My opinion in PURPLE links in BLUE all else quoted from source
In the 1950s thousands of babies,
children of mostly Yemenite immigrants to lsrael, were allegedly taken
away from their parents and given up for adoption to Ashkenazi families.
Now an investigative report by Haaretz reveals dozens of Ashkenazi
children also disappeared, arguing that the crime was not racially
On Friday morning, Haaretz readers woke up to find that the newspaper had decided to dedicate its lead story to
a piece titled “Dozens of Ashkenazi Babies Mysteriously Disappeared
During Israel’s Early Years.” The article, written by Ofer Aderet, was
labeled as an exclusive investigatory piece that tells the story of
Ashkenazi families whose children disappeared during the early 1950s.
On paper the article is yet another
layer in the thorough investigation by the liberal newspaper vis-à-vis
the stories of the children – the vast majority of them Yemenite – who were disappeared during the first years of the state.
One may wonder about the Haaretz’s decision
to frame the piece as an “exclusive,” since the Kedmi Commission, which
convened in 1995 to investigate what came to be known as the “Yemenite Children’s Affair,” found
30 cases of disappeared children belonging to new immigrants from the
U.S. and Europe. But this is a minor issue – publishing interviews with
the families of disappeared children is an important contribution to
exposing one of the most horrifying chapters in Israeli history, one
that the establishment has done its very best to try and bury.
‘Just like the Yemenite children’
Perhaps this is the reason why it was so
depressing to discover that, along with exposing another important
piece of this tragic puzzle, Aderet’s article seems to contain a hidden
agenda: by claiming that “this was done to everyone,” we see an attempt
to erase the racial component of the crime.
Orna Klein, an Ashkenazi Israeli whose
sister disappeared and who now collects information on disappeared
Ashkenazi children, told Aderet the following:
When I tell my story to
families of Yemenite immigrants, they tell me, ‘What, you too, the
Ashkenazim, they took babies? No way.’ This was not racism by Ashkenazim
against Sepharadim, but the condescension of veterans against
newly-arrived immigrants. They treated them here as if they were from
the diaspora. They humiliated them because they dressed differently and
didn’t know the language. My parents hated Mapai [the ruling party that
founded the State of Israel – o.n.] just like the Yemenis hated Mapai.
Aderet goes even one step further than
Klein: If Orna Klein believes ethnicity plays no role and all the
victims are in the same boat, then he is convinced that Ashkenazim whose
children disappeared are becoming more victimized than Yemeni families.
Why? Because of the Holocaust.
Aderet’s use of the Holocaust for the
sake of competition between the victims is foolish, but out of respect
for those who perished I prefer not to expand too broadly on this issue.
With that, two notes:
Aderet writes that, at the very least,
dozens of Ashkenazi children were kidnapped from their families. That
is, he assumes the number of testimonies by Ashkenazi families that
reached the Kedmi Commission were partial – maybe even a small fraction –
of the total number of children kidnapped. If so, why not assume that
the number of Yemenite children who were kidnapped is significantly
larger than what we see in testimonies (according to Rabbi Uzi Meshulam,
who waged a campaign to expose the Yemenite Children’s Affair in the
90s, the number could reach up to 1,700). Even according to the most
conservative estimates we are talking about several hundred Yemenite
children. So how could anyone claim that the two cases are the same?
Erasing someone else’s tragedy
But Aderet’s most important comment
relates to the circumstances under which these disappearances took
places – the same ones he believes affected Yemeni immigrants. In the
name of the “holy symmetry” between Ashkenazim and Mizrahim, the
author erases the historical, social, and political context in which
this terrible crime took place. He denies the existence of the sick
mentality among both the enablers of the crime and those who carried it
out – the same ones who viewed Jews from Islamic countries as barbarians
who needed to be trained, even before they ever stepped foot in the
country. Do we really need to remind ourselves of the words of Abba
One of the great
apprehensions which afflict us is the danger of the predominance of
immigrants of Oriental origin forcing Israel to equalize its cultural
level with that of the neighboring world. We must not view the
immigrants from Eastern countries as a bridge on our way to integration
in the Arabic-speaking world; we must imbue them with a Western spirit,
and not let them drag us toward the unnatural Orient.
