Threats Drive Yemenites From Village

By Forward Staff

Published January 26, 2007, issue of January 26, 2007.
  • Print
  • Share Share

After receiving death threats from a Shi’ite extremist group, some 45 members of the tiny Jewish community in Yemen were forced to flee their homes in a northern village this month and were staying in a hotel in a nearby city, according to press reports from the region.

A leader of the Jewish refugees, Dawoud Yousef Mousa, told the Yemen Observer newspaper that the community had received several threats from a group identified with slain Shi’ite cleric Hussein Badr al-Deen al-Houthi, whose followers are seen as rebels against Yemen’s Sunni-led government.

The first threat came January 10 in a handwritten letter telling the Jews to leave their village, Al-Salem, within 10 days. “After an accurate surveillance of the Jews who are residing in Al Haid,” it read, “it has become clear to us that they were doing things which serve mainly Zionism, which seeks to corrupt the people and distance them from their principles, their values, their morals and their religion, and spread all kinds of vice in the society.”

The letter concluded: “Our religion ordered us to fight the corrupt people and expel them. Allah is Great, Death to America, Death to Israel, Curse to Jews, and Victory to Islam.” Yahya Sad al-Khudhair, self-described leader of the Houthi supporters in the region, had signed it.

Mousa and others met with local authorities to ask for protection, but they were assured there was no danger and told to return to their homes, the newspaper said. After a band of masked men approached Mousa on January 17 and threatened to slaughter the Jews, the 45 community members fled to the regional capital, Sa’ada. They were put up in the Paris Tower Hotel at the expense of a local tribal sheik, while continuing to meet with authorities and demand protection.

However, they received another threat in the hotel January 21, warning them to leave Yemen or be killed, Mousa told the newspaper.

Though Yemeni officials confirm that the Jews have fled their homes, they insist the situation is under control. “Yes, they received threats from al-Houthi supporters,” Sa’ada deputy governor Salem Al Wehayshi told the Saudi press agency Gulf News this week. “They are now here in the hotel but I can assure you that the problem will be solved today, and they will return to their villages.”

Yemen was home to about 63,000 Jews before 1948, when most of them were airlifted to the newly born State of Israel. About 400 Jews remain, mostly living in northern villages. They are recognized by the government as a protected religious minority, known in traditional Islamic law as dhimmies. The community maintains loose ties with the Satmar Hasidic sect in Brooklyn.

The group appealed in writing last week to the regional governor and to Yemen’s president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, demanding special measures to protect them. “It is not a secret that we are dhimmies, we are in the protection of the Prophet Mohammed, and in the protection of President Ali Abdullah Saleh,” the letter said. “We are under your protection. We would rather die than leave our homes.”

A Yemeni Jew who came to Israel six years ago, identified only as Masoud, told Israel Radio this week that the Jews who remain in Yemen “are stubborn; they don’t want to come here,” according to Yediot Aharonot.

Masoud said that, in phone conversations this week, his relatives told him that “they are afraid, but they said that for now they don’t want to emigrate.”






Find us on Facebook!
  • “The Black community was resistant to the Jewish community coming into the neighborhood — at first.” Watch this video about how a group of gardeners is rebuilding trust between African-Americans and Jews in Detroit.
  • "I am a Jewish woman married to a non-Jewish man who was raised Catholic, but now considers himself a “common-law Jew.” We are raising our two young children as Jews. My husband's parents are still semi-practicing Catholics. When we go over to either of their homes, they bow their heads, often hold hands, and say grace before meals. This is an especially awkward time for me, as I'm uncomfortable participating in a non-Jewish religious ritual, but don't want his family to think I'm ungrateful. It's becoming especially vexing to me now that my oldest son is 7. What's the best way to handle this situation?" http://jd.fo/b4ucX What would you do?
  • Maybe he was trying to give her a "schtickle of fluoride"...
  • It's all fun, fun, fun, until her dad takes the T-Bird away for Shabbos.
  • "Like many Jewish people around the world, I observed Shabbat this weekend. I didn’t light candles or recite Hebrew prayers; I didn’t eat challah or matzoh ball soup or brisket. I spent my Shabbat marching for justice for Eric Garner of Staten Island, Michael Brown of Ferguson, and all victims of police brutality."
  • Happy #NationalDogDay! To celebrate, here's a little something from our archives:
  • A Jewish couple was attacked on Monday night in New York City's Upper East Side. According to police, the attackers flew Palestinian flags.
  • "If the only thing viewers knew about the Jews was what they saw on The Simpsons they — and we — would be well served." What's your favorite Simpsons' moment?
  • "One uncle of mine said, 'I came to America after World War II and I hitchhiked.' And Robin said, 'I waited until there was a 747 and a kosher meal.'" Watch Billy Crystal's moving tribute to Robin Williams at last night's #Emmys:
  • "Americans are much more focused on the long term and on the end goal which is ending the violence, and peace. It’s a matter of zooming out rather than debating the day to day.”
  • "I feel great sorrow about the fact that you decided to return the honor and recognition that you so greatly deserve." Rivka Ben-Pazi, who got Dutchman Henk Zanoli recognized as a "Righteous Gentile," has written him an open letter.
  • Is there a right way to criticize Israel?
  • From The Daily Show to Lizzy Caplan, here's your Who's Jew guide to the 2014 #Emmys. Who are you rooting for?
  • “People at archives like Yad Vashem used to consider genealogists old ladies in tennis shoes. But they have been impressed with our work on indexing documents. Now they are lining up to work with us." This year's Jewish Genealogical Societies conference took place in Utah. We got a behind-the-scenes look:
  • What would Maimonides say about Warby Parker's buy-one, give-one charity model?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.