To my dear daughter Ofir, 895 days no Aba

To my dear daughter Ofir,

Today you celebrate your third birthday. I wish you will grow up in tranquility and comfort. May God keep you safe and protect you. Aba loves you very much, with endless love, and as I promised you, I will not rest until justice comes forth and all those responsible for legitimizing your abduction are brought to justice.

The day you were born was the happiest day of my life. It saddens me greatly that our life together was prevented. 895 days have passed since the day that your mother took the law into her own hands and abducted you, with the assistance and approval of the Supreme Court of the State of Israel. 

You are already 3 years old and it’s hard for me to imagine what you look like, surely beautiful and wonderful. I am prevented contact with you since you were 7 months old. Although court sessions procedures determined without any doubt that your place of residence is here in the USA, you are still in Israel, a country in which crime pays off and everything is permitted. 

Ofir, days pass and you grow up… Not a day passes by without you being on my mind – What are you doing now? How do you eat? Just to see you asleep… No doubt that an important part of your life has passed without your Aba, whose only crime not wanting to live in Israel. I missed your first step, I did not get to hear the first word that came out of your mouth; I also missed your first and second birthdays, and was prevented from seeing you going to nursery schoolfor the first time. 

 Ofir, I remember the day I arrived in Israel to testify in court about your abduction, and the minute after the trial, when the judge decided that we will meet in the park – I remember very well my heart beating, feeling like my heart would stop at any instant. But from then and there I fought for four months for any second of being with you. Despite all the disruptions, not for a moment did I give up being able to be near you, to smell you, to breathe you in. And of course to be granted with your wonderful smile and hugs and kisses which you would give me the moment I came to take you from the nursery school and you would run and dance with happiness. Although our meetings were short – only one hour – it gave me strength to continue.

I want to share with you, my dear daughter, that day of the session in the Supreme Court in Jerusalem, the day when a judge in Israel allowed for your abduction. This was supposed to be a happy ending… after two lower courts in Israel have already decided that your place of residence was in the USA and that you must be returned to your father. Then came that day when two judges in Israel acted in a most brutal manner, and tried to frighten me that I am “only the father”, that I should just go on with my life and return to the USA without you. But I did not surrender and give up – not for an instant. They kept me in Israel against my will with no exit court orders, all my businesses were ruined, but the money did not interest me at all; This only strengthened me that I do not want you to grow up in a country which has lost all respect for human dignity, a place where everything is permitted, a corrupt state which allows trampling all possible laws.  

That Supreme Court session was charged with emotions. Your father and your aunt who was with me, we looked at each other and the result was clear – they intend to legitimize your mother’s crime as a justified act. I had no alternative but to gather my last strength, and I reached the conclusion that if I would not arrange for leaving Israel immediately, I would sink in that rotten system where there is no justice and no judge. I remember the entire trip from Jerusalem back to your nursery school in order to pick you up. This was the last time that we’ve met. Those were the last three hours which you had with your father. We didn’t know where our path would take us from there, and the next morning I was back in the USA.

Aba did not give up on you, and hired another lawyer, one of the very best. A request for an appeal was made to the Supreme Court. The deputy chief justice asked the opinion of the Attorney General of the government. The Attorney General’s support of the requested appeal was total and absolute; including saying that if the additional hearing did not take place – the Ben-Haim case could become an international precedent for the State of Israel. Despite this, the request was denied. 

Meanwhile, court procedures took place in the USA, as your mother requested. On Aug. 25 2011, New Jersey Superior Court Judge Bonnie Mizdol determined that you must be returned immediately to the USA, no later than Sep. 10 2011 – which happened to be your second birthday. But nothing happened. At that time our telephony video conversations by Skype, which we had occasionally, according to your mother’s mood swings, have ended one clear day, as your mother refused to allow us to see each other even on Skype.

After all this, your mother still ignored the American court orders against her and the international law. So then a grand jury convicted your mother, and soon there will be an extradition order against her. Then we will again examine how the Israeli authorities respond to an official request of the United States of America.

Ofir, apparently, the prediction made by the Attorney General was correct. After so much time, still you are going to set an international precedent. Now I want to tell you a little about what happened to me since the day I returned to the USA, about what your father does: I make every effort for you to return to your habitual residence. There is not a lawyer or expert on the Geneva Treaty (the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction) who I did not approach. They are all in agreement – Justice Arbel transgressed the international convention for the return of abducted children. At that supreme court session, the justices looked at your father as if he was nothing of significance and belittled him, but your father gathered up the fragments of his strength and went on a campaign to bring you home (http://bringofirhome.org).

Journalists made news reports about you. The greatest of all these was the famous columnist, songwriter, children’s author Smadar Shir who came to your house to interview your father and to write an article – all for you, my daughter. Your father began to sit and study every possible law, to read articles and books, to invest long hours with lawyers from all over the world, until he grew to be no less than his own lawyer. The system created me. And so the day came when your father submitted to the federal court a huge suit against some of those officials who legitimized your abduction. Recently, the court handed down the decision that allows me to proceed to sue those responsible for your abduction. Soon will additional suits be made to include the prosecution of all those involved in assisting your kidnapping and for the terrible suffering which both of us have experienced since the day you were abducted – 895 days without your Aba. 

Recently, your Aba’s friends, some of whom signed affidavits for his federal court case, are being hunted down by the Israeli legal system. For example, Guy Shamir, a veteran rights activist, was arrested for more than 30 days. But all this will not break his and my struggle for justice. There is only one message to pass to all the responsible factors – you have brought it upon yourselves to be sued and prosecuted wherever in the world you go. 

Ofir, dear child of Aba’s, be strong! Soon the hour will come when you board a direct flight to the USA. And I promise you: that will be the last time our paths will part forever, and – while you grow up – only death can bring us apart. 

With endless love for you, my dear daughter, happy birthday. Aba is coming to return you…

Your Aba,

Sharon Ben-Haim

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