March 15, 2013
Via Email & UPS
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
NW Washington, DC 20500
RE: Need your help in retrieving my
abducted daughter, a U.S. Citizen from Israel.
Dear Mr. President Obama,
I am appealing to you both as President of the United States and a devoted father to help me with a painful and awkward situation involving the United States and Israel.
As a parent, I have always been impressed by your ability to absolutely prioritize your relationship with Michelle and your daughters, Malia and Sasha, showing the world that you can preserve family values in the White House without compromise despite your exhausting schedule and wide-ranging opportunity. I also share your vision as described in your open letter to your daughters in Parade Magazine where you said you wanted them “to grow up in a world with no limits on your dreams and no achievements beyond your reach.” I fervently wish to do the same for my daughter, but owing to Israel’s refusal to conform to a Court Order in the United States demanding her return, I will need your help. It is now 1075 days since my daughter was kidnapped.
I am aware, as are many Americans, of your forthcoming trip to Israel on March 20th. It is my fervent hope that you will consider speaking to Prime Minister Netanyahu about my case. I believe that my case has broad implications for other parents in my situation and I believe your actions in my case would demonstrate the strength of your commitment to the citizens of the United States. So, in effect, one facet of your trip would be, as President of the United States, to help bring back a kidnapped U.S. citizen to her own country.
Please allow me to explain.
In April of 2010, my daughter, Ofir Ben-Haim, a United States citizen, was unlawfully removed from the US to Israel, as determined by both Israeli and New Jersey State Superior courts. This letter is written as a desperate request for your intervention due to the fact that my daughter is being retained by the State of Israel in violation of The Hague Convention.
Every court that has reviewed this case has determined Ofir was wrongly abducted to Israel. On May 17, 2011, the Israeli Supreme Court found Ofir was wrongly abducted to Israel. Nonetheless, one judge found I had acquiesced to the abduction and one judge found I consented to the decision, while a third judge found there was no acquiescence or consent. Of course, in reality, I gave no such consent.
Following the Supreme Court’s decision Ms. Lesley Kaufman, Senior Deputy of the Israeli Attorney General from the Dep. of Int’l Affairs in State Attorney’s Office, on behalf of the Israeli Central Authority, issued a stern letter to the Israeli Supreme Court stating the Israeli Supreme court’s ruling [that my daughter would stay in Israel] contradicts the previous law determined by the Supreme Court and international law regarding international abduction of children according to Hague Convention Act. On August 25th 2011, New Jersey Superior Court Judge – Hon. Judge Bonnie Mizdol, determined the Israeli Supreme Court acted against the Hague Convention and therefore The New Jersey Superior Court cannot afford comity to the decision of the Israeli court. In addition, Hon. Judge Bonnie Mizdol determined that:
I cannot afford comity to the decisions made by Israeli court. Full faith and credit is to be accorded to participants of the Hague Convention provided that the underlying decision was properly made. The rule of comity is grounded in the policy of avoiding conflicts. However, it is only afforded if the underlying issue was decided correctly.
I cannot agree with the final determination of the Israeli court. I find that the Hague application. I find, as did every other judge who has entertained this application, found that New Jersey us the habitual residence of the child. And I find that child must be returned to New Jersey. The Israeli court failed to follow the provisions established within the Hague. I find that the decisions were not based in the facts and that they have exceeded their boundaries. And as such,
I will not accept that decision. I will not afford it comity. And I am going to order that the child be returned to the state of New Jersey. I am going to order that that be done not later than September 10th 2011.
In accordance with Hague Convention provisions, the authorized court, which has jurisdiction to determine the custody award regarding my daughter, is the court of the country the child was abducted from. Since the Israeli court ruled that my wife unlawfully removed the child from her habitual residence in the United States in violation of Hague Convention Law, the Family Court of the State of New Jersey has the sole jurisdiction to discuss this custody issue and any other matters regarding my daughter. However, notwithstanding their ruling, the Israeli courts are allowing my wife to ignore the warrants and rulings issued by the New Jersey Superior Court.
Unfortunately, in spite of the above opinions and determinations, the state of Israel is unwilling to cooperate and follow The Convention provisions. Since this case has reached the highest level of Israeli authority, it has become beyond my capacity to effectively litigate and reached a dead end. Therefore, it is clear that only diplomatic intervention will help move this case forward in order to resolve it and finally let me reunite with my beloved daughter, Ofir.
Owing to the fact I have not been able to see my daughter since she was seven months old, I have missed her birthdays, her first steps, her first words, her first days in nursery school. Owing to my illegal detention in Israel for four months and the defamation permitted against me by the Rabbinical Courts in Israel, which surfaced in my hometown, I lost my business and have had to rebuild my life and career under conditions involving enormous stress and daily anguish. Yet, despite this situation, I have kept fighting, using all the resources I have to bring back my daughter. As a father to a child, with a strong commitment and parental desire to be with my beautiful daughter, I thank you for your assistance in this matter. Please feel free to contact me at any time for any further information or whether I can be of any assistance in this case.
Yours sincerely and gratefully,
Sharon S. Ben Haim
Cc: Daniel B. Shaprio (Ambassador of the US to Israel)
Rami Zahr (National Center for Missing & Exploited Children)