June 19, 2014 by Robert Franklin, Esq.
Bad as things are for fathers in the United States, Canada, the U.K. and the rest of the English-speaking world, we can always count on their being worse elsewhere, namely, Israel. After all, how often do we see members of a country’s national legislative body sued for slander and defamation by fathers’ rights activists? That’s what happened just a few weeks ago in Israel when one feminist member of the Knesset thought it was acceptable legally and morally to openly lie about a particular fathers’ rights activist. As I said, things here are bad, but so far state and federal legislators haven’t stooped that low. Yet.
And of course in Israel, the government is so virulently anti-father/anti-child it still maintains the Tender Years Doctrine under which, for all practical purposes, fathers of children under seven never get custody of their kids. They’re nothing but sources of income and the law makes no pretense to anything else.
Then there’s the fact that Israeli law prohibits any father owing child support from leaving the country. It’s the logical extension of other draconian and counterproductive efforts at enforcing child support orders. Pretty much all the enforcement mechanisms take the approach that, if we make it harder on Dad to earn a living, in some way, he’ll pay more. So we take away his license to drive, any other professional or occupational license he may have and of course pitch him in the slammer if we find it expedient. So why not prevent him from leaving the country? Does he need to do so for his job? Well, too bad; he can’t. Does failure to perform the requirements of his job place him in jeopardy of losing it? Again, too bad.
We’ve got a handy-dandy narrative for all those dads should any of them fail to pay. They’re all deadbeats of course. Never mind that, in an economy that’s just kicked a couple of million men out of work, finding a paying job is hard enough. No, we make it harder to get one and harder to keep one for the very guys we shout at the loudest that they must do the most valuable thing in life — support their kids.
Of course lawyers who make their money dunning the poor for child support payments proudly point out that, when threatened with jail, fathers often miraculously come up with the money they’d claimed all along not to have. What those lawyers never mention is the fact that a lot of that money comes, not from Dad, but from friends, relatives, neighbors, etc. who don’t owe his child a thin dime, but also don’t want their buddy to go to jail. In that way the child support system extends its long and unjust arm far beyond the fathers, mothers and children of the family. It drains resources of simple bystanders who shouldn’t be involved, but want to help.
And of course those lawyers would never dream of mentioning certain pertinent facts like the ones pounded into us by the Office of Child Support Enforcement. The OCSE has complained for years that family courts set support orders at levels many fathers can’t pay. And of course the vast majority (63% at last count) of non-custodial parents behind on their support payments report earning under $10,000 per year. So it’s not like they’ve got a lot of excess cash just lying around.
But of course, that’s the United States. As I said, it’s worse in Israel, whose government has now announced its intention to make matters worse for fathers yet. Read about it here (Israel National News, 6/16/14). It’s announced a new program to “fast track” claims by mothers for back child support. Exactly what that means is left to our imagination by the article, but, if past is prologue, it includes the drastic abrogation of that tiresome little matter — due process of law.
Advocates for family values, fathers' and children's rights were dismayed this week when Israeli television and radio stations began running an advertisement on behalf of the Justice Ministry, trumpeting a new fast track that will assist women in collecting overdue child support payments from their former husbands.
The fast track is featured by the Hotzaa Lapoal, Israel's Collection Agency, which enforces judgements regarding child support, among other debts. Long lobbied for by genderist women's groups, the fast track's employees will save mothers who are owed child support much of the hassle that accompanies the collection of money that is owed them.
This includes the filing of requests for information, and getting the authorities to take actions like repossession of property, revocation of driver's licenses and various professional licenses, issuing of orders preventing the debtor from leaving Israel and the jailing of debtors.
As I said, just how this “fast track” process will wire around those procedures, we don’t know. But they all involve the rights of fathers and the term strongly suggests their rights to contest the government’s actions against them will be curtailed. (Don’t you love the term “hassle?” Yes, fathers’ rights can be so gosh darned inconvenient!)
If the new fast track system isn’t bad enough, the government’s gone on television to promote it with an advertisement that seems designed especially to offend.
The commercial shows mothers accompanying their children in situations that involve a shortage of money: a boy asks his mother for a cereal he wants, as they shop in the supermarket; an adolescent girl asks her mother for a nice dress for the school graduation party; a girl wants to take ballet lessons. In each of the cases, the mother is apprehensive at first, but then transforms into a confidently smiling “soldier” in olive camouflaged military fatigues, and goes ahead to give the child what he or she wanted.
The narrator says: “You fight — so that they can continue to get what they love most. You fight, so that they can have something to wear at their graduation party. Thousands of women are forced to fight, every day, so that they can get the child support payments their children deserve. From today — there is someone there to fight for you.”
Nice. According to the ad, it’s mothers plus the government against Dad as the enemy. Well, I suppose there’s some virtue in honesty. But fathers’ rights activists weren’t amused, and immediately hit back with their own satire of the infomercial.
An angry divorced father was quick to edit and upload a counter-video, which speaks about the plight of divorced fathers, who fight to give their children a good home despite having to pay for two households. “For years, you fought for the country," says the narrator. "Now — the state fights you. Mothers in uniform declare war on you. The ammunition — children. The weapon — courtesy of the state.”
Yes, it must be tough to have put your life on the line for your country that requires you to do so, only to be turned on by that very country. But hey, what don’t non-custodial dads put up with day in and day out?
Actually, the insult is even worse. It seems the ad comes from the Justice Ministry that collects the debts and whose minister is Tzipi Livni.
Some of the distraught fathers noted that Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, who leads Israel's "peace camp" and is averse to what she sees as the government's excessive militarism against Israel's Arab neighbors, had no problem with the militaristic nature of her ministry's commercial, which is directed mostly against Jewish men.
She’s all for peace until the “enemy” consists of Israeli fathers. I swear, the anti-dad crowd defies satire. Nothing any fiction writer could come up with could outdo what they do themselves.
Meanwhile, the feminist opposition has had no trouble blocking even the modest efforts of fathers to improve their relationships with their children or bring common sense to child support laws.
In addition, Israel is believed to be the only country in the world in which children are automatically transferred to their mother's custody in divorce. In divorces of Jewish couples, the mandatory child support falls exclusively on the man, and men are often ordered to pay more than they earn, regardless of how much their ex-wife earns. Attempts to legislate more egalitarian divorce laws have encountered stiff opposition from women's groups.
I told you it was worse there.
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