Hundreds cry for justice for Israel's missing Yemenite children

Jerusalem demonstration signals shift in public attitudes to mystery, long dismissed by some, as fate of vanished children still unknown.

June 22, 2017 10:31
1 minute read.
Yemenite immigrants

Yemenite immigrants gather for a photo at Rosh Ha’ayin, in the early years of the state.. (photo credit: ILLUSTRATIVE: GPO FLICKR)


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The Yemenite Children Affair, the claim that Yemenite children were systematically abducted and taken for adoption by European Jewish (Ashkenazi) families without the biological family’s consent in the state’s early days, seemed to have gained momentum on Tuesday evening in Jerusalem.

A few hundred people were gathered to demonstrate against the ongoing obscurity that surrounds these allegations. “There were three investigative committees and they were all a joke,” one demonstrator, standing in the middle of the blocked King George St., proclaimed.  Yael Tzadok from the Achim Vekayamim organization, described as “the abducted children’s families forum,” told The Jerusalem Post that she felt the difference in awareness to the Affair.

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“We are invited more to talk on television, people react and we are getting more and more families [to testify].” Just a few minutes earlier, she was talking to a couple of such women who were eager to tell her their story. They spotted her in the crowd and were visibly excited as they related what they heard from their grandparents.

The crowd was a mix of families from all over the country and people who showed up “to show solidarity.” Although there were people from many backgrounds, the Yemenite community was very prominent. Demonstrators were shouting and singing, saying that they demand “justice.” Nehama from Rosh Ha’hayin told the Post about her missing brother. “He was the oldest.” Today there are only three girls in the family. “The ones that left,” she said.

The story they tell of their brother who “has disappeared” repeated itself in several versions while talking to other demonstrators: The young mother came from Yemen. She had a baby with her. The family was placed in Ein Shemer, a kibbutz in the North, where one day “the baby disappeared.”

“The mother was not allowed to see the body,” Nehama explained. Similar descriptions were repeated again and again while talking to other family members. Asher Shaked (originally Shadadi) has also lost a brother, whom he never met, in similar circumstances. “I am seeking my brother!” was written on a sign he held to his chest. “I am willing to talk and tell my story,” he said, adding however that he has “no faith in politicians anymore.”

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