Below is the Coalition's Report to the United Nations' Committee on The Rights of a Child to schedule an immediate filing date of a Third Governmental Report on CRC by the State of Israel, and schedule Israel to be reviewed at the 58th Committee Session. We simultaneously asked the Human Rights Committee to send a special rapporteur to Israel to investigate pervasive and egregious violations of the Convention for the Protection of the Child, and other UN Covenants, committed by the State of Israel (April 2011).
Report of the Father’s Rights NGOs in Israel
By: The Coalition for the Children and the Family, Israel (April 2011)
Systematic Alienation and Disengagement Of Children From Fathers During Divorce in Israel
We are calling the Committee on The Rights of a Child to schedule an immediate filing date of a Third Governmental Report on CRC by the State of Israel, and schedule a Session at the earliest possible date, the 58th Committee Session. We simultaneously ask the Human Rights Committee to send a special rapporteur to Israel to investigate pervasive and egregious violations of the Convention for the Protection of the Child, committed by the State of Israel. The rights being violated are rights to family life, and therefore affect also the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).
We fully intend to submit an Alternative Report to the Government. The two main problems are children systematically being disengaged, separated and alienated from fathers as soon as divorce proceedings start, and children being abducted from natural fathers and mothers to foster homes and closed institutions, where they are subjected to deprivation of food, corporal punishment and rape (as well as criminalization, if they escape).
As Israelis, we have examined Israel’s Second Periodic Report Concerning the Implementation of CRC (2000) and it is full of lies. The State made no progress. On the contrary, more children are being separated and alienated from fathers than in the past, and more children are being abruptly removed from home without due process.
We believe that the per-capita rate of supervised visitation in “Contact Centers” is the highest in the world (2,200 families per year, out of 6,000 divorces-with-children (but the number is higher as there are 1,000-1,500 in waiting list). The Government deliberately conceals the most important statistics from its Reports. The Court cases, which the Government triumphantly points to in its 2nd Report, are esoteric exceptions, and do not represent prevailing norms.
More disturbing is the charade in Page 1, claiming that “Non-Governmental Organizations were invited to submit comments”. None of the father’s rights organizations were “invited to comment”. The Ministry of Justice is only willing to hear from feminist empowerment groups, who support the idea that Separation and Alienation of children from fathers during divorce is essential for the empowerment of women. As a result, periods of State-enforced disengagement and Alienation can last 2 years, 5 years and in an extreme case, 12 years.
We note that there is absolutely no judicial review of father-child contact, and Family Court Judges simply delegate the authority to determine father’s levels of contact with children to Welfare Agents (Social Workers) who serve as Court -aides. Women still enjoy a presumption that they are the parent best suitable for custody under Capacity and Guardianship Law, Section 25. Thus, women routinely get primary physical custody rights on application alone, while conversely, men are sent to social workers for “investigation, character assessment and reports. The Social workers routinely threaten the fathers, collect rumors and libels against them, entice women to file false domestic violence complaints to expel men from their own homes, perform “Dangerous Propensity Tests” for or parental suitability tests, and as a general rule, routinely send the men to see their children in supervised visitations centers, where they are treated like criminals, branded as “dangerous”, and the children only get an hour or two per week with the fathers, for several years.
This practice is squarely contradictory to the CRC’s principles that each child must have uninterrupted access to both parents equally.
We are a coalition of organizations in Israel fighting to reunite fathers with children in divorce or separation. We also fight systematic forced removals of children, in light of the Ministry of Welfare’s pervasive policy to treat children out-of home, at huge expenses, rather than spend the money on the parents themselves. Police escorted social workers can come to a person’s home or to a school in the middle of the day and simply abduct children. Those social workers later get placement bonuses. An intolerable number of 40,000 children are not cared for by their parents. Thousands more are separated and alienated from fathers via supervised visitations, and thousands more are simply in a waiting list for social workers to prepare a Welfare report on their families, even though those parents do not belong in “welfare categories” at all.
