In a series of articles, Israeli writer Barry Chamish reviews Israeli television’s 2004 expose of the deliberate mass radiation poisoning of 100,000 young Israeli immigrants from North African and Middle Eastern countries (Sephardim) with a screening of the award winning 2003 documentary film, The Ringworm Children.
The story goes like this: With vast evidence from Nazi experiments in the concentration camps and the atomic bombing of Japan, the scientifi c community was well aware by 1951 of the short and long-term dangers of radiation, especially on children. The American government had banned forced radiation testing based on eugenics on humans prisoners, the mentally feeble, etc., but wanted human lab rats for its nuclear and other programs.
In 1951, the director general of the Israeli Health Ministry, Dr. Chaim Sheba, flew to America and agreed, on behalf of the Israeli government, to supply the humans in exchange for money and nuclear secrets. Dr. Sheba returned to Israel with 7 x-ray machines, supplied to him by the American army.
The x-ray machines were to be used in a mass atomic experiment with an entire generation of Sephardi youths to be used as guinea pigs. Dr. Sheba demanded that all North African children be sent to health centers to receive radiation therapy as a pre-emptive treatment for ringworm, normally treated with vinegar. Every Sephardi child was to be given 35,000 times the maximum dose of x-rays through the head. For doing so, the American government paid the Israeli government 300,000 Israeli liras a year (billions in today’s dollars).
To fool the parents of the victims, the children were taken away on “school trips” and their parents were later told the x-rays were a treatment for the scourge of scalpal ringworm. 6,000 of the children died shortly after their doses were given. Many of the rest developed epilepsy, amnesia, Alzheimer’s disease, sterility, horrifying scarred bald spots, severe scarring on the body, loss of teeth and hair, chronic headaches, psychosis, and cancers at more than double the rate of the general population.
Many people have testified that the radiation campaign caused the children serious emotional harm. Without any explanation, they were brought to clinics where the hair on their heads was shaven, the hair that remained was pulled out with hot wax, and the roots were eliminated with x-rays.
The majority of the victims were Moroccan because they were the most numerous of the Sephardi immigrants. The generation that was poisoned in Israel became the country’s perpetual poor and criminal class, while the Moroccan Jews who fled to France became prosperous and highly educated. The common explanation was that France got the rich, thus smart ones. The real explanation is that every French Moroccan Jewish child didn’t have the brain cells fried with x-rays.
David Deri, makes the point that only Sephardi children received the x-rays. “I was in class and the men came to take us on a tour. They asked our names. The Ashkenazi children [descendents of European Jews] were told to return to their seats. The dark children were put on the bus.” A Moroccan woman: “It was a Holocaust, a Sephardi Holocaust. And what I want to know is why no one stood up to stop it.”
The film presents a historian who declares that the ringworm operation was a eugenics program aimed at weeding out what Ashkenazi leaders perceived to be the “weak strains of society”. Running Rings Around the Victims, by Aryeh Dayan, says that the ringworm radiation campaign lasted until 1960.
Fifty years after the ringworm radiation, victims are still fighting for compensation from the state for their illnesses. The claims process is prohibitive, riddled with tricky and impossible procedures, and the sparsely granted awards are paltry.
Victims have been stonewalled in their efforts even to get information. David Deri, relates the frustration he encountered when trying to fi nd his childhood medical records. “All I wanted to know was what they did to me. I wanted to know who authorized it. I wanted to trace the chain of command. But the Health Ministry told me my records were missing.” Boaz Lev, the Health Ministry’s spokesman chimes in, “Almost all the records were burned in a fire.”
Chamish contends that the Israeli leaders were aware of, responsible for, and benefi ted from the program. It is unlikely that a program involving the equivalent of billions of dollars of American government funds for cash-strapped Israel could be unknown to the Israeli leaders.
A hospital was named after Eliezer Kaplan, who handled the profi ts of the operation. A whole medical complex was named after Chaim Sheba, who ran Ringworm Incorporated.
Chamish says it is a miracle that Ringworm Children was broadcast at all, but it was aired at the same time asthe highest-rated show of the year, the fi nal of Israel’s, A Star Is Born. The next day, while there was not a word about Ringworm Children in any paper, the newly-born star’s photo took up half the front pages.
See more information at: barrychamish.com
The Rock Creek Free Press is an eight page broadsheet newspaper, printed in black and white on the finest newsprint. Subscribe for home delivery to receive 12 monthly issues of the Creek delivered to your door by First Class US Mail.