Margalit Omessi and Tzila Levine

by Yechiel A. Mann
Eshhar, Israel

Margalit Omessi and Tzila Levine

are convinced

they are mother and daughter,

as is the rest of their family.
 
  1. Preface
  2. The Hearing
  3. The Empty Graves
  4. Was there Cover Up?
  5. Were the Children Sold?
  6. Obstruction of The Truth
  7. The Hidden Scandal
  8. A Body has never been found
  9. What Says The Lubavitcher
  10. Swept Under the Magic Carpet
  11. This page
  12. Yemenite Scandal Directory

A Mother and Child reunion


  In the same week the four graves spoken of in part III of
this series were opened, Tzila Levine arrived in Israel.  Mrs.
Levine came from Sacramento, California with the thought that
she may have been taken from her original family and sold for
adoption as a child.

  She arrived in Israel with a written declaration she received
from her adopting mother stating that she was adopted as a
foundling. Also, her dark skin led her to believe that she may
have been kidnapped from her parents as she heard happened with
other children. She came to Israel to see if she could find her
biological parents.

  On the 18th of August, 1997, a report on Tzila Levine appeared in
the 'Yediot Acharonot' newspaper.  Tzila was quoted as saying

        "I am only asking to find my biological parents
         and find out who really brought me into the world".

  Levine (50), who lives in Sacramento, California was adopted by a
couple who lived on the "Ein Ha-Mifratz" Kibbutz.

  The newspaper further reported that her parents told her they had
received her from a doctor in a medical clinic in the Haifa area,
and told her that she was adopted when she was six years old.
Levine was quoted:

        "All the years I was different in the Kibbutz.
         Everyone was light-skinned and I was the only
         one with dark skin".

  The article reports that Tzila Levine began searching for her
parents when her adopting mother died, five years before the
article was written.  She also was quoted as saying

        "I went to the archives of the Ein Ha-Mifratz
         Kibbutz, and asked for the documents related
         to my adoption.

         I found that the adoption certificates said I
         was a foundling child and my parents were not
         known. I spoke to the office of adoptions in
         Haifa and they asked me to come there.  In the
         office, they checked the material they had and
         said that they had no file related to my
         adoption.

            'There was a big mess [in the files,
             back then], go home', they told me.

         I left the office and started crying, because
         I'd never find my parents".

  One of the people that helped Tzila get started in her search
was Mr. Sampson Giat, the President of the Federation of Yemenite
Jews in the United States.  Mr. Giat went on cable-TV and spoke
at length on the subject of the kidnapped children.  He then
asked anyone who thought they might have been one of the abducted
children to contact him.  Mrs. Levine contacted Mr. Giat, and
told him of her case.  It was Mr. Giat who assisted her in
finding the necessary contacts in Israel and establishing contact
with them.

  By the 21st of August, 1997 it was reported that as many as
fifteen families who had heard of Mrs. Levine's case, came to
Rammy Tsuberi, Tzila Levine's lawyer, saying that Tsila Levine
might be their stolen child.

  One specific family that came to Tsuberi's office on the 20th of
that month was mentioned: Mrs. Margalit Omessi, and her
children.  Mrs. Levine and the Omessi family met each other at
Mr. Tsuberi's office and, upon noticing the amazing similarity
between her daughter Yehudit and Tzila, Margalit Omessi was
reported to,

        "have kissed Tzila warmly, and said that there is
         an amazing similarity between Levine and her
         daughter Yehudit. Margalit requested that Levine
         have a blood-test, so they would be able to check
         whether she was, indeed, her daughter. Dr Hassan
         Hatib, a genetics expert in the Hebrew University
         in Jerusalem, took the blood sample in Tsuberi's
         office. The results were expected to be announced
         within days. 'Even if you are not my daughter,
         know that you will always be in my heart, and
         will always have a place in Israel', Mrs. Omessi
         told Mrs. Levine."
             (c) 'Yediot Acharonot' August 21, 1997

  One of the reasons that Mrs. Omessi suspected Tzila might be
her daughter was after she had seen a picture in the newspaper of
Tzila when she was an infant.  It was then that Mrs. Omessi
noticed the resemblance between Tzila, as a baby, and Mazal, her
daughter.

  On the 25th of August, 1997, the phone rang in the home of
Dina Frazer, a childhood friend of Tzila Levine's, where she
was staying. On the line was Tzila's lawyer, Rammy Tsuberi.

