“The child needs his mother”: a stormy discussion in the welfare committee in the Knesset

“The child needs his mother”: a stormy discussion in the welfare committee in the Knesset
“The child needs his mother”: a stormy discussion in the welfare committee in the Knesset

The Welfare and Labor Committee of the Knesset, chaired by MK Israel Eichler, held a discussion this morning (Wednesday) on the subject of “bullying behavior of welfare when taking a baby from its parents”, following the publication on N12 about A four-month-old toddler was removed from his biological parents because of suspected abuse, and eight months have passed since then. However, later medical opinions revealed that he suffers from a rare genetic syndrome that led to bleeding in his brain.

The baby’s relatives came to the hearing, some of them burst into tears and walked out in the middle of the hearing. After about an hour, a storm broke out, and the family’s relatives shouted at the representative of the Ministry of Welfare: “You have no heart.” One of the relatives even fainted and needed medical assistance.

MK Israel Eichler (Torah Judaism) said at the beginning of the discussion: “This issue brings up associations from the 1950s and the kidnapping of Yemeni children. Although nowadays we hope and believe that there are no such things, and we still need to discuss the question of whether a single person can decide the fate of a child in order to decide whether it is necessary to remove a child. Anyone who has children understands what it’s like when a child is taken out of their parents’ custody.”

MK Eliyahu Baruchi (Degal HaTorah) said: “I do not want to harm the sacred work of social workers throughout the country, God forbid. The discussion of this individual case should not harm welfare work. From my exposure to the details in this case – the welfare officer took advantage of loopholes in the law and caused a terrible injustice to the family.”

The Labor and Welfare Committee | Photo: N12

The Ministry of Welfare chose not to send for discussion the relevant factors in the Ministry in case of taking the baby. Chava Levy, chief social worker according to the Youth Law, was required to answer the questions: “The social workers who speak against them are not here and I want to start by appreciating and thanking the workers who do their job to protect children who need it. The discussion here will not deal with the merits of the case because it is being conducted in court . The decision to remove a child from his home is not one person’s decision. Decisions in the case of a minor are made by different professionals.”

Afterwards, MK Baruchi asked the social worker: “Were you involved in this specific case?”, and she replied that she was consulted in this case. MK Eichler added: “Did you think there was a risk to the child?”, to which Hava answered: “I recommend appealing when I believe that there is a reason that is right for the district court to discuss. We are not the determining factor.”

MK Avi Maoz (Otzma Yehudit) said: “We are indeed talking about a specific case, but we want to learn from it about the generality. As members of the Knesset, it is our duty to criticize the executive branch. I know the case personally. There were completely arbitrary decisions by the relief officials. It’s a very charged issue and I think we need to leave here with a result that there is a mechanism to oversee this confidential issue.”

MK Tali Gottlieb (Likud) said: “The Youth Care and Supervision Law gives unusual authority to a social worker. Social work is neither psychology nor psychiatry. The judges have become the long arm of the relief officials. We need to present the information: how much money does the state pay for each child removed from its home?”.

At the end of the discussion, MK Israel Eichler stated that another confidential discussion should be held together with the welfare representatives. Liora Abramowitz, the representative of the legal adviser of the Ministry of Welfare, said: “I would like to check the issue with the legal adviser.”

Attorney Verda Steinberg, who represents the baby’s parents in court, said: “The closed doors here are meant to protect the welfare officer – not the minor and not the family. Those who wave here in secrecy are only welfare. The findings show unequivocally and decisively that he has a genetic defect. Time after time there was contempt of court here. Welfare filed four appeals. I called and said: four appeals in four months? are you normal I inquired with the Jerusalem Municipality and was told that we did not give permission – this permission was received from the main relief official. I picked up the phone together with the holder of the welfare portfolio at the Jerusalem Municipality to Chava Levy. She told us ‘I gave the permission to appeal’. I asked her if she was familiar with the details, and she told me ‘no’.”

Attorney Amit Haddad, who represents the parents in the criminal proceedings, said: “I welcome the important discussion that took place today in the Knesset. It is time for the child to return to his natural place, his father and mother who love him so much. The family received opinions from experts from Israel and the world, who teach that all the suspicions that existed before, originated from a congenital genetic defect – and God forbid, from the actions of the parents. It is unthinkable that a child would be torn from his family like this without there being even a shred of evidence that the parents did harm him. It’s time to put an end to this sad affair”

MK Limor Son Har-Malech said at the end of the confidential hearing: “We did not receive satisfactory answers from welfare about the outrageous conduct.” Finally, MK Eichler proposed to advance a bill according to which the removal of a child from his home would only be done by a panel of three judges.

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