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May 20, 1994 - Image 63

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1994-05-20

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Yemen" were launched in 1967
and 1988, the latter one still go-
ing on.
In his book published six years
ago, 1949 - The First Israelis, au-
thor Tom Segev wrote about the
missing Yemenite children:
"A satisfactory explanation of
this affair has never been given.
It remains as mysterious and dis-
turbing as it was at the begin-
ning, the saddest chapter in the
saga of mass immigration to Is-
rael. The number of children who
were taken from their parents
and 'vanished' was in the hun-
dreds."
The Meshulam cult's com-
plaint goes back to the horribly
overcrowded, chaotic, disease-in-
fested ma'abarot, or immigrant
tent camps, where hundreds of
thousands of newly-arrived, des-
tituteMiddle Eastern and North
African Jews stayed for years af-
ter the state was born. The
50,000 immigrants from Yemen
were the poorest and sickest of
all the newcomers — their infant
mortality rate was about 50 per-
cent.
Yemenite infants and young
children were ordered to hospi-
tals, and most of them died there.
Because of all the disorganiza-

"There definitely
were some
sporadic, illegal
adoptions, or
adoptions in which
the biological
parents were not
informed."

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tion, confusion — and frequent
official neglect and indifference
— hundreds of Yemenite parents
never found out what became of
their children.
Told the youngsters had died,
the parents went from hospitals
to offices to cemeteries trying to
find the graves, but never suc-
ceeded.
A rumor started in the
ma'abarot that the infants had
been sold to Ashkenazi Jewish
parents, mainly religious and
mainly in the U.S. In at least
some cases, this apparently was
true.
The siege of Yehud, for all its
craziness, touched on some
shameful and true chapters from
Israel's history: the ma'abarot,
the discrimination, the lost chil-
dren of Yemen. Israel's Sephar-
dim have a legitimate complaint
over all these injustices, espe-
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