Sharia court in Israel places Jewish girl in Arab custody

Anti-assimilation group challenges decision to grant full custody of Israeli Jewish girl to her Arab grandmother, despite mother's protests.

David Rosenberg ,

Courtesy of Yad L'Achim

An anti-assimilation group in Israel says it has challenged a decision issued by a state Islamic court in Israel which awarded full custody of a Jewish girl to her Arab grandmother, despite the objections of the girl’s mother.

According to the Yad L'Achim organization – which works to counter efforts to missionize Jews in Israel and to combat assimilation – a state Sharia court which serves Israel’s Muslim minority population awarded custody of a two-year-old Israeli girl, named Yasmin, to her Arab grandmother.

Eight years ago, Yad L’Achim officials say, the girl’s grandmother moved to Israel, along with her three children, after the head of the household had passed away.

The family moved to a mixed city with a significant Arab population. The family had a difficult time adjusting, and found itself in dire financial straits. One of the three children soon dropped out of school, and eventually married a local Arab man.

Two years ago, the young woman, gave birth to a daughter, Yasmin, who was raised at first by her Jewish grandmother.

After her Jewish grandmother died, however, the young woman’s Arab husband urged her to let his mother care for Yasmin. The young woman agreed, and her mother-in-law cared for Yasmin while she could recover from the loss of her mother.

Yasmin’s father was arrested and placed in prison shortly thereafter for property crimes, at which point his mother – Yasmin’s Arab grandmother – turned to a Sharia court to demand she be awarded full custody of Yasmin.

The court accepted the Arab grandmother’s request, and passed the case on to the social welfare ministry – all without first gaining the permission of Yasmin’s mother – a violation of family law, Yad L’Achim claims.

The ministry accepted the Sharia court’s recommendation to grant custody, and awarded full custody to Yasmin’s Arab grandmother for half a year.

At the end of the six-month period, the Sharia court reached out to the social welfare ministry again, which extended the grandmother’s custody of Yasmin for another six months, and issued a formal recommendation to award her with permanent custody.

The Sharia court adopted the recommendation, and Yasmin was placed in her grandmother's custody permanently.

At the end of the additional half a year, during which time Yasmin’s mother left her Arab husband and sought to recover custody of her daughter, whom she wished to raise in a Jewish household.

She asked her mother-in-law to return Yasmin to her, but was presented with an official document signed by the Sharia court stating that the child was to remain with her Arab grandmother until she was fully grown.

Yasmin’s mother then turned to Yad L’Achim for assistance in recovering custody of her daughter. Lawyers for the group filed a petition in family court requesting that the Sharia court’s decision be overturned, claiming that the ruling had been made without properly consulting Yasmin’s mother.

"We won't rest until the baby is returned to the hands of her Jewish mother,” Yad L’Achim said in a statement. “It is heartbreaking to see a child cry bitterly every time her mother has to return her to her grandmother after one of their infrequent visits together."

"If necessary, we will go to the Supreme Court, and even bring the masses out into the street to protest against the stealing of a Jewish child from her mother."