        "That's it, the tests were a success.
         We found your mother",

  he said.  Tzila was in shock when she heard the news.  She was
trembling with excitement as she drank some water, and took some
time to recover.  She then began crying,

        "Yes! It's my mother!  My mother!...".

  Dr. Hassan Hatib of the Hebrew University's Genetics labs tested
both blood samples and reported:

        "With all the blood samples, I conducted D.N.A.
         tests in the PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction)
         method in ten different genetic signs that are
         Polymorphic in different groups. [he then lists
         the ten different signs] The results of my tests
         were as follows: In every one of the ten genetic
         signs that were tested the daughter, Tzila
         received one aponeurosis from the mother,
         Margalit. Of course, every one of Margalit's
         children received one aponuerosis from the
         mother, Margalit. In the statistic calculations
         that are used in the forensic labs around the
         world, the chance that Mrs. Tzila Levine is the
         daughter of Mrs. Margalit Omessi is: 99.99143%."

  The report was signed "Genetics - Hebrew University, Dr. Hassan
Hatib".  After Hatib conducted these tests, he repeated tests in
another four genetic signs, also showing that Levine and Omessi
were, indeed, mother and daughter.

  After this report, the entire Israeli public was interested in
Mrs. Omessi and Mrs. Levine's reunion. For months it was the
most common topic in public. One broadcast on the "Arutz 7"
radio station reported:

        "Tzlia Levine, from the Unites States, is the
         biological daughter of Mrs. Margalit Omessi.
         This is the result of DNA tests carried out in
         the Genetics Laboratory in Hebrew University in
         Jerusalem. The tests found that there is a
         perfect match between the DNA of Mrs. Levine and
         the Omessi family."

        "She arrived in Israel with the express purpose of
         finding her original family; the Omessi family
         claimed that she is their daughter who
         disappeared from a Rosh HaAyin infirmary in
         1949."

        "Levine was brought up on Kibbutz Ein Hamifratz by
         adoptive parents over 50 years ago. She began to
         look for her biological parents after the death
         of her adoptive mother five years ago. Margalit
         Omessi said she had never given up hope of
         finding her lost daughter."

        "In a related item, the public committee
         investigating the disappearance of the Yemenite
         children heard the testimony today of Avraham
         Buzi, who said that his eighteen month old
         daughter disappeared from a babies' home in
         Pardes Hanna in 1949."

        "He visited her one day and found her healthy, but
         the next day was told that she had died. He said
         that he never received a death certificate nor
         saw her  grave."  August 26, 1997

  The truth is that the results of the tests were a surprise even
to Dr. Hatib.  He was quoted as saying,

        "The chance that two people, with no family
         relation, will have the same genetic ID is nil.
         In this case, I set the genetic ID of the mother,
         Margalit and in Tzila's genetic ID it was found
         that half of what she has comes from Margalit.
         This happens only in a case of a mother and
         daughter."

        "I was shocked at the results, because to find the
         daughter, out of all the people in the world,
         that belongs to the right mother is like taking a
         shot in the dark. At first glance, I did not
         believe the results, which is why I conducted
         another series of tests. The results are of a
         reliable test, that meets international standards
         and that are acceptable in the forensic
         laboratories all over the world".

  The tragic story of the separation of Margalit and her daughter
began in 1949, as Margalit testified to the Cohen committee on
the 15th of November, 1995.  Part of this testimony was recorded
as follows:

Chairman Judge Yehuda Cohen:

        "You came to Israel in 1949, Rosh Hashana,"
         [Jewish New Year]

Margalit Omessi: "Right."

Chairman Cohen:  "With your girl. . ."

Margalit:        "Right. . . my family"

Chairman Cohen:  "You didn't write here . . .
                  did her father come too?"

Margalit:        "No, I divorced him three months
                  before I came to Israel."

Chairman Cohen:  "Did you notify the authorities
                  you were divorced?"

Margalit:        "Yes, he even didn't know the girl...
                  he was very ill back in Yemen."

Chairman Cohen:  "Did he ever come to Israel?"

Margalit:        "Yes, almost the same month,
                  but he came alone,
                  and I came alone with my family"

Chairman Cohen:  "And he showed no interest in the girl,"

Margalit:        "Not at all, he was very ill".

