I have been writing and supporting many families and children in Israel for several years. It all started when my own husband became trapped in Israel following a visit to see his children.
I had no experience of Israeli Domestic Law, and believed the events were unique to just us. Years of attempts to prove false claims made against him were fruitless. Our friends and family in the UK were extremely supportive. But it was hard to believe there was no ‘smoke without fire’. There were no social media groups for support or information. I was later to learn that men were suffering in silence and shame. The subject was taboo. If a woman accused him of not paying his child support or a false claim of violence, and all her friends backed it up, then even the staunchest friends wondered and questioned. After all, if a judge also decided that a person was to be held in Israel, then it ‘MUST BE TRUE’.
It was a painful and devastating journey – trying to find justice in the Family Courts in Israel. It was also one which had no winners, not in the end. Sadly, the efforts were too much for us, and we divorced, against our true will. I decided to write a book, collecting all my diary entries, and often writing events in real time, and published it – Sour Milk & Stolen Honey, later translated into Hebrew (renamed Trapped in Israel).
My ex husband and I remained friends, with much heartache and regrets, his main wish was that he had never set foot back into Israel.
When the book was published, I was surprised at how many letters and emails I received – from men (mainly) and women trapped in Israel and asking for help. I made the decision, with a lot of soul-searching at the time, that I couldn’t turn my back on them. My one wish was no one would ever experience the difficulties we had, without prior warning or information.
The path was laid out before me, and I took it. Since then, over the past 4 years, I have videoed people, and written their testimonies in English. It has always been at their request, and often when they have reached a point of desperation.
Being asked to be the international face of the civil society CCF (Coalition for Children & Families, Israel), was an honour, and also a risk. The subject of social injustice of Jewish Israelis continues to be relatively taboo.
I learned over the past two or three years, that children are at risk in Israel, and very few people even know. The political backdrop pushes these topics either into the background, or becomes an issue of ‘which side people are on’. Despite a decade of effort, there are no mainstream newspapers who will pick up the social and human rights issues inside or outside of Israel.
There are rewards – as people find solutions; children are returned home and others are informed before troubles begin. It is combined with sadness, as many friends have taken their lives and many families continue to be broken, especially financially, under the weight of enormous legal expenses.
I have always been a believer, and when things are at a low ebb as they can be, I always have faith in the unknown people and events to bring new energy to the campaign. When I was approached to take a small part in this documentary, I accepted as I’m aware many people outside Israel are getting news mainly from myself.
I thank the film maker for his courage to make this documentary film. The evidence was overwhelming, and no exaggerations were necessary as the truth is sufficient. During filming, he saw for himself, and many will now learn that the events in Israel are not random, as other countries already know from their own data.
I hope that every single person I videoed will have a conclusion to their struggles, and this film will be the beginning of a support from funders and supporters of the State.
Children are innocent, and they deserve a chance.