The Israeli world of journalism and politics is an uproar today, not over the fate of the Supreme Court or of the settlement of Armona and certainly not over the latest anti-Israel decision as Unesco. But rather at something more prosaic and maybe over something more important in some way-the accusation by an American Jewish Journalist, Danielle Berrin that she was sexually assaulted by a prominent Israeli journalist later self identified as Ari Shavit. Frankly I am not surprised, not that I know Shavit personally, but rather I spent a fair amount of time around places where Israeli males met American Jewish female professional and have seen what the results have been. Of course my experience is from another era- I worked in the American/Israeli/Jewish years when I was young 17-20 and than later in my mid 30’s and it was a different time with different expectations. Certainly during my service in the Israeli Air Force I saw things that in todays world, would end careers. But during my years working for Jewish Agency I saw first hand the actions of Israeli visitors. It was still the years of the macho Israeli soldier, and they felt free to get their way with often willing American Jewish women students and professionals. Many of the women were willing participants, although in retrospect since many of the sinners were their bosses or other in a hierarchy above them in many of the case one can not speak about willing consent, others less so. It was widespread, and reached to people today who hold some of the highest positions in the government.
I think it is better today, although I obviously cannot be sure. My daughters did not experience in the army any of what I saw when I was serving. The problem seems to be greater among older Israeli men who seem to be stuck in the past, a past that might have been pleasant for them but not for women who were on the receiving ends of unwanted attention or much more. We cannot be a society that tolerates this sort to behavior in any way. Ari Shavit role as the spokesman for the liberal Israel is over. Its too bad he was not a bad spokesman. Hopefully American won’t elect someone to be President who is guilty of as much or more than Shavit- but its irrelevant- there can be no excuses, no questions, sexual harassment is a career ender however talented an individual may be.