The Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, a.k.a. the Istanbul Convention, is a human rights treaty against violence against women and domestic violence. It was opened for signatories on May 11, 2011, in Istanbul, Turkey. Incidentally, on March 20, 2021, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced his country’s withdrawal from the convention – so this should be a clue.
Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar is currently accelerating Israel’s accession to the Istanbul Convention. The move began several months ago, and two weeks ago, joining the convention was submitted for the Knesset’s approval, ahead of its approval by the government. The vote is probably scheduled for the end of May.
On its face, the Istanbul Convention aims at preventing violence, offering victim protection, and ending the impunity of perpetrators. But seeing as the ancient city of Troy, the birthplace of the Trojan Horse, is only about 140 miles from Istanbul, one should beware of the gift-bearing Greeks, who currently reside in Brussels.
Rabbi Yair Cartman (no relation to South Park) noted last week that the Istanbul Convention, “which is known to the public as a treaty aimed at protecting women from violence, will not protect women from violence. It will fan the flame of the war between the sexes, allow the state to penetrate even deeper into the family, and impose its war between men and women concept on intimate relationships. It will also subject Israel––most notably its immigration policy––to an international progressive agenda that seeks to undermine all national democracies.”
If you care about the Jewish future of the Jewish State, you should familiarize yourself with articles 59, 60, and 61 of the Istanbul Convention. The entire thing has been introduced to the Knesset by Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar, heaven knows why. We couldn’t figure out what would be the upside of joining the convention, other than Sa’ar hoping to attract some floating feminist votes – which he won’t. But the downside is devastating.
Article 59 – Residence status
1. Parties shall take the necessary legislative or other measures to ensure that victims whose residence status depends on that of the spouse or partner as recognized by internal law, in the event of the dissolution of the marriage or the relationship, are granted in the event of particularly difficult circumstances, upon application, an autonomous residence permit irrespective of the duration of the marriage or the relationship. The conditions relating to the granting and duration of the autonomous residence permit are established by internal law.
2. Parties shall take the necessary legislative or other measures to ensure that victims may obtain the suspension of expulsion proceedings initiated in relation to a residence status dependent on that of the spouse or partner as recognized by internal law to enable them to apply for an autonomous residence permit.
3. Parties shall issue a renewable residence permit to victims in one of the two following situations, or in both:
a. where the competent authority considers that their stay is necessary owing to their personal situation;
b. where the competent authority considers that their stay is necessary for the purpose of their cooperation with the competent authorities in investigation or criminal proceedings.
4. Parties shall take the necessary legislative or other measures to ensure that victims of forced marriage brought into another country for the purpose of the marriage and who, as a result, have lost their residence status in the country where they habitually reside, may regain this status.
Article 60 – Gender-based asylum claims
1. Parties shall take the necessary legislative or other measures to ensure that gender-based violence against women may be recognized as a form of persecution within the meaning of Article 1, A (2), of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and as a form of serious harm giving rise to complementary/subsidiary protection.
2. Parties shall ensure that a gender-sensitive interpretation is given to each of the Convention grounds and that where it is established that the persecution feared is for one or more of these grounds, applicants shall be granted refugee status according to the applicable relevant instruments.
3. Parties shall take the necessary legislative or other measures to develop gender-sensitive reception procedures and support services for asylum-seekers as well as gender guidelines and gender-sensitive asylum procedures, including refugee status determination and application for international protection.
Article 61 – Non-refoulment
1. Parties shall take the necessary legislative or other measures to respect the principle of non-refoulment in accordance with existing obligations under international law.
2. Parties shall take the necessary legislative or other measures to ensure that victims of violence against women who are in need of protection, regardless of their status or residence, shall not be returned under any circumstances to any country where their life would be at risk or where they might be subjected to torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
First, the principle of non-refoulment, under international human rights law, guarantees that no one should be returned to a country where they would face torture, cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment, and other irreparable harm. This principle applies to all migrants at all times, irrespective of migration status. It sounds noble, but in reality, it is an attempt to supersede countries’ immigration protocols and would be an effective device to surpass Israel’s Law of Return.
Indeed, every one of the above three articles would destroy Israel’s doctrine of being a shelter for Jews from around the world. It would trump Israel’s laws and regulations that try to block mass entry of hostile PA Arabs via family reunification. It would render Israeli governments helpless before any foreigner who contrives to subvert its immigration policy with a sob story.
Today, a foreign resident married to an Israeli citizen must undergo a staggered procedure until obtaining legal status in Israel. Since Article 59 abolishes this tiered procedure, the Interior Ministry is saying it demanded and was approved of a reservation regarding this article.
Article 60 is even worse. It states that gender-based violence trumps whatever laws the signatories may have – and unlike Article 59, an annex is attached to the convention that does not make it possible to declare a reservation regarding Article 60 upon ratification of the convention. And so, a woman who can prove to an Israeli court or committee that she had undergone genital mutilation, a ceremony performed om millions of women in Africa and the Arab countries, will gain refugee status that would keep her in Israel forever, never mind if the mutilation never took place in Israel.
Article 61 establishes the principle of no-return in addition to the recognition of permanent refugee status. According to 61, women who have suffered from gender-based violence and arrived in Israel will not be returned to a country where they face the danger of discrimination or violence and will remain in Israel for the remainder of their lives, subject to section 5/a of the Entry into Israel Act.
If the legalese above is still unclear, just take one look at South Tel Aviv today, mired in thousands of illegal aliens making the lives of the poor Israelis who can’t move out a living hell. Now multiply the number of destitute foreigners.
In short, the main purpose of the Istanbul Convention is not to influence the immigration policies of the signatory states in favor of suffering women, but to influence their domestic policies to follow a radical- progressive agenda.
Finally, why did Erdogan withdraw from the convention bearing the name of Turkey’s biggest city? In an official statement, the Turkish Presidency blamed the LGBT community for the withdrawal from the convention, arguing that “the Istanbul Convention––originally intended to promote women’s rights––was hijacked by a group of people attempting to normalize homosexuality, which is incompatible with Turkey’s social and family values. Hence, the decision to withdraw.”
Can Israel’s MK be at least as astute as Erdogan?
It has been pointed out that Israel faces two fundamentally different set of considerations from the countries who have joined the treaty: first, Israel is unique in the broad powers its Supreme Court has asserted. In other countries, signing the treaty would not provide a basis for judicial review of every aspect of social issues relation to gender issues or LGBT and trans rights, but in Israel you better believe it would; and second, Israel is unique in being the subject of a massive campaign by anti-Zionist NGOs to hijack international forums as well as the ICC against it. In no time, as soon as Israel joins the Istanbul Convention, those well-financed, deeply antisemitic groups will make it yet another arena for Israel bashing, this time dressed up as Zionist abuse of Arab women. If Gideon Sa’ar believes he would receive accolades for his enlightened decision, watch him becoming the first target of the convention’s annual review, that will undoubtedly focus on the condemnation of Israel.