This Reuters article is deeply anti-Israel: “Yemen’s Jewish community numbered over 40,000 until 1949, when Israel organised their mass transfer to the newly-established state. Those who stayed say they had lived in peace with their neighbours in the Muslim Arab country.”
This is not the whole story by any means. Professor Shmuel Trigano fills in some of the gaps: “In Yemen, sharia law was instated in 1913, worsening the situation of the dhimmi. Decrees specifying forced conversion for orphans were issued between 1922 and 1928, while Jews were excluded from public service positions and the army….In Yemen, a series of riots and lootings took place in 1931 and 1947 (with eighty people killed). An accusation of ritual crime was leveled against the Jews in Sana’a in 1948….Yemen prohibited Jews from leaving the country in 1949.”
The ones who remained in the country were subjected to ongoing harassment and discrimination. But for Reuters, their problem is not with Yemen, but with Israel.
“Yemen’s last Jews eye exodus after militia takeover,” Reuters, February 15, 2015 (thanks to Lookmann):
SANAA: A few worried families are all that remain of Yemen’s ancient Jewish community, and they too may soon flee after a Shia militia seized power in the strife-torn country this month.
Harassment by the Houthi movement – whose motto is “Death to America, death to Israel, curse the Jews, victory to Islam” – caused Jews in recent years to largely quit the northern highlands they shared with Yemen’s Shias for millennia.
But political feuds in which the Jews played no part escalated last September into an armed Houthi plunge into the capital Sanaa, the community’s main refuge from which some now contemplate a final exodus.
Around six Yemeni Jews from the same family arrived in Israel on Friday, members of the community told Reuters.
“Since last September, our movements have become very limited for fear of the security situation, and there are some members of the community who preferred to leave Yemen,” sighed chief rabbi Yahya Youssef, sitting in his apartment within a walled compound next to ministry of defence.
Dressed in the traditional Yemeni flowing robe, blazer and headwrap, Rabbi Yahya’s lined face is framed by two long curls on each side. Along with Hebrew he and his co-religionists speak Arabic, value local customs and are wary of life beyond home.
“We don’t want to leave. If we wanted to, we would have done so a long time ago,” Yahya said as his infirmed old father rested in the sun outside their home.
Jews evacuated from the Houthi stronghold of Saada province in 2009 to the government-guarded compound have dwindled from 76 to 45. A group of 26 others live in a city north of the capital.
Their total number is down from around 200-300 just a few years ago and now makes up a tiny fraction of Yemen’s 19 million-strong population.
Yemen’s Jewish community numbered over 40,000 until 1949, when Israel organised their mass transfer to the newly-established state. Those who stayed say they had lived in peace with their neighbours in the Muslim Arab country.
“Our problem lies with Israel”
Boredom and isolation reign at the Jews’ lodgings in their unlikely ghetto in a luxury enclave called “Tourist City” near the now-evacuated United States embassy.
Cut off from the carpentry and metalworking shops that were their renowned trade for centuries, residents now subsist on small government allowances that they say barely meet their living costs.
Young men who venture into the souk often tuck their distinctive curls up into their headwraps for fear of bullying. Boys are no longer eager to grow them in the first place.
The local Houthi official now responsible for the surrounding neighbourhood visited Rabbi Yahya on Thursday to offer reassurances, according to a Reuters correspondent who was present.
“Jews are safe and no harm will come to them,” said Abu al Fadl, who like other leaders in the movement goes by a nom de guerre and not his given name.
“The problem of the Houthis is not with the Jews of Yemen but with Israel, which occupies Palestine,” he added.
But memories of death threats and Houthi fighters burning down Jewish homes during the militia’s decade of on-off war with the now non-existent Sanaa government will not be soon forgotten….
“Death threats and Houthi fighters burning down Jewish homes.” Yes, clearly their problem is with Israel, not with the Jews of Yemen.