US citizen begs for his life and freedom from Israel
Marianne Azizi writes:
I met with Yadidya in a coffee shop in Tel Aviv. As with most trapped foreign nationals, he was still in shock that this could be happening to him. We sat down for a coffee, and he tells me his story.
The big questions are: where is the US government or embassy, and why and how could he be trapped in Israel with no way out?
Yadidya has been in Israel for almost a year. He has no work permit, no visa and no home. Yet, on the basis of his ex-wife’s words only, he is expected to find a king’s ransom to be able to leave the country.
Yadidya dreamed of living in Israel, the place where Jews are supposed to feel safe. He met his bride in 2008 in Haifa. He was a US coastguard with a brilliant future ahead of him. He was only 30 years old at the time, and had waited for the “right” woman. He wanted to marry her and take her back to the United States. An American Jew born in the Dominican Republic, his family had full US status.
The two tied the knot in Israel in 2009 but the marriage was a disaster from the outset. Upon learning that she was pregnant, his wife sought an abortion but ultimately decided to go through with the pregnancy.
On 4 January 2011 she gave birth to their son. Yadidya needed to return to the USA in order to keep his permit in Israel and, while there, he was offered a job as a US Air Marshall. His potential life in America was full of opportunity, yet his wife and son were in Israel.
The marriage was almost over as soon as it had begun. The child was registered on the birth certificate as having no father. Yadidya was devastated, and he returned to Israel to try to prove he was the father.
Those who knew the system told him that was the biggest mistake of his life.
Not quite Jewish enough
Yadidya became prey to many unscrupulous groups who declared he wasn’t quite Jewish enough. The papers proving his Jewish provenance were insufficient for him to emigrate to Israel. He went back and forth from the USA to Israel to prove he was the biological father and to keep some contact with his son.
Yadidya tried everything he could with the USA, including opening a case at the Hague at the end of 2011. He met with parents groups and joined an organisation called “I stand for Parents”. He and others from the organisation even met with Hillary Clinton.
In September 2012, when his son was one and a half years old, Yadidya gave his wife a Jewish divorce. He then immediately received an order to pay back child support benefits.
Almost every day I hear stories which, for those who tell them, are their whole world. There are so many stories, I filter out the details and realise there is just one big story: systematic and profitable abuse of family breakdown in Israel. I’m told it is worth USD 7.9 billion. Others inform me it is at least USD 1 billion dollars. The figures are unfathomable. They runs into billions, of that there is no doubt.
Yadidya sits before us. I am reminded of an animal that is about to be slaughtered, and there is absolutely nothing I can do to help him.
He returns to his story. In 2014, he secured a position with Time Magazine as a graphic designer. In July of that year he decided to visit Israel to see his son. He had been warned over and over not to go, but he was blinded by his faith in the country and decided to travel nonetheless.
“You can check out anytime you like but you can never leave”
Yadidya is still in Israel to this day. Only a week after his arrival he was issued with a No Exit Order and told to pay USD 145,000 in child support in return for his freedom. He tried to fight in court, but didn’t have a translator, and was unaware of his own meagre rights.
He was given a state lawyer, someone who really did’t know the laws on freedom and reciprocal maintenance.
Today Yadidya called me in desperation. He cannot work in Israel, for he has no permit to do so. His bright career was cut short again. He is allowed to see his son, but only in a contact centre. These are heavily guarded with cameras and security. He is torn in half. He wants to be a father, but during his year in captivity in Israel has been allowed to see his son for only 100 hours under supervision. He realises he has to leave but certainly not through the US embassy, for the US authorities warn their citizens that they risk their freedom if they have domestic connections to Israel, so no help can be expected from that quarter.
Yesterday, Yadidya contacted me to tell me that a judge had finally allowed him to see his son outside of the contact centre. But his hopes were rapidly quashed as his ex wife, through her lawyer, vehemently insisted he was a dangerous man – capable of kidnap – and requested that he be imprisoned for not paying child support.
Yadidya is one of tens of thousands of people who are slowly broken by the system in Israel. What is the reason? I have no answers. Perhaps it is really only for money.
As I sit comfortably back in the UK, the horror and nightmares of those trapped in Israel are brought back to me. I feel a surge of energy and indignation at a country which, despite the overwhelming evidence, is in denial.
Is there anything that can be done? Yadidya asked for help.
He is a US citizen. He needs support.