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>Israel Faxx
>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 parents.

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 to Yemen."

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 some conspiracy."

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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