Mission to rescue the last of Yemen’s Jews

Since the Gaza war, the persecution of the remaining Jews living in Yemen has markedly increased, together with further signs of instability in the country.

Many of the Jews have managed to escape, the majority to Israel but also some to the U.S.  The Wall Street Journal has a good description of the rescue mission.

Earlier in the year, Jews left quietly for Israel.  The recent Haaretz article noted that President Ali Abdullah Saleh had been publicly supportive of the remaining Jews, as has been the main Islamist opposition party, Islah.

“The Yemeni Jews are citizens. They should have their own life as Yemenis,” said Mohammed al-Sadi, the party’s assistant secretary-general. “I prefer for them to stay in Yemen, not move to another country, because they are part of this society.”  Unfortunately, the Presidents support has not quelled the popular sentiment against the Jews still living in Yemen.

The flight of the Jews under threat brings to mind Operation Magic Carpet in 1949 when 45,000 Yemenite Jews were airlifted to Israel.  Following the Muslim rioters had engaged in clashes in Aden that killed 82 people and destroyed a number of Jewish homes. Early in 1948, the accusation of the murder of two Muslim Yemeni girls led to looting of Jewish property. Aden’s Jewish community was economically paralyzed, as most of the Jewish stores and businesses were destroyed.  This article by Sarah Symkowicz from the Jewish Virtual Library provides a fascinating reminder of both the rich history and cultural life of the Yemenite Jews, and also how they coped with Islamic restrictions in Yemen.

.. and from Israel a reminder of the superb Yemenite-Israeli talent of Ofra Haza here, here, and here (the last beautiful song in a concert for Yitzhak Rabin)

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