Los Angeles Columnist Did Not Intend to Trigger a Sexual Assault ‘Whodunit’

Danielle Berrin's perpetrator, an Israeli journalist, has apologized for his 2014 behavior.

Inspired by the discussion surrounding the release of the Donald TrumpBilly Bush tape, Jewish Journal columnist Danielle Berrin wrote a piece titled “My Sexual Assault and Yours: Every Woman’s Story.” In the article, she detailed a U.S. incident in 2014 involving a famous Israeli journalist and author. She did not name the individual, but otherwise included a lot of descriptive detail.

Berrin’s article belatedly began to reverberate on social media in Israel this week and based on the clues provided, people were able to figure out the individual in question. That person, Ari Shavat, has apologized via their outlet, Haaretz, while insisting that they believed the events described were consensual. Berrin meanwhile has told the Jerusalem Post that she regrets that her inclusion of extensive circumstantial elements enabled a game of “whodunit:”

“I think the obsessive focus on the identity of the person is an utter distraction from the conversation we need to be having about sexual assault and violence in our communities and the world, what that looks like, and how we create awareness,” Berrin said. “It’s not about [my assailant], it’s not about Trump or any one person. It happens every day to women around the world, and we need to be talking about that, not about this one person in Israel.”

As for the argument that naming the journalist who assaulted her could prevent him from doing the same to other women in the future, Berrin said a “national conversation” that helps people identify and stop tolerating this kind of behavior, and for people to share their stories, will create systemic change.

“It’s not about meting out justice to one person,” she added. “I think we have to be very careful about how much attention we want to put on one man… It’s a systemic problem, we have to remember that.”

To wit, another woman has come forward via Twitter in the wake of Berrin’s piece with allegations that another Israeli media personality behaved towards her in almost the exact same way. Read about her story here.

Update (Oct. 30):
Per the Times of Israel, Shavit has resigned from Haaretz and Channel 10 following accusations, reported this weekend by The Forward, from a second woman of a similar 2014 incident. From Shavit’s statement:

‘I am ashamed of the serious mistakes I have made in my relations with people in general and with women in particular. I am ashamed that I have not behaved properly toward my wife and my children. I am ashamed of the consequences of my deeds. In the past few days I have realized that until now I was stricken with blindness.’

Photo via: Twitter

@hollywoodspin rhorgan@gmail.com Richard Horgan is co-editor of Fishbowl.
Publish date: October 28, 2016 https://dev.adweek.com/digital/danielle-berrin-jewish-journal-sexual-assault/ © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT