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Israel Jails Dads Protesting Family Courts

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September 6th, 2012 by Robert Franklin, Esq.
The state crackdown on fathers asserting their parental rights has begun in earnest in Israel.  Read about it here (Israel National News, 8/31/12).  And it should come as no surprise that the excuses for jailing fathers look more like naked exercises of state power than legitimate police actions.  Put simply, fathers who claim rights to their children will be dealt with in the most brutal ways.  My guess is that jail is just the beginning.  For example, consider this:

One activist father, Guy Shamir, has been held in jail for 21 days. He was arrested when Haifa Family Court Judge Esperanza Alon’s clerk claimed that he used a threatening phrase in a telephone conversation with her. Shamir says he told the clerk: “The judge should mind her own children and I will mind mine.” The clerk claimed that he told the judge to “mind her children” in a threatening way.

That’s 21 days in jail – and counting – for a court clerk’s interpretation of a father’s tone of voice.  That’s as clear a message as I can think of.  It is “your claim to a relationship with your children will not be tolerated.”  One member of the Knesset called it a “militant feminist crackdown.”

Speaking on Channel 2, MK Yulia Shamalov-Berkovich (Kadima) said that that seven activists, including one woman, have been arrested or questioned in the past four weeks. The arrests, she said, are befitting of “a regime like Syria’s” and not of a free society.

One favorite method of quashing dissent used by authoritarian regimes the world over is to attack, not just the protesters, but the lawyers through whom they attempt to assert their legitimate rights.  And so it is in Israel.

An attorney who heads the Coalition for Children and Families was questioned and placed under three-day house arrest regarding alleged threatening statements on the internet. His computer was confiscated. The organization recently organized a study day in Tel Aviv’s Municipal Library regarding anti-father bias in the Family Courts.

In fact, hard as it is on those fathers sitting in jail, this is a good thing.  The thugs of oppression always show their hand and it seldom takes them long to resort to police-state tactics to accomplish their ends.  That’s particularly true when they entirely lack any argument in their own defense.  The simple fact is that fathers having real relationships with their children post-divorce is good and necessary.  It’s good and necessary for everyone – children, dads and moms.  Opponents of fathers’ rights to their children and children’s need for their fathers have nothing to say, no coherent, fact-based, sensible response to make.  In countries like the United States, Canada, England, etc., they resort to the fiction that fathers are uniquely dangerous to their children.  In Israel, they put the fathers behind bars.  If the anti-dad crowd had a real argument to make these past 20 years or so, they’d have made it.  They haven’t because there is no such argument.

So it’s a good thing that they’re resorting to police-state tactics in Israel.  Those are the actions of desperate people, and they don’t work for long.  Particularly against something as obviously right as maintaining father-child bonds, something the great majority of people support, billy clubs and fire hoses will accomplish little.

“The struggle for equal parenting is beginning to take form,” MK Shamalov-Berkovich said, “and it seems that the interested bodies that feel that the divorced fathers may, G-d forbid, get equal rights, and will get to see their children, not in prison-like ‘contact centers’, under supervision of a social worker who sits there and won’t let the father touch the child, even though he was an outstanding father before the divorce – [these bodies] have decided not to accept this situation.”

Speaking of visitation centers, check out the video of the Knesset member questioning the Minister of Welfare on the subject.  It seems that those visitation centers, described so graphically by Ms. Shamalov-Berkovich above, are utilized by Israeli courts at a whopping six times the rate of other countries.  When asked to explain, the learned minister hemmed and hawed, and ultimately declined to answer the question, but of course assured his interlocutor that everything is always done – all together now – in the best interests of the child.  How it is in the best interests of the child to be seen – but not touched – by his/her father for two hours out of every two weeks the minister didn’t explain.  He didn’t, I suspect, for the same reason that anti-father forces around the world never explain, because he can’t.

By the way, if you want to get a taste of what drives Israeli fathers to protest, read this piece I did recently.  It’s mostly quoting a heart-rending piece by the wife of an Israeli man driven to the brink of suicide by the family law system there. Back to Blog

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