An article appeared in “Yediot Acharonot”, an Israeli mainstream newspaper, on the 12th of November, 1985, which was written by Dr. Hertzel Rosenblum, who was then the Editor of the newspaper, before he died.
In this article, Dr. Rosenblum addressed the issue of the stolen children in Israel. However, as mentioned in previous articles, it is a common misconception that these crimes were committed only against members of the Yemenite Jewish community. This is evident in the article.
The article is titled “The Hidden Scandal”, and states the following:”We have grown tired of all the ‘Investigation Committees’ of ours. However, when you read of the shocking epopee of the immigrants of ‘The Magic Carpet’ [the operation to bring the Jewish Yemenites to Israel, during the first years of the existence of the State of Israel.], where at the time of their arrival in Israel, the immigration they had longed for, 500 of their babies, which they had brought with them, were stolen from them, and these disappeared into the darkness, as if swallowed by the ground – you cannot avoid demanding, with their devastated parents: ‘An investigation shall take place!’
“Because there is not an exceptional case here, but an organised crime, done by someone, or some people, that turned the immigration of these babies into a business, while they sold them for greed, and this is a deed that if it would happen elsewhere in the world, it would become an international scandal. For instance, a few tens of parents sold their children in Brazil, and see what a scandal has arisen due to that deed, and over there it has happened not with hundreds, but with tens, and not stealing, but miserable parents selling their own children. And here – a terrible silence!
“True: the scandal happened at a time when the country was fighting for its existence, and hundreds of problems it had to deal with were there, but even so – our silence in this terrible matter, that went on for a generation, has turned us into partners in the crime.
“Only with the Yemenite Jews – the quiet, modest and defenseless people – could anyone act like this.
“Any other immigrant community (the Russian, the Iraqi, the American) would organise a pogrom on us a long time ago, and rightfully so. But even the Yemenites – their heart bleeds until this very day for their children, that were stolen from them.
“And there is need to lend them a hand in finding their children – and the stealers of their children.”
According to the “Mishkan Ohalim” organization that turned to former Editor of “Yediot Acharonot”, after Dr. Rosenblum, Mr. Moshe Vardi, the son of Dr. Hertzel Rosenblum, and requested permission to publish this article, Vardi announced that under no circumstances would he allow it. He even forbade them to publish it in any other newspaper, or their own, and his secretary let them know that Vardi even said that, if they do publish it anywhere else, that his newspaper would sue them. Also, you will see that, besides the mistake made by stating that the crimes were committed against the Yemenite Jews only, Rosenblum was also misinformed as to the number of children stolen.
Moshe Vardi, on the 22nd of January, 1998, was “convicted of two counts of illegal audio surveillance” (“The Jerusalem Post”, January 23rd, 1998). According to “The Jerusalem Post”, an English language Israeli newspaper, the two former Yediot Editors that were convicted (Moshe Vardi and Ruth Ben-Ari, former news Editor of “Yediot Acharonot”) “… had listened to a recording of a phone call made from the house of Dov Yudkovsky, a shareholder and former editor-in-chief of Yediot. In another instance, they listened to the tape of a phone conversation between Arnon Mozes, one of Yediot’s editors and Ofer Nimrodi, one of the owners of Ma’Ariv.” (“Maariv” is another mainstream newspaper in Israel. Although “Yediot Acharonot” is the most widely circulated newspaper in Israel, Maariv is its number one competitor). Vardi has admitted to his crimes. He was quoted as saying: “… I listened [to the conversations], I admit. I was found guilty of listening to two recordings, punished and will pay the fine.”
It is not surprising that “Yediot Acharonot” did not publish many stories of children who could have been stolen, with a small number of exceptions. It at least did not publish as many as other newspapers, such as “HaAretz”, and “Yom LeYom”.
The “Yom LeYom” newspaper, for instance, gave personal stories of families who had their children disappear in mysterious ways. One of these stories is that of the Chief Rabbi of Bnei Brak, Rabbi Shlomo Korach. The article reports the detailed search Rabbi Korach and his family have been conducting, in search of his missing sister and niece, who, according to him, were kidnapped. Korach’s family arrived in Israel with substantial assets. They sent their money through London, and so were able to buy their house in Jerusalem, which cost, back then, one million Dollars. Korach was then a sixteen year old boy, and was sent to learn in the “Makor Haim” yeshiva. He tells the newspaper of his story, “My parents, Rabbi Ichia and Naama, may they rest in peace, died in sorrow for this story. They immigrated to Israel, and arrived in Rosh HaAyin in 1949, and the nurses pressured them to hand over their daughter, who was then only nine months old, so they could examine her in the baby ward. They did not want to part with their daughter… But they took her, almost forcefully, and said: ‘We will return her to you soon’. She was an especially beautiful baby. We have not seen her since. One day later, they told us she died. My parents asked, demanded and begged to see the grave. They were treated like rags.” His sister, Yona Hovera, living in Holon today, lost her daughter as well. She and her husband, Haim, came to Ein Shemer where the child, Masha, was taken from her mother to the baby ward. The article reports Yona saying: “One day, I arrived to nurse my daughter and they told me: ‘You can’t nurse her today. She has pneumonia’. I was very surprised, since the child was completely healthy, but they said she needs to be sent to the Pardes Hannah Hospital, for three days. I told them I will go consult my husband and will be right back. We lived about five meters away from the baby ward. Three minutes later, I arrived, with my husband, but they told us: ‘They already took her’.Three days later, a man arrived, announcing that Masha Hovera had died. My husband asked that they bury her. They told him: ‘You are her father? She has died. Sign here’. He said: ‘I’m not signing. I want to see a body and bury it’. They told him: ‘They buried her yesterday, along with another five children’. My husband was in shock. He asked: ‘Are we in Israel or in Germany’? He asked and begged to see the grave, and they did not let him. He said: ‘I am not signing, nor mourning’. Every day, I would go to the manager’s office, and beg that they show me where my daughter was buried. A few days later, they manager told me: ‘Go, there is a room downstairs, they will give you your child, but do not touch her. She will be given to you, wrapped up, and you return her to the grave’. I went, and saw a strange package, that didn’t look like a dead child to me. I felt I was being fooled. I said to myself, I’ll open it, maybe it’s a dead cat. I removed a rag, and another rag, until I reached the last one, and found nothing. Only rags. I started to cry: ‘Why did you give me rags?’, the manager told me: ‘We wanted to calm you down, we didn’t know you were so smart’….”
