Jakarta, CNBC Indonesia – Even though it is almost a century old, Tamar Maatuf’s memory is still strong about the bad incident that happened to her in the 1950s. At that time, she had just given birth to a healthy baby boy without any defects.
A feeling of happiness clearly enveloped Maatuf’s heart that day. She couldn’t wait to see and breastfeed her child. However, a few hours later, health workers came to him to tell him that his child was sick, so he had to be separated.
As a mother, she simply obeys and believes. After all, it’s for the good of the child.
As days passed, Maatuf was surprised that his child was still sick. He came to the hospital and was given the news that his child had died. After that, he was sincere and lived his life as usual.
Until finally, decades later Maatuf realized that his son had not died. Apparently there are hundreds of other mothers who have the same story. These mothers come from Mizrahi Jews who often experience discrimination. As a result, they concluded that their child had been kidnapped by the government.
“My heart is broken. I thank God for blessing me with children, but there is one child I will never forget,” said Maatuf, quoted from Al Jazeera.
Photo: AP/Ariel Schalit
Illustration of Jews (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
The case of baby kidnapping in the 1950s was one of the forms of discrimination that befell Mizrahi Jews. For the record, Mizrahi Jews are a Jewish diaspora originating from Arab countries with Islamic majority populations.
On this basis, they were named Mizrahi, which in Hebrew means “people from the East”, referring to their countries of origin, such as Morocco, Iran, Iraq, Tunisia, Syria, Egypt and so on.
They came shortly after Davin ben-Gurion proclaimed the state of Israel in 1948. The trigger was the tragedy of forced eviction from Arab lands due to increasing anti-Jewish sentiment as a result of Israel’s establishment. So, as a result of this pressure, they returned to the ‘promised land.’
Unfortunately, according to Susan Abulhawa in Al Jazeera, these Jews were not accepted by the majority of citizens. The reason is simple: just because they come from Arabia.
“The Jewish-Arab (Mizrahi) people were seen as incomplete, barbaric, dirty and uncivilized,” wrote Susan.
In their daily practices, the Mizrahi people, who initially numbered tens of thousands, often spoke Arabic. However, they also behaved like ordinary Jews. Even so, they are still considered different classes by society.
In fact, Israel’s founder Davin ben-Gurion even had sentiments towards this group. Quoting +972, in 1959 Gurion once called Mizrahi Jews primitive.
As a result, there is a gap between Mizrahi and other Jews, one of which is Ashkenazi Jews who come from European countries. Mizrahi Jews live more miserable lives. They have difficulty going to school and do not have proper economic access. This includes being a victim of baby kidnapping.
Photo: Jewish illustration (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
Regarding this issue, the Israeli magazine +972 said that the kidnapping was deliberately carried out by the Israeli government. They kidnap the babies of Mizrahi Jews because they don’t want the Arab identity to stick with them and continue across generations.
So, this is a kind of attempt to erase identity. Babies born to Mizrahi wombs were then kidnapped to be raised by other Jewish families.
There are thousands of cases of baby kidnapping recorded. Until now, the mothers of the victims, who are now in their old age, are trying to ask the government for an explanation about where their children have gone.
The good news is that nowadays discrimination against Mizrahi Jews is starting to fade. According to Professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Momi Dahan, the gap is starting to disappear.
“In many regions, the gap between Jews of American or European descent (Ashkenazi) and those of Asian or African descent (Mizrahi) has been eliminated or significantly reduced,” said Prof. Momi Dahan to The Jerusalem Post.
At the government level, this gap is also starting to disappear. Many state officials are of Mizrahi descent. This means that, slowly but surely, racial discrimination among Jews is starting to erode.
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