for Freedom of Expression Meets Israel Father's, Children's
Israel News Agency
York, New York --- December 7, 2011 ....The United Nations special
representative for freedom of expression will be meeting with
the Israel Coalition for Children and Family next week
in Jerusalem. The UN has said that Frank La Rue, who is the founder
of the Center for Legal Action for Human Rights (CALDH), a Guatemalan
NGO, and has been involved in the promotion of human rights for
25 years, would be meeting with the Israel father's rights group
as part of a fact-finding mission to Israel and the Palestinians.
"During my mission, I will meet with government officials
from both Israel and the Palestinian territory, as well as with
human rights defenders, journalists and media professionals, individuals
and UN agencies to gather first-hand information," said La
Rue said he would be examining "the situation of the right
to freedom of opinion and expression and freedom of the media."
The visit comes as Israel MPs have been reviewing a series of
draft bills slammed by critics as "anti-democratic"
including one which would dramatically increase penalties for
"defamatory" articles in the press, radio, television
or on Internet platforms such as Facebook,
Twitter and YouTube.
While it is
an established fact that Israel is the strongest democracy in
the Middle East, providing full access to Palestinians to the
media, divorced fathers and their children in Israel have been
legally gagged. The UN
recently condemned Israel for discriminating against divorced
fathers and their children with regard to the issues of custody
and child visitation.
Coalition for Children and Family will address invasion of privacy,
libel, police complaints and gag orders which have silenced thousands
of men in Israel.
in Israel has only recently been exposed to the Government of
Israel's attempts to curtail freedom of speech and freedom of
expression by proposing a bill to amend the Libel laws by increasing
no damages statutory award from about $19,000 to $86,000 without
a showing of actual damages. This proposed bill is gaining support
in the Knesset and will surely affect the public and media's ability
to express opinions and expose corruption.
General in Israel has recently stated to Israel Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu that the bills targeting Israeli rights groups'
funds are unconstitutional and that he would not be able to defend
them against the petitions that will be submitted to the Israel
sectors in Israel have been exposed to Government sponsored silencing
techniques, for example, men in divorce.
The law in Israel provides that women get automatic interim custody
("tender years presumption"), and men are sent to a
government appointed social worker to examine their parental fitness
for visitation rights. The Ministry of Welfare's most frequent
response is to recommend visitations in a supervised contact center.
Already Israel's rates of supervised visitation are the highest
in the world (20 percent to 25 percent) as opposed to 1 percent
-2 percent in the US. Women are also exempt from paying child
support, and are immune from being prosecuted for false domestic
parliamentary commissions are about to file reports on parental
equality with regards to the Schnitt Commission, and fair adjustments
of child support (Shifman Commission). However men fathers' rights
organizations are not at all represented in these commissions.
They are not invited to regular sessions of parliamentary committee
meetings that affect them.
activists in Israel may be affected in any of the following manners.
established to make legislative recommendations that affect the
relationship between men and women, are populated with radical
feminists who disseminate anti-male speech, while no member of
the men's rights organization is appointed as sitting members
of the panel. This is not just a matter of participating in the
democratic process; it is also an issue of exclusion of the same
people whose lives are affected.
Regular sessions of the Israel Knesset Committees (Committee for
the Advancement of Women, Committee of Labor and Welfare and Committee
for the rights of the child), are conducted without invitations
to men's rights NGOs, while highly paid representatives and lobbyists
of the women's organizations, are regularly invited, allowed to
express their opinions, and participate in the democratic process.
Social workers scan the various internet blogs and facebook groups
to "fish out" fathers who express frustration with the
"system". They are called to interviews and being asked
point blank if they are active in men's' rights groups. Whether
they admit it or not, their visitations rights with the children
are suspended, and they are sent to a Contact Center, where they
get one hour a week with the children in prison like setting.
Family courts judges in Israel, where proceedings are in closed
doors, and no genuine transcript is maintained, also ask men,
who are usually the Defendants, if they are active in men's rights
organizations, particularly the Movement for The Future of Our
Children. Here the consequences are severe, because the man can
be enjoined from entering his home, his visitations suspended,
and his half of the marital property confiscated to "compensate
The Israel News Agency had its entire news site
shut down by a family court judge in Israel.
Two more silencing tools are used to suppress fathers' freedom
of expression and opinion, and to express criticism against the
family court, the social workers, and to fight to change the discriminatory
laws. The first is the automatic gag orders on anything occurring
within the family court and under direction of the family court.
The second is the use of "invasion of privacy" tort
action against the father. (Men have no chance in launching parallel
Here are some examples: a father who wrote about his pain in a
blog without identifying the woman was slapped with $15,000 in
He merely described his pain that the daughter is not allowed
to sleep overnight over the weekend. The wife argued that her
identity may be assumed because the writer's name was public,
and she may be presented as an emotional extortionist. Judge Mira
Dahan stated that by suing under "invasion of privacy",
"truth" in the publication is no defense.
