#Walk4Kids 2014

Archived:

About Walk4Kids Israel 2015, Marianne Azizi and Moti Leybel

Walk4Kids is to drive change by showcasing to the world that Israel is the world leader in welfare issues of taking children punitively, unjustly and for ulterior motivations. That the Israeli welfare system is failing in their mandate to protect children and keep families together.

Over the next 12 days of the Walk4Kids, Marianne’s objective is to engage media and people inside and outside of Israel through live blogging and daily columns. Supporters and readers will be able to take action by posting a picture of themselves “walking in spirit” on the Walk4Kids trek. Meanwhile Marianne will be documenting personal stories by family members living this nightmare along the way.

About Marianne Azizi

Marianne is a published author, writer, blogger and international children’s rights advocate who has dedicated her life to ending the injustices that families experience under the Israeli welfare system. Marianne recently spoke in Geneva at the UN as the representative of the Coalition for Children and Families in Israel, to call on the UN to investigate these practices and effect change. 

About Moti Leybel

Moti Leybel is one of the leading activists in Israel for free speech and children’s rights. As a vocal independent journalist on free speech, Leybel has been thrown into prison by Israeli authorities in efforts to silent his voice. The same authorities have brought countless lawsuits against him to tie him up financially and keep him pre-occupied but this does not stop him in ensuring that the truth being told.

Leybel is also a vocal advocate for many parents in Israel who lose their children to Israeli social services in which this same system denies resolution between parents and children. Leybel has reported many social service violations of the destruction of healthy family dynamics that he himself consequently finds himself threatened with the loss of access of his own child.

Helpful Links

About Walk4Kids (Israel)

About CCF: The Coalition for Children and the Family (Israel)

Marianne Azizi and Moti Leybel

Radio Interview

Campaign Launch

Testimonies

Articles

Silencing the Media

How You are able to Help with your picture and words!

UN-CRC (United Nations Covenant of the Rights of the Child)

 

The Past Week: Walk4Kids

Folks… this walk is empowering families!

Mariane, Moti, and the Walk4Kids Israel team thank everyone for all their help and support. Without team work this important inaugural walk for children’s and family justice would not happen: every person’s efforts makes a difference and makes every step count. Thank you All!

צעדת הילדים ספטמבר 2015 http://tinyurl.com/pntmbkf

Posted by ‎די לשחיתות – הדף של נחמה‎ on Friday, September 4, 2015

Beautiful people made this lovely video for the Walk4Kids Israel team. Thank you!

 

A Few Days in Pictures:

September 6, 2015

Nourishment and water are key to being energized and hydrated. Marianne, Moti and the Walk4Kids Israel team eat healthy and simply first thing in the morning and then late in the evening. These people are here to work!

Observing and being available to take testimonies in front of a welfare office and contact center in Hadera to reach out to dads and moms punitively separated from their children.

Showing solidarity and peace. Showing integrity and love for families and children.

Congregating, planning, regrouping, taking a rest and meeting with parents, families and the Israeli public who have lost their children or had no clue that 10,000 Israeli kids are missing: 33 are taken punitively every day that leaves families suffering with no options or hope to resolve their situation.

September 5, 2015

We are not alone on our walk, the police and other agencies are with us and this is affecting how families can speak with us. But our presence is giving a voice to this suppressed issue.

Our goals are to bring a public voice to the fact that the government and its agencies allow the social services to not only operate without oversight but also use children to punish parents for whistleblowing, divorce and speaking out on something important to them.

Remember, last week the government has voted in a clause to silence government run media in expressing personal opinions. This is compromising the right to free speech and freedom of expression, a right that Israel has agreed as a state/nation to advocate and support.

#AllLivesMatter #AllChildrenMatter

#Walk4Kids #Israel

#EveryStepMatters

September 4, 2015: Marianne and Walk4Kids approach the Israeli prime minister’s home. Mixing a little bit of Hebrew and English somehow communicated the purpose to the guards. And in the process they became educated on the issue of 10,000 missing Israeli children.

Outside the prime ministers home..A little Hebrew and a little english!! After this video we explained our purpose to the guards. ..think it was news to them..but no doubt everything was recorded! !

Posted by Marianne Azizi on Friday, September 4, 2015

____

Mariane, Moti, and the Walk4Kids Israel team thank everyone for all their help and support. Without team work this important inaugural walk for children’s and family justice would not happen: every person’s efforts makes a difference and makes every step count. Thank you All!

