J Street is profoundly disturbed about the recent accusation of sexual assault against the Israeli journalist Ari Shavit. This is just one more example of the horrifying epidemic of sexual harassment and assault in our society and around the world.
While we were disgusted to read about Shavit’s behavior, we were sadly not entirely surprised. In April of 2014, a member of J Street’s staff told her supervisor that she had been sexually harassed by Shavit, while working with him at a J Street event at which he spoke. The staff member reported the incident promptly after the event and J Street’s senior staff addressed it immediately with all due seriousness.
We took concrete steps to support the staffer at the time and to protect all of the members of our staff from future abuse. We stand 100 percent behind our staff member now in her decision to make her story public.
Chief among the steps we’ve taken is extending our existing policy of zero-tolerance for sexual harassment to apply to all J Street speakers. We adopted an additional protocol to proactively make clear to every speaker, in writing and in a conversation, both our policy and our expectation that they will fully abide by it.
We continue to learn from this incident, and to work to ensure the safety, respect and well-being of our staff. We are determined to do all we can to create a culture in which predatory behavior can and will be stopped.