Israeli fathers – An endangered species

Do you plan on making Aliyah any time soon? Well, here are a few things which the agent at your local Aliyah Center probably won’t tell you…


1) According to Israel’s Tender Years Law, women automatically get custody of children under the age of six. Of course, once the children turn six years old, we don’t want to destabilize them, so they remain with their mother. This essentially means that for all practical purposes, most divorced fathers are no more than “visitors” in Israel. In fact, this type of law recently led the United Nations to condemn Israel for discrimination against fathers.


2) As soon as divorce proceedings are set into motion, the Beit Mishpat (Family Court) emits a ‘tsav’ (no exit order) against the man. That is, the man is no longer allowed to leave the country unless he leaves a deposit (usually upwards of $100 000) or finds a suitable guarantor.


3) During divorce proceedings, the court charges alimony above and beyond the child support, in order to encourage the man to settle. Once a settlement is made, the man is only obliged to pay child support. Incredibly, a man who earns minimum wage (currently at approximately 4300 NIS per month) is still expected to pay approximately 4500 NIS per month, for two children, during proceedings, and close to 4000 NIS per month, afterwards.


4) Another method which the courts use in order to encourage a settlement is supervised visitation centers. Since there is no repercussion for false allegations in Israel’s Family Court, women do not hesitate to use gated centers with armed security guards, as leverage in negotiations. And, since the rate of fathers who must see their children in Israel’s supervised visitation centers is six times the global average, the centers tend to be over-packed so, most fathers do not get to see their children for more than an hour or two a week.


5) Israel’s National Insurance Institute (Bituach Leumi) pays child support on behalf of men, when the men are unable to do so. That being said, it would seem that Israel cares so much more than Canada about its children. However, what a lot of people don’t realize is what’s in it for Israel. Let me explain… When you get divorced, your passport is removed so that you can’t run away (they already call you the defendant and treat you like a criminal). Then, the courts set an unrealistic child support in the hopes that you will default. Once you default, they begin to pay on your behalf, and that’s when they begin charging interest and penalties. For the average father of two who must pay 4000 NIS per month, we’re talking about roughly one million shekels. Considering the divorce rate in Israel, 5% interest plus penalties on one million shekels (times hundreds of thousands of divorced fathers) represents billions of shekels. So, whereas, Israel awards women a child support rate which is generally three times more than the average Canadian woman would receive, and does what no other country would – it pays on behalf of men – it isn’t so much a question of generosity but rather, quite the opposite; the National Insurance Institute is capitalizing on one of the most downtrodden sectors of our society.


In conclusion, if you’re planning on moving to Israel and starting a family there, you need to understand that the Family Laws are draconian and excessively discriminatory against men; that there are good chances that you will be treated as a criminal and relegated to the role of visitor/ ATM. Unfortunately, it’s a very complex matter, and the Machiavellian nature of the National Insurance Institute’s child support system, despite being very subtle, can have catastrophic effects on your family life. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t make Aliyah, God-forbid, but you need to be aware of the pitfalls. You must learn how to protect your family if you sense that a separation is in fact looming in the horizon… So, be safe, enjoy your freedom and if you have children already, be the best parent that you can be!


About the Author
A keen interest in Jewish law, philosophy, politics, gender issues, and various subcultures.
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