We respectfully request that the Human Rights Commission appoint a special investigative team of rapporteurs to come to Israel and investigate, and collect evidence of systematic violations of the rights of children to contact with fathers, and human right abuses affecting children.
Please discredit any information which the State of Israel sends to the UN, Unicef, and CRC Commission regarding adoption of measures to protect children. The Israeli Ministry of Justice is simply unreliable, domestically and internationally. Even in Israel it is hard to obtain official data from the Ministry of Welfare. Those in the media who attempted to uncover injustice perpetrated by social workers, judges and police, are threatened with police complaints and lawsuits.
At minimum, kindly refer this letter to Moshe Kachlon, the Minister of Welfare Services, and Yaakov Neeman, Minister of Justice, and ask them to respond to these questions:
- Why is it that in Israel, fathers do not have an inherent right to see their children in separation and divorce (CRC §9C)?
- Why children are systematically and routinely separated and alienated from their fathers?
- Why are thousands of children in Israel sent to supervised “contact centers” (about 33% of divorcing families with children), and what is the emotional impact on children attending those supervised visitation centers?
- Why does the State prefer to forcefully remove tens of thousands of children (about 40,000) from their parents, instead of investing in the parents' well being?
Apparently, the Ministry of Welfare is feeding the Ministry of Justice false information, and false data.
We respectfully request funding for the operations of NGOs representing fathers’ rights to access children. The Government only consults women’s rights, but fails to consult any of the father’s groups, thus creating a false image of pluralism and inclusion.
We would appreciate a letter addressed to the Ministers of Justice and welfare instructing them to include father’s groups in each and every parliamentary commission, and in any work carried out by the Ministry of Justice to implement CRC principles and recommendations, on an equal representation basis. All funded NGOs in Israel are strictly feminist, and are committed to disengage children from fathers, as extortion tools in the battle over the marital pot.
We wish to single out these wrongs in particular, as pretext to our Alternative Report, which we are dedicated to submit:
- No NGO participation
The Government fails to consult fathers’ rights NGOs, let alone fund them. Fathers who are separated and alienated from children simply have no recourse other than spending tens of thousands of dollars for legal fees that yield no result.
- Tender Years Presumption Not Yet Abolished
The Government’s report fails to address the discriminatory “Tender Years Presumption”, which must be abolished. This presumption favors women and results in Separation and Alienation of fathers from children. While fathers await the social worker’s report, mothers get instant custody, and indirectly receive he power to block the fathers’ access to see their own children.
- Warped Interpretation of Best Interests
The Government fails to define what the “best interest” of the child is. Ironically, social workers who procrastinate in preparing Visitations Reports and thus create lengthy Separation and Alienation periods, actually invoke the best interests of the child to “justify” the denial of parental contact. Similarly, when fathers are ordered to attend supervised visitation (and hour or two per week), they still invoke the “best interest of the child” to justify separation from the child.
- Judicial Determinations of Visitations Without Evidence
While the Government brags in its 2nd Report about minor changes to Evidence Law regarding children, the fact is that the entire domain of custody and visitations is judicially handled without probative evidence or any shred of fair trial whatsoever. Every divorcing couple is sent to Welfare authorities for a Report. The Report is a collection of libel and defamatory, non-credible evidence, together with some intuitions and “sensations” of the social worker. Based on that alone, Courts “so order” the Welfare Report, even though it sentences fathers to be automatically separated and alienated from children. This feeds a booming industry of contact centers, social workers and psychologists, at the expense of the children.
- Arbitrary Detention of Fathers Disengages Children
The Government fails to implement procedures to screen false domestic violence complaints by women. Women are immune from prosecution for false DV. On the basis of accusation alone, with no evidence, police issues orders of removals of fathers from marital homes for 30 days, as well as summons for interrogation and detention. This again results in Separation and Alienation of children for an automatic 30 days period, and the automatic supervised visitations for the next several years. The Government must abolish State Attorney General Guideline 2.5 (non prosecution for DV), and introduce on- the- spot polygraphs at initial DV complaints in police precincts. False and malicious complaints must be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, DV or not.
