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Ari Shavit Breaks Silence About Sexual Assault Allegations In New Interview

Israeli author and journalist Ari Shavit has spoken out about sexual assault allegations against him and his reckoning with his gender and power dynamics in a new interview with Haaretz.

The Israeli newspaper, where Shavit wrote a column for nearly two decades, published a conversation between him and Dr. Orit Kamir, who drafted Israel’s law against sexual harassment. Kamir said she asked Shavit to sit down with her because she “admired” his reaction to the allegations against him.

“I hope that perhaps your choice will inspire others who find themselves in similar circumstances to admit wrongdoing and leave the stage, instead of denying and denigrating,” Kamir said to Shavit.

Shavit was first accused of sexual assault by journalist Danielle Berrin in the Jewish Journal in 2016. Shavit issued an apology at the time that Berrin called “absurd.”

After another accusation by a J Street staffer, Shavit quit his posts at Haaretz and Israel’s Channel 10 and issued a more extensive apology. Berrin said then that she was “grateful” for his “powerful, honest statement.”

In his new interview with Kamir, Shavit touched upon his year of soul-searching after the allegations came out. He said he apologized privately to Berrin, and has begun a “process of reconciliation with her.”

“When news of Danielle Berrin’s article reached Israel, some friends advised me to do what others had done: take a polygraph, rebut, denounce. I immediately said no,” Shavit said in the interview. “It wasn’t even an option. I would not deny, I would not vilify, I would not sling mud. I would not contest her experience. Because if a woman felt as she felt – my behavior was the cause of those feelings. I cannot dismiss them, disavow them. There is nothing I wanted more than to apologize, to ask her forgiveness.”

Juliana Kaplan is a news intern at The Forward. Email her at kaplan@forward.com or follow her on Twitter, @julianamkaplan

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