Israel’s stolen children: where is UNICEF Israel?

Stolen children
By Marianne Azizi

In September 2015, members of Coalition for Children and Families in Israel (CCF) will be walking 50 miles – a mile for each 200 children who are taken into institutions by the social services from fit parents.

We are walking for the 10,000 children in Israel (population: 8.3 million), and for all children and families worldwide, who should be together without state intervention.

It is remarkable that the Israel branch of the United Nations children’s charity, UNICEF, will not endorse, support, mentor or mention this action.

When I spoke to the UNICEF representative in Israel, he seemed to imply that campaigning for the stolen children and the unfair justice system in Israel, which is damaging parents and children, was an act against the state of Israel.

CCF recently presented a request in the United Nations Human Rights Council, in the discussion on right to life for, transparency and independence to help families and children who have no legal remedies and are separated too often by flimsy excuses. This is happening worldwide, and Israel is leading the way in overprotective welfare practices.

What have we come to when democracy in action is classed as “against the state”?

Here is a conversation with the head of UNICEF Israel, Jonny Cline:

Marianne Azizi
I am going to be doing a walk for the children of Israel. Would UNICEF consider discussing support, endorsement or sponsorship?

it will be on behalf of the civil society CCF Israel, Coalition for Children and Families. It would be great to get your involvement. We want to raise more awareness of the family laws and parental alienation and help keep parents and children together wherever possible.

You know there are a lot of issues, but I want to organise something more positively focused.

Let me know if you want to discuss. Thanks Jonny.

19/07/2015 22:41
Jonny Cline
That is out of our mandate I am afraid

19/07/2015 22:41
Marianne Azizi
To support it?
We are asking various children’s charities/organisations and had the UNHRC presentation in Geneva regarding children. Why would this be out of your mandate to support the children? I am not sure I understand.
It doesn’t have to involve money.

19/07/2015 22:44
Jonny Cline
You are not asking us to support children, you are asking us to support an organisation

19/07/2015 22:45
Marianne Azizi
We are asking just for you to endorse the mission – which is for the children in poverty in Israel and the families to stay united. It is not yet decided whether it is for the organisation, or just me. I am still working on the outline. If it was not for an organisation, would you consider?

19/07/2015 22:47
Marianne Azizi
I am going to walk 60 miles to raise awareness for the children of Israel. Either through the civil society or not, to hopefully get funding or publicity for the plight of the children inside. I am asking under what banner would you support it as UNICEF?

19/07/2015 22:48
Jonny Cline
The coalition and its activities are portraying the state as the enemy in actions such as demanding that the UNHRC investigate Israel. We work with the state, as does UNICEF all around the world, not against it. You catch more bees with honey

19/07/2015 22:48
Marianne Azizi
I agree.
However, the issues that were raised are real ones, and there is a strong desire to work with the state.

19/07/2015 22:49
Jonny Cline
Then give me a case that needs support, because the one of the coalition is beyond my mandate if it is to attack a state rather than lobby and advocate for a better situation in a constructive way
We cannot become involved in individual cases, not even a collection of them, only macro policy or implementation issues

19/07/2015 22:51
Marianne Azizi
Ok. I will send you a case. The coalition is trying to raise awareness, because they have tens of thousands of people with no remedies – and nowhere to turn. If there was a way to do it differently they would. But collectively, Jonny, there is a disaster going on. The individual cases all merge into one common theme.

19/07/2015 22:51
Marianne Azizi
I understand where they are coming from, as they don’t have independent ombudsman as well you know.
But i appreciate your time to respond.

19/07/2015 22:53
Jonny Cline
Unfortunately, the body dealing with their issues are not acting in a way we can become involved with. We are the ones leading the bill for the creation of the ombudsman. I would have hoped they would consider that constructive rather than the way they act towards us too

19/07/2015 22:54
Marianne Azizi
I don’t personally believe that challenging the system is going against the state. It is what all democratic nations do. Most of the people want a better system. In the UK when people demonstrate or protest, it isn’t an act against the state, it’s a protest against injustice.
I think you are probably referring to Moti Leybel in particular? He has not been involved in CCF until recently.

