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Israel Welfare Ministry wins media ban on story of mother fighting for her child

Marianne Azizi photo
Marianne AziziIsrael
Israel Welfare Ministry wins media ban on story of mother fighting for her child
Previously published in July 2015.

You may remember the story of Fanny Vadkin whose five-year-old son was taken from her by the Israeli authorities.

After camping outside the home of Haim Katz, the welfare and social security minister, for five days, Fanny began a hunger strike, was detained by police and served with a 10-day restraining order by Mr Katz. The journalist who followed her story was also arrested and detained.

Undeterred, Fanny moved her protest and set up tents outside the Knesset in Jerusalem. Within days, Channel 1 TV came and filmed her. The story was due to be aired on Saturday 11 July 2015. Shortly after the filming, the Israeli police arrived and ended her lawful protest.

In Israel, when social workers apply to the court to remove children from families, the application has to be signed by lawyers under oath.

But in Fanny’s case the social worker did not tell the truth. He wrote to the court that the boy was violent in the kindergarten, and that the mother would not cooperate with the kindergarten. However, in the same document he quoted a teacher as saying that the mother had cooperated with everyone throughout the year.

An audio recording is also available in which the social worker says the welfare authorities know nothing about Fanny’s home situation in relation to the child and that the child had been taken from her for misbehaving in the kindergarten.

Fanny’s son is still being held in an emergency centre, and in one recorded call he complained of being unable to swallow the large pills he was being given and said they were putting the pills in his food instead.

Fanny went to the court earlier this week and requested a blood test for toxins to establish the truth as she believed her son was being medicated. The response was to be given by the end of the week.

However, today Judge Zvi Sheratski of the Rehavot Juvenile Court made decisions which spell the death knell of any semblance of democracy and freedom in Israel. He decided that, at the request of the welfare authorities, the boy would be held for a further 60 days away from his mother. He also decided that the decision on whether to conducts a blood test would be left to the welfare authorities.

Because of her low income, Fanny had used a state lawyer, who worked very hard on her behalf. But when she made her case to the court, the welfare authorities went to the Legal Aid Bureau and lodged a complaint against the lawyer. So, when Fanny sought to exercise her right to appeal to the District Court, the Legal Aid Bureau refused to fund her lawyer. This is a direct violation of human rights.

Today, the Welfare and Social Services Ministry went to the same judge and requested an injunction to prevent this story from being published anywhere in Israel by any individual or media. The ministry also sought a superinjunction so that the gagging order is not reported. In other words, not only is reporting the story banned, but reporting that the story is banned is also now forbidden. A protest is planned for tonight, with potential arrests for those still speaking out.

Rather than investigate Fanny’s situation, the state has decided to gag, block and make it illegal in Israel for anyone to talk about her story. It has been one month since Fanny’s son was taken from her. Why gag the story now?

Israel’s boast that it is the “only democracy in the Middle East” is turning sour. There is no freedom to publish or protest against a system which is destroying so many families and is in desperate need of change. The few brave activists who are speaking out against corruption and civil rights abuse are being hounded and arrested.

Recently, a complaint was made to the UN regarding the lack of freedom of speech in Israel. However, this resulted in an immediate lawsuit by the attorney-general of Israel which, among other things, accused the complainants of being “against the state”.

Children are not a matter of national security. Currently, 10,000 children are in private institutions. The suicide rate is growing.

Why does Israel constantly refuse to consider reforms? It is widely reported that the family breakdown industry is worth billions of dollars.

This is unreported Israel. If the welfare authorities gag every story nationally, it is no surprise the world has no idea of what is really going on in such a secretive country.

#Israel, #Childrens Rights, #Free Speech, #Justice