Israel Bailiff’s Office faces billion-dollar lawsuit in US for human rights violations and racketeering
Marianne Azizi writes:
The Israeli Bailiff’s Office (BO) is facing a billion-dollar lawsuit in New York. The office is a well known for the misery and suffering it causes to millions of citizens, particularly divorced fathers.
One such father, David Weisskopf (pictured above), is leading the charge by suing the BO and a number of other organisations on behalf of over 80,000 divorced men. The manner in which the BO operates is brutal, he says in his petition.
In Israel, it is common for debt collectors to hound divorced or separated fathers relentlessly simply on the strength of a mother’s allegation that the father of her children owes her money. Credit cards are cancelled, bank accounts frozen, driving licences taken and No Exit orders placed on the father, which means that even if he wanted to pay he could not.
Israeli law holds men totally responsible for paying for their children, regardless of the mother’s income. Many men are expected or even ordered to pay over 100 per cent, and sometimes 200 per cent, of their salaries.
One father is currently having to find 8,000 shekels (USD 2,095) to pay for two children even though his income is only 5,000 shekels (USD 1,308). He faces constant arrests and harassment, despite giving all of his income and having no means for his own survival or to even pay for bus tickets to visit his children.
This misery is endured by thousands of fathers from all walks of life – doctors, professors, teachers, artists, musicians – even when they pay child support.
The previous Israeli justice minister, Tzipi Livni, said in 2014:
Civil imprisonment for non-payment of debt is a serious blow to human rights. Imprisonment as a collection method is not legitimate as it applies undue pressure on the debtor and his family, and it may result in the debtor being forced to borrow more money (even on the black market) to avoid imprisonment.
But still nothing has changed.
The specific cases cited in Mr Weisskopf’s lawsuit are by no means unusual. Recently, a British Israeli businessman visited his children in Israel, which he had done for 12 years, only to discover that his former wife had placed a No Exit order upon him and demanded over 1 million shekels (USD 261,325) cash for his release. He had always paid child support and was living with a new wife and two children in the UK. He languished in Israel for over a year, fighting in the courts and providing evidence, which was ignored. Finally, he found a way to leave Israel, knowing that he would never be able to return to visit his children.
There are even instances of men who do raise their children still being ordered to pay child support to the absent mother!
Only recently I wrote about a South African national who is unable to pay a debt in Israel because he cannot find out what the amount of debt is, and because he has been prevented from self-employment or opening a bank account. Fortunately, the publication of his story caught the attention of someone who provided funding for a private lawyer to assist him in the hope that he can finally leave Israel.
Mr Weisskopf’s lawsuit is comprehensive, informative and highlights the injustice suffered by tens of thousands of people in Israel.
In a recent TV show aired in Israel on the subject, one judge conceded that taking people into such despair could only result in desperate acts.
Mothers and fathers are taking advantage of the opportunity to sue Israeli officials in US courts. Also, affected children are beginning to prepare similar suits and complaints to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child as those who help them are being hunted down for publishing their stories. More public protests are being planned, and more lawsuits are being written, with men and women now campaigning for a fair social justice system.