URGENT REQUEST FOR INVESTIGATION OF THE SOS KINDERDORF

"NERADIM" IN ARAD, ISRAEL

 

I. MY ORIGINAL COMMUNICATION: URGENT REQUEST FOR INVESTIGATION OF "NERADIM" IN ARAD, ISRAEL

 

July 28, 2009

 

Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan

David Elazar Street 214/55

P.O. Box 503

Tzfat, Israel 13104

 

Telephone: 972-4-692-5590

 

To: Helmut Kutin, President of SOS Kinderdorf International 

 

Dear Mr. Kutin:

 

With the assistance of colleagues in various countries in Europe, I have been researching SOS-Kinderdorf International. All the evidence would point in the direction of yours being a very well organized and diversified Organization, whose donors are some of the most respected figures and companies in the world, which is dedicated to a high purpose.

 

The information that I am receiving, and have been receiving for some years, about "Kfar Neradim" in the town of Arad is all the more inscrutable. I will herein provide an overview of what I know about "Neradim", having been a resident of Arad for ten years, and what is reported to me today and I will leave it to your Organization to determine how and why this is occurring and remedy the situation.

 

I lived at the very end of Chen Street in Arad for ten years. The school that the children from Neradim attended is about 300 meters from where I lived. During that time, I distinctly recall an atmosphere of 'Stay Away!' surrounding "Neradim". It was not an atmosphere of protection of children, but rather something ominous. The resident children of the town of Arad used to say: "The reason that they have peacocks in "Neradim" is so that no one will hear the screams of the children." At the time, I was a young Mother and was not socially involved and so, I pushed this rather vague, popular feeling about "Neradim" to the back of my mind.

 

Recently, I have been receiving reports about "Neradim" that are anything but vague. They are so disturbing that I am beholden to report them and request an urgent inquiry.

 

I write you with the knowledge and permission of the parties mentioned herein. They do not communicate well enough in English to be able to provide this information themselves.

 

First, In August, 2008, "Neradim" was the subject of a most distressing televised news report on the "Mabat LaChadashot" (A Look at the News) program of Israeli Channel 1. The program discusses the fact that the child "L" says that they are not only hit by the house mother and counselors and that there is violence among the children, but far more distressing, is the report of the child that she was forced to witness sex being performed openly by the children interred in "Neradim" and that they were being filmed.

 

I've translated the script of the news clip and video into English below. This is the original news clip and video in Hebrew, for verification of my translation:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p1dtW0gLfNE&feature=channel_page

 

"MY FAMILY THOUGHTS

  August 2008, Channel 1, "A Look at the News"

An 8-year-old girl was kidnapped from her parent by Social Services in the Emek Chefer area.

 The Welfare authorities falsely accused the Mother of "hitting" her Daughter to the purpose of having an excuse to remove her from her home.

 Why do Child Protection Officers make up stories and take children out of their homes?

 The answer is at the end of the video clip.

  Male Newscaster: What is going on in a boarding school in the South of the country? A child claims that she was forced to witness sexual activity while it was being filmed. The Welfare authorities claim this is false testimony on the part of the parents who want the child returned home.

  Mother: They put a restraining order on me. I'm going to turn to the police in Be'er Sheva.

   Female Newscaster voice-over:  It's hard to know which version to believe. The parents claim that the child is undergoing abuse and the Welfare authorities claim this is a fabrication on the part of interested parties.

 Sign Reads:

DISTRICT COURT

(in Be'er Sheva)

  Mother: The girl is 9-years-old. She is coming home with stories of sexual activity and sexual relations involving a child of 8-years-old which is filmed and distributed.

  Voice over: What do you have to say about the boarding school?

 Girl: They have sex together

 and they do things that aren't nice.

and they hit here.

 Voiceover: They also hit?

Girl: Yes, the house mothers, the counselors, the children.

Voiceover: The story sounds horrendous but the Welfare authorities deny it emphatically. They say that the family is problematic. They just made it up to get their child back. Those who will determine who is right are the District Court in Be'er Sheva, who will consider the matter tomorrow.

   Mother: We tried to visit her and they wouldn't let us in. The children are in the boarding school month after month and no one checks what's happening to them.

  Voiceover: The family served a Complaint with the police asking them to investigate the Manager of the boarding school.

 Child: It's not fun to be here.

 I don't want to be in a boarding school.

 Every child has only two parents.

  Father: Every day that she spends in the boarding school is a pity. She's going lost there.

 Voiceover: If the story is true, it's a very severe case. But only the authorities can reveal the truth.

