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Sensitive decision of the Israeli courts: a dead Jewish woman, an Arab father, twin girls and foster parents

Richard Silverstein has once again splashed an eye-catching sensationalist and inaccurate headline across his blog: "Israeli Supreme Court Approves “Child Trafficking” of Muslim Children". The article he wrote is full of inaccuracies and irrelevancies and in it he displays his obsession with Israel and his desire to attribute to Israel various evils.

The real story can be read in the ruling given by the Israel Supreme Court on 6 October 2015 (Application to Appeal 4896/15). Ttwin girls are the biological children of a Muslim man and a Jewish woman all resident in Israel. The mother died. It is difficult to ascertain what the religion of the twin daughters is. Under Muslim tradition the child of a Muslim father and a Jewish mother is Muslim, but confusingly under Jewish tradition that child is Jewish. Patrilineality for the Muslims, and Matrilineality for the Jews. The death of one or both parents does not negate a child's heritage. The headline fails to take into account the difficulties of the story. I actually think that the ethnicity is a side issue but Silverstein got his damning headline.

The mother had serious psychological problems and committed suicide. From birth the twin daughters were brought up by the foster parents (it is they who appealed to the Israel Supreme Court to fully adopt them). The children have spent their whole lives in a Jewish environment. This clearly is going to influence the judges to rule in favour of adoption by the Jewish foster parents.

There are conflicting expert opinions regarding the father and the girls. The psychologists and psychiatrists do seem to agree that the father himself is not a reason for the girls to be adopted, although he is lacking some basic parental skills. The courts had accepted the experts' opinions that the status quo - whereby the father sees the girls regularly, and is involved in important decisions in their lives, but lives with the foster parents – is the best. The presiding judge Elyakim Rubinstein (pdf file), a liberal judge by all accounts, accepted the ruling of the Family Court that that status quo should continue. We know judges love compromise. There is a strange hybrid contraption, not full adoption; the judge calls this a partnership and stresses the importance of the role of the biological father:

"The essential meaning of the guardianship of the biological father - he was the guardian by law – is first and foremost maintaining the dignity and identity of him as a father by preserving the link between him and the minors. The father is not a shadow figure in relation to his daughters, but everyday practical powers are in the hands of the foster parents, and hopefully they will find ways to cooperate with the help of the social services and the experts".

Actually the biological father did not appeal to the Supreme Court. He had accepted the compromise, the partnership. It was the foster parents who appealed and lost – they wanted full adoption without a partnership. The lawyers representing the biological father said:

"We are pleased with the balanced ruling. The court found an important middle way which combines foster care and adoption".
The facts are that the biological father married a suicidal, mentally unstable woman, he agreed upon birth to give up the girls and the experts said he lacks parental skills. He seems to be dysfunctional, maybe I am wrong. He agreed to the compromise partnership and gave up his rights to full fatherhood which suggests he understands his limitations.

The trafficking of children is defined by the United Nations as the recruitment or transportation of a child "for the purpose of exploitation". Two girls are treated with the utmost sensitivity by the relevant authorities and their biological father and foster parents. No child has been transferred to be exploited. Quite a lot of time and effort was put in to ensure that the best solution be found for the girls.

Interracial adoption has a bad name, but it is not some terrible evil. But this case is not really about interracial adoption, the twins are half Jewish and they have already spent all their lives in a Jewish environment. The girls' colour is totally irrelevant. The main thing is that a solution be found for homeless children.

Silverstein said some sad things on twitter. Never mind.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Well informed and written article.
But why waste your time on Richard Silverstein?
He perverts almost all issues regarding Israel and claims to be a Jew in good standing{sic}.