Tags: Al-Qaida | Emerging Threats | Israel | yemen | jews | houthis | shiite

Yemen's Remnant Jewish Community Under Threat by Houthis

By    |   Thursday, 19 February 2015 08:25 AM

The safety of the less than 100 Jews remaining in Yemen has deteriorated since Houthi militants solidified control of the country in February, The New York Times reported.

The remnant Yemeni Jewish community lives mostly in the northern town of Raida and in the capital of Sana. Among the 55 Jews in Raida — which include children and elderly people, but few singles — is Abraham Jacob, 36, who like most of his male co-religionists is identifiable by his curly earlocks.

The plight of the Jews has only gotten more precarious since the regime of Ali Abdullah Saleh was overthrown by the Houthis, who are Shiite Arabs aligned with the Shiite Persians of Iran.

The Houthi slogan is "Death to America, death to Israel, damnation to the Jews."

When he goes to the market, Jacob said he is routinely taunted as a "dirty Jew."

"We have no friends," he told a Times reporter, "so we just try to stay away from everyone as much as we can."

Saleh had created a protected ghetto for the Jews in Sana near the U.S. embassy. Now both the embassy and the former strongman are gone. There are an estimated 20 to 40 Jews in the capital living under virtual house arrest, the Times reported.

Suleiman Jacob, 45, Abraham's eldest brother, tucks his earlocks under an Arabic-style headdress to avoid bullying. "It's a shame that we have to do that sometimes, but we do," he said.

"Honestly," Suleiman said, "we are a little afraid of the Houthi takeover and don't know what to do about it."

He adds, "There isn't a single one of us here who doesn't want to leave. Soon there will be no Jews in Yemen, inshallah," meaning "God willing" in Arabic.

Community members would prefer to emigrate to the United States, which they say is safer than Israel, according to the Times.

Saleh is Shiite, but had opposed the Houthis and aligned Yemen with Washington. Sunnis comprise about 65 percent of the population, and al-Qaida has a strong presence in the country.

Yemen's Jewish community predates the founding of Islam in the 7th century C.E., but its numbers are uncertain because there was never a census of Jews in Yemen.

Some 16,000 Jews emigrated to Palestine prior to Israeli independence in 1948. By 1950, 43,000 Jews had been airlifted out of Yemen to Israel.

In 1968, there were believed to be 200 Jews in the country, according to the Encyclopedia Judaica.

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The safety of the less than 100 Jews remaining in Yemen has deteriorated since Houthi militants solidified control of the country in February, The New York Times reported.
yemen, jews, houthis, shiite, Ali Abdullah Saleh, sana, Raida
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2015-25-19
Thursday, 19 February 2015 08:25 AM
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