A new petition asks U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to order the State Department to work “with the Russian Foreign Minister” to get four Italian Jewish children who were kidnapped by their non-custodial mother in Florence and taken to St. Petersburg, Russia “out of Russia and safely back home with their dad and the rest of their family who love and care for them.”
New Petition Asks Secretary of State Clinton To Intercede On Behalf Of 4 Children Allegedly Kidnapped With The Help Of Chabad
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
A new petition asks U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to order the State Department to work “with the Russian Foreign Minister” to get four Italian Jewish children who were kidnapped by their non-custodial mother in Florence and taken to St. Petersburg, Russia “out of Russia and safely back home with their dad and the rest of their family who love and care for them,” the JTA reports.
In December 2010, a court in Italy gave sole custody of these children to their father, an American lawyer living in Florence, Michael McIlwrath, who is not Jewish. McIlwrath had studied for Orthodox conversion, however, and was supportive of raising the children as Jews, including allowing them to attend Orthodox schools and keep kosher and Shabbat.
Italian courts have a strong bias toward maternal custody and award sole custody to fathers in less than 2% of divorce cases. Even so, the Italian court found that the mother, Marianne Grin, a dual Russian and American citizen, is mentally unstable and unfit to care for the children, and awarded sole custody to McIlwrath.
During a court-approved vacation week the children spent with Grin last August, Grin kidnapped the children and took them to St. Petersburg, allegedly with the help of Chabad.
Grin, who was affiliated with Chabad in Florence, put the children in Chabad-run schools. Notified of the kidnapping, Chabad refused to cooperate with Italian authorities.
Interviewed in St. Petersburg by an Italian television news reporter two months ago, Grin admitted that she had taken the children out of Italy by car, and news reports said Chabad in Florence and Venice had helped plan and execute the kidnapping.
Last year, Grin accused McIlwrath of physically abusing the children and claimed that the Italian court’s custody decision was caused by antisemitism – although there is no proff or evidence to support either claim.
On the Italian TV news report, Grin refused to allow the Italian the reporter to show her children a video message from their father. She also threatened to take the children out of St. Petersburg and hide them to keep them away from McIlwrath.
She admitted using Russian passports to take the children out of Italy in defiance of the court order, as well.
FailedMessiah.com first reported the alleged kidnappings in May.
Russian courts have failed to comply with International law in this case, frustrating Italy's attempts to get the children returned.