19/07/2015 22:54
Jonny Cline
We challenge the system, but not by trying to bring external forces in inappropriate ways
I have nothing against Moti. He is a very passionate advocate.

19/07/2015 22:55
Marianne Azizi
You mean that going to the UNHRC is inappropriate?
We had to get UN intervention to protect his freedom. Being arrested and imprisoned as a human rights defender is internationally inappropriate too!

19/07/2015 22:56
Jonny Cline
That is definitely outside the realms of our mandate and not activity with which we can he involved

19/07/2015 22:58
Marianne Azizi
All democratic states have to accept challenges to their systems – it doesn’t make those people enemies of a state. It is the democratic “right” to protest. But people are becoming broken and afraid. I spent months 24/7 seeing this, and over 10 years previously helping people trapped in Israel, both Israeli and foreign nationals. Reports were done, and still nothing has changed, Jonny. In fact in some ways it has deteriorated.

19/07/2015 23:01
Jonny Cline
You are not talking to me as a person, but as the Israeli Fund for UNICEF
I have a mandate and I respect its boundaries

19/07/2015 23:04
Marianne Azizi
Ok. I see. What circumstances do UNICEF support something like this, then? If any? I am doing this at my own expense – I want to do something for the children.

19/07/2015 23:06
Jonny Cline
When it is a macro policy issue, and when there are advocates who are willing to explain it to me in a way that respects the boundaries of our mandate.
1am is not the time to do that, though.

19/07/2015 23:07
Marianne Azizi
Sure! I was under impression from the website that UNICEF works in collaboration with civil societies. At least that is what is written there. We’ll catch up in a day time.

19/07/2015 23:08
Marianne Azizi
http://www.unicef.org/about/index_3374.html
Civil Society and UNICEF
As world leaders set out a roadmap for human progress over the next 15 years, it is vital that every child is included, and that children everywhere are at the heart of the new global agenda. unicef.org

19/07/2015 23:10
Jonny Cline
We do, but we choose with which bodies, taking risk analysis very seriously
If we have issues where we can have larger impact with less investment or risk we will exhaust all of those options first

19/07/2015 23:12
Marianne Azizi
OK, so Coalition for Children and Families doesn’t fulfil the criteria, it seems. Sorry to hear that. I’ve taken over this civil society and trying to find better ways to proceed, but clearly UNICEF is not one of our options. Thanks anyway.

19/07/2015 23:12
Jonny Cline
And there is a distinct difference between work done in developing countries, where UNICEF is represented by country offices headed by diplomats who are UNICEF employees, and in developed countries such as Israel where the fund is a local NGO headed by a local employee
Look more into UNICEF’s national committee structure and mandate, not the UNICEF country office one.
That might clear up the misunderstanding

19/07/2015 23:14
Marianne Azizi
OK. I think I’ve got it. Crisis remains, and we will find another way to help the kids. I just thought I would ask for support, but will try other avenues – 50 miles walking is not a small challenge. But I will do all it takes. Can you advise or point me in a different direction

19/07/2015 23:15
Jonny Cline
Maybe try me when I am more awake. Right now I have a baby in a sling trying to get him to sleep

19/07/2015 23:15
Marianne Azizi
Will do.
You understand the passion, I hope.

19/07/2015 23:16
Jonny Cline
As I said, perhaps the crisis could be deconstructed by less militant, if no less passionate, means and advocates

19/07/2015 23:16
Marianne Azizi
Hence my request to you.

19/07/2015 23:17
Jonny Cline
I understand and appreciate it
I wish you the best of luck, and perhaps I will have the opportunity to learn more sometime

19/07/2015 23:18
Marianne Azizi
We are talking about thousands of children, not a few. It’s difficult to do nothing. I will come and educate you when I am back

19/07/2015 23:18
Marianne Azizi
Good night.

19/07/2015 23:18
Jonny Cline
Looking forward to it
Good night

20/07/2015 14:49
Marianne Azizi
Hi Jonny, thanks for last night. I will write an article to explain how the mandate works as many people don’t understand.
If you don’t mind me quoting some of your answers? Better than me trying to interpet it!

