The new Minister for Gender Equality, MK Gila Gamliel (Likud), is currently advancing a bill named “Parents and their Children,” which would dictate to parents in Israel to educate their children according to values of “peace, tolerance, and friendship between all nations and religions.”
The bill enumerates what it sees as the basic rights of children, including among them “their preparation for a life of responsibility in a free society, in a spirit of understanding, peace, tolerance, equality of the sexes and friendship between all nations, ethnic, national and religious groups.”
This clause appears to empower social workers and courts to intervene in the education of children who are raised in homes that are too nationalistic or religious for their taste.
This is not all, however. The revolutionary bill, which is based on the conclusions of two governmental committees, would take away from Israeli parents the custodianship over their children and replace it with mere “parental responsibility,” which includes duties, but no rights.
The bill would enable the court to take even these limited rights away from a parent if “the court deems that under the existing circumstances, realization of the parental bond is harmful or may cause actual harm to the child, or that realization of the familial bond harms or may harm the child” – a foggy formulation that leaves much room for creative interpretation.
In such cases, the court may “decide the proper way to realize the the parental bond or the familial bond,” based on a request by one of the parents or even by the child.
When this is taken in conjunction with the determination that children have a basic right to be educated on “peace, tolerance, and friendship between all nations and religions,” it would appear that the bill opens a loophole through which the rights of parents to raise their children can be taken away, if they do not raise their children according to these values. It appears, too, that this can be done on the basis of a complaint by a small child, filed with the encouragement of a social worker.
Divorced dads support bill
Supporters of the bill are mostly divorced fathers, who hope that it will enable more egalitarian divorces. This is due to another section of the bill, which annuls the Tender Years Clause that currently automatically prefers women to men in divorce custody disputes, and which – contrary to what its name suggests – applies de facto to children of all ages.
With Gamliel's appointment to the position of minister, the bill has been transferred to the hands of MK Yoav Kisch (Likud). Arutz Sheva was told that MK Kisch is currently attempting to receive explanations from Gamliel regarding the problematic parts of the bill, and if need be, he will either attempt to change those sections when the bill is debated in a Knesset committee, or submit his own, alternative bill.
Minister Gamliel did not respond to our requests for a reaction.