Israel - High Court: 13 Emmanuel mothers won't be jailed
The High Court of Justice ruled Tuesday that 13 of the 22 mothers from Emmanuel who refused to obey a court ruling in the Beit Yaakov school discrimination affair would not have to report to jail. The other women will be imprisoned after their husbands are released.
The judges wrote in their decision, "After reviewing the requests we received and listening to the parties' claims, and after further reviewing the stand of the attorney general, the National Council for the child and the chief welfare officer on juvenile matters we have decided that the mothers would be exempt from reporting to jail."
As for the other nine mothers, Judges Edmond Levy, Edna Arbel and Hanan Melcer ruled that "their arrest will be delayed until after their husbands are released from jail."
The judges also decided to discuss the petition again on Sunday and look into whether they should continue the enforcement measures against the parents who violated the High Court ruling. In light of the haredi public's conduct during last week's discussion, the judges said, the next week's discussion will be held without an audience and the only people allowed to enter the courtroom will be the parents, media representatives, the petitioners and the lawyers.
Attorney Mordechai Green, representing the parents, said that the court's decision was "disappointing and inconsiderate of the needs of the children and their families. Leaving the children without a father and mother for a month is definitely a serious blow."
Ahead of the discussion, several mothers explained to Ynet why they had failed to show up for their imprisonment last week.
"We didn't arrive on Thursday because we were home," one of them said. "We hope you too will be worthy of Heaven's name."
The mothers were accompanied to court by some 15 haredi men, including Ami Barber, one of the fathers who failed to report to jail. He was detained for questioning several days ago and released ahead of a court hearing on his matter.
"My son underwent surgery at Tel Hashomer (hospital), and I returned home during the protests and decided that we are not at such a high level of crime to have to report to prison," he said.
"I don't think my crime justifies separating from my son for two weeks. I don't know what I'm going to tell the judge. I don’t expect him to understand. There is no racism in Emmanuel. We feel what our ancestors felt 70 years ago. There is an atmosphere of persecution against an entire public among the people of Israel. Our ancestors came before the sentence and we will do what our ancestors instruct us to do."
One of the mothers, Yehudit Weinberg, said as she entered the courtroom, "It's not normal putting children's mothers in jail, but I have no problem going to jail. The court is not above the rabbis – the rabbis are above the law.
"On Thursday things were very difficult for us and we had to care for our other children, so we didn't report to jail. In any case, we won't agree to unite the (Ashkenazi and Sephardic) classes."
Another mother, Aliza Lang, added: "We don't want and have no impulse to go to jail in the first place, but if there's no choice – we'll go. We are acting according to our rabbis' opinions."
Rabbi Avraham Leizerson, chairman of the independent Orthodox education center, said as he entered the courtroom: "The public doesn't know what is happening with the mothers. The fathers are behind bars. We pray and have prayed, and all of Israel's children begin their studies this morning with a prayer to the God of Israel to spare and return the mothers to their 300 children. They are in a very difficult emotional state and this is our hope."
Yoav Lalum, who filed the petition, said: "Today we are entering a very serious discussion, as far as we are concerned. There are women and mothers here who the court may decide to send to jail today.
"I call once again on the haredi public's leadership to appoint a committee of rabbis to discuss all the problems in our sector. I am not afraid and have no fear for my life. I am doing what the rabbis are saying and have no regrets."
The panel of three judges decided Sunday to postpone the discussion and hold it in the presence of the parties and their lawyers. The State Prosecutor's Office does not object to the mothers' request not to jail them.
After consulting the Social Affairs Ministry, the State decided that the 22 mothers should remain outside the prison for the sake of their children, particularly after the fathers' arrest.
The petitioners themselves support the mothers' request not to be jailed, and have even asked the court to release the fathers as well.
The parents' lawyer, Attorney Mordechai Green, told Ynet on Monday evening: "I hope the court will use the tools it has, accept the opinions voiced by the professional elements, the Ministry of Social Affairs, the National Council for the Child and welfare officials, release the mothers and prevent a new catastrophe."