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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

A divorce court ruling with political overtones

Israel Radio reported today that a Jerusalem woman obtained a ruling from the Jerusalem Rabbinical Court barring her ex-husband from having their minor children visit him in his home. The reason: The husband lives in Sderot.

The ruling is temporary for now - it will be reviewed after the Succot holiday that starts this evening. The husband is allowed to take the children to his relatives' homes for visitation, but he is not allowed to have them visit him in Sderot. The wife claimed that she is ill and that her illness would be exacerbated by 'anxiety' over having her children in Sderot.

Leaving aside for a moment the institutional biases that the courts here have in divorce cases (for example, it is well known among lawyers that if you're representing the husband you go to Rabbinical court and if you're representing the wife you go to civil court to file), there are a number of serious issues raised by this ruling:

1. If Sderot is 'unsafe' and off limits, what about all the other places that border the Gaza Strip? What about locations in Judea and Samaria that are not always particularly safe? What if the 'Palestinians' start shooting at the Jerusalem suburb of Gilo again (two Kassam rockets were found this morning in Bethlehem, which is right near Gilo)?

2. From the standpoint of a foreign court reading this decision, the entire country is Sderot. Imagine a New York court telling an Israeli father that if he wants to see his children he has to come to New York because it's not safe to send the children from New York, where the mother lives, to Israel, where the father lives, to see him. (I believe there was already a case like this in New York, but I cannot find it online right now).

3. From the standpoint of the government, it's yet another reason why Sderot needs to be made safe for its residents.

The ruling was issued yesterday. There has been very little reaction so far. Stay tuned.


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