Hertzog, Esther. “Minors’ Welfare and Bureaucratic Violence in Israel.” Anthropology of the Middle East 9.1 (2014): 42-58.
The article examines the welfare policy in Israel concerning ‘minors at risk’, mainly the cancellation of parents’ custody over their offspring and their placement in welfare institutions. I suggest that the ideological discourse plays a major role in this context and terms like ‘minor’s well-being’ are widely used for achieving public legitimacy of the social workers’ control of this field. Describing and analysing case studies which I attended and followed since the beginning of the 1990s reveal the consequences of taking away children from their families and placing them in state institutions. The analysis focuses on the organised bureaucratic violence towards children and their parents which accompanies the legally enforced procedures. It also discusses the forceful means used by the staff in the institutions towards the inmates, as part of maintaining order and discipline. I suggest that violent behaviour of officials and organisations which use the state’s organised power of coercion against minors and their parents is linked to personal, organisational and political motives.