3rd July 1998
Tell us truth on stolen children
I was one of nine children. My eight older brothers and sisters were all aborted before I was born. My father did not want them, so they died. A father has that power.
Why he let me come into the world alive, I don’t know. He relented once. For my mother, that was enough. She wasn’t asking any questions. My father has been dead almost 20 years, so I can’t ask him any questions either, though I learned of this private holocaust only recently.
Holocaust is not too violent a word. Eight children, killed before they even possessed names, constitute a tribal slaughter, a systematic attempt to rip out one chapter from the book of mankind.
If I had not been allowed to live, or my mother had never spoken of her tragedy, the slaughter would have been complete. My brothers and sisters would have been utterly unremembered – they could simply not have existed. This is the way holocausts are supposed to work.
In his memoire of Auschwitz, The Truce, Primo Levi remembers a crippled boy of three called Hurbinek. The child could not speak, and one of the women had given him the meaningless name out of pity.
Though he was fiercely alive, he was unable to communicate anything – what his real name was, who his parents had been, what he needed. He died dumb, and Levi noted: “Nothing remains of him – he bears witness through these words of mine.”
Levi knew his responsibility to the ones who did not survive. They were to bear witness to the holocaust through him.
I wish I could claim my brothers and sisters are alive through me, that my soul comprises their souls and that their flames flicker in my flame. But the simple fact is that nothing remains of them, except my words and my mother’s thoughts.
They could not speak, and they cannot bear witness, except through me.
There is a man who, although he is untrained, believes himself a Rabbi, named Uzi Meshulam. He is imprisoned near Netanyah for trying to bear witness for 400 Yemeni children, forcibly parted from their families in the Forties and Fifties, to be sold.
Operation Magic Carpet, the evacuation of 50,000 Jews from Yemeni to the newborn state of Israel, yielded an unexpected benefit for someone. Was it the government, the refugee camp officials, the doctors or the army who arranged for children to disappear from nursery wards and reappear in the European and American homes of childless Jewish couples?
Whoever was responsible, he acted like a father who orders his wife to have abortions. His power was absolute.
The fact of this trade in human beings, which was so nearly forgotten forever, cannot now be ignored. Rabbi Meshulam though his often desperate attempts to bear witness, has seen to that.
The Yemeni parents were told their children had died and been buried before their families could see the corpses.
The evacuation had been conducted amid chaos, and fatalities were inevitable. Many of the refugee children were malnourished. Yet it seems strange that, according to Rabbi Meshulam and the Yemen Jewish group Mishkan Oahlim, it was the fair-skinned children who died.
Fair-skinned children were more easily absorbed into the families of the Ashkenazi.
When mass graves at the Sha’ar Menashe and Karkur Ein-Irron cemetaries were opened last year, they were empty. So where are the children now?
They will be about my age, wholly unaware of their true parentage, as I was ignorant of my siblings’ existence. If Rabbi Meshulam, who has suffered appalling conditions in jail, is denied the right to freedom, then the truth will never come out.
No one will know who stole these children, or who sold them, and to whom. They will carry their secret tragedy with them all their lives, and not ever be aware of its existence.
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