This child was taken out of her family home by force, and against her will, by Social Workers.

 During the course of a few months she was shifted around 4 boarding schools throughout the country.

   Welfare Officer Michal Milstein even hit the girl

 and pushed her in sight of security personnel in the Court house in Netanya.

   Michal Milstein is Judge Shmuel Bukovsky's wife.

   That judge put children up for adoption from normative families.

   Notice how a Family Court Judge who is married to a Social Worker continues in his capacity and the Ombudsman does not open his mouth.

   The child is held today as a hostage in the "Neradim" institution in Arad, managed by Matti Rose.

 The institution is surrounded by cameras that face outward, in the direction of those who might see into the institution

 and warn the public not to photograph this closed institution.

  So, why do Social Services make up fictitious stories about parents in order to remove children from the home?

  A social worker is remunerated for every file that s/he opens at the Welfare authorities.

  There are designated quotas of children to be removed from the home that the Child Protection Officers must fulfill.

Social Workers actually invent statistics, which are the basis of the according budgets they receive.

  The Ministry of Welfare is even beholden to these orphanages to fulfill the quotas so that they, in turn, can fulfill the bids they put out to contractors.

  Some 5% of Israeli children live outside their homes.

  while the world average is 0.5%.

 10 times that of the Western World!

 We are hopeful that this time the Court will do justice  

 and, in contradistinction to other judges, won't be just the rubber stamp of Social Services.

   and will return the child L. home.

  FAMILY THOUGHTS"

  Let it be said that L's Mother was never charged with hitting her Daughter, the excuse of the Social Workers to remove L from her home. Most parents whose children are placed in institutions in Israel are never charged with the violence they're accused of, because the charges are fabricated.

 The District Court Judge in Be'er Sheva subsequently ordered an investigation of "Kfar Neradim". The order goes summarily ignored.

 

L. has, for some time now, been incontinent. She is a perfectly normal child. Yet she has lost control of her bladder and bowels. She says that there are other children in "Neradim" who likewise smell of urine at times.

 

A taped conversation between L and her mother reveals a loving relationship. The child desperately wants to go home. This remains true despite the fact that L has been in "Neradim" for two years and has not been allowed to see her parents for some thirteen months. When that phone call was taped they hadn't seen one another in 11 months. Their only contact is supervised minutes-long phone calls once a month.

 

L was subjected to a psychiatric evaluation without her parents' approval.

 

Like most children in institutions in Israel, she was prescribed medication. It should be noted that Israel routinely uses psychotropic drugs like Clotiapin (marketed here as Entumin®), on minors. These drugs are not approved by the US FDA for use in humans under the age of eighteen. Ritalin is handed out like candy.

 

L's Mother has a tape of the Director of "Neradim", Matti Rose, threatening her after she went on television. The term that he uses for what he can do to her in Hebrew can mean both destroy someone in various ways and it can even mean kill.

 

L's Mother is also in possession of a number of Court documents that lend credence to her claims, but nothing is done.

 

L reports that most of the children at "Neradim" want very much to leave that place.

 

As you can see in the video clip, L's Mother is a religious woman. She is most distressed by the fact that the girls at "Neradim", many of whom are just pubescent,  routinely wear little tank tops and short shorts that do not entirely cover their posteriors.

 

In addition to what this woman claims: I am very closely associated with someone who spent much of her childhood in various institutions. Though she was not in "Kfar Neradim", she knows a number of young adults who were there as children. She has told me that they all say the same thing about "Neradim". The line they repeat is: "You know what goes on in "Neradim". When she tells them that she does not know what goes on in "Neradim", they refuse to answer.

 

Also, as I wrote above: some of the residents of the town of Arad who lived close to "Neradim" also got the impression that something is wrong there, as did some of the children who went to school with children from "Neradim".

 

In a separate e-mail I will send you a Report, Complaint and Petition that I sent to the UN and various personages in EU. It is to the purpose of giving you background so that you may understand in what context what is transpiring at "Neradim" is being tolerated by the Israeli authorities.

 

I am entirely certain that you will understand this matter as seriously as do concerned individuals in Israel, as well as in various countries in Europe, who have been made aware of this matter and will see to it that the goings on in "Neradim" are investigated immediately and, if the allegations of the Mother prove true, see to it that the perpetrators are swiftly brought to justice.

