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par Marianne AZIZI
There is no doubt that shelters for women victims of domestic violence are a boon to battered women. However, the use of such a shelter to gain an economic advantage or to avoid legal penalties is a growing trend in Israel. This leads to a conclusion that the organisations that run these shelters are either incompetence or corrupt.
One such shelter is Woman to Woman in Rivka Street, Jerusalem. It is headed by Orna Ginio and claim to rehabilitate and house battered and emotionally abused women. Working on referrals from social workers or police, it takes severely abused women into its care. Halfway housing provides the women with free accommodation while they ease themselves back into a normal life.
Sounds great. So why would a woman who has not been battered or abused be allowed to enter this centre ? It happens with frightening regularity, and the reason is to gain financial and legal advantage over men. It is also a lucrative business for the centres which stand to receive a monthly fortune in profits.
Odelia Evgy is one such mother who has chosen to abuse the system. Nearly two months ago she disappeared with her son and stopped responding to phone calls and text messages. This happened three days after she had lost her application in court to vacate a joint custody judgement which has stood since the birth of her son, Avraham. She also lost her application for permission to relocate the child 120 kilometres away from the father.
Ms Evgy is now milking the resources of the state to the bone as not only did she receive automatic admission to a shelter with no evidence of ever having been battered or abused, but she also has been able to trigger an automatic annulment of the joint custody order. In addition, she is receiving free legal aid from the government, even though she earns triple the eligibility level of 5500 shekels (USD 1456) per month. She is a chief secretary at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem, earning 15000 shekels (USD 3971) a month and qualifies on the spurious claim that the legal aid is for the child who does not have an income.
The judgement of judge Elia Nuss, dated 20 July, is now worthless as presenting a welcome letter from the social worker Yehudit Etoel and the Women to Women Shelter on Rivka Street in Jerusalem means that Ms Evgy has full immunity.
A day before Ms Evgy checked into the shelter she had tried to obtain an ex parte protection order from the criminal court in Hashalom, Jerusalem, claiming that the quality of her life had been disrupted and she was being spied upon. The judge denied her application and sent her back to the family court in Petach Tikvah. That day, she jetted to Petach Tikvah and appeared before a different judge, Nava Gadish, claiming the same quality of life disruption, because she had to accept giving away the son to his father for 50 per cent of the time. Again, the judge declined to sign the order but was willing to set up a hearing on notice to Ms Evgy’s former husband, Ariel Formanovski (1), within 48 hours. During those 48 hours, Ms Evgy, who had been defeated three times in seven days, simply played her ace card and disappeared into a shelter. She sent a fax to judge Gadish saying that she no longer needed the services of the judge because she found a more useful remedy in the law, which is the shelter. She then decided to drop the false claims in the court and failed to show up.
Normally in Israel litigants who open proceedings and don’t appear in court for their own initiated cases are expected to pay the legal fees of the other side whose time was wasted. In this case, judge Gadish declined to order the expenses simply because Ms Evgy was able to cloak herself with the invisible gown of a battered woman.
As a reminder, only a week before a judgement concluding two years of litigation said that there was not an iota evidence of domestic violence and that Ms Evgy must split her time with the child 50 per cent with the father, as the original agreement.
The next thing that followed is a phone call from social worker Iris Eshel, which which notified the father that the welfare authorities had decided to revoke the court’s judgement and that from now on his contact with the child will be reduced from 50 per cent of the time to 60 minutes a week in a notorious child contact centre.
The best time to play these tricks is in the last two weeks of July, when the courts begin their summer recess and no new cases can be filed. The father and former husband, Mr Formanovski, consulted lawyers who offered a whole range of fight-back options but none of them can even begin until September, when the courts return to work.
The benefits now available to Ms Evgy consist of free housing for six to 12 months, free legal aid and a host of other goodies. This is a disgrace to genuinely abused women and a valuable place is lost in the battered women’s shelter. The social worker has admitted in a recorded phone call that the mother’s story had not been checked out, nor any assessments made.