____

Israeli Knesset Votes in Gag Law to Silence Government Criticism

Gag Law: Late Night Session at Knesset Approves Clause Barring Journalists from Expressing Opinions on Air

Reading directly from the newly approved clause, United Torah Judaism MK Yisrael Eichler stated:

“The public broadcasts must refrain from one-sidedness, prejudice, from expressing personal opinions, from grading and labeling, from ignoring facts or adapting them selectively in a way that is not in line with their news value.”

Cabinet Minister Ofir Akunis further added that the law only applies to newscasts. The Knesset had just early Thursday morning ratified the above amendment to the broadcasting law, with only 18 law makers voting against out of the 43 attending. By also retroactively cancelling the current broadcasting fee, lawmakers are counting on the Israeli public not to condemn this action.

The article applies to the current broadcaster, the IBA (Israeli Broadcasting Authority) which is set to be closed by the government in March 2016, and not to the new government corporation that will replace it.

Extracted From the Times of Israel “State broadcast journalists condemn ban on expressing political opinions”:

Last year, the Knesset approved legislation to abolish the IBA and replace it with a new public entity. The current staff of some 1,500 is expected to be reduced to some 700.

The bill’s sponsor, then-communications minister Gilad Erdan, explained at the time that the need for the change stemmed from the broadcast authority becoming increasingly unnecessary. Erdan said a new public entity would save money and do away with the unpopular television tax.

The IBA was established in 1948 and held a monopoly on TV and radio broadcasting in Israel until the 1990s.

Since 1965, any Israeli household with a television set was obligated to pay an annual television tax which helped fund the IBA. Today, the tax stands at NIS 345 per year ($90). The IBA strictly enforced this rule, ignoring pleas from TV owners who did not use IBA’s services or were not connected to any television service whatsoever. The amendment approved early Thursday also abolished the TV tax retroactively from January 2015.

Marianne Azizi, currently walking 50 miles for more than 10,000 missing Israeli children from Haifa to Tel Aviv, will be reporting later today how this latest Knesset approved law will impact the already existing issues of government oversight along with the grievous concern that the Israeli social welfare system will be able to operate with an even higher level of impunity.

Freedom of speech is the right to communicate one’s opinions and ideas without fear of government retaliation or censorship. This means that the protection of freedom of speech as a right includes not only the content, but also the means of expression.

Israel being a ratified signatory of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), a multilateral treaty that respects civil and political rights of individuals, the rights to life, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, electoral rights and rights to due process and a fair trial AND that this treaty is part of the International Bill of Human Rights, along with the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights(UDHR), makes this latest development very concerning.

***

Marianne Azizi: Makes Sacrifice to Effect Change

British Woman Marianne Azizi gives up possessions, job and home to walk 50 miles for children in Israel

I am here because Israel is the world leader in punitive welfare interference. Currently, 330,000 children are declared at risk in Israel. Some 10,000 have been taken from their parents, with 70 per cent placed into private institutions. Concerns about the levels of abuse inside these institutions and the Welfare Ministry’ has been urged to look into these but largely remain silent.

On 1st September Marianne Azizi (54) from the UK will start a 50-mile walk from Haifa to Tel Aviv to highlight awareness of the plight of children and families who are affected by overprotective welfare services and the CPS.

When she published her book Sour Milk and Stolen Honey, her Facebook page and website began to fill with people’s responses and stories of their own fight with the Israeli judicial system. Her book is receiving 5-star reviews on Amazon. This led to another visit to Israel in April.

Marianne says,

‘Little is known about the life of those in poverty or affected by unique laws in Israel. I spent 2 months there this year, and realised that there are huge problems with overprotective CPS and Welfare Services. They are taking children for the flimsiest of excuses from loving parents. What I witnessed and filmed in Israel was so distressing and so unjust in many cases and it stayed with me.’

In recounting the many challenges she and others faced during that visit she affirmed meeting countless families in despair who had nowhere to turn. Marianne has continued to get the unreported stories out into the world.

She recently went to UNHRC in Geneva, (her 3rd visit) where she represented Ccf Israel – Coalition for Children and Families. Asking on behalf of the people for more transparency and an independent ombudsmen to give families somewhere to represent them and the children.

Sadly Marianne states,

‘Israel has the highest rate in the world of children taken into private institutions (per capita), and growing concern for the welfare of the children in care. A recent TV report in Israel highlighted an estimate of over 330,000 children are now at risk from the actual welfare and CPS. ‘

She will start the walk with Israeli Journalist and Human Rights Defender for children and families Moti Leybel in Israel. They teamed up in January 2015 to write and broadcast the issues and have collaborated on many articles, which have been seen by millions worldwide. To go and walk Marianne gave up all her possessions, her everyday life, her career.

