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NPO publishes blog articles to inform and to stimulate conversation about issues of importance to NPO's mission.  All blog articles express the opinions of the authors as individuals and do not necessarily reflect the views of National Parents Organization, its Board of Directors, or its executives.  

January 1, 2014 by Robert Franklin, Esq.

What’s the world coming to? It’s getting so a leading newspaper can’t publish utterly false statements about a person without him getting upset. That’s one of the messages in this article, but far from the only one (Israel National News, 12/30/13). It seems a feminist member of Israel’s Knesset lied about a particular fathers’ rights activist and the newspaper Haaretz published the lie without doing that simplest and most basic of journalistic activities – checking its facts.

An Israeli fathers' rights activist, Sharon Ben-Haim, is taking legal action against left-wing newspaper Haaretz for publishing what he claims are defamatory statements made by MK Orly Levy-Abekasis (Likud-Beytenu) in a recent Knesset session, against another prominent men's rights activist, Amir Shipperman.

So, Message Number One is that a feminist member of the Knesset lied about Mr. Shipperman. Message Number Two is that she did so for the timeless feminist purpose of obstructing fathers’ parental rights and children’s ability to have contact with them. Ask just about anyone what feminism is and they’ll tell you it’s a movement for equality of the sexes, but that’s just feminist marketing of the brand. If feminists truly supported equality of the sexes, they’d support fathers’ rights and go to bat for bills that would establish the presumption of equal parenting post-divorce. But they don’t. Indeed, they never have.

Over the years in country after country, state after state, bills are filed with state, provincial and national legislative bodies only to be opposed by feminist organizations. In the U.S. NOW and its various state organizations have never supported such bills and usually oppose them. In Canada, it’s the National Association of Women Lawyers, in the United Kingdom, it’s the Fawcett Society and in Australia feminist organizations of every stripe oppose even the most modest improvements in fathers’ rights.

And so it is in now in Israel. Amazingly, feminists there support continuation of the Tender Years Doctrine, a concept that went the way of the Dodo decades ago. In Israel, the doctrine holds that any child under the age of seven is automatically given to its mother when Mom and Dad divorce. It doesn’t matter who the better parent is or where the child’s best interests lie. Needless to say, when mothers have unfettered rights to children and dads have next to none for the first seven years of a child’s life, much mischief can be worked by mothers intent on separating fathers from children.

The Knesset session was a stormy one, in which feminist MKs fought tooth and nail against a fellow feminist, MK Gila Gamliel (Likud-Beytenu), and fathers' activists, regarding initiatives to cancel the Tender Years' Doctrine that grants divorcing mothers automatic preference in child custody disputes.

As proof positive of the misandry of radical feminists and their organizations, their opposition to the rights of fathers and the well-being of children trumps even their support for women. Recall that one of feminism’s chief goals over the past 50 years has been to get more women into the workplace and to increase their profile there. So, if they were going to truly promote that end, they’d be all in favor of greater paternal access to and responsibility for children. They’d jump at the chance to support equal parenting legislation for the simple reason that the more childcare fathers do, the more mothers can work, earn, save, get promoted, achieve positions of influence, etc., i.e. age-old feminist goals.

But no, feminists invariably oppose even slight improvements in fathers’ rights. The necessary conclusion is that their antipathy for fathers outweighs their support for women.

And of course, given the fact that there are essentially no principled arguments against children having healthy, complete, meaningful relationships with their fathers post-divorce, feminist opposition thereto is always couched in falsehoods. So it’s no surprise that MK Levy-Abekasis lied about Amir Shipperman.

Message Number Three is that the mainstream media enthusiastically support radical feminists (and family lawyers) in their opposition to fathers and fathers’ rights activists.

