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The Yemenite, Mizrahi and Balkan Children Affair

Updated: Jun 13, 2023

The Yemenite, Mizrahi and Balkan Children Affair was the kidnapping and disappearance of thousands of toddlers from families of new immigrants. These families were mostly from Yemen, but also from other origins, and the kidnappings and disappearances took place mainly in the 1940s and 1950s. Children were taken from their parents under false pretenses and sometimes forcibly removed. Many parents were told their children had died, but they were not allowed to see the bodies or receive death certificates. Despite official inquiries, the truth remains hidden, causing great pain and resentment.

The Method

Immigrant parents housed in transit and absorption camps were asked to give their children to nurseries or hospitals. Sometimes children were violently taken by social workers or nurses.

Parents were not allowed to stay with their children. Some time later the parents were told that their child had died. The parents never saw their child’s body and were not allowed to take their child to be buried. In many cases, parents did not receive a death certificate.

Several children were returned to their parents after the latter’s fierce protests.

The committees and the gag order

The affair came to light again when most of the families received IDF's draft orders for the "dead" children. Three official (but not independent) inquiries were conducted by the state. The first was in 1967, and 1984 there were two inter-ministerial joint committees of the Departments of Justice and Police. In the late nineties, the official investigative committee was established.

Later a gag order was placed on all the committee’s materials, until 2066. This was recently partially lifted thanks to the pressure of a public campaign. However, much crucial information remains inaccessible to the families: many documents are still censored, some bodies that took part in transferring the children have not opened their archives (for instance, WIZO and Hadassah), and some documents that were officially released remain in practice unavailable.

The adoptees and the missing adoption flies

As well as the many stories of children who went missing, there are also stories of adults who discovered they were adopted, and tried to locate their biological parents.

Unfortunately, it is almost impossible for the adoptees to locate the biological family - adoption files do not exist, or exist but contain only partial records. Families searching for their children encounter similar problems: non-existent documents, incomplete records, forged signatures and procedures which block access to information.

The Amram Association

On June 21 2013, Rabbi Uzi Meshulam who fought for the recognition and investigation of the Affair, passed away. Rabbi Meshulam paid a heavy price for his struggle.

The Amram Association has decided to regularly mark the day of his death as a day of awareness of the Affair. The Amram Association collects testimonies into an online archive which is accessible to the general public.

The struggle continues: demands & goals

  • Official recognition of the affair of the children’s disappearance and its racist background.

  • A public investigation of the medical and scientific aspects of the affair.

  • Adding the affair to secondary school curricula.

  • Complete public transparency regarding the affair.

  • Setting up a professional body for locating each of the children.

  • Clearing the name of Rabbi Uzi Meshulam.

  • Compensation for the victims


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