Weekly roundup of world briefs from JTA

 


Danielle Berrin slams Ari Shavit for not apologizing for ‘committing sexual assault’

(JTA)—Jewish-American reporter Danielle Berrin slammed prominent Israeli journalist Ari Shavit for not admitting and apologizing for allegedly sexually assaulting her.

“As recounted in my article, he engaged in physically aggressive behavior—grabbing the back of my head, lurching at me for a kiss, pulling and pawing at me, and pressuring me to enter his hotel room,” she wrote in a response published Friday in the Jewish Journal of Los Angeles.

She added: “Throughout our interaction, he touched me in ways I did not want to be touched and he caused me to fear for my safety.”

Shavit issued a statement Thursday in response to Berrin’s account last week confirming that the two met in 2014, but saying he had thought of their interaction as constituting “courtship” or “flirtation” but not sexual assault.

“I apologize from the depths of my heart for this misunderstanding,” he said.

Berrin slammed Shavit’s statement.

“That Shavit would claim it was ‘flirtation’ is not only misguided, it suggests I was participating in his scheme when, indeed, I was the victim; I was afraid he’d further assault me if I did not escape,” she wrote.

She continued: “I am glad Ari Shavit has at least acknowledged an encounter took place... But Ari Shavit has yet to apologize for what he actually did; he did not apologize for committing sexual assault.”

Berrin did not identify Shavit by name in her original account, but her descriptions of the person she accused of assaulting her as “an accomplished journalist from Israel” with dark hair and eyes who had recently published an influential book led to widespread speculation that it was about Shavit.


Rock star Roger Waters said to lose $4 million over anti-Israel activism

(JTA)—Roger Waters’ anti-Israel activism has cost the British rock star millions of dollars and an American Express sponsorship, the New York Post reported.

The credit giant took off the table a $4 million sponsorship of Waters’ 2017 tour in North America following his partisan and anti-Israel rhetoric this month at a festival that American Express sponsored, according to the tabloid’s report Thursday.

“Roger is putting on a huge show. The company was asked to sponsor his tour for $4 million, but pulled out because it did not want to be part of his anti-Israel rhetoric,” an unnamed source from American Express was quoted as saying.

But an official spokesperson for the firm said it never formally offered to sponsor Waters’ 2017 tour.

“When we were approached with the options, we passed on making a bid,” the spokesperson said.

At the Oldchella festival, Waters used his time on stage to blast the Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and to call for a boycott of Israel, according to the Post.

“F*** Trump and his wall,” Waters said at the event, calling the billionaire reality star “arrogant, lying, racist, sexist.” He then voiced his solidarity with students protesting for Palestinians. He also urged people to support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel.


Waters did not reply to requests for a reaction by the Post.

Earlier this year, Waters said in an interview that celebrities are afraid to “speak out against Israel’s policies,” as he termed it, because of what he described as financial consequences attached to doing so.

“I’ve talked to a lot of them, and they are scared s***less. If they say something in public, they will no longer have a career. They will be destroyed,” he said.

Waters, the 69-year-old co-founder of the classic rock group Pink Floyd, has been widely criticized for his anti-Israel activities and accused of espousing anti-Semitic symbols, though he has denied doing so.

In a 2013 concert in Brussels, Waters performed on a stage featuring a giant pig balloon emblazoned with a Star of David, among other symbols.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center called Waters “an open hater of Jews.” And the Anti-Defamation League’s then leader, Abraham Foxman, in an open letter to Waters earlier this month said his “views on Israel are in fact colored by offensive and dangerous undercurrents of anti-Jewish sentiment.”


Ivanka Trump says her father will move US embassy to Jerusalem ‘100 percent’ if elected

(JTA)—Speaking at a synagogue in Florida, Ivanka Trump assured Jewish voters that her father would “100 percent” move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem if he is elected president.

Ivanka Trump, who converted to Judaism in 2010 and is married to a Jewish man, called her father, the Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, an “unbelievable champion” for the State of Israel and for the Jewish people during a talk Thursday at The Shul of Bal Harbour in Surfside, the Jewish Insider reported.

“You won’t be disappointed,” she told the audience in a talk that was filmed in part.

In addition to saying Donald Trump will move the embassy to Jerusalem, which she called “the eternal capital,” Ivanka Trump also said her father supported her conversion to Judaism before she married Jared Kushner.

“I so respect the fact that he supported me from day one,” she said. “There was no question, there was no argument. He was very supportive.”

Asked how Judaism has inspired her to be what she is today, Ivanka Trump said, “I feel like Judaism helps your moral compass.” Judaism “has been a great blessing in my life,” she added.

Ivanka Trump and her sister Tiffany also made Florida campaign stops in Jupiter and Riviera Beach, according to the Trump campaign.

Jewish voters represent 3 to 6 percent of the electorate in the key battleground state of Florida. A recent poll showed Clinton leading Trump by 43 points among Jewish voters in the Sunshine State. Clinton is ahead by 1.6 percentage points overall there, according to the RealClearPolitics average.