Chairman Cohen:  "And then they took you to Rosh Ha-Ayin,"

Margalit:        "I came to Rosh Ha-Ayin, camp Alef,
                  on the day of Rosh HaShana ."

Chairman Cohe:   "Was it a tent-camp?"

Margalit:        "Yes,"

Chairman Cohen:  "And they took the children to a baby-home?"

Margalit:        "Children . . . right . . . when..."

Member of Committee, Brigadier David Maimon:

                 "You had only Mazal, right?"

Margalit:        "Only Mazal. "

Maimon:          "Did you have any other children?"

Margalit:        "No."

Chairman Cohen:  "I say they took all the children that
                  arrived at that time were taken to the
                  baby home, as was Mazal,"

Margalit:        "The moment we reached the main road of
                  Rosh-Ha-Ayin, the nurses came and
                  snatched every child from their mother's
                  arms, with no explanation, without
                  saying anything about where to and why,
                  nothing.

                  They took us to the bathing rooms, while
                  they took the children to the baby
                  homes, with Magen David [Adom], and we
                  came out and asked where our children
                  are, and got no answer. They then put us
                  into tents, every mother crying for her
                  child.

                  I was in the same tent with two other
                  mothers, and we started looking through
                  the tents during the night to find for
                  our children, until the morning when we
                  heard our babies crying.

                  We asked the guards, and went and saw
                  screaming children, and mothers
                  screaming in the babies' home. So, we
                  went back to the tents, and saw our
                  children every morning, every day I got
                  my baby, I was still nursing her,
                  getting her in the morning, and feeding
                  her.

                  I did the same every afternoon, but all
                  day every day we looked at our babies
                  through the windows of the baby home."

Chairman Cohen:  "But she was then about a year and a half old,"

Margalit:        "A year exactly"

Chairman Cohen:  "A year?"

Margalit:        "When she was taken from me. She was a
                  year and a half old. . .
                  when she disappeared, she was a year and
                  a half old,"

Chairman Cohen:  "You're saying it took six months
                  [from your arrival]
                  until she disappeared,"

Margalit:        "Yes, and I always gave her food,
                  I gave her everything, and she wasn't at
                  all sick, except when her throat was a
                  bit red, she suffered some diarrhea when
                  her teeth were first coming in, but I
                  gave her food three times a day, and the
                  same nurse gave her to me every day, and
                  one day...."

Chairman Cohen:  "You're saying that it was about at the
                  end of a six-month period that she was
                  taken to the hospital"

Margalit:        "Yes, she was taken to the hospital, the
                  one that wasn't too far from the baby
                  home, about 200 meters away from it"

Chairman Cohen:  "In Rosh-HaAyin"

Margalit:        "In Rosh-HaAyin . . . and I was still
                  always at the window, looking at her.

                  One day, I came to the hospital, and
                  they let me into the hospital.

                  This was the first time they let me into
                  the hospital.  Three doctors were standing
                  next to me, asking me where her father was.

                  I told them I came divorced, and I was
                  just with my girl and my family.
                  My child was in my hands then.

                  After a while, they took her from me,
                  and I left.  After I left, my child was
                  taken to the baby home.  After a while,
                  one day I came, as every other day, and
                  she wasn't there that morning. I fed her
                  dinner the night before.  She wasn't
                  there.

                  I asked a nurse. . . she didn't know.

                  I told her that she gave her to me all
                  the time, but she still didn't know.
                  She didn't know.

                  I went crazy.

                  Nothing.

                  I went to the mayor's secretary, Bedihi,
                  and I yelled there and cried, and he
                  threw me out, and said he didn't know.
                  At the end he saw I was so disturbed by
                  it that he sent me to the Petah-Tiqvah
                  police station.

                  The Petah-Tiqva police sent me to all
                  kinds of places, to the Hospital, to
                  WIZO, to everywhere they sent me . . .

                  I went. I would work two or three days,
                  save up the money for travel, and go.

                  I never found her.

                  Not at Bet-Lid, not at Ein-Shemer, and
                  not at Rosh HaAyin, nowhere.

                  Everywhere I went, I couldn't find her.
                  And her file at Rosh-HaAyin said she was
                  still alive.

                  After the Six-Day War [1967] I received
                  a letter from the Petah-Tikvah Police,
                  asking that I go to the station.
                  I went, and the person there read the
                  file and all.

