YEMENITE FAMILIES are shown in 1951 at Givat Ye’arim, a moshav just west of Jerusalem, whose initial residents arrived in Israel as part of the airlift of Jews from Yemen. (GPO).
(photo credit: GPO)
Decades after the disappearance of scores of Yemenite children in the earliest years of the state, the truth of how and why they disappeared has not been fully clarified.
On Monday President Reuven Rivlin met with Yael Nagar, Yael Tzaddok and Rachamim Eden, representatives of Achim Vekayamim (Brothers and Living), an NGO dedicated to full disclosure of what happened to the children – whose parents continued to grieve for them for years and never believed stories told to them in hospitals healthy children had suddenly died.
“The truth must be revealed,” declared Rivlin. “We are sufficiently strong today to cope with the truth. This is an episode that leaves a wound in the heart of the nation and we must not ignore it.”
He was confident that in the near future, a way would be found at the state level to intensify the investigation and to learn what still needs to be known.
A special Knesset committee set up to investigate available evidence reached the conclusion that in a number of cases, children were abducted and given to Jewish families in the United States for adoption. The committee even knows the identity of the chief liaison in this affair.
That fact, however, has not given closure to Israel’s Yemenite community.
Before taking their leave, Nagar, Tzaddok and Eden reminded Rivlin about their visit with him a year ago, before material on the Yemenite children was declassified, and what devastating information had been gleaned from documents retrieved from the State Archives.
Now they are embarking on the next stage of their campaign. What they want now, they said, is for the government to acknowledge that the children were abducted, take responsibility and conduct a full-scale investigation so as to arrive at the absolute truth of what happened and who was involved.
While not denigrating the aforementioned parliamentary committee headed by Likud MK Nurit Koren, which has been investigating the matter and has interviewed families whose children disappeared, the trio said this was not enough and that the committee was working too slowly. They said they valued what it was doing, but as far as they were concerned, this stained chapter in Israel’s history has to be investigated at a higher level.