Israeli fathers sue judges over custody rulings – in US courts
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Israeli fathers sue judges over custody rulings – in US courts

State has spent some NIS 3.5 million defending judges overseas in lawsuits alleging discrimination against divorced fathers

Ron Ben-Haim, who lives in New Jersey, is suing Israeli judges in US courts for failing to return his daughter to the US after she was kidnapped and taken to Israel by her mother. (Screen capture, Channel 10)
Ron Ben-Haim, who lives in New Jersey, is suing Israeli judges in US courts for failing to return his daughter to the US after she was kidnapped and taken to Israel by her mother. (Screen capture, Channel 10)

A number of divorced Israeli fathers are suing Israeli judges who presided over their custody proceedings in US courts for millions of dollars over unfavorable rulings.

According to a report on Israel’s Channel 10 which aired Saturday night, these parents are taking advantage of US laws, including the Alien Tort Claims Act, that allow American judges to consider lawsuits against foreign government officials suspected of atrocities or crimes against humanity. The fathers are accusing the Israeli courts of gender discrimination, among other crimes.

For Israeli father Ron Ben-Haim, who lives in New Jersey, “the idea came when the Supreme Court of Israel authorized my daughter’s abduction” by her mother, who fled the US with her for Israel.

“I thought about what I could do to have my daughter know her father and for justice to be done,” he told Channel 10.

“The lawsuit is intended to try and correct the discrimination against men that exists in Israel,” he added.

Another father, David Weisskopf, divorced with three children, said he filed a lawsuit in Chicago against five Israeli judges.

He’s suing for $20 million.

“The entire courtroom was just a kangaroo court. [The judge] told me he didn’t care whether I lived or died, he only cared about child support.”

The Justice Ministry has spent some 3.5 million shekels (about $930,000) over the past four years to defend the judges in at least 10 such lawsuits, according to the report.

Some of the lawsuits have been going on for years. In cases such as Ben-Haim’s, fathers are able to point to rulings in their favor by American courts which are then rejected in Israeli courts. The fathers also point to relatively high rates of limited visitation being imposed on divorced fathers in Israel, as well as relatively high child support payments.

None of the suits, which often also name Welfare Ministry employees and social workers, has yet succeeded in obtaining a judgment against any Israeli official.

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