 

Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan, Tzfat, Israel

 

II. FIRST RESPONSE FROM SOS KINDERDORF INTERNATIONAL

 

July 31, 2009

 

Friday, July 31, 2009 3:25 PM

From: "Sandbrook Jeremy" <Jeremy.Sandbrook@sos-kd.org>View contact detailsTo: "'dordot2001@yahoo.com'" <dordot2001@yahoo.com>Cc: "'Ahituv'" <ahituv@sosisr.co.il>, "Mwangi Roseanne" <Roseanne.Mwangi@sos-kd.org>Dear Ms Bell-Dotan,

 

On behalf of President Kutin, I would like to acknowledge receipt of your e-mails of 28 July 2009, re the allegations of potential child abuse at SOS Children’s Village Arad Neradim.  Please rest assured that we take all forms of child abuse extremely seriously, and - without exception – respond to all allegations made according to their gravity.  In this context, I have forwarded your e-mails to the National Director for SOS Children’s Villages Israel, who holds overall authority of all of our operations in Israel (including SOS Arad Neradim), and am awaiting his response.

 

As soon as I have more information on this matter I will be on touch with you.  In the meantime, should you have any concerns or queries on this, please do not hesitate in contacting me further.

 

Kind Regards

Jeremy Sandbrook

 

_______________________________

Mr Jeremy Sandbrook

Deputy Continental Director

Continental Office W.Europe & N.America

SOS-Kinderdorf International

Hermann-Gmeiner-Strasse 51

A - 6010 Innsbruck, Austria

Tel. +43/512/3310-5382

jeremy.sandbrook@sos-kd.org

 

III. MY FIRST RESPONSE TO MR. SANDBROOK'S FIRST RESPONSE

 

Friday, July 31, 2009 5:04 PM

From: "Doreen Dotan" <dordot2001@yahoo.com>View contact detailsTo: "Sandbrook Jeremy" <Jeremy.Sandbrook@sos-kd.org>Cc: "'Ahituv'" <ahituv@sosisr.co.il>, "Mwangi Roseanne" <Roseanne.Mwangi@sos-kd.org>Dear Mr. Sandbrook:

 

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for this prompt response.

 

There are parents awaiting assistance on baited breath, who are suffering the emotional tortures of the damned, who are helpless to save their children, because they themselves have been accused, some rightly, some wrongly, of child abuse that does not begin to approach the level of abuse they are convinced their children are undergoing in "Neradim".

 

I am sending this message to those to whom you sent a Cc because I am not afraid to say this to anyone's face: Do not trust *anyone* who is working within the Israeli system. Even if they are basically well-meaning people, they are working in a system so crooked and so corrupt, at all levels, that they cannot possibly maintain the moral standards necessary to rehabilitate children at risk. In order to keep working within the Israeli system, and with Israeli colleagues; it is well-nigh impossible that they have not had to compromise the requisite standards of child care.

 

Please do not rely solely on your representatives in Israel to conduct the entire investigation.  Supervision of the investigation from outside Israel is absolutely essential. If I thought for one single, solitary moment that this matter could remain "just amongst us Israelis"; I would not have turned to SOS in Austria and Britain.

 

Yours truly,

Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan, Tzfat, Israel

 

 

IV. MR. SANDBROOK'S SECOND RESPONSE TO ME

 

RE: Re Allegations of Suspected Child Abuse - SOS CV Arad NeradimFriday, August 7, 2009 10:31 AM

From: "Sandbrook Jeremy" <Jeremy.Sandbrook@sos-kd.org>View contact detailsTo: "'dordot2001@yahoo.com'" <dordot2001@yahoo.com>Cc: "Voelker Peter" <Peter.Voelker@sos-kd.org>, "'Ahituv'" <ahituv@sosisr.co.il>, "y_agassi@netvision.net.il" <y_agassi@netvision.net.il>, "Mwangi Roseanne" <Roseanne.Mwangi@sos-kd.org>Message contains attachmentsResponse to allegations of Ms. Bell-Dotan-August 2009.doc (547KB)Dear Ms Bell-Dotan,

 

Further to my e-mail of 31 July, please find attached the detailed response from SOS Children’s Villages Israel, regarding the allegations of child abuse alleged to have taken place at SOS Children’s Village Arad Neradim.  In addition to the report itself, I have also had a number of conversations with Mr Ahituv Gershinsky the National Director responsible for Israel to clarify various issues raised. 

 

As an organisation, allegations such as these are taken extremely seriously, with clear processes and procedures put in place as to how they should be dealt with.  In this case, I am pleased to confirm that the alleged allegations were investigated in accordance with the SOS Child Protection Policy, and that no evidence was found to substantiate them. Notwithstanding the comments made in your e-mail regarding the various child protection services within Israel itself - a matter which is not within my mandate to comment on - in the annual survey undertaken by the Ministry of Social Welfare, the Children from Arad Neradim gave the village a high rating of satisfaction.

