Retired Israeli Judge Spreads Controversy in Australia
by Sol Havivi
Tel Aviv, ISRAEL – 18 March 2013. Public outcry in Israel led to Philip Marcus’ early retirement last year. Marcus’ controversial views came to light when he denied custody to a gay father because he claimed his court had no way of knowing whether this homosexual father was a pedophile. That father had Marcus’ ruling overturned on appeal. The backlash over this case forced then-Judge Marcus into early retirement.
Philip Marcus’ troubles did not end there. A group of Israeli parents brought his rulings to a committee hearing at the United Nations and successfully proved the family court system which Marcus helped establish in Israel violates international human rights laws. A lawsuit pending in Manhattan, NY cites Philip Marcus’ rulings to show systematic torture of divorced fathers in Israel.
The 6th World Congress on Family Law and Children’s Rights is changing Philip Marcus’ luck in Sydney, Australia today. At 13:30 local time today he will present his paper on “Children’s Rights”. This presentation also gives him the opportunity to share views from his thesis published in 2007; which argues taking away rights from citizens in court and replacing those rights with obligations. The World Congress on Family Law and Children’s Rights gathers government officials, family law practitioners, jurists and other decision-makers from all over the world to influence changes in family laws internationally.
“This is a very scary development,” says Yehudah Mizrachi, a spokesman of the Coalition for Children and the Family in Israel. “Inviting Philip Marcus from Israel to help formulate laws governing children’s rights is like inviting Bashar al-Assad from Syria to help formulate international human rights laws. It makes no sense.”
Documents from the Coalition for Children and the Family assert that, as judge, Philip Marcus was “drunk on his own power”. These documents include data showing the family court system he created performed poorly on children’s rights compared to other countries in the OECD. One specific example was a Knesset hearing in which former Knesset Member Otniel Schneller pointed out that the supervised visitation rate in Israel is six times higher than anywhere else in the world. “Are we really such a violent society that we endanger our children six times more than anywhere else in the developed world?” KM Schneller asks.
The lawsuit pending in New York also references this hearing and points out that this system drains nearly $10 billion from the state budget plus over $1 billion in donations. The complaint compares this budget to New York’s whose population is three times larger than Israel; yet operates successfully on 16% of this budget. One of the Plaintiffs in this lawsuit recounts his experience in the court documents, “[Philip Marcus] told me in open court he did not care if I lived or died.” The organizing committee of the World Congress on Family Law and Children’s Rights has not responded to requests for an interview explaining their reason for selecting Philip Marcus to present his paper on children’s rights.