20/07/2015 14:52
Jonny Cline
Have you read up from other sources?

20/07/2015 14:53
Marianne Azizi
On UNICEF?

20/07/2015 14:53
Jonny Cline
Yes, on the structure and mandate

20/07/2015 14:53
Marianne Azizi
I have read the website, which is why as a CSO [Civil Society Organization] I contacted you with that potential. We share common aim of children in Israel.

20/07/2015 14:56
Jonny Cline
I mean the difference between the natcom [National Committees] and co-mandates

20/07/2015 14:56
Marianne Azizi
I have someone co-writing with me from an NGO…

20/07/2015 14:58
Jonny Cline
http://www.unicef.org/about/structure/index_natcoms.html

Today I spoke with UNICEF UK who seemed shocked that the Israel “arm” have not done more to endorse the CRC [Convention on the Rights of the Child] treaties. We are disappointed that UNICEF Israel consider our civil society a “risk assessment”, yet still ask for information on Israeli children!

We can assure the readers the stories coming out from Israel are verifiable and shocking.

Here is the issue: the Zionist supporters of Israel – please note that real children are suffering daily in the country and have no voice. Parents are desperately contacting us wanting a miracle by exposure of their stories, which the press is gagging. Contacting the UN is seen as an “enemy” tactic.

CCF Israel and UK are working for world awareness, and view challenges to government as democratic, and never consider that such challenges would make the civil society an enemy of the state.

The bottom line is this. If you support the concept of Israel, it’s time to look at the people who live there and listen to them. If you don’t support the state of Israel, it’s time to separate the people from their government and realise that strong censorship of all the news you get and the apparent views you are reading does not apply to almost half of the people who are living there.

Whistleblowers are arrested and interrogated for telling the truth. The Israel which is portrayed and fed through news feeds is not necessarily the real country.

Many people who read this article will be strongly in support of the children of Gaza and appalled by the operation which killed thousands of people. They will be indignant at the thought or concept that Israeli people may or may not have supported the operation. The walk in September will support all children worldwide.

Others reading this will be strong supporters of Israel’s right to exist, yet do not want the know full facts of what this existence means to millions of ordinary people.

So who are the Israeli people going to turn to? The government is rife with corruption; there is no independent ombudsman despite the UNHRC’s constant attempts to encourage one. The civil society CCF, which supports reform, is quashed at every opportunity.

It is widely believed by Israeli people that the international community would have absolutely no sympathy if they complain. The international news is controlled and dominated by the minister of communication, Binyamin Netanyahu. His position as minister of three ministries has been challenged, for in reality no prime minister should also hold these positions.

Whistle-blowers are arrested and interrogated for telling the truth. The Israel which is portrayed and fed through news feeds is not necessarily the real country. We may be prevented from making the 50 mile walk to educate the outside world with the countless families queueing up to share their stories.

All that we have asked for is transparency, reform and a chance for the people of Israel, 36 per cent whom live in poverty, to get past the day they survive in, then perhaps they might have a chance to engage in the multiple comments made by people on social media who have never even lived there.

It is possible the UNICEF office in Israel is so low level that its mandate is narrow. But perhaps there could be fear of Zionist lobbies urging them to steer clear of Israeli domestic issues.

UNICEF UK was surprised by the comments as the main mandate of UNICEF is to ensure that the treaty of UNCRC is upheld in each country. A report by UNCRC published in June 2015 shows that an independent ombudsman for children still has not been delivered. (Paragraph 18).

If UNICEF Israel is the main campaigner for independent reviewers, it has been a long time in the process, as the treaty was signed in 1991. The Israel authorities have not yet set up either an independent method of reporting, nor have they signed up to the optional treaty for children to complain directly through due process.

All families and children worldwide have the right to live their hopes and dreams without state interference, and we shall start the process in Israel in September with the aim that people around the world walk for their children too.

All children deserve to be with their families with a minimum of state intervention.

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