 

On this basis, SOS-Kinderdorf International is satisfied that the matter has been appropriately managed and investigated, and as such no further action is warranted by us.  That being said, should you have any additional information supporting your claims, I would ask that you forward it direct to Mr Gershinsky, who will assess it further.  His contact details are as follows:

 

Mr. Ahituv Gershinsky

National Director

Israeli Society for SOS Children's Villages

Krinizy Street 112/21

Ramat Gan 52601

Tel Aviv

Israel

Tel +972/3/613 2438

Fax +972/3/575 4931

e-mail: info@sosisr.co.il

 

For sake of good order, Mr Kutin, the President of SOS-Kinderdorf International has also been advised of the outcome of this matter.

 

I hope that the above response addresses the concerns raised by you. If further details are required, I am sure that Mr Gershinsky would only be to happy to provide them to you, or even arrange a face-to-face meeting if need be.  Once again thank you for bringing this to our attention. Should you feel that I can be of any more assistance, please do not hesitate in contacting me further-

 

Kind Regards

Jeremy Sandbrook

 

 

_______________________________

Mr Jeremy Sandbrook

Deputy Continental Director

Continental Office W.Europe & N.America

SOS-Kinderdorf International

Hermann-Gmeiner-Strasse 51

A - 6010 Innsbruck, Austria

Tel. +43/512/3310-5382

jeremy.sandbrook@sos-kd.org

 

V. MR. AHITUV GERSHINSKY'S ATTACHED REPLY TO MY URGENT REQUEST FOR INVESTIGATION OF "NERADIM" IN ARAD, ISRAEL

 

 

Attachment:

 

 

                     Israeli Society for SOS Children`s Villages

Board of Directors                                                       Non-Profit Association, Society No. 3 –58-003-096                                                                         Member of  SOS Kinderdorf International , Vienna , Austria

Agassi Yitzhak-Chairman                                            

Eshel Aharon                     

  Dr. Ish-Shalom Alexander

  Beginski Bella

  Zaga Moshe 

  Nehamma Shimon

  Segev Shlomo

  Voelker Peter

 

  Honorary Presidents

  Jacob Markovitz

  Yehudith Huebner

 

   Treasurer

   Acct. Hornstein Eitan

 

                                                                                                          August 4, 2009

 

Mr. Jeremy Sandbrook

Deputy Continental Director

Continental Office W.Europe & N. America

SOS-Kinderdorf International

Hermann Gmeiner Strasse 51

A – 6010 Innsbruck, Austria

 

Dear Mr. Sandbrook,

 

Allow me to thank you for the opportunity to respond to the disturbing communications received regarding CV Neradim,

from Ms. Bell-Dotan, who is unknown to us nationally and locally. I want to assure you that this response is being sent with the full support of my Board of Directors and Chairman.

 

We are well aware of a concerted campaign that has been going on for over a year, to sully the name of CV Neradim, and SOS Israel by persons who are motivated by their own personal pain and anger over their dealings with the welfare authorities here in Israel. This campaign began with the entrance of a little girl (the "L" mentioned in the complaint) into our emergency shelter unit in our village after she had been removed from 4 previous out of family settings. Her referral was carried out through regular channels by the welfare authorities under court order, but the request was accompanied with a warning regarding her biological mother and the campaigns she had launched against the previous settings which brought to her removal from all of them. Nonetheless we accepted her with open arms.

 

Almost immediately  after her arrival, the attacks began, with small demonstrations, phone calls to the village, to the NO and to the chairman regarding the "crime" committed by accepting her into our care and other forms of harassment. With the assistance of a Mr. Ben-Yissacher, who ran a website called "The Movement to protect the children of Israel" the internet began to be filled with hearsay, invented allegations and outright lies regarding the so termed "Concentration Camp Neradim". The stories were an attempt to destroy the good name of our staff, our village director and eventually our organization. Mr. Ben-Yissacher described himself as a victim of the welfare system and claims to be the savior who will tear it down. We have sought legal and professional internet advice regarding the best route of action to take. As much of the campaign is being conducted in cyberspace, we are aware of the expenses and efforts that would need to be invested without any guarantee that the courts here in Israel or worldwide (where his blogs originate) would cooperate.