- Outrageous Out-of-home Placements
The Government practices policies preferring instant removal of children from disadvantaged families to feed a booming industry of foster home, child shelters and hospices, rather than spend the same money on rebuilding the broken family units.
- Incrimination of escaping Children
The Government prosecutes children who escape closed facilities, where they are abused, raped and malnourished, thus destroying their future with a bogus rap sheet. “Juvenile Courts” are run without due process, and are actually a tool in an industry of inflated removals of children from homes.
- Physical Abuse at Welfare Facilities for children
The Government fails to monitor physical abuse at its out-of-home institutions and facilities, thus preventing any data and statistics from surfacing.
- Fathers Commit Suicide, Children lose Fathers
The Government fails to admit that hundreds of children per year lose their fathers due to high levels of suicides among divorced males, (about 150 reported case, per Ministry of Health statistics) per year among divorced fathers, well above all other sectors) as the Government subjects men to unconscionable child support payments, not based on income, but on the so called “child’s needs”. Some end up killing themselves, many others have to go underground. Both scenarios result in loss of a parent to a child.
- Unconscionable Child Support Awards
The Government believes that extracting unconscionable child supports from a father, even when clearly he annot afford it, it is in the “best interests” of the child, even though it results in denials of almost every aspect of humane life (imprisonment, lack of bank account or credit card, inability to work, nè exeat injunctions, and going into hiding). The payments are not made anyway because they are unaffordable, and the children lose their fathers. There is no clear formula for determining child support. Women’s incomes are not considered at all. Actual income of the father is sidestepped by the artificial concept of “imputed income”, and the statutory minimum child support per child is $430 monthly. By contrast, in New York it is $25.
- Joint Custody is a distant Dream
The Government fails to address the concept of shared parenting or joint custody. While the Government triumphs the wording in the Guardian and Capacity Law that requires parents to mutually agree, in fact this is a mockery, since in divorce, parents cannot agree, and when women get instant custody, and fathers do not get parallel visitations, the women gets veto rights on such visitation. When the women are motivated by revenge, or instigated by the Social Workers the children are rendered fatherless again.
Impotence of Appointed Commissions
The Government appointed a number of investigatory commissions to report about causes for Separation and Alienation of children from fathers during divorce, including the Slonim-Nevo Commission, the Gilat Commission, the Shifman Commission and the Rotlevi Commission. However, the Government routinely buries the recommendations and does nothing to reform anything. Appointing Commissions without an undertaking to implement the recommendations is a mockery of human rights and the children’s rights to unfettered contact with both parents.
- Biased Training of Personnel
Social Workers, Judges and the Police are ill- trained to interpret the rights of the child as mirroring the rights of the mother. No effort whatsoever is made to include a training curriculum, that with perspectives on the child’s needs to contact and visitations with fathers. As a result, the system brutally causes thousands of cases of children’s Separation and Alienation per year, and the numbers are growing.
In conclusion, the laws affecting CRC rights are not efficiently implemented, and are inadequate. The Government is hiding behind minor changes in legislation, or a few selective cases that do not represent the norm. The fact is that fathers are separated and alienated from children, and children routinely lose one parent during the divorce. The government is responsible for a whole generation of de-facto orphans with living parents, sometimes two blocks away.
A petition was filed before the High Court of Justice demanding that Israel recognize that the right to Family Life includes the rights of parents and children to have reciprocal access to children without unnecessary intervention. The Petition is scheduled to be heard on January 18, 2012 (Bagatz 2111/11). It is expected that the Ministry of Justice (by Shosh Shmueli, Adv.), will fiercely fight it on procedural and technical grounds. The Response of the Government to the Petition will serve as the true test case for how committed is the Government for the principle that a child must have access to both his parents, even in cases of divorce and separation.