And is there any need to quote Arye Gelblum, who published an article in Haaretz in 1949 using the following language?:
This is a race unlike any we
have seen before. They say there are differences between people from
Tripolitania, Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria, but I can’t say I have
learned what those inferences are, if they do, in fact, exist. They say,
for example, that the Tripolitanians and Tunisians are “better” than
the Moroccans and Algerians, but it’s the same problem with them all…
The primitiveness of these people is unsurpassable. As a rule, they are
only slightly more advanced than the Arabs, Negroes and Berbers in their
countries… The [North] Africans bring their ways with them wherever
they settle. It is not surprising that the crime rate in the country is
rising… above all there is one equally grave fact and that is their
total inability to adjust to the life in this country, and primarily
their chronic laziness and hatred for any kind of work.
In light of these remarks (and countless others like them), as well as the numbers of disappeared children, is it in any way moral to make these kinds of comparisons?
“No!!!! No!!!! No!!!! Soon they will
find out that Ashkenazim were also in the ma’abarot [transit camps for
new immigrants set up during the founding of the state, mostly populated
by Mizrahi immigrants]. Soon they’ll find out that Ashkenazim were also
sprayed with DDT. That they were also sent to development towns.
No!!!!!! We cannot take away the fuel which powers the hate of a few
Mizrahim. It’s not allowed.”
“How dare they! Once more the Ashkenazim are ruining the Mizrahi narrative.”
“Ofer, you decided to erase the only advantage Mizrahim had over Ashkenazim?”
I read these responses and wonder what
are the mechanisms that prevent people from respecting the pain of other
people without using it to erase tragedy. What in these people’s minds
turns this story into a zero-sum game, in which recognizing the obvious
racist component of kidnapping children suddenly turns Mizrahim into
“crybabies,” which in turn leads to violent tribalism? Even Amram, the
Israeli NGO that works to bring to light testimonies of families whose
children disappeared, does not deny Ashkenazi children were kidnapped.
On the contrary, members of the organization interviewed
Ashkenazi families and have published their testimonies on their
The crime of kidnapping and disappearing
children during the first years of the state was a racist one. A crime
against Mizrahim, mostly Yemenite children, who were viewed by the
establishment as human dust. This crime also had Ashkenazi victims. We
must recognize this fact, and it is a good thing that these testimonies
are being exposed. Instead of turning these testimonies into ammunition
for Israel’s ruling class, which is trying to silence the voices of its
victims, we ought to add them to the long list of people who have for
years been fighting to bring to light all the information on this crime.
In order to bring about justice, even the slightest bit of it, for both
its Mizrahi and Ashkenazi victims. SOURCE
Israel`s Stolen Babies Remains State`s Darkest Secret 15th August 2016
minister for national security, became the first government official to
admit that hundreds of babies had been stolen from their mothers in the
years immediately following Israel’s creation in 1948. In truth, the
number is more likely to be in the thousands.
successive governments – and three public inquiries – denied there had
been any wrongdoing. They concluded that almost all the missing babies
had died, victims of a chaotic time when Israel was absorbing tens of
thousands of new Jewish immigrants.
came forward – lately aided by social media – to reveal their suffering,
the official story sounded increasingly implausible.
told their babies had died during or shortly after delivery, they were
never shown a body or grave, and no death certificate was ever issued.
