent, Barak Ravid, tweet anything remotely critical:

Haaretz should have already issued a statement condemning the specific act, condemning sexual assault on a whole — and distanced itself from Ari Shavit — at the very least by suspending him until further notice.

But what is perhaps most enraging about this story is Shavit’s response. As opposed to Donald Trump, who has systematically denied the growing number of sexual harassment and assault allegations against him — and has even chosen to verbally assault some of his accusers — Shavit issued an apology and presumably took responsibility. But in my view, calling what happened with Berrin a “misunderstanding” or a “misreading of the situation” is almost worse than denial. It is Shavit appearing to admit to an act without actually admitting anything at all. After all how could he admit to something that he was not aware of?

Can one really believe that Shavit was not aware that his grabbing and pawing and leering was unwelcome? Fine, not the first time, but the second time, after she pulled away? Can anyone really take him seriously? And if he really was unaware then that makes it all the more worrisome, since it shows just how oblivious he and so many other men are to the concept of basic respect for a woman’s body and autonomy.

And even if we put that aside for a moment, the fact that Shavit — an older, powerful, white man — allowed himself to engage in any sexual conduct during a professional meeting with a fellow journalist is bad enough. That alone is sufficient for Haaretz to say it can no longer work with him.

Haaretz, we are waiting for your condemnation and your action.

UPDATE, 11:27 a.m.: Twenty-four hours after identifying himself and 12 hours after this post was originally published, Ari Shavit announced he is “taking time off from his journalistic work.” Haaretz issued a statement condemning sexual assault.

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    1. i_like_ike52

      Ari Shavit has no need to apologize. He is a good “progressive” and Leftist. These people can do anything they want to women and get away with it. Look at how the “progressive Left” adores John F Kennedy and Bill Clinton who were serial abusers of women if not outright rapists. They are in the pantheon of great “progressives”.

      Reply to Comment
      • Ben

        And let’s not forget the rape of the West Bank is A-OK. You have nothing to be ashamed of. You’re chosen. Such people can do anything they want to Palestinians and get away with it. Look at how the anti-progressive Right adores the settlers and the Israeli army. They are in the pantheon of the anti-progressives.

        Reply to Comment
    2. carmen

      “But in my view, calling what happened with Berrin a “misunderstanding” or a “misreading of the situation” is almost worse than denial.”

      It’s saying what women have heard from this type of man forever – ‘Oh, you didn’t want my tongue rammed down your throat? Why didn’t you say so? What are you, a lezbo?’ Uh, well, I couldn’t talk because your fucking tongue was down my throat making it impossible to speak, much less breathe. Asshole!

      Maybe from tRUMP and shavit’s pov, being senior citizens and all and stalking young women is embarassing enough, but being turned down by that woman, especially since they, well at least tRUMP, seem to believe they’re some kind of pussy magnet, would be too much for their fragile egos to withstand, so why ask? Besides, when you’re a star, you can do whatever you want.

      Suspend his ass.

      Reply to Comment
      • Lewis from Afula

        If Ari Shavit had been a muslim, A good leftist feminist such as Berrin would have excused him long ago. One response to Western people, another response for more “primitive” muslim people.

        Reply to Comment
        • Carmen

          Lewis from Afula:

          sexual harrassment is criminal no matter who the perp is. In this case it’s an israeli jew, a real class act who has written about the illusion of israeli sexiness and his admiration for the casual sex that occurs in israeli nightclub bathrooms. And he had his excuse ready, which was scripted and didn’t come close to asking for her forgiveness or acknowledging her charge, instead claiming it was a ‘misunderstanding’. I imagine he, like a lot of men, believe that’s good enough. It isn’t.

          Reply to Comment
          • Lewis from Afula

            Carmen – but what about the 10 zillion cases of Muslim rapes in European Countries ie Sweden, Belgium, Germany, France, UK etc etc?
            You never hear anything from Feminists about those?

            In the hypothetical case that I was interested in raping girls, I would convert to Islam and move to Europe. There, I could do it continuously. The police will never arrest me because of political correctness.

            Reply to Comment
          • Carmen

            Gotta hand it to you Lewis, you come straight out with the ‘whataboutery’. Why don’t you write your theories and what your indepth research has shown you and present it for publication somewhere. What about this below? It hasn’t anything to do with sexual predator shavit either.

            *Israeli rabbi who advocated rape of ‘comely gentile women’ during war …

            **Israeli army’s new chief rabbi accused of condoning rape by soldiers
            http://www.telegraph.co.uk › News

            And an IOF man being arrested, put on trial and imprisoned for raping a gentile woman is about as likely as a soldier being arrested, put on trial and imprisoned for murder of a gentile woman, man, or child. Is that political correctness or just a perk of belonging to the correct ethnoreligious group?

            I’m done on this Lewis, and with this last post of yours, looks like you definitely are.

            Reply to Comment
    3. i_like_ike52

      Here is PROOF about what I said regarding Leftists being given a pass on criminal activities, as long as they have “politically correct” Leftist views. J-street knew FOR YEARS what Shavit was doing but they kept silent, just like “progressives” in the US “overlook” Bill Clinton’s criminal activity with women. Add to that Shavit’s greed as exposed in this article and you can see the hypocrisy so prevalent in the “human rights” gang like Ha’aretz, J-Street and others who knew exactly what kind of person Shavit really was:


      Reply to Comment
      • carmen

        @I_Like_Ike52 – I see you’re point. Criminals, be they left or right or belong to a specific religious group or occupation, tend to cover for their own. For instance, doctors and lawyers rarely ‘out’ one of their own.

        Reply to Comment