MK: Time to Bring Closure to Scandal of Missing Yemenite Children

Jewish Yemenite immigrants seen seen arriving at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv on June 20, 2012. Photo by Moshe Shai/FLASH90 *** Local Caption *** עולים מתימן עולים מ תימן
Jewish Yemenite immigrants seen arriving at Ben Gurion Airport. (Moshe Shai/Flash90)

In a letter to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, MK Nurit Koren (Likud) has called on the government to come clean on one of Israel’s most painful scandals – the disappearance of children of Yemenite immigrant parents in the 1950s. “We are morally bound to recognize the basic rights of these families to get information about the fate of their loved ones, and to do what we can to repair the terrible evil that was done to families even at this late date,” Koren said in her letter.

The scandal of the missing Yemenite children goes back to the early days of the state. In hundreds of documented cases, Yemenite women were told that their infant children had died in childbirth. The bodies were never recovered, however, leading many people to suspect that their babies had not died, but had been kidnapped.

The purpose of the alleged kidnapping has been the subject of many conspiracy theories, from supplying wealthy Israelis of European background who could not have their own children with babies to raise from birth, to allegations that the children were used as subjects in radiation experiments conducted by Israel at the behest of the U.S. government. Some parents claimed that they attempted to disinter the remains of their children to have them reburied at family plots, but were either told that the location of the graves had been “lost,” or that their child had been buried in mass graves and that it would be impossible to track down their child’s remains.

Governments throughout the years have either ignored or denied the allegations, claiming that the children died because of polio and other childhood diseases rife during the 1950s. Documentation is sparse on the matter, but is believed to exist.

“I appeal to you with all my might to personally intervene in this matter,” said Koren. “This is a matter of national and social importance, and the time has come to repair it. Revealing the documents will help many families get to the truth and allow them to come to terms with the pain of their losses, solving finally the mystery of what happened to their children.”