Monday, October 31, 2016

Ari Shavit, Celebrated Israeli Columnist, Resigns After Sexual Harassment Accusations

NY Times  The author Ari Shavit attained international celebrity with a deeply introspective look at Israel’s remarkable rise and its controversial moments. With passion and authority, he helped make it possible for many liberal supporters of Israel to admire the nation while questioning its policies.

Accused of sexual harassment, Mr. Shavit resigned on Sunday as one of Israel’s most influential newspaper columnists and television commentators, promising to rethink how he approaches other people, especially women.

“In the last few days I have understood that I have been afflicted by blindness,” Mr. Shavit said in a statement published by Haaretz, the leading left-of-center newspaper, for which he wrote a widely read column. “For years I did not understand what people meant when they spoke of privileged men who do not see the damage that they cause to others. Now, I am beginning to understand.”

The woman who complained that Mr. Shavit, who is married, had tried to force her to kiss him in a hotel lobby two years ago praised him for taking responsibility.

“I’m grateful for Ari Shavit’s powerful honest statement,” the woman, Danielle Berrin, a writer for The Jewish Journalwrote on Twitter. “His resolution to do ‘heshbon hanefesh’ — an accounting of the soul — is admirable.”

The unexpected fall from grace of one of Israel’s most prominent figures shocked his admirers both here and in the United States. In effect, it was unexpected collateral damage from the presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump. Ms. Berrin wrote about her encounter with Mr. Shavit to make a point about sexual harassment, after similar accusations were made against Mr. Trump.

But unlike Mr. Trump, Mr. Shavit acknowledged wrongdoing and did not attack his accuser’s truthfulness. A harsh critic of the Republican presidential candidate in his column, Mr. Shavit told people close to him that he was genuinely remorseful and determined to respond in a way opposite to that of Mr. Trump.

“I am ashamed of the mistakes I made with regards to people in general and women in particular,” he said in his public statement on 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.” [...]

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