According to the letter sent by Ben-Haim to Haaretz, MK Levy-Abekasis said during the public session, which was aired live on the Knesset Channel, that Shipperman had sent her an email containing a picture of a gun, and that she was frightened by this. Haaretz's reporter published an article stating that MK Levy-Abekasis is “frightened” because she received an email from a father with a picture of a gun, and that MK Aliza Lavie (Yesh Atid), who co-chaired the session with Levy-Abekasis, was also scared because she saw a picture of herself in a bikini on the internet.

“Your client recklessly published these false statements without checking basic facts,” wrote Ben Haim, who said that no email of a gun had ever been sent to MK Levy-Abekasis. He further alleged that the newspaper had published “a completely false description of the terror that these female MKs used against the men who tried to make statements but were rudely interrupted time and time again.”

Ben Haim, who explained that he became a fathers' rights activist after his daughter was kidnapped from him, admonished Haaretz: “In the future, when you write about men's rights, fathers' rights, women's rights, family courts, rabbinical courts, etc., we expect you to collect a statement from the fathers' rights activists in Israel, so as to present to your readers a full unbiased picture.”

You might think a major national newspaper wouldn’t need to be told the ABCs of journalism, but then, if you thought that, it would be because you haven’t been keeping up with the media’s treatment of family court matters. As but one example, remember Tommaso Vincenti, the Italian man whose Australian wife abducted their four daughters from Italy to Australia? Literally for years the Australian news media swallowed every lie the mother, Laura Garrett, told about Vincenti and her abduction. Vincenti finally got fed up with their blatant anti-father bias and began forcing the truth down their throats. In the end, it turned out that Garrett told the truth about virtually nothing and that she and her mother had profited years earlier by lying about yet another man.

But throughout l’affaire Vincenti, not a single Australian “journalist” thought to pick up a telephone and talk to him. Had they done so, they’d have learned that Garrett’s allegations were utterly false, that she had no right to keep the children in Australia, that she’d violated multiple laws and that the Australian Embassy in Rome had assisted her every step of the way. Now there’s a story! But the Australian press wasn’t interested. For almost two years, it had one of its favorite topics to write about – an innocent mother protecting her vulnerable children from a brutal father. Why risk facts when you can just recycle one of your most precious myths?

Much the same happened with Haaretz. MK Levy-Abekasis lied about a fathers’ rights activist and, rather than picking up the telephone and finding out some facts, the paper repeated the lie. As in Australia, that served the purpose of promoting a myth and suppressing the truth. The truth is that Mr. Shipperman did none of the things Ms. Levy-Abekasis claimed, but the myth is that fathers’ rights activists are all deranged and dangerous. It’s all too common that, when the topic is the rights of fathers to their children, the press prefers a lurid myth to the more pedestrian facts. So the telephone stays put.

That brings us to Message Number Four.  Part of the “debate” about the Tender Years Doctrine and whether fathers should have any say at all about the custody of children under seven consisted of feminists claiming (falsely) that a fathers’ rights activist had emailed a picture of a gun to a member of the Knesset. He did no such thing of course, but her claim is a measure both of radical feminist intellectual dishonesty and of the utterly threadbare nature of their opposition to scrapping the doctrine.

Not only did Levy-Abekasis lie about the email, which gives a good indication of just how much she values the truth. But more importantly, this is her argument against children having real relationships with their dads. What if Shipperman had done what she claimed? Would it have made even the slightest difference in the debate about how best to care for kids following divorce? What possible impact could one stupid act by one activist have on such an important topic? Why should countless thousands of Israeli fathers and their children have to suffer because of such a thing?

The point being that, as I’ve asked before, if opponents of fathers’ rights to children and children’s rights to fathers had anything of substance to say, don’t you think they would? Instead we get silly and false ad hominem attacks.

Such is the nature of the public “debate” over the vital issue of fathers and children. Feminist MK Levy-Abekasis and her mouthpiece Haaretz made things worse, not better.

#IsraeliKnesset, #OrlyLevy-Abekasis, #feminists, #equalparenting, #defamation

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