The experience of being a target of Israeli surveillance
For years, I have been writing, supporting and speaking out regarding the judicial corruption in Israel, in family and juvenile courts which has caused the distress of tens of thousands of parents and children in Israel.
From my first visit to the UN in 2011, I knew that the subject was one which the system wanted to keep hidden. Over the past 7 years, and 3 subsequent visits to Geneva, more and more information was leaked in Israel on social media. Fathers groups grew and bloggers exposed in blunt ways the activities of removing children from homes, and how courts were allegedly rubber stamping decisions.
In February 2017, there were a wave of arrests, over 20 people taken and investigated, leaving 3 indicted for insult of public officials. It was a defining time for the movement of attempting reform. Protests ceased and people were afraid.
Fifteen months later, their trial is about to begin - two bloggers and one lawyer. The lawyer has been acquitted of writing and impersonation (ie fb profiles), leaving him with indictments of only conspiracy - although there is no law in the Statute books to give a final verdict on.
People started to warn me in February not to come to Israel or I would be arrested too. I knew all the people who'd been arrested, so it was logical for Israelis to think I could be questioned, despite the fact I am not a citizen nor read or write Hebrew.
There is always a conflict of thought and feelings. I didn't believe I was a person of interest as most of my work was writing testimonies of parents and children.
In November 2017, I went to the USA and filed a Freedom of Information Request (FOIA) for the bloggers, in order for them to have the full materials to prepare their defense.
I was later to learn that on my arrival to the UK, an Israeli 'student' hired a car and followed me and an old school friend for 3 days. In 2018, I was contacted by an Italian father who was suffering from judicial abuse in Israel. I introduced him to an Israeli lawyer, who took the opportunity to combine a holiday with his wife and meet a potential client. I took a short flight and we enjoyed sightseeing and great hospitality.
In January of 2018, I published a video of an American girl who had escaped Israeli institutions over 100 times. Whilst on the run, she was filmed talking about what happened to her. The video was banned in Israel with a court order. The You Tube channel which also took the video was taken down in the USA, and all their videos removed, within 24 hours of publishing her.
I was told privately in a visit to Geneva that I needed to change my way of operating, by a well wisher in the UN. At this point, I was still unaware of a report written by the Prosecution Service/Ministry of Justice in Israel claiming that CCf, our civil society, was spreading lies about the issues in the justice/welfare systems and a team had been set up to counter this with diplomatic attempts in Europe.
The lawyer who visited Italy was taken for interrogation by the police in Israel. 3 hours firstly, but no papers were presented in order to arrest him. Returning with papers a few hours later, he was held another 6 hours and questioned about his activities in Italy. The questioning was pointed to his connections with me (but not naming me), and a No Exit Order was placed on him! The Order of a travel ban was not placed on him by a court or a judge.
Meanwhile I return back to Israel to visit friends. This week, when calling to visit a lawyer friend, we find ourselves under the surveillance of two social workers, who parked their car outside his office and watched us for hours, also taking time to walk up and down the street pretending to be interested in buying from the two or three shops there. On the same day, another Israeli friend was followed by a Shabak agent, who even stopped and asked him questions, all of this 'randomly'.
I receive a call this same week from my English friend, who has been followed by a young man he spotted at his place of work, and then tailed him to 6 different places in 3 hours. My friend blocked the car and tried to confront the man, who hid his face and sped away (after some damage was done to his car). On reporting it to the regular police, he was informed it was an Israeli Student who hired the car to sight see on his days free from the local university. More investigation showed it was the same Israeli who had tailed us when I was met at the airport from the USA. The information was then provided that there was no student in the University by that name at all. This is a common method which many in Israel are familiar with and assured me it was probably just a scare tactic.
The next day, my friend was refused his passport application due to 'administrative errors' - a process which had already been ongoing for 3 months. The UK Passport office demanded to know his intentions for travelling, when and to see who. This is unheard of for me as a British Citizen.
In the space of a day, he was stopped and searched when driving to work, then had his office searched, shortly after - police arrived with a warrant to search his home for weapons, a car was placed outside his home for over 4 hours, and various other disruptions.
He was asked if he knew any activists in Israel. The information he was finally told in strict confidence by a good contact in this charade, was that he was being checked out for his association with a 'known international terrorist' related to Israel - and his friendship with her.
Another American friend who had planned to meet up with me, also had her passport denied and told to hire a lawyer. All these events occurred over the last weeks and months - and all connecting to the stated intentions of the Report working to stop the issue of Father's Rights and Welfare abuse to be published.
The bloggers who wrote extreme insults about judges are predicted to receive heavy punishment, and as I knew them all it is probable this surveillance and messaging is to let me know that I am not approved of.
This seems to be a sledgehammer to crack a nut. All over the world, news is common of the radical feminism movements; the plight of fathers and demise of mens rights. Child welfare services are notorious worldwide for malpractice and the eager snatching of children from parents. It's hardly a secret.
The desire of the system in Israel to put a lid on similar practices is heavy handed. Purporting to be a democracy like no other - with none of these problems - is the lie itself. Locking up whistleblowers and persecuting them across the country doesn't erase the truths being told.
Playing the cards of antisemitism or betrayal, or even treason is pie in the sky. The criminalisation or intimidation of those who present the facts is a huge investment of people and money which could be spent on reforming the systems or trampling out the corruption.
Putting a price on family friends is a sad tactic and will not stop the efforts to save a life, one at a time. Maybe the State will imprison a citizen for a decade for blogging. Only time will tell.