Others had their babies snatched from their arms by nurses who berated
them for having more children than they could properly care for.
many as 8,000 babies were seized from their families in the state’s
first years and either sold or handed over to childless Jewish couples
in Israel and abroad. To many, it sounds suspiciously like child
been reunited with their biological families, but the vast majority are
simply unaware they were ever taken. Strict Israeli privacy laws mean it
is near-impossible for them to see official files that might reveal
their clandestine adoption.
welfare organisations act on their own or connive with state bodies? It
is unclear. But it is hard to imagine such mass abductions could have
occurred without officials at the very least turning a blind eye.
lawmakers, health ministry staff, and senior judges knew of these
practices at the time. And the decision to place all documents relating
to the children under lock untl 2071 hints at a cover-up.
task of re-examining the classified material by prime minister Benjamin
Netanyahu, has been evasive on the question of official involvement. “We
may never know,” he has said.
mostly inured to the well-known litany of atrocities associated with the
state’s founding. Not least, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were
expelled from their homeland in 1948 to make way for Israel and its new
babies, however, offers the shock of the unexpected. These crimes were
committed not against Palestinians but other Jews. The parents whose
babies were abducted had arrived in the new state lured by promises that
they would find in Israel a permanent sanctuary from persecution.
children and the mass expulsion of Palestinians at much the same time
are not unrelated events. In fact, the babies scandal sheds light not
only on Israel’s past but on its present.
randomly seized. A very specific group was targeted: Jews who had just
immigrated from the Middle East. Most were from Yemen, with others from
Iraq, Morocco and Tunisia.
viewed as a direct threat to the Jewish state’s survival, and one
almost as serious as the presence of Palestinians. Israel set about
“de-Arabising” these Middle Eastern Jews with the same steely
determination with which it had just driven out most of the area’s
generation, David Ben Gurion, the first prime minister, was from
Eastern Europe. He accepted the racist, colonial notions dominant in
Europe. He regarded European Jews as a civilised people coming to a
primitive, barbarous region.
Zionists were not simply colonists. They were unlike the British in
India, for example, who were interested chiefly in subduing the natives
and exploiting their resources. If Britain found “taming” the Indians
too onerous, as it eventually did, it could pack up and leave.
for Ben Gurion and his followers. They were coming not only to defeat
the indigenous people, but to replace them. They were going to build
their Jewish state on the ruins of Arab society in Palestine.
enterprises – those intending to create a permanent homeland on another
people’s land – as “settler colonialism”. Famously, European settlers
took over the lands of North America, Australia and South Africa.
Pappe has observed that settler colonial movements are distinguished
from ordinary colonialism by what he terms the “logic of elimination”
that propels them.
strategies of extreme violence towards the indigenous population. They
may commit genocide, as happened to the Native American peoples and to
the Australian Aborigines. If genocide is not possible, they may instead
forcefully impose segregation based on racial criteria, as happened in
apartheid South Africa. Or they may commit large-scale ethnic cleansing,
as Israel did in 1948. They may adopt more than one strategy. READ IN FULL
investigation based on the testimony of Holocaust survivors and their
families reveals that Ashkenazi children disappeared in a similar manner
to the abducted Yemenite children.
At 84 years old, Yona Yosef is full of
life. Her eyes sparkle as she talks about her nine children and many
grandchildren. But ask her what happened 67 years ago, when she and her
family arrived in Israel from Yemen, and her eyes fill with tears.
“I was only 15. The people came, they
told me to take Saade to the clinic,” said Yosef, her voice stalling as
she recalled the day she took her 4-year-old half-sister for a routine
check-up for new arrivals.
“At the clinic, they told me to go home. They said they would bring her back. What did I know? I was only a child myself.”
Ms Yosef never saw her sister again. READ IN FULL
He was not, as he had always assumed,
the only son of wealthy Holocaust survivors who owned a baby garments
factory near Tel Aviv. Grunbaum had been stolen from his mother by
doctors at a hospital in northern Israel in 1956, moments after she gave
His biological parents – recent
immigrants to Israel from Tunisia – were told their child had died
during delivery. They were sent home without a death certificate and
denied the chance to see their baby’s body or a grave.
Despite his darker looks, it never
occurred to Grunbaum that the parents who raised him were not
biologically related to him. Now aged 60, he says the discovery was “the
most shocking moment imaginable. Everyone I loved – my parents, aunts,
uncles and cousins – had been deceiving me for decades.”
And so had government officials. READ IN FULL
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