‘I need to give this my all, I am a very lucky mother with two grown up boys. My children have been fortunate. I could not comprehend how a system could destroy families, and I strongly believe children need their own parents.’

Unfortunately Israel leads the world in the numbers of children seeing their parents in contact centres.   The walk is the beginning of a campaign to raise funds for a Crisis Centre to be set up in Israel for parents to get information and help. Also serving as an independent service to feed information into the UNCRC. I want to help parents to find a way to reunite their families.

We have set up a FB page walk4kids September 2015, and are asking everyone in the UK, Europe and worldwide to walk with us, take pictures and support the campaign. Even a picture at home to show support will encourage us.’

To support the walk4kids… please contact Marianne by email.

____

How Israeli children are stolen from their parents

The story is all too familiar.  As I sit with an attractive 28 year old woman, she tells the story of the remarkable way in which the welfare state stole her child.  It has been over 6 years, as the child has been bounced around in institutions and foster parents.  The question which burns through my mind as I listen is ‘why? ‘

By Marianne Azizi

The family want this little boy.  Why take him?  How did they find him?  I am reminded of the term ‘ambulance chasing’ which happens with many unscrupulous companies who scour the newspapers for death announcements to milk a victim of their possessions.  In Israel, the ambulance chasing seems to be to search for children and take them from blood relatives at great profit to private institutions.   I hear she is desperate to talk about her son, and wants someone to help her.  I promise myself that I will not cry, but as I hear her talk it is impossible to hold back my own tears.

***

This is her story.

Her name is Chen.  She was a very young mother, only 19 years old when she had her son.  It’s never easy for any teenager.  But in Israel it is more than difficult – it is dangerous and risky to struggle with motherhood.  Chen was a single mother.  She was fortunate as her own mother and the father’s family wanted to be involved in the upbringing of her child.  When her son was just 3 years old, it was decided that he should live with his grandmother as the main guardian, until Chen could get her life together.

The problem in Israel is that what a judge decides in court is influenced by social workers.  She and her mother were ordered by the social worker that Chen could only visit her son in the infamous Israeli contact centres. They knew better than to argue.  To defy a social worker’s ”recommendation” is a fate worse than death, though listening to so many stories the compliance becomes a permanent living hell.

Chen and her mother went through a parental evaluation and both were declared able to raise the boy, with this extra caveat thrown in.  Initially they all lived together, but due to family rows, Chen moved out and stayed with her Aunt.

At this point, it is easy to see similarities in any country, but my own experience is that the best interests of a child is to stay connected to blood relatives.  Not so in Israel.  The agenda is completely the opposite as more and more stories come to light.

Chen was allowed to see her son once a week in the contact centre, and had no option but to comply. (Contact centre visitation is 12 times higher than the USA, and the highest per capital in the developed world).  So did her mother.  One day, she received a call from the social workers.  She and both grandmothers arrived to the welfare office.  They were informed that a man Chen was dating had beaten her son.  This man had not seen the boy in almost a year, as clearly the contact centre was only for the mother.  There was no possibility of this being true.  But here is how the process begins – based on allegations and rumours.  Her 3 year old son seemed able to communicate this information, without a single bit of proof, nor a mark on his body.

The father’s family were Ethiopian,  so were not brilliant at Hebrew, but they managed to overhear a phone call made by the social worker instructing the police to come and remove the boy from the kindergarten.  It was very near to the office.  The social worker repeatedly made comments about rumours of violence of Chen’s boyfriend.

Chen sped from the office and ran to the kindergarten.  She saw 4 police cars full of police and a car from City Hall waiting to collect her son.  Desperate to save him, she was held back by the police as she tried to reach her boy.  Her mother was told she could go into the kindergarten and say goodbye to her grandson (she was the official guardian).  There isn’t a mother on earth who cannot imagine the scene as she tried to protect her son – every maternal instinct coming forward.  Her beautiful little boy was placed in the car and they drove away, heading for what is called an Emergency Centre in Jerusalem.

Chen was bereft.  For 8 long months the child was kept from all blood relations.  Imagine it.  For it really is unimaginable.  Just 3.5 years old and unable to get the comfort from anyone he knew.  The reason given was there was not enough staff to run the contact centre.  Every single day Chen and the grandparents tried to enquire about the welfare of the boy.  Finally, the social workers ordered a psychiatric assessment of the boy.  This was a 3 month process, and inevitably it was decided that he had ”mental issues” and needed treatment and drugs to help him.  I personally work as a volunteer in the UK with alcoholics and drug addicts, and never heard such common stories of child abduction by the welfare.

