A representative of a group that advocates for parental equality in divorce has pulled out of a militant feminist conference that will be held Tuesday at Bar Ilan University's Rackman Center.
The representative, Ruthy Daniel, is an activist in "Horut Shava" (Equal Parenting), a group that advocates abolition of the Tender Years Clause that gives women automatic custody over children under six in divorce. In a letter to Rackman Center head Dr. Ruth Halperin-Kadari, she cited concern that she was being used as a "fig leaf" to grant legitimacy to a conference that she sees as biased.
Daniel represented Horut Shava in the Schnitt Committee, a government-appointed committee that deliberated for almost seven years about possible alternatives to the Tender Years Clause. The committee's recommendations were handed in to the Justice Minister this week. They call for the abolition of the Tender Years Clause and for its replacement with an approach that replaces the word "custody" with the term "parental arrangements" and seeks to make both parents equal partners in post-divorce parenting.
Pro-family and fathers' rights activists see the conference as a ploy intended to empty the Schnitt Committee's recommendations of all content. According to a spokesman for the Family Lobby, "the militant feminist organizers are in effect telling the social workers – ignore the Schnitt Committee's recommendations." Social workers' opinions, he notes, are crucial in deciding issues of parenting arrangements in divorce proceedings.
The Family Lobby noted that one of the key speakers at the conference is Dr. Dafna Hacker, who also represented the academia in the Schnitt Committee. Hacker is a co-founder of Itach-Maaki, an extremist feminist group that is one of the New Israel Fund's flagship organizations. Among the group's controversial actions was a request to join the legal defense for Erica Orbush Fridkin, a woman who murdered her boyfriend whom she suspected of cheating on her, in 2003.
Besides the anti-male and anti-family bias of Bar Ilan's gender studies program, a radical political bent has also come under criticism, in a religious Zionist university that originally represented a sector associated with social conservatism and centrist-nationalist political views.
The spokesman for Bar Ilan University told Arutz Sheva: "The conference is academically based and all views will be heard in it. The first part is a meeting intended for social workers and will be followed by an open panel whose participants represent varied opinions regarding child custody."