Israeli Children are being taken from their homes at a profit to private institutions - a damning report shows how children have become big business.
Activists who protest, blog and write about the Welfare Ministry have faced investigations, arrests and prosecutions. They are a small voice screaming loudly that the children of Israel are in danger – from their OWN government.
This week the topic finally made mainstream news, with an article published on Channel 10 in prime time. The reporters also faced similar reactions as activists from one such institution. The officials threatened to call the police, despite the fact filming was taking place in a public area. They made a complaint and refused even to listen to the reporter.
In the article, one young woman returns from Turkey to face her past and visit the institution she spent time in against her will. She is one of thousands who were wrenched from parents – a staggering 10,000 a year.
As lawyers continue to fight, experts in the field such as Yossi Silman, ex CEO of the welfare admits huge mistakes are being made. One example given is the emergency centres. These are places children are taken to when first removed from home. The law states children cannot be held more than 3 months, yet Mr. Silman admits that over 60% are held much longer, and after 3 months the damage is already done to the child. What is widely known is in divorce, the children can be used as pawns, with the outcome of a child eventually being stolen by the social workers. In the emergency centre, drugs are administered to children as young as 3 without parental consent.
It is difficult to believe that a welfare ministry can so callously remove children against the will of both the child and the parents. To give a reason of the child in danger is a nonsense if only one or two children are taken away from a family, or only one child is left with the parent as happens regularly. If a parent is so dangerous, it would make more sense to remove all children from the home immediately. Not so. Parents are controlled by the threat of losing their kids one by one. They are also allowed to have home visits, often unsupervised, once a child gets into the system. The children have become a business, and are a profit centre for the private institutions.
It is well known the social workers can take a child merely on hearsay, and not evidence. Despite the protestations, it is also known that judges rubber stamp the papers from social workers so a child can be removed without due checking and process.
In the show, one psychiatrist discusses how reports are ignored and children are not returned to parents, against the professional views. Currently one mother has been camped on the street in Jerusalem campaigning for the return of her own son, with evidence of a false psychiatric report made. The psychiatrist in question never met the child, yet signed off on a report for the social workers. It works both ways, but the children lose every time.
The programme only touched the tip of the iceberg. Helping families in financial need is not on the list of priorities. Taking the children away from needy families is the goal.
Many articles have been written and evidence is overwhelming that the Welfare Ministry needs reform. Since privatisation, abuse is rampant – of the young and the old.
So why are people not marching in the streets demanding the return of their children? Why do they passively accept such abuse?
The welfare works in a systematic way and has the police working in co operation with them, not the other way around. People are afraid. The Revaha (welfare in Hebrew) wields massive powers. There are no independent ombudsmen for the people to approach; public officials cannot be investigated or challenged. The insidious way they work means a parent becomes paralysed by events and has no due process to work with. There is often no pattern to how children are removed. Sometimes it is from a rumour, perhaps a disgruntled ex or neighbour. Other times it is known that a family are 'marked' and become the lifetime target of social workers.
Protests of more than 3 people require police permission. Any application to protest against the Revaha is likely to be refused.
The practices of the social workers goes against all the requirements by the UNCRC of the right of the child. The lack of reasoning in the social workers separating children from siblings on the grounds of unproven risks is a tragedy in Israeli society.
The Welfare Ministry do not have measures to help families who may suffer financial hardship – the first option is to remove children causing untold damage. With poverty at almost 40% in Israel, it is no surprise that the ex CEO claims one third of a million children are at risk. But, signing a ''needy'' warrant to get help really means the children can be taken by the State. It is no wonder people do not consider the welfare a safe place to turn.
But, the world remains silent, and funding is channelled into keeping the profits rolling in. Where is the help going to come from? Until the social media activism gets fully into the mainstream, thousands of families are heading for destruction and permanent ruin. People are turning to the UN for help, but unfortunately there are no signed treaties by Israel giving them an avenue, so instead they are preparing lawsuits to file in the USA.
It can happen to anyone in Israel – rich or poor. The main targets are the poorer, who have it hard enough. Their love is not any less valuable to their children than the rich. Sometimes, it is their children who keep them going. Suicide rates can be reduced if there are reforms and real help provided to families who are struggling to survive and fear the very organisation they should be turning to for support.