Haaretz columnist Ari Shavit announced Friday that he decided to take time off from his journalistic work following the publication of an article by an American journalist saying that he had sexually assaulted her.
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Haaretz issued an official statement on the matter, saying: "Haaretz is vehemently opposed to any form of sexual harassment. Such behavior is utterly unacceptable and must be thoroughly rooted out. Haaretz expects all of its employees to behave in a professional manner. Ari Shavit is a senior journalist with many achievements over the past 20 years of working for Haaretz. Today he informed us that, in light of recent publications, he has decided to take a time out from his journalistic work."
Earlier on Friday, the journalist, Danielle Berrin, responded to Shavit's apology and rejected his claim that the incident was a misunderstanding. "His claim is absurd," Berrin wrote in the article published by The Jewish Journal, "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."
In an article published in The Jewish Journal last week, Berrin wrote that Shavit sexually assaulted her during an interview, tried to kiss her by force and touched her. Shavit issued an apology on Thursday, in which he stated that at the time he did not think that the encounter constituted a case of sexual assault. "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 response to his apology Berrin wrote that Shavit's claim that the incident was a flirtation hinted that she reciprocated his behavior. "None of this was flirtation; this was an assault on my dignity and professionalism that frightened and disturbed me," she wrote. "According to the United States Department of Justice, the definition of sexual assault is 'any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient,'" she added.
"I am glad Ari Shavit has at least acknowledged an encounter took place," Berrin added, "As a committed Jew, I am always open to the possibility of forgiveness and redemption."