UN: Israel Discriminates Against Fathers

December 9th, 2011 by Robert Franklin, Esq.
The United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights met in Geneva during November and December, and the Israeli Coalition for Children and Families sent a 12-person delegation to give testimony.  Apparently the committee was impressed.  Members of the Israeli government were allowed to rebut the testimony and were asked questions by the committee.  As a result, the committee ruled that Israel discriminates against fathers and recommended that it change its laws and practices accordingly.  Read about it here (Israel News Agency, 12/6/11).

Mostly, that would mean an end to the Tender Years doctrine that is still in force in the country. 
Under that doctrine, any child under the age of six is automatically given to the mother regardless of all else.  According to the committee, Israel is the last country on the planet still clinging to that outworn doctrine.

“The Committee is concerned that, in the case of a divorce, custody of children up to the age of six is always given to mothers, and that fathers are often required to pay child support awards that exceed their income, and if not that their freedom of movement is seriously curtailed. The Committee is concerned that divorced fathers often are required to visit their children in supervised visitation centers during their working hours, which leads to the accumulation of work absences and the risk of dismissal.”

“The Committee recommends that the State party amend the Capacity and Guardianship Law so that custody of children up to the age of six is not always given to mothers, and ensure that child support awards do not lead to an inadequate standard of living for the father.”

But the UN committee left unmentioned many other problems that beset Israeli fathers.  While it’s true that the Tender Years Doctrine is particularly outrageous, the article linked to points out that nothing much changes after the child turns six.

What is not stated here is that even after the age of six, family courts and child welfare departments from Tel Aviv, Ra’anana and Haifa to Jerusalem, Metulla and Eilat maintain this gender bias discrimination. Discrimination which often leads to PAS – Parental Alienation Syndrome where the mother poisons the child against the father and the father eventually gives up and walks away – leaving the child with no father role model.

That results in, among other things, half of all Israeli suicides being divorced men.

Into the bargain, apparently Israeli law prohibits a man from leaving the country until he’s paid his ex-wife alimony for 20 years.

And just to make sure no one complains too much, Israeli family courts apparently issue gag orders on the parties as a matter of routine.  That meant that one father who testified in Geneva could only identify himself with the letter ‘J’.  Otherwise his testimony to the UN committee would have opened him up to sanctions from the family court.

Rubbing salt into the wound,

[The Coalition for Children and Families] was founded by Daniel Zer, a father who has not been able to see his own six-year-old son for over three years, allegedly because the child’s mother does not want him to see him, and the social workers in Israel agreed with her that the child has no need for a father in his life.

The father filed a motion to the High Court and asked it to declare that UN conventions forbid the state from denying a child the right to family life. The High Court refused to declare that fathers have rights to see their children, based on international law.

That’s odd.  European courts, construing the same international agreements have come to the opposite conclusion.

As bad as the family courts in this country are, they’re clearly worse in Israel.

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