domingo, 28 de agosto de 2016

BioEdge: The bleak story of Israel’s Yemenite children

BioEdge: The bleak story of Israel’s Yemenite children

The bleak story of Israel’s Yemenite children
Yemenite immigrants in a camp in 1950     
Stealing children from feckless mothers so that they will have great expectations in the home of a loving, educated couple seems to have been a common practice in the early 20th Century. In Australia, Canada, Spain, Ireland, and Argentina scandalous tales of baby-snatching have emerged in the media.

Less well-known are allegations from Israel. In what has become known as the Yemenite Children Affair, hundreds of babies and toddlers of new arrivals, mainly from Yemen, between 1948 to 1954, were taken from their parents. Mothers were told that their newborn had died; sometimes the children simply disappeared. Stories have surfaced in the media over the years, but the complete history of what happened has not been told, as vital documents have been classified by the government.

This year gut-wrenching memories have again surfaced as activists demand the truth. A cabinet minister tasked with the investigation, Tzachi Hanegbi, now admits that between 1,500 and 5,000 children, mainly Yemenis, were kidnapped and given to Ashkenazi parents. “They took the children, and gave them away. I don’t know where,” he told a TV program. But it is still unclear whether the children were stolen with the connivance of the government. “We may never know,” Hanegbi says.

“The issue of the Yemenite children is an open wound that continues to bleed in many families who do not know what happened to the babies, to children that disappeared, and they are looking for the truth,” Prime Minister Netanyahu said earlier this year.

According to The Times of Israel, this has been “the largest cover-up in the history of the State of Israel”. Yael Tzadok, an Israeli journalist who has been tracking the story for years, told Al Jazeera: "This is Israel's darkest secret. Jews kidnapped other Jews, Jews who were coming to a state that had been created as a refuge in the immediate wake of the Holocaust. Bringing the truth into the daylight risks causing an earthquake."

One dark element in the story is allegations of racist conflict between the Ashkenazi Jews from Europe and the Mizrahim, Jews from Arab countries. The Europeans looked down upon the penniless, darker-skinned, ill-educated Jews of the Levant with their Arab customs.

"Mizrahi parents were seen as bad, primitive people who were a lost cause. The dominant view then was that, by placing the children with Ashkenazi families, they could be saved - unlike their parents. They would be re-educated and made into suitable material for the new Zionist state," Tzadok says. "The hospital staff and officials probably didn't think they were doing something wrong. They thought it was their patriotic duty."

After 70 years, the truth of this tangled affair may never be known, not only because of the problems of documenting it, but because it overlaps with a heated debate over the origins of the nation: right against left, Ashkenazi against Mizrahim, Israeli against Arab.
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I must be getting old. For most of my life, I have been reading about the global need to curb births and the unmet demand for contraception. And then I opened this week’s edition of The Economist and discovered that the main problem facing couples is the unmet demand for children.
The Economist surveyed 19 countries, asking people how many children they wanted and how many they expected to have. The results were astonishing.
“For more and more couples, the greatest source of anguish is that they have fewer children than they want, or none at all. … In every rich country we surveyed, couples expect to be less fertile than they would like, and many in developing countries suffer the same sorrow….
“The pain of having no or fewer children than you desire is often extreme. It can cause depression and in poor countries can be a social catastrophe. Couples impoverish themselves pursuing ineffective treatments; women who are thought to be barren are divorced, ostracised or worse.”
I hope that executives at Marie Stopes International (see article below), the United Nations Population Fund and all the other global agencies dedicated to shrinking family sizes read The Economist’s advice:
"Governments and aid agencies have turned family planning into a wholly one-sided campaign, dedicated to minimising teenage pregnancies and unwanted births; it has come to mean family restriction. Instead, family planning ought to mean helping people to have as many, or as few, children as they want."

Michael Cook

This week in BioEdge

by Michael Cook | Aug 27, 2016
Is its goal defeating terrorism or expelling a minority group?

by Michael Cook | Aug 27, 2016
How many hundreds of babies were stolen from their parents in the early days of Israel?

by Michael Cook | Aug 27, 2016
What will happen to the UAS$1billion business

by Michael Cook | Aug 27, 2016
JAMA says that the consensus was wrong

by Michael Cook | Aug 27, 2016
Regulators cite concerns about governance and safety

by Xavier Symons | Aug 26, 2016
Duke University law professor Nita Farahany says that head transplants would not pass the consent test

by Xavier Symons | Aug 25, 2016
Does it lead to “bigoted, discriminatory medicine”?

by Xavier Symons | Aug 25, 2016
Where is the evidence for sexual orientation and gender identity?
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