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>JN Aug. 29, 1997, Vol. 5, No. 159
The Missing Children of Yemen
By IINS News Service
As Israel approaches its 50th birthday this spring, the most
anomalous rumor about its early history received startling
confirmation this week, when genetic tests proved that an Israeli
woman from California, Tsila Levine, is the daughter of Petah
Tikvah resident Margalit Amosi, an Israeli of Yemenite descent.
Levine was apparently snatched from a Hadassah facility at a
Yemenite transit camp in Israel when she was one month old.
This disclosure comes at a time when signs of anger among Israel's
"Mizrahi" Jews, those from Asian and African lands, have been
reflected in a number of incidents, including the bombing of a
Petah Tikvah court, apparently perpetrated by a member of
imprisoned Rabbi Uzi Meshulam's group.
The State Prosecutor, Chief of Police and General Security Service
(GSS/Shin-Bet) officials have decided it was not necessary to
declare the group headed by Meshulam a "terror organization."
Meshulam and his followers are battling to compel the state to take
action to uncover the kidnapping of thousands of Yemenite children by
health and government officials in Israel in the 1950s.
Earlier this week Tzila Levine of Sacramento, Calif. was
reunited with her biological mother after having been kidnapped 50
years ago, raised on a kibbutz and then she moved to the US where
she lives with her family.
Levine testified before a state inquiry board dealing with the
disappearance of Yemenite Jews but Meshulam's followers maintain
the board of inquiry is procrastinating. They have been
investigating for years, but nothing has moved forward.
Levine had an emotional reunion with her mother, father and
relatives on national television following the results of DNA tests
which confirmed the findings of Levin's attorney. The lawyer worked
for years to bring the lost daughter back to her biological
Tsila Levine's case would appear to provide incontrovertible
evidence that highly irregular procedures, if not a sustained
kidnapping plot, were applied to the absorption of immigrants from
the Yemen and other non-European lands in the late '40s and early
'50s; and the disclosure could change the way the country views
itself, as it looks into the mirror after 50 years.
About half a century ago, Margalit Amosi, a new immigrant from
Yemen, went to the Hadassah hospital facility located at the large
transit camp for Yemenite immigrants in Rosh Ha'ayin. She asked, as
she did each day, to see her baby girl, Tsila. But on that horrible
day the head nurse of the maternity ward told the shocked mother
that her child had "disappeared."
Margalit then tried to find her child via all possible means: she
asked, begged, appealed to anybody who could help. But her efforts
failed. She stated that when she turned to a policeman in Rosh
Ha'ayin, he told her, "Mrs., if you have a problem, you can go back
Margalit knew that her daughter was healthy the day she
disappeared. She recalls that three days earlier, somebody had come
up to her, asking questions about her economic situation. After the
disappearance, she went back and questioned the nurse, who told her
"the baby disappeared."
"I didn't know that I was part of this story of missing Yemenite
children," Tsila Levine said, trembling with excitement. "When I
asked about my past, I was warned by the kibbutz that it would be
a waste of time to go into it, and that I should concentrate on my
present family. I understood that they were concealing something
from me, and I lived with a terrible feeling that I was part of
Tsila lives in California with her husband and children, Avihai,
25, and Arieh, 23. She says that while still a child, she discerned
the differences between herself and the children of Kibbutz Ein
Hamifratz. "I remember that I asked my teacher why my appearance
was different. I was brown, and the others were white. I was
different from my parents, and from the people around me. I tried
to come up with reasons to explain the differences, but only when
I had grown up a little, they told me that I had been adopted."
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