To this very day, they do not know of their child’s fate. The Ministry of Interior reported to them that the child is not listed as dead. The Population management reported that she left Israel in 1963, and the Welfare Department reported that there was no record found regarding adoption.
The article also reports an interesting twist to this story. Masha was named after an Israeli nurse that assisted the mother, in Yemen, during the birth, and loved the child very much. Members of the family suspect that this nurse, who lives in Savyon (a city, in the Tel Aviv area), has something to do with their child’s disappearance. According to Yona, the mother: “She would tell me ‘Don’t let anyone touch her!’ I did not understand why she was telling me what to do”. The article also reports that the nurse, who tried to delay their immigration to Israel, would come to = Israel once every two weeks. The family members found her address, and went to visit her. The nurse was showing them picture albums, when Yona found a picture of a child, looking much like Masha. She says “I asked her who that child was, and she told me it was her sister’s daughter, as she grabbed the album, and ran to a different room”.
The readers should remember that these are only the stories where the families were extra suspicious of the authorities, and were sure to check everything as thoroughly as possible. This happened mainly with the rich families that felt more “in control” in the camps. In most cases, the parents did not suspect anything because these people, that brought them to Israel, were the only people they could trust. It is commonly believed that most cases weren’t even reported, up to this very day.
Another interesting story reported in the same article tells the story of a Yosef Aharon Hammami, who has already passed away. Hammami came to Israel with two wives, Kadia and Mazal, and one child was taken from each. Hammami died over ten years ago. His wife, Mazal, tells the story of how her son was kidnapped. Hammami’s other wife has passed away by now. The family lived in Bet Dagon, when she was sent to give birth at the “Kaplan” Hospital.
“I gave birth in the morning, to a healthy child. My son weighed 2.5 kg, and the entire staff in the birth room, including Professor Cohen, congratulated me. They told me they would return him to me the next day, so I could nurse him. The next day, I waited to get my child returned to me, and the nurse there, who was named Leah, told me: ‘You can’t get your child, he’s in treatment, and don’t worry’. Two more days went by, all the time when I am begging to see my son, and suddenly, the nurse tells me, angrily these words, that I cannot forget: ‘You will never see him. He is in treatment’. I started to cry, and my blood pressure began rising. I asked her: ‘What do you mean ‘in treatment’? If he died, tell me he died’, as I saw they told other women that gave birth to dead children, and saw them, too. I wanted to see what treatment they were giving my son. But she did not let me, and kept on saying: ‘You will never see him. He is in treatment’. I thought I was going crazy, and she started to ‘calm me down’, by saying: ‘Calm down, calm down. You have two children at home. Raise your other children’.
“But me, I didn’t stop asking her: ‘If he’s dead, tell me he’s dead, but what is ‘in treatment’?’ And she ignored me, and again told me ‘in treatment’. I turned to her and said: ‘If someone would take your child, what would you do? Why do you cause me sorrow? If my son is alive, sick, or dead, I want to see him. Let me see my son, just for a moment’. And she answered me, again, ‘You will never see him, he is in treatment’. A few days later, a few doctors and a policeman arrived, and I saw them talking, and looking at me. I began to cry, I was in so much pain: ‘You sold my son to this cop!’. They told me: ‘You are speaking nonsense’. And I, every time I saw a baby, I would go crazy with sorrow, for my own child. A nurse came, and warned me: ‘Don’t talk back to the doctors. They can give you an injection and kill you’. I left the hospital, in great sorrow. Someone in the hospital told me to go to the health department, and complain. But we, what did we know? I would cry all the time. I couldn’t sleep. This is how two years of terrible depression passed… Afterwards, I gave birth to a dead child, and my husband attempted to comfort me, while saying: ‘You see, you can’t cry too much’. If this would happen to me today, I would fight. Maybe even take another child and not leave until they gave me mine, alive or dead.
“But then, we only cried. Up to this very day, I cannot forget my son. I saw him for only half an hour, after birth. And I feel he is alive. If a person is dead, you can forget about him. But a live person, you cannot forget. His soul remains. I was immediately calmed about my dead son, but in this case, I knew all along that he was alive. It haunted me for a great number of years. The Rabbis would tell me: ‘You are right. You cannot forget, but hold back your emotions, don’t show them’.”.
It appears that, in most such cases, this is exactly what thousands of parents have done… held their emotions back… not showing them. However, they never did forgot. They cannot.