Saturday, April 07, 2007

Yemenite Jews caught up in sectarian strife

Photo:Ginny Hill

Long feature by Ginny Hill of the Christian Science Monitor on the troubles facing Yemen's tiny Jewish community:

"Sanaa, Yemen:Yahya Yousef Mousa (pictured left) is one of the several hundred Jews still living in Yemen. His grandparents refused to join the mass evacuation to Israel that followed anti-Jewish riots in 1948. Instead, they opted to continue a traditional life that their ancestors had peacefully pursued in Yemen for generations.

"But, in January, that peace was shattered when Mr. Mousa was confronted by masked gunmen from a Shiite sect that accused him of spreading vice and corruption. He and his neighbors were told to leave their homes in the northern province of Saada or lose their lives.

"Now, Mousa and eight Jewish families from the village of Salem are living in a secure residential compound in the capital, Sanaa. Their expenses are being paid by the Yemeni government, currently battling an armed rebellion mounted by the same Shiite group that threatened the Jews. "We are safe here, but we're afraid we'll be killed if we go back to our village," Mousa says. "We want to stay here until conditions improve."

"Only Mousa's locks and skullcap visibly identify him as Jewish. He is dressed Yemeni-style in a long, white robe and shawl. He speaks Arabic, even praising Allah for his good fortune to be rescued and housed by Yemen's president, Ali Abdullah Saleh.

"Yemen's Jewish minority is clustered in small communities north of Sanaa. They are protected under Yemen's constitution and identify strongly as Yemeni citizens. Though these good community relations are being tested by the expulsion of the Salem Jews, Mousa is still determined that he and his family will stay in Yemen.

"We haven't had any help from the Israeli government," he says. "And if they offer us a home, we will refuse because we are all Yemenis and we want to go back to our village."

Read article in full


Anonymous said...

It is typical of the Christian Science Monitor that it exploits the plight of persecuted Jews in order to besmirch Israel. For their journalist to uncritically report the obviously coerced anti-Israel comments of a man in fear of his life is an act of despicable collaboration with the persecutors. That newspaper is notorious for its calumnies against Zionism and for downplaying and sometimes justifying anti-Jewish crimes.

Yemen's Jews were rarely if ever allowed to live in peace, not since the advent of Islam when they were made "dhimmis" and stripped of many basic human rights.

The description of the events of 1948-9 by the word "riots" is a trivialization bordering on mendacity. What happened then was a massacre, in which untold numbers of Yemen's Jews perished. Many scores were murdered in Aden, and thousands were slaughtered in the countryside as they trekked from their remote villages to the JDC's transit camps. When not killing them, their Moslem neighbours stole their food, water, children and possessions, leaving them to die of hunger and thirst.

bataween said...

You are right about CSM, anon. But I do think that the Jews still in Yemen were leading contented and largely peaceful lives until this episode. This whole sorry affair seems to show that there is no future for Jews in Yemen, even anti-Zionist ones, as they will always be useful scapegoats for some interest group or other.