After almost a year Chen’s mother was finally allowed to see him.  Then Chen was told she could see him once a fortnight in a contact centre.  This continued for 2 long years.  During her visits, she was not allowed to ask a single question about his life, nor talk about anything connected to her wanting him.  If she did, she was ‘punished’ by a visit being cancelled. All she could do was take some toys and talk to him only about the hour she was with him.

It may be difficult for Westerners to conceive this kind of compliance and why the family felt so disempowered to fight.  But it must be understood that the welfare and social workers are the people who, once they have made a recommendation, merely have to get a ‘rubber stamp’ from very busy judges.  Most people in Israel, rich or poor live in terror of the ”Revaha” (Social workers).

After over 2 long years, Chen was informed that her son had been placed with a foster family.  Settlers who lived in the West Bank.  They were paid approximately 3000 NIS, (approximately $900) plus all expenses.  Her son stayed with this family for almost 2 years, and at the age of 7.5 years, the family didn’t want him anymore.  Tragically he was taken back to the ’emergency centre’ he had started in four years prior.

A beauty parade began.  Families were brought in to see him, to see if they liked him and he could ‘tick all the boxes’.  She described it as choosing a puppy from a litter.  I think at this point I had to choke back my own tears.  She talked with such pain, yet such dignity.  She was upfront about her own problems, and during the time he had gone, had turned to drink.  Today, she sat in her own apartment with a room prepared for her son, working and able to take care of him.  Is it enough?  Not a chance.

She received an order to go to court.  The judge informed her that another family wanted to foster her son.  She was told that if she didn’t verbally ‘agree’, that her son would be forced into adoption and it would be unlikely she could ever see him until he was 18 years old.  Of course, most people would know that once a child is adopted it is impossible to trace them, unless they choose to find their birth mother.

She had no choice but to agree.  She was then given the devastating news that she wasn’t allowed any contact with her son, (nor the grandparents) for one year.  She was told that every 3 months she would be informed by telephone by the social worker – named Ofra Shiff – as to the wellbeing of her child.  After 5 months, she still hadn’t heard anything, so she declared she would contact the foster parents direct.  Again these people were being paid well by the State to take care of HER child.

In two months, the year is up and she wants to go to court to fight for her son.  Her life is stable – not that it matters, for this was not the reason she lost her child.  During the time he has been away from her, the social worker cajoled and nagged at her to make a complaint against the boyfriend – who had indeed performed a violent act on her – they told her if she did so, she had a good chance of getting her son back.  (This is common practice in Israel).  She did so, but it backfired, as the claim of violence actually served the original social worker’s allegation.  I have heard from many parents that making a ‘false claim’ has been cloaked in the promise of getting help.

As Chen continues to hold her own, my colleague informs her that he is unable to help her on this occasion.  He already has two restraining orders on both social workers who have taken her child.  He has complained about so many cases connected to them, that they actually filed some false complaints of assault – the usual way to gag a journalist or human rights activist.  She tells him that she was informed by the social worker that her son’s name and ID has recently been changed.  At this point, he tells her that there is little doubt that the child has actually either been adopted or is about to be.  He is lost to Chen forever.

Only then, after over one and a half hours do her eyes glisten with tears as the reality sinks in.  She tells him the social worker had already advised her to ‘move on, have more kids, get over it’.

She tells me she is happy to tell the world her story.  She gives me photographs.  She says that the mothers at the local school live in terror as it is said the social worker named here actually sits outside the school at least twice a week – just watching.  It’s predatory.

She stumbles over her words as she describes the trauma her son has endured for 6 years, going from pillar to post, and despite the yearning to have him home, she is trapped.  Trapped in Israel.  No money for a lawyer, and the theft so insidious and lengthy that as a mother she is split in two.  She wants to hold her son, but also recognizes that there is only so much a child can endure.  She is selfless and selfish at the same time.

She never did anything wrong.  She just had to grow up and find her way at the mercy of a brutal system which takes my breath away.

I had already spent 3 hours with a father whose story of pain was so similar that although I know the whole thing starts with the father, and ends with the mother, the real victims are these innocent children, who are declared mentally ill by the system which makes them so, and then drugged, medicated and alienated to such a degree that God only knows how they will turn out.

There are 33 children a DAY taken like this in Israel, and put into private institutions.

Is it for money?  I’ve no doubt about it, but I wonder at the bigger picture.  What kind of children will come out of these places at the age of 18?

She has nothing but her dignity.  Meanwhile the social workers here continue to ‘ambulance chase’.  The whole point of my visit to the country.  The people are NOT connected to the government, they are the victims of it.

Originally published on http://www.marianneazizi.co.uk/blog April 2015