                  I told him my daughter wasn't dead,
                  she's alive. He read the letter and told
                  me that she went from the hospital to
                  the baby-home, and from there they don't
                  know where she went.

                  I told him I don't know, but I'm not
                  giving up, I want my girl from wherever
                  she is.

                  He told me that they should take all
                  those nurses and doctors to prison, and
                  that she's still alive.  From that time
                  on, I got no answer....."

  This testimony shows that even the police at the time were aware
of the crimes being committed. Margalit's testimony goes on as
she describes cases of families she knows that had children taken
as well.

  The next time the committee heard Margalit Omessi was after her
reunion with Tzila Levine. Tzila, Margalit and their family came
to testify before the committee and members of the press.

  Even foreign press took an interest in this case, so it was not
surprising that when the official committee heard Mrs. Levine and
Mrs. Omessi I was able to spot cameras and reporters from
networks like ABC news, Fox news and Sky news, just to name a
few.

  Tzila's attorney, Rammy Tzuberi, came to the committee, to
represent Margalit and Tzila. The committee began by hearing a
detailed account of Tzila's search for her parents, and went on
with the details of their reunion. Tzila also spoke of what her
adopting parents had told her while they were still alive, about
how they chose her from the many children in the doctor's home;
how she stood there in her crib, laughing and raising her arms up
high, which is when her adopting father, Mordechai Rozenstock,
decided to take her. The emotional tension in the room that day
was overwhelming. None of the people present could help crying,
walking over to congratulate Margalit and Tzila for being
reunited after nearly fifty years, and hoping in their hearts to
see more of these reunions. I was introduced to Margalit and
Tzila by an elderly Yemenite I have been in close touch with
regarding research. He's worked on the case extensively himself,
and wishes to remain anonymous. He's known Margalit for a long
time. Although this was the first time I met Margalit, I've seen
her in almost every rally and convention on the topic since then.

  However, at the time I was still afraid of cover-up methods being
applied. I told a few people including individuals from "Mishkan
Ohalim", prominent journalists, and Sampson Giat's wife, Jackie,
who was also present, that I believed that since the committee
had been involved in previous cover-ups, it would cover this up
as well. I speculated that the committee would demand another DNA
test, and even speculated it would appoint Dr. Yehuda Hiss, head
of the Institute for Forensic Medicine in Abu-Kabir, to do these
tests. I then said I believed they would wait for Tzila to return
to the United States (I said maybe a month or so) to give the
false results. I said that I believed they would lie about the
results, saying that Tzila and Margalit were not mother and
daughter after all. I was told that no-one would dare contradict
such a solid, proven test as the one conducted by a prominent
geneticist of the Hebew University. . .  "No one will believe
it."  I mentioned this possibility during a committee recess. The
state attorney, Drora Nachmani-Roth then began to raise
questions, after presenting a document showing that Tzila was
adopted in November 1948, while Margalit Omessi immigrated to
Israel in '49.

  This is despite the fact that Tzila was not able to find any
documents regarding her adoption. Attorney Tzuberi attempted to
answer this strange inconsistency by suggesting that Margalit
could have made a mistake regarding the date of immigration,
since she was then barely familiar with the non-Jewish calendar.
Tzuberi had a hard time trying to suggest that the document was
forged. So many other documents were forged at the time, such as
death certificates, birth certificates, and many more. In the
first article in this series, I wrote of a cache of pre-signed
blank birth and death certificates found by a government
official, Yehudit Hivner.  According to Ms. Hivner's testimony,
these documents contained no dates, or any entries other than a
signature and a stamp. This would allow the filling in of any and
all details about a child, even a falsified birth date.

  On September 14th 1997 Tzila Levine returned to her family in the
United States. It was less than a month later, on the 9th of
October 1997, that I woke up to hear on the radio how the worst
of my predictions had come true, almost word-for-word.

  Kol Israel Radio reported that morning:

        "Yemenite born Tzila Levine is not the lost
         daughter of Margalit Omessi. New DNA tests prove
         there is no common genetic pattern between the
         two. Medical experts say the genetic tests
         carried out at the Abu Kabir Forensic Institute
         are the newest techniques and refute earlier
         results."

