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August 11, 1995 - Image 113

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1995-08-11

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Yemenite background, attracted
a cult following with his claim
that Israel's original Ashkenazi
establishment, secular and reli-
gious, conspired to abduct 4,500
Yemenite children from the
ma'abarot and sell them into
adoption. Cult members de-
manded an open-door commis-
sion of inquiry with subpoena
powers, and barricaded them-
selves inside Mr. Meshulam's
house in the town of Yehud for
49 days. One cultist was killed
when he started shooting up the
street, and Mr. Meshularn. and
11 of his devotees are now serv-
ing long jail sentences.
Yet as wild as Mr. Meshulam's
claims and behavior might have
been, his cause was widely seen
as just. The disappearance of
hundreds of children must be ful-
ly explained. A majority of the
Knesset backed the call for an in-
quiry commission, and the gov-
ernment appointed one. Headed
by retired Supreme Court Jus-
tice Yehuda Cohen, it has heard
testimony in Jerusalem from
some 80 parents from the
ma'abarot; over 100 more are due
to testify.
Rahamim Munjim was 9
years old, living at Ein Shemer
ma'abara with his parents and
10-month-old brother, Yefet,
when Yefet disappeared. "Yefet
had a little bruise on his mouth,
so my mother went with the mid-
wife to Beilinson Hospital," Mr.
Munjim testified. "The doctor
checked him and said he was all
right, but that he should stay
"The next morning my moth-
er and the nurse went to Beilin-
son. [My mother] went up to the
place where she'd left the baby


— and the baby wasn't there,"
Mr. Munjim continued. "She
asked, 'Where's the baby?' No one
knew. She asked the nurses, the
doctors, Where's the baby? Alive,
dead?' They didn't know, [and
told her] to go look for him. My
mother went from room to room,
from child to child, and didn't find
the baby."
The mother and nurse were
told Yefet might have been trans-
ferred to Tel Hashomer Hospi-
tal, so they went to look there,
and were told a child of Yefet's
description had never arrived,
Mr. Munjim testified. "My moth-
er went with the midwife back to
Beilinson and told them, People,
what are you doing? I left a child
here. This is not an orange; this
is a living child. Where is he?' She
never got an answer."
Unlike previous examining
panels, the Cohen commission of
inquiry intends to use its power
to subpoena nurses who worked
in the ma'abarot, adoption offi-
cials, closed files of the Israeli
government and the Jewish
Agency, and possibly to exhume
graves and call witnesses from
abroad. It could take a year, or
more, but it appears that what
can be learned about the Lost
Children of Yemen finally will be
"What my father and mother
want to know before they die is
whether Masha is alive or dead,"
said Mr. Hever. "If we find out
she's alive in the U.S., we won't
demand that she come back be-
cause she's an adult now; it's her
life. If she's dead, then let them
give us a death certificate; let us
see her grave, so we can finally
finish with this." ❑



IDF Chief Of Staff
Objects To Trials

Jerusalem (JTA) — The Israel
Defense Force chief of staff told a
parliamentary committee that he
sharply objected to putting IDF
officers on trial for mishaps that
occurred during military opera-
By making military officers
subject to potential criminal re-
sponsibility, they may be less in-
clined to take initiatives and
risks, Lt. Gen. Amnon Shahak
told the Knesset Foreign Affairs
and Defense Committee.
Lt. Gen. Shahak's comments
came in response to Attorney
General Michael Ben-Yair's de-
cision to have an IDF lieutenant
face criminal charges after one of
his soldiers was accidentally
killed in a friendly-fire incident
during an operation in southern
In that incident, the lieutenant
split up his column during a night
operation in Lebanon. One of his
troops, thinking the unit was still

traveling in single file, opened fire
when he heard noises in the sur-
rounding bushes. The shot killed
a fellow soldier. Lt. Gen. Shahak
was quoted as telling the com-
mittee similar that mishaps have
happened in the past.
He added that the military has
its own system for holding sol-
diers accountable, and that they
should only face courts-martial
for taking a decision that was de-
liberately criminal or negligent.
Lt. Gen. Shahak said there is
a difference between negligence
and poor judgment and that the
situation on the battlefield often
requires officers to take the ini-
The IDF wants effective offi-
cers, Lt. Gen. Shahak was quot-
ed as saying, not lawyers leading
Lt. Gen. Shahak received
unanimous support for his views
from the members of the com-

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