Ari Shavit accused again of sexual misconduct, prompting comeback cancellation


NEW YORK (JTA) — An event featuring Ari Shavit, the Israeli author and columnist accused last year of sexual assault, has disappeared from the website of the 92nd Street Y, a Jewish community center, after two more women came forward with sexual misconduct allegations.

Shavit was the scheduled keynote speaker at an Israeli Independence Day program in April at the Manhattan Y. It would have been his first major public event in the United States since the assault accusations last year.

The talk, which was first reported by The Jerusalem Post, was advertised as “a timely, thoughtful discussion” on Israel’s challenges and Shavit’s forthcoming book, which was unnamed.

But as of Friday afternoon, notice of the event has been removed from the website and tickets page after two more women told the magazine Jewish Currents of sexual misconduct allegations from 2014 and 2015. At the time, both students were involved with the liberal campus Israel group J Street U.

Amna Farooqi, who served as national student president of J Street U, told Jewish Currents that in 2015, Shavit kissed her at the end of a meeting in a way she described to a friend as “weird” and “inappropriate.” The friend confirms their conversation.

Catriona Stewart, who currently serves as J Street U’s deputy director, told Jewish Currents that when she was a student, Shavit rubbed her lower back inappropriately during a photo shoot.

The 92nd Street Y did not respond to multiple calls and emails requesting comment. Shavit did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

The announcement of his talk, as well as the new allegations, came during the “#MeToo moment,” as a wave of women have stepped forward to accuse a rash of high-profile men of sexual assault and harassment.

Shavit admitted last year that he was the unnamed Israeli journalist whom Danielle Berrin, a reporter at the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, accused of sexual harassment and assault in an October 2016 cover story. Berrin wrote that Shavit grabbed the back of her head and pulled her toward him. Afterward, she wrote, he propositioned her, invited her up to his hotel room and “continued to pull and paw at me.”

A second woman, who worked for the liberal Israel lobby J Street but remained anonymous, also accused Shavit of sexual harassment in 2016.

The accusations led Shavit to resign as a columnist at Haaretz and commentator on Israeli Channel 10. Shavit is also the author of “My Promised Land,” a well-received book about Israel that made him a popular draw on the Jewish lecture circuit.

Shavit told The Jerusalem Post in a statement this week, prior to the Jewish Currents article, that he has gone through “a personal year of reckoning, humility and change.”

“I spent precious time with my family, addressed my past and did my utmost to become a better person,” the statement read, adding that the process “is ongoing and will stay with me for the rest of my life. I am looking forward to discuss it in depth and full transparency next year. When I’ll do so, I will express unequivocal commitment to women, gender equality and tikkun olam,” Hebrew for repairing the world.

On Friday, in an email to Jewish Currents, Shavit did not deny the women’s accounts, but said he “left the public arena” in order to “begin a deep process of reckoning and self-reflection.”

“I continue to take responsibility for my actions,” he wrote in the email. “I’ve asked forgiveness from those whom I hurt and I am profoundly sorry for the pain I have caused.”

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