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 motivated.
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 Eban?:
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 website.
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
Last month Tzachi Hanegbi, 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.
For nearly seven decades, 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.
But as more and more families came forward – lately aided by social media – to reveal their suffering, the official story sounded increasingly implausible.
Although many mothers were 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.
According to campaigners, as 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 trafficking.
A few of the children have 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.
Did Israeli hospitals and 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.
Testimonies indicate that 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.
Mr Hanegbi, who was given the 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.
By now, Israel’s critics are 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 Jewish immigrants.
The story of the stolen 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.
But the kidnapping of the 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.
The stolen babies were not 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.
The Arabness of these Jews was 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 Palestinians.
Like most of Israel’s founding 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.
But the early European 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.
That was never a possibility 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.
Scholars label such 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.
The Israeli historian Ilan Pappe has observed that settler colonial movements are distinguished from ordinary colonialism by what he terms the “logic of elimination” that propels them.
Such groups have to adopt 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
An Haaretz 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.
Many suspect that state employees, including doctors, nurses, social workers, were involved in the disappearance of hundreds of Yemeni children (Sounds horrifyingly familiar)
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
The shocking story of Israel’s disappeared babies Aug 5th 2016
New information has come to light about thousands of mostly Yemeni children believed to have been abducted in the 1950s.
Tel Aviv – For nearly 40 years, everything about Gil Grunbaum’s life was a lie, including his name.
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 birth.
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