Los Angeles Jewish Journal writer Danielle Berrin thought she was invited on Israel’s Channel 2 to talk about Jewish media in the diaspora on a visit Israel for a conference on the topic this week.
But instead she found herself bombarded with questions about her being groped.
Channel 2 correspondent Oded Ben Ami grilled Berrin about Ari Shavit, the Israeli bestselling author whom Berrin said attacked her when she interviewed him about his book “My Promised Land.” Shavit resigned from posts at Haaretz and Channel 10 in October after a second woman accused him of sexual misconduct in the pages of the Forward.
In Berrin’s interview with Ben Ami, which aired on December 4, the Israeli TV newscaster launched into questions about Shavit right away, telling Berrin that “of course” he must ask her whether she was in touch with Shavit since she was visiting Israel. (She was not).
“Here I was getting excited to talk to you about the Jewish media summit I came to see,” Berrin replied, looking surprised.
Ben Ami proceeded to ask her about her acceptance of Shavit’s public apology. He then brought up the case of Israeli general Ofek Buchris, who was accused of sex crimes by two lower-ranking female soldiers, suggesting that Berrin was a “leader” who inspired other women to come forward. Ben Ami only briefly veered from the topic to ask Berrin for a “few words” about the U.S.-Israel relationship after Donald Trump’s election. He asked nothing about Jewish media.
Reached by the Forward, Berrin said she was “very upset” at Channel 2, calling the interview a “shameful effort at sensationalism.”
Berrin’s Channel 2 interview was coordinated by the Israeli Government Press Office, a co-host of the Jewish Media Summit which brought dozens of journalists from Jewish newspapers across the world to Israel. Berrin was told that the interview would cover the question of “why Jewish media is essential in the world.”
Berrin said she knew that Ben Ami would ask her about Shavit, but was dismayed that the topic was the focal point of the interview.
“I made it clear to [Channel 2] that I felt the interview utterly lacked newsworthiness and a thoughtful, fresh line of questioning.”
A spokesperson for Channel 2 declined to comment.
Ravit Hecht, a reporter at Haaretz, panned the interview in a column saying that it was conducted for the purpose of “pure gossip, the joy of shaming, and the cynical calculations of TV ratings.”
Naomi Zeveloff is the Middle East correspondent of the Forward, primarily covering Israel and the Palestinian Territories.