Congress passed a law in 1995 mandating the move of the embassy to Jerusalem, but allowed the president a waiver. Each president since then has routinely exercised the waiver, citing the national security interests of the United States.

In December, while speaking at the Republican Jewish Coalition, Donald Trump refused to commit to recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s undivided capital. But by January he said it was “the eternal capital” of Israel and that he was “100 percent for” moving the embassy there.

Separately, the eminent American historian Robert Paxton, an expert on fascism and considered a world authority on the Vichy government, the Nazi puppet regime in France, said Trump is not a racist “in the way that Southern rednecks are” but shares “commonalities” with European 20th-century fascists.

Paxton, the recipient of France’s Legion of Honor award, noted in an interview about Trump published by Slate on Wednesday the case of the Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, who had a Jewish lover, was supported by many middle-class Jews and “got along quite well with Jews.” But political expediency led him to allow anti-Semitism and racism to take a more central role in public life, leading to the wholesale deportation and murder of approximately a fifth of Italy’s Jewish population in the Holocaust.

Trump, who has rejected persistent allegations of stoking hatred against Mexicans and failing to distance his campaign from anti-Semites, “is playing in a disastrous way with a lot of rhetoric and a lot of prejudices that definitely belong to fascist rhetoric and fascist violence,” Paxton said.

2nd Jewish-American journalist speaks of sexual misconduct by Israeli media personality

(JTA)—Amid allegations from a Los Angeles reporter of sexual assault by an eminent Israeli journalist, a Jewish journalist from New York said she also was abused by another Israeli journalist.

Avital Chizhik, a contributor to Haaretz, The New York Times and Tablet magazine, revealed on Twitter that she had an almost identical experience to the one described by Danielle Berrin of the Jewish Journal of Los Angeles, who last week accused Haaretz columnist Ari Shavit of sexually assaulting her two years ago in California.

“This almost-exact story happened to me years ago with another Israeli media personality,” Chizhik, the daughter-in-law of Moscow Chief Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, wrote on Twitter on Wednesday, without naming the person in question. She added: “Not okay.”

Berrin did not name Shavit in her column, which was titled “My sexual assault, and yours: Every woman’s story—How the Trump video launched a collective soul-searching over sexual harassment and assault,” but clues led other journalists to name him as the accused. Berrin said he tried to kiss her and invited her to come to his hotel room.

On Thursday, Hillel International, the Jewish campus group, announced it was suspending a speaking tour it arranged for Shavit in the United States “in keeping with our strong position against sexual assault.”

Shavit has apologized for the incident, calling it a misunderstanding and saying he did not realize Berrin experienced his behavior as sexual assault.

Following Chizhik’s remark, Matthew Kalman, an editor at Bloomberg News covering Israel, wrote on Twitter: “It’s time for sexual predators to be expunged from Israeli public life.”

Berrin’s reference to Trump was over lewd comments he made a decade ago about women that were published earlier this month by The Washington Post and contained in a video that was recently aired.

Separately, the head of a major group of West Bank settlements stepped down Friday following allegations that he sexually assaulted a Jerusalem woman and paid her off to keep quiet. Davidi Perl, chairman of the Etzion Bloc Regional Council, sent a letter to council residents on Friday morning announcing his decision to resign and maintaining that he had done nothing wrong.

British Jews call for action against ‘violent’ anti-Israel protesters at London college

(JTA)—The representative body of British Jews called on the University College London to sanction students who disrupted an event organized by supporters of Israel.

The Board of Deputies of British Jews issued its statement Friday about an event at UCL the previous night in which “a hate-filled mob supporting the worst kind of extremism in the Middle East once again trampled on free speech at a leading UK campus,” the board’s vice president, Marie van der Zyl, wrote in a statement.

The police were called and the venue was changed several times as pro-Palestinian activists shouted slogans that prevented the event from starting, and then physically blocked the entrance to prevent the audience and organizers from leaving, according to the board.

“We deplore the aggressive and intimidating protests,” van der Zyl said of the incident, which Devora Khafi, campus director of StandWithUs UK, described as anti-Semitic.

“Last night I and fellow students were barricaded in by violent extremists,” Khafi wrote in a separate statement, detailing how she experienced the event. “Students under threat, holed up in a room, facing abuse and violence—just because they are Jewish.”

The event was organized by UCL Friends of Israel Society and King’s College London’s Israel Society with speaker Hen Mazzig, an Israeli peace activist. A few dozen students showed up for the event, as did a similar number of protesters.

“We call on UCL to initiate a strong disciplinary process against the perpetrators,” van der Zyl wrote. “We will be raising this across Government today and in a meeting with the Home Secretary on Monday. This abuse must have no place on our campuses.”

Last week, Universities UK, the umbrella group representing university heads, published a 114-page document on the steps that faculty should take to deal with hate crimes, including anti-Semitism, which affect students. British university bosses should work more closely with Jewish community leaders in order to “better understand antisemitism,” the report stated.

 

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