In the early 1950's, approximately 100,000 immigrant children, primarily from North Africa, received X-ray radiation treatment for ringworm upon their arrival in Israel. At the time, the medical establishment thought ringworm a grave danger to public health. It was later discovered that these treatments caused high rates of infertility, cancer and death. This tragic affair was hidden from the public eye for decades… until now. Through exhaustive research and testimonies of survivors, this emotional documentary illustrates how stereotyping immigrants can have horrific consequences.And this is how David Shasha of Sephardic Heritage Update. describes the man most responsible for the programme that blighted the lives of so many Jews from North Africa for generations:
Dr. Chaim Sheba, the first Surgeon General of Israel and an avowed racist who believed in the principles of using Eugenics as a social tool, was loath to accept the immigration from North Africa. Sheba demanded as a health official that any immigrants with family members who had health problems be barred from moving to Israel. And when the first immigrants came from Morocco, he demanded that they be treated for ringworm.....
Dr. Sheba, according to his writings, became obsessed with this ringworm issue in regard to the North African immigrants. In his role as a public health minister he demanded that all North African children be sent to health centers to receive RADIATION THERAPY.
As the film points out, the regimen of forced radiation based on eugenics was on the wane in the US after the revelations of Nazi experiments in the Concentration Camps and the vast scientific evidence from Japan after the nuclear devastation in 1945. The scientific community by 1952 was well aware of the dangers of radiation and the short and long-term impact of this type of treatment on individuals – especially children. Dozens of lawsuits were being settled in the US courts with compensatory damages being awarded to the victims of these cruel experiments.
This did not deter Dr. Chaim Sheba – the Josef Mengele of Israel.