Meanwhile, Mr Formanovski had learned that Ms Evgy claimed she felt afraid after he went searching for his son in Nili (2) –the day when it was claimed she was not in the premises where he had enquired about his son, and that she had also told the landlord where she had been staying that she was desperate for the father, Mr Formanovski, to be involved in the upbringing of their son and that, despite all efforts, he wasn’t interested –all a pack of lies. The son had spent half his life with his father, at least three to four days a week since he was born.
The whole afternoon at Nili was recorded by two video makers, showing absolutely no aggression or unacceptable behaviour on the part of Mr Formanovski. These videos that were considered by the police as sufficient evidence to release him from prison.
According to the judge, Mr Formanovski has no rights left, now that Ms Evgy chose to go to a women’s shelter. The social workers have no interest in checking the truth, and are partaking in Ms Evgy’s lies. The police, who refused to help or explain anything (3), also played a part, claiming that the woman’s right is absolute whether or not she lies.
This is a new reality for fathers, the reality of Israel’s nuclear bomb in the post-divorce legal battles, the ultimate weapon, neshek yom ha’din, or the doomsday weapon.
In Israel there are 14 shelters for battered women that are run by notorious organisations such as Women’s International Zionist Organisation (WIZO), Naamat, Emuna, and other radical feminist organisations, each milking the system and using as propaganda the claim of helping “battered” women.
For each bed, typically a share of a bunk bed, the “battered” women’s centres charge the state 14000 shekels (USD 3707) a month. That is Which is 470 (USD 124) a night, almost the cost of staying in a four star hotel. This doesn’t include armoured transport from the shelter to the courts, at 1000 shekels (USD264) per ride. If the woman has a child in the shelter the cost rises by another 17000 shekels (USD 4500) per month. So, in this case Ms Evgy is costing the state over 31000 shekels (USD 8208).
The Woman to Woman shelter is completely negligent, first, by allowing a non-battered woman to enter the shelter and, second, by profiting from filling a bed without meeting the shelter’s publicised criteria. For the women, this is a very attractive deal because upon graduation from the shelter they get an immediate bonus of 10000 shekels (2647), plus a 33 per cent assistance to pay their monthly rent. The so-called “non-profit" women’s organisations which run these shelters do not have to provide any staff of their own, because they receive free manpower from the alternative national service comprising women who refuse to join the army at the age of 18. Those 18-19 year old girls, all Orthodox Jews, receive 2500 shekels (USD 660) per month from the state to serve in the shelters.
Moreover, the women themselves are required to do their own cleaning, babysitting and cooking. Almost every shelter boasts a donor roll of double the charge to the Israeli state, under the pretext that the state pays too little to house the poor women. In fact the Woman to Woman shelter raised 300000 shekels (USD 79439) in one fundraising campaign last year and receive millions of dollars from US Jewish organisations and Christian evangelists.
Several women who have been in these shelters have spoken in confidence, saying that they had been coached too make false claims against former spouses. They also talk about the fear that if they make any mistakes the social workers would take their children from them. It is a slippery slope to play these games as usually the welfare authorities win, to the magnitude of nearly 10000 children a year being stolen and yielding an income of 17000 shekels (USD 4500) per month per child.
Mr Formanovski wrote to the justice minister, Aleyet Shaked, who responded by saying that he should contact the attorney-general, Avichai Mendelblit. Mendelblit’s office replied saying he should take his complaints to the police. Following previous complaints, the police sent a letter saying he should take his case to Mendelblit –the usual run around from the Israeli authorities.
There are no remedies available for fathers whose children are snatched from them –no independent ombudsman, no international treaties. Most fathers give up. One father recently mentioned that after 20 false arrests and imprisonments, he just didn’t have the strength or money to keep fighting for his child.
As for Mr Formanovski’s son, Avraham, he has been snatched away from the life he has always known, his father gone from his life and with no idea why. He is living in conditions unknown to his father and could be feeling lost, afraid and also being filled with lies to alienate him from his father. His young life is in danger of being destroyed, with full state sponsorship.
The Israeli state has no interest in children having fathers, and supports every feminist endeavour to render men unnecessary. As one young feminist has aid, “men/fathers are not required, they should be on a constant trial to prove themselves worthy, or else they should be removed from the picture”.
This is the reality in Israel, and it is costing lives. Over 5000 men have committed suicide in the last 10-15 years, and it is all buried in propaganda and profit.