Friday, June 11, 2021

Biden administration calls for release of Yemenite Jew

According to Arutz Sheva, the  Biden administration has called for the release of Levi Salem Musa Marhabi, who is still in jail in Yemen for allegedly helping to 'smuggle' out a Torah scroll. The scroll accompanied the last party of Jews to be airlifted out of Yemen in 2016. The former 'antisemitism Tsar' Elan Carr has drawn atention to Marhabi's case and the American Sephardi Federation has been running  a campaign for Marhabi's  release. There are six Jews still in Yemen, or fewer.

Benjamin Netanyahu poses with the Torah scroll which Marhabi is accused of helping to smuggle out to Israel

US State Department spokesman Ned Price has announced that the Biden Administration is calling for the release of Levi Marhabi, a young Yemeni Jew accused of helping Jews who immigrated to Israel take an ancient Torah scroll from Yemen with them.

For about four years, Levi Marhabi has been imprisoned in Yemen. The Iranian-backed Houthi rebels say the Torah Scroll as a 'stolen national treasure.'

Among the detainees was Rabbi Yahya ben Yosef, who was arrested by the Houthi rebels on suspicion of aiding in the smuggling of a Torah scroll.

Three workers at the Sanaa airport were also arrested on suspicion of aiding and abetting smuggling. But in the end everyone was released except Levi Marhabi, who remains imprisoned until this day.

A State Department spokesman said the US had repeatedly raised Marhabi's plight in the UN Security Council. The representative also confirmed the statement issued by former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in November 2020, calling on Houthis to "respect religious freedom, stop oppressing the Yemenite Jewish population and immediately release Levi Marhabi."

American Sephardi Federation (ASF) executive director  Jason Guberman said the US should be more aggressive on the issue. "The State Department has called for the release of Marhabi, but it is not enough" Guberman said.

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