Letter from Meir Levi, Head of Ein Shemer Immigration Section, to Maariv Daily, 1966 (courtesy of Dr. Amos Noy).
Mr. Joseph Zuriel’s article - “12 Mothers in search of their children” (Maariv, April 1, 1966) - is an outrageous article. The disappearance of babies from immigrant camps, and the silence of public personas and organizations so far in light of this tragedy - cannot be left open. Had the same happened not to Yemenite newcomers - surely the silence would have been broken.
At the time I was the Head of Ein Shemer Immigration Section and I would like to express my opinion on the matter.
We learnt about the disappearance of children from the camp’s nursery during the first months of the camp’s existence, when disgruntled and confused parents came to us and asked: Where are our children? The nursery affairs obviously, were not within our domain or authority, yet, we did our best to help find their children. At the time an appeal was also made to the Integration Department in Tel Aviv, in response to which Mr. Jung arrived in Ein Shemer with the express mission of investigating. Concern for the children’s fate was expressed, yet it is doubtful that the necessary efforts were made by the responsible public authorities to find the children, or at least resolve the mystery of their disappearance.
Mr. Zuriel alleges that there was a central address for matters related to this “mass immigration”. There was not such a central address then, nor is there now. The one and only address back then was The Jewish Agency and Mr. Haim Zadok, on whom rested the great burden of integrating fifty thousand immigrants in a short period of time.
Mr. H. Zadok claims, according to the same article, that he cannot conceive of a nurse “taking money in exchange for giving away a baby for adoption”. God forbid, no one wants to throw suspicion on the nurses or caregivers who worked at the nursery back then, however, the poignant question is naturally raised: Where did the children disappear to? How did the children disappear? Who other than the nurses and caregivers had access to the nursery? Wasn’t it their duty, together with the authorities that sent them, to be responsible for the children’s welfare?
But what is most interesting in this affair is another thing which requires investigation and attention: children disappeared from more than one immigrant camp! Children disappeared from several immigrant camps in the same mysterious manner, and this alone raises suspicion and concern that a single power organized the kidnapping of the children and their delivery to adopting families, or even their smuggling abroad. This sorry affair should be investigated and resolved by an authorized public committee of inquiry. Such a thing will not happen without the initiative of everyone involved, first and foremost, the affected families themselves, who should get organized for this purpose and not trust others, who still haven’t done anything, and I doubt if they ever will.
Meir Levi, Givatayim. April 17, 1966