Jerusalem – Academics and social activists are hoping Facebook will be the right medium to help them discover what really happened to thousands of Yemenite children during the so-called “Yemenite Children Affair”, Ha’aretz reports (http://bit.ly/VPYj6E).
At a conference this week organized by the Bar-Ilan University Dahan Center, participants, many of them siblings of Yemenite children who died or disappeared, were encouraged to share their stories and upload documents and photos to The Association for Society and Culture, Research and Documentation Facebook page in an effort to discover the truth surrounding the Affair.
An estimated 50,000 Jews were airlifted to Israel from Yemen during “Operation Magic Carpet” after the creation of the State. However, between 1948 and 1954, approximately 1,500 to 5,000 Yemenite children, mostly toddlers, were reported missing by their parents. Despite three separate committees in Israel which subsequently investigated the whereabouts of the children, there has never been any real closure in this matter. Many of the children were found to have died from illness, while a small number of them were adopted out. But a large number of children are still unaccounted for.
According to Dr. Esther Meir-Glitzenstein, an expert on Sephardic Jewish communities from Ben-Gurion University, Israel was ill-equipped to accommodate these Yemenite Jews when they arrived, which may explain why so many children needed to be hospitalized and later died upon their arrival in Israel. “Despite the tendency to portray Operation Magic Carpet as one of the great moments of Zionist history, it was an operation that failed,” Meir-Glitzenstein said.