Anti-Jewish pogrom in Yemen

Some 45 Jews in Sa’ada, Yemen, have fled their homes after being threatened by radical Muslims and are seeking aid from the government, according to a Jan. 21 report in the Saudi daily Al Wattan. The Jews apparently received letters accusing them of being part of an “international Zionist conspiracy” and warning them to leave their homes within 10 days. The letters threatened that those who stayed would be killed or their children abducted and their homes looted.

The Jews have moved into a hotel in the city of Sa’ada, north of the capital Sana. A formal complaint was submitted to President Ali Abdullah Saleh, the report said. Israel Radio broadcast an interview with a member of al-Salem’s Jewish community confirming that the threats had been received.

Yemeni authorities have assured the Jews they can return home and will be protected, Al-Wattan reported. The Jews hope to return to their homes in Yemen, where they have lived for many generations.

Some 45,000 Yemeni Jews — nearly the entire community — were brought to Israel in the “Operation Magic Carpet” airlift in 1948. The Israeli operation followed local riots in which scores of Jews were killed. Only some 200 Jews live in Yemen today.

While the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported the threats cames from an unnamed “local faction linked to al-Qaeda,” the Israeli daily Haaretz attributed them to followers of Shi’ite cleric Hossein Bader a-Din al-Khouty, who was killed in clashes with government forces in 2005. The Haartez account said the letters accused the Jews of acting “first and foremost to serve global Zionism” and “corrupting people and making them abandon their moral and religious values.”

A Jew named Yihya Yosef Musa told Al-Wattan: “We have been driven from our homes, our money has been lost, we cannot feed our children. We came to plead with the president and government to treat us properly because we are Yemenis.” (JTA, Haaretz, Jan. 22)

See our last posts on Yemen, its recent embroilment in the Somalia war, indigenous Middle Eastern Jews, worldwide resurgent anti-Semitism and the closely related phenomenon of Jewish scapegoating.