  Attorney Tzuberi made sure to let the public know of Dr. Hiss'
breach of agreement.  Hiss and the family of Omessi and Levine
had a signed agreement that the results of the testing will be 
given only to Tzuberi and the family. However, Tzuberi got no
notice of the results, and only found out about them by reading
them in the media after they were publicized  by the spokesman for the 
Abu Kabir Institute.

  Arutz 7 Radio reported:

        "Tzila Levine, who claims she is the daughter of
         Yemenite Jew Margalit Omessi, but separated from
         her fifty years ago while a baby, has questioned
         the validity of Ministry of Health tests which
         are said to have proved she is not Margalit's
         daughter after all. An earlier DNA test had said
         that she was.

        'I was disappointed with the results' Tzila told
         radio station Arutz 7 today, 'but not at all
         surprised. It was made clear to us that the
         methodology used by this institute would be able
         to be interpreted differently by different
         chemists, and we therefore asked that testing
         procedure be stopped.'

         Tzila said the Institute which tested her broke a
         signed agreement not to publicize the results and
         that if they could not keep their word, she had
         no reason to believe in the accuracy of the tests.

         She also said she did not trust the Ministry of
         Health which stood by as hundreds of children
         "disappeared" fifty years ago...I rather believe
         the results of the previous testing, which was
         carried out twice, and which found that we are in
         fact mother and daughter.'

         Tzila said that after spending a total of nine
         days together, both she and Margalit were
         absolutely certain they were mother and
         daughter."

  On that day, I was contacted by a few journalists, amazed
by the accuracy of my "prediction".  Frankly, so was I.  I was
even right about the time I said they'd publicize the results.

  On November 22, 1997, an article was published in "Maariv" an
Israeli mainstream newspaper.  This article was written by Michal
Kapra, and was based on an interview with Dr. Hassan Hatib, still
standing by the results of his first tests. A few important
details were given in this article. One, that after the results
of Dr. Hiss' tests, Hatib conducted another series of tests,
using the blood from the same samples that Hiss used in the labs
of the Forensic Institute.  These tests showed again, that
Margalit Omessi and Tzila Levine are, indeed, mother and
daughter.

  Another important fact is that Dr. Hatib was not able to receive
Hiss' results from the Institute. The results were never shown to
anyone, and only a final conclusion was issued by the Institute.
Never were the test results shown to Dr. Hatib, to attorney
Tzuberi, to the government committee . . . to no one.

  One other important thing that Hatib mentioned is that Dr. Hiss
used a mitochondrial DNA test, while he himself used
chromosomichal DNA.  Hatib mentions that there is a scientific
problem dealing with mitochondrial DNA, since it is unstable and
mutates over the years, which is why it's not used in tests to
determine family relation.  He also mentions that this DNA goes
through immense changes after the age of 40.  In this article,
Hatib is backed up on this point by Professor Adam Friedman, of
the Haddassa Ein-Karem Hospital.  Professor Friedman is considered
by many to be the most prominent geneticist in the State of
Israel.  Professor Friedman also says that the chromosomichal DNA
tests are far more reliable.  He mentions the problems that arise
with the changes that occur in mitochondrial DNA.

  Later on, in response to this, a claim was issued by the Forensic
labs that they then conducted a second series of tests, in
chromosomichal DNA, which showed again, that Mrs. Levine and Mrs.
Omessi are not mother and daughter.  This is not to say they
took another blood sample for these tests, or that these results
were publicized either.  It is crucial to remember that no records
or results of the tests were given to anyone by the Forensic labs
. . .just their final conclusion.

  Margalit Omessi and Tzila Levine are convinced they are mother
and daughter, as is the rest of their family.  This became most
clear to me after I paid a visit to Margalit last month.  I also
found out from Margalit that Tzila is now writing a book on the
story of her reunion with her family.

  However, even more importantly, Sampson Giat is continuing his
efforts to reunite more families of the stolen children.  He has
issued many letters and press releases, as well as interviews to
TV networks, and is doing what he can to reunite as many families
as possible.  Mr. Giat has conducted the most extensive and
professional work on this issue.  If anyone would like to contact
Sampson Giat, to assist him, to receive information, or just to
show support for the cause, he can be contacted at: 305 Seventh
Avenue, 11th Floor New York, NY 10001. Tel/Fax: (212) 633-8453.
Or by Email, at YemFed@Aol.Com

© Yechiel Mann,
Eshhar, Israel

  • To be continued

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