 

Our chairman was in contact with the Minister of Social Welfare in August 2008 regarding this campaign and its effect on the village staff and children. He contacted the Chief of Special investigations and the Director of the Southern District of the Israeli Police as well. In September 2008 he wrote to the Assistant Attorney General in regards to this campaign. All these letters are on record (in Hebrew) here in the NO. The general response was that this issue is in the realm of civil suits and not criminal. We have decided to ignore his attacks rather than respond and "fuel the fire". At the same time we are working on updating our local website to help counteract his campaign.

 

In August 2008, the mother of "L" petitioned the Beer Sheba District Court with a demand to rescind the order issued by the Ashdod Family Court to remove "L" from her biological family and allow her to be placed at the discretion of the Child Welfare Officer, in CV Neradim. Her complaints then centered around two issues: acts of violence towards "L" and the allegation of sexual activity that she had "witnessed".  The judge heard statements from the legal counsel of the Social Welfare Ministry and from the court appointed guardian of "L" after Mr. Ben Yissacher was removed from the court and the mother stormed out. The judge concluded that there were no grounds for taking any action regarding the previously issued order or for removing "L" from CV Neradim. The next day Mr. Ben-Yissacher attacked the judge on his website and suggested that she did not remove "L" from our village, as perhaps in her home sexual activity between children was acceptable. During 2009 Mr. Ben Yissacher was convicted in court of libel against a civil servant (the National Child Welfare Officer) and fined 200,000 NIS. Our attempts to join in that proceeding were rebuffed as our staff members are not civil servants in the legal sense. It is clear that he is not capable of paying the fine and his behavior since has shown that he does not intend to curb his activities.

 

Regarding the allegations put forth in Ms. Bell - Dotan's two letters of complaint, let me set the record straight. CV Neradim does not accept violent behavior from any of the children nor staff. In spite of this, there are cases of inappropriate behavior amongst the children and as  the village is home for all the children, we see such behavior as demanding treatment and educational responses. We will not give up on any of our children without making supreme efforts to change and improve their behavior. As per the allegation regarding sexual activity our policy is clear. Sexual activity of children in the village is not permissible and certainly not condoned.  As per the report on Israel television which was translated in her letter, I must correct the misrepresentation. What she sent to you was a translation of the internet version of the TV report (which was aired on Israel television the night before the appearance in Beer Sheba court) with all the additions of Mr. Ben-Yissacher's website. None of the parts that are from "Voice over" were part of the original TV report. In any event, all these "allegations" were summarily dismissed by the legal and welfare authorities. As per the cameras and locked gate, since the opening of the emergency shelter unit on the village campus, we are required by the Social Welfare Ministry to protect the children on the campus from intruders, to the best of our ability. Our children attend communal activities and host school mates from the community. A football school which includes children from the city takes place in the village. We are a vital part of the city of Arad and proud citizens and contributors to the community.

 

As per the allegations in her letter to the UN and her comments regarding the lack of trustworthiness of the staff of SOS Israel in the villages and the NO, I see no reason to respond. I believe that we do our best for the sake of our children and we are licensed, supervised and subsidized by the Social Welfare Ministry. All that speaks for itself.

 

I thank you for the opportunity to set the record straight.

 

I am at your service should there be any need for further information.

 

 

Sincerely Yours,

 

Ahituv Gershinsky

National Director

 

 

VI. MY REQUEST THAT MR. GERSHINSKY PRODUCE WHAT HE CONSIDERS TO BE THE ORIGINAL VERSION OF THE TELEVISION BROADCAST CONCERNING "NERADIM", IN ARAD, ISRAEL

 

Friday, August 7, 2009 5:21 PM

From: "Doreen Dotan" <dordot2001@yahoo.com>View contact detailsTo: "Sandbrook Jeremy" <Jeremy.Sandbrook@sos-kd.org>Cc: "Voelker Peter" <Peter.Voelker@sos-kd.org>, "'Ahituv'" <ahituv@sosisr.co.il>, "y_agassi@netvision.net.il" <y_agassi@netvision.net.il>, "Mwangi Roseanne" <Roseanne.Mwangi@sos-kd.org>Dear Mr. Sandbrook:

 

Mr. Gershinsky wrote:

 

"As per the report on Israel television which was translated in her letter, I must correct the misrepresentation. What she sent to you was a translation of the internet version of the TV report (which was aired on Israel television the night before the appearance in Beer Sheba court) with all the additions of Mr. Ben-Yissacher's website. None of the parts that are from "Voice over" were part of the original TV report."

 

Please ask Mr. Gershinky to be so kind as to provide me with the orginal broadcast so that I might compare the version as it appears on the internet with what he claims is a divergent original script.

 

Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan, Tzfat, Israel

DoreenDotan@gmail.com