Her name was Toveet Radcliffe and her Black Hebrew family called her butterfly. She was also a soldier in the Israeli Defense Force who is now dead under mysterious circumstances.
Israel has compulsory military service for all citizens who reach 19 years of age. Radcliffe was a member of the Black Hebrew community that lives in a compound near the city of Dimona. The group moved to Israel from the United States under the leadership of Ben Ammi Ben Israel in 1969 where for over two decades they endured a lack citizenship status, work permits, access to schooling, health care, and the belligerence of an Israeli population unwilling to embrace a people who believed themselves to be descendants of the ancient Israelites.
Radcliffe was found dead last week and her family wants answers. Initially they were told that the young soldier died in her bedroom at the base. However, the next day they were told that she shot herself twice in the face with her M-16 assault rifle. According to Israeli media, the IDF then began to question the family, implying that Radcliffe came from a troubled home. The family refuted this narrative and indicated that their daughter was well balanced and would not have considered suicide.
The family requested that her body be released for cremation and was refused by the Israeli military because of the cost. Cremations are not allowed in Israel due to religious law and Radcliffe’s body would have to be shipped to another country for cremation. The Radcliffes then made a decision to have an independent autopsy performed but now the Israeli military is refusing to release her body. The IDF is demanding that her birth father, who has never been to Israel, come to Israel and personally give permission. This is causing many in Israel to think that a cover-up is underway because of a string of rapes and sexual violence that have occurred with the IDF. What makes Toveet Radcliffe’s death so important to the Black Hebrews of Israel is that she, unlike her parents, was born in Israel and is considered a citizen. As such her military service brought legitimacy to the Black Hebrew cause and represents a new generation of Black Hebrews.
The Black Hebrew community was discriminated against for decades by an Israeli government that refused to recognize them either as Jews or as Israeli citizens now wants answers.