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Published 2021-11-17
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Thousands Children Stolen From Their Parents! Israeli Government Coverd It Up?

In recent decades, more and more people in Israel, have been discovering and reuniting with their biological families after spending most of their lives living a lie. The reunions with families for the most have been touching, emotional, and often very shocking as the parents believed that their children had died a long time ago. But what exactly had happened? How many children ended up being taken away from their families and what was the reason for it? Has the Israeli government responded to this? And just how bad was the situation? Read on to find out.

40 Year’s Living A Lie

One of the people that had lived their life a lie was Gil Grunbaum. For nearly 40 years, he had assumed that he was the only son of wealthy Holocaust survivors who owned a baby clothes factory in Tel Aviv. But as it turned out, all that he knew was a lie. Despite having darker looks than his parents, it had never occurred to him that the people who raised him were not his biological parents. When he was 60, he spoke about what he had learned and revealed that it was “the most shocking moment imaginable” as everyone that he loved, had been deceiving him for decades. As it turned out, he was stolen from his mother by doctors at a hospital in northern Israel in 1956 moments after she had given birth. His biological parents who were recent immigrants from Tunisia were told their child had died during delivery. It was by chance that he discovered that he was adopted, yet everyone, including the welfare services, did everything to stop him from finding his biological parents and knowing the truth. But after searching, when he was aged 41, he managed to track down his family and be reunited with them. And while that story might sound horrific, it’s not the only one. But what exactly had happened? Read on to find out.

Reunited Thanks To DNA Tests

One woman had spent 30 years searching for her sister. 62-year-old Ofra Mazor had submitted her DNA samples to MyHeritage in 2017 in hopes that it would allow her to find her sister Varda. In an interview, she recalled that her mother Yochevet, who had since passed away, told her that she only got to breastfeed her sister only once after giving birth in 1950 before later being told by nurses that her newborn daughter had died. But the woman, like many others, did not believe the nurses. Despite demands that her child be given back to her, even the body, no such thing ever happened. For 30 years, Ofra had tried to find her younger sister, and a few months after submitting her DNA, she received a call that a match was found. While her sister, Varda Fuchs, was adopted by a German-Jewish couple in Israel, the two had managed to track each other down and learn the truth. They are part of a community who for decades had been searching for answers about what had happened to their loved ones or trying to find the truth about their ancestry.

Israel - Nation’s Founding and Immigrants

Following the founding of Israel in 1948 many immigrants had come to the country and were placed in transit camps, which were tent cities operated by the state because there were housing shortages. The conditions in those camps were harsh. But there was something much worse than meeting those people besides the bad conditions. Women who had given birth in overburdened hospitals, or who had taken their infants to the doctor, were told that their kids had suddenly died. Some families’ testimonies had stated that they were instructed to leave their children at nurseries and when they come to pick them up, they were told the kids were taken to the hospital, never to be seen again. As many affected had said, they were never shown a body or a grave, nor have they received death certificates. But what exactly had happened to these children? Read on to find out.

Israel - The Stolen Children

The whole mystery of the missing children and what had happened to them was dubbed as the Yemenite Children Affair because most of the kids who had disappeared were from Jewish families from Yemen, however, there was also a significant number from Iraq, Morocco, Tunisia, and the Balkans. There had been over 1,000 official reported cases of missing babies and toddlers, however, estimates from advocates on this cause suggest that the numbers could be as high as 4,500. The families of these children believe that the babies were abducted by the Israeli authorities. In 2016, Tzachi Hanegbi a government minister who was tasked with studying the disappearances had concluded that at least “hundreds” of children had been taken, which had made it the first time that the government officials had made such an admission.

The Yemenite Children Affair - What Happened to Them?

Those children that had been taken from the Yemenites and other “Mizrahi” communities, which is an umbrella term for Jews from North Africa and the Middle East, had been illegally put up for adoption or sold, to childless Ashkenazi families, who are the Jews of European descent. The issue had first captured national attention in 1994 when Rabbi Uzi Meshulam and his followers had barricaded themselves inside a compound in Yehud for 45 days, demanding that an official government inquiry was started to investigate the disappearance of the Yemenite babies. During a shootout with the police, one of the Rabbi’s followers was killed and the man and his followers were sent to prison. At the time, almost all Israelis had dismissed the man and his accusations as conspiracy theories of a religious radicalist. Though was his goal achieved? Find out on the next page.

The Cohen-Kedmi Commission

In the end, Rabbi Meshulam got what he wanted as the year after a Cohen-Kedmi commission was created in order to look over more than 1,000 cases of missing children. They ha found that as many as 5,000 children may have disappeared in the state’s first six years although only 1,000 were looked into. Jacob Kedmi who was a former Supreme Court judge had concluded that in most of those cases the children had died and were buried. To make matters worse, Kedmi then placed the hundreds of thousands of documents relating to the testimonies of families and the evidence collected under lock for 70 years, meaning that they would not be made publicly available until 2071. Many had taken that move, as well as Hanegbi’s admission as a confirmation of the allegations long made by the families, and ones that were supported by scholars and journalists, that the inquiry was little more than a whitewash by the Israeli establishment.

Many Questions About What Happened

For many years the families were told they were in the wrong to accuse the Israeli government of any wrongdoing. Their claims have long been dismissed even by some Israelis who simply attributed the deaths to the high infant mortality rates and the harsh conditions in the transit camps. And when the facts that those people never received any death certificates or the remains of their children, they had chalked it up to disorganized bureaucracy and poorly kept records. However, for years this issue kept resurfacing as cases of family members, who were said to have died as infants, was being reunited through DNA testing or testimonies made from nurses working at the time who corroborated that the babies were taken. Though despite all this many still can’t believe that such a thing had even happened. At age 91, Yehudit Yosef who had lost her son in 1949 after taking him to the hospital, had spoken with the Times and said, “Jews doing this to other Jews? (...) They gave us a wound in our hearts for our entire lives.” But has the government responded now? Find out on the next page.

Government’s Response

At the start of 2021, the Israeli government had expressed regret and understanding of the suffering caused to the families yet did not issue an official apology for what remains as one of the most controversial and sensitive issues in their society. They had also announced a compensation plan under which the families would receive NIS 150,000 ($46,000) per child whose death was made known to them at the time, or a sum of NIS 200,000 ($61,000) per child whose fate is unknown. In total, it has been reported by the Times of Israel, the government will allocate NIS 162 million ($46,600,000) for the compensation plan. However, the catch is that this plan will only be available to those 1,000 families whose cases were already reviewed during the prior inquiries.

Families Of Missing Children Hit Back

Given that many claim, the number was much higher than 1,000, meaning that many more families will be left with nothing, as well as the lack of an official apology, had made many criticize those who have assisted the affected families as they sought answers. Yet many had criticized the government’s decision. One such person was Michael Sharabi whose mother had her son taken from her in the past, speaking with the Times of Israel he said that it was not about the money, they did not as for cash but for the truth. Others had also claimed that this is most likely hush money and the families had called for the state to open the secret files. However, earlier in 2021, the Israeli state had declared the cases invalid under the statute of limitations, though the Supreme Court has yet to rule on the matter, leaving many in the dark.

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