Another father who wrote a literary book, laden with sexual descriptions,
although the wife was not named, and the literary creation may
or may not be fiction, the wife managed to enjoin the printing
of the book, and obtained $60,000 in damages. She argued again
that her privacy was invaded, because "a reader may attribute
the character to her". Thus, even the freedom to express
oneself in literary creations has become a very risky matter in
the backdrop of divorce. A father appeared last month on Israel
television (for the first time) without pixelating his face, with
full name, and described the horrible experiences of separation
from his two year old. The Judge, Esther Shtein in Rishon LeZion,
immediately retaliated (case of Shipperman v. Shipperman).
A new cause for alarm is the announcement by the Israel Minister
of Welfare that a new law is being promoted to direct social workers
to file police complaints against fathers (who are essentially
coerced clients of the welfare authorities), whenever they feel
threatened. This means that any time father may argue with a social
worker about the extent of visitations she allows him; she can
terminate the "services" by filing a police complaint.
This silencing technique has been used in the past (complaint
of Ronit Tzur v. Yaakov Ben Isaschar), but not as a system wide
The Ministry of welfare has launched libel cases against such
"coerced clients" fathers, who write guides for the
public warning them of nefarious activities of welfare agents,
exposing corruption and brutality used at outplacement facilities
"In one case, the father called the social workers' discrimination
practices between parents "Apartheid" and "Hitler
modus operandi". He was ordered to pay compensation in the
amount of 206,000 NIS ($59,000).
"The Ministry of Welfare also petitioned the Court to compel
psychiatric commitment to a facility solely on account of public
activities expressing disdain from the Ministry of Welfare anti-father
policies. This has been documented in a documentary movie, "Fathers'
Rights" that was voted "public's choice" at a DocAviv
Although not directly on the freedom of speech in the public arena,
at family Courts, judges limit litigant's time for evidentiary
trials, and place armed guards next to the fathers so as to intimidate
them/silence them (Judge Rivka Mekayes, Kfar Saba family court).
"In the case of Dr. Eric Cohen Addad, when his wife got extensive
time to express herself, and he lifted a finger for the right
to address the Judge, the Judge gave a nod to the guards to brutally
beat up Dr. Cohen Addad.
In the case of this author, also a litigant in front of Judge
Mekayes, the father who is in the business of news aggregation
and news reporting regarding all aspects of life in Israel, The
Israel News Agency, the first Internet news organization established
in Israel in 1995 with credentials by the Government Press Office,
when this father reported news stories from the Kfar Sava courtroom
of Judge Mekayes, the Judge ordered the Internet server in Haifa
to take the entire site down (rather than a few select HTML files
- stories) abruptly, thousands of news stories were lost and this
author was fined $14,000. The news site, which is indexed by Google
News and has a reach to millions worldwide, has been partly
restored and is now operating outside of Israel in fear that another
family court order in Israel would again destroy the public's
right to know.
The Israel Ministry of Welfare also targets the press when unflattering
reports are published by launching grievances with the Israel
Press Council, which conducts a full a blown trial based on the
press ethics code. In one case, the major newspaper overstated
the number of children removed from parental care to outplacement
facilities. This creates a chilling effect on reporters not to
"mess" with welfare office, or else their integrity
will be tarnished.
In the Israel Ministry of Welfare v. Yedioth Achronot, January
18, 2009, the newspaper was directed to issue an apology, and
since then systematically refrains from exposing any issues that
place it in conflict with this powerful organ of the state.
Reporter Meirav Batito on August 8, 2008 brokered a story about
the abuse of orphans at Welfare facilities. The newspaper received
a barrage of intimidating legal demands, and refrained from follow
ups ever since.
The Israel Ministry of welfare systematically refuses to include
representatives of the serviced population in its various councils
and policymaking meetings. For example, the statutory Council
of Social Work is an advisory body to the Minister, Moshe Kahlon.
The law provides that three representatives of the serviced sector
be appointed to the Council by the Minister. The Minister appointed
only one representative for the gay and lesbian sector, and left
two slots deliberately empty. Efforts to populate the slots by
authentic representatives who are not pacifiers of the ministers,
failed. The Council meets behind closed doors.
on the one hand the Israel Government unnecessarily and unreasonably
interferes with people's lives and liberties, (for example by
turning all men in divorce clients of the Ministry of Welfare),
and on the other hand the Government uses a myriad of undemocratic
tools to silence discontent via "invasion of privacy"
and libel tort cases, penalties of disengagement from children,
and initiated police complaints to suppress public opposition.
gag orders at family courts in Israel prevent fathers and men
from expressing natural feelings such as joy or happiness (for
example posting pictures with the children on Websites, Facebook,
Twitter without the woman's consent), or feelings of anger, disappointment
or frustrations, because those can be interpreted by the woman,
again, as defamation or invasion of privacy. There is also a widespread
witch-hunt of those fathers wishing to participate in the democratic
process by wishing to change the laws, and render them gender
neutral. Divorced fathers and men's NGOs in Israel are excluded
from parliamentary committee sessions and from commissions to
investigate their own miseries.
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