Letter: Yemeni airlift praiseworthy

THE HEADLINE to Sarah Helm's article ('Yemeni Jews describe their holocaust', 17 April) is shockingly insensitive. To suggest that Jews of all people should perpetrate a 'Holocaust' against fellow Jews plumbs a new depth. To use the term when it does not mean the deliberate killing of thousands is totally misleading. Ms Helm unearths not a single murder.

The dramatic Israeli airlift of the hapless Yemeni Jews more than 40 years ago was an unprecedented rescue, which received worldwide acclaim, not least from the rescued families. Of course, many hundreds of sick children needed lengthy treatment, far from packed immigration centres. Of course, many childless couples, moved by their plight, offered adoption, which impoverished parents frequently encourage for their children's sake. And, of course, some natural parents sadly regret their selflessness years later.

The official inquiry a quarter of a century ago found little evidence of forced adoption. As Professor Avishai Margalit says in the same piece, if there were any truth in the sensationalist charges, it could hardly have remained concealed today.

It is surely the children involved who must decide where they want to live in 1994. They are now all middle-aged, and scarcely need the 'help' of the agitators described, or that of journalists, in making their decisions.

W M Leaf

Wembley, Middlesex

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