Jews of Yemen Reportedly to Be Relocated in Wake of Deadly Attack

President weighs moving community to the capital, Sana, where each family will receive plot of land.

Yoav Stern
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Yoav Stern

President Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen is planning to relocate Yemen's Jews from the Amran district and the city of Raidah to the capital, Sana, where each Jewish family will receive a plot of land. The rabbi of the Jewish community, Yehi Yaish, told the independent Yemenite Internet site, News Yemen, that in a meeting with him, the president instructed his security officials to monitor implementation of the Jews' relocation.

Many of Yemen's Jews, some of whom were attacked over the last few days, are uninterested in leaving their country and immigrating to Israel.

Members of the Sana Jewish community have said during recent phone calls to that some do not want to immigrate at this time, while others are assessing their futures in light of the authorities' actions against the Muslim citizens involved in recent attacks against Yemen's Jews.

This past Monday night, two petrol bombs were thrown at the home of Saadia Yaakov. His family has since told friends in Israel that no one was hurt in the incident, which took place in the middle of the night. "We were very afraid at night, but we're all okay," said the mother of the family, while the father vigorously maintained that he does not know who carried out the act and that he has no quarrel with anyone. "I don't know why they threw the petrol bombs and I don't know who threw them," he said. "May God have compassion on us."

The community in Raidah where Moshe Nahari was murdered a few days agois one of the last two Jewish communities remaining in Yemen. The community is estimated to number about 270 Jews who live in their own complex in the town. Many of its inhabitants continue to work as silversmiths, a traditional Yemenite-Jewish occupation. It is considered a Jewish occupation because Islam restricts the work of Muslim silversmiths.

Raida, a desert town in the Amran district, around 70 kilometers north of the capital Sana, has a few thousand residents. It has no tourist sites and the central government's control over it is weak. Many residents there carry automatic weapons for protection, including Jews. However, according to Yemenite law, Jews are not permitted to carry the traditional Yemenite knife known as a jambiya, which every Yemenite Muslim man adorns himself with.

For over a year, some 50 Jews have been living in Sana after having been transferred from their hometown to the capital by order of the government in order to protect them from attacks by their Muslim neighbors. In Sana, the government maintains law and order and therefore the Jews there do not face any danger.

One Sana Jews said this week that he does not plan to immigrate to Israel. "They give us everything we need here," he explained. His friend in Israel told Haaretz that members of the community in Yemen think only about day-to-day life and not about their children's future. "How many generations can they hold on for? After all, it is clear that in the end they will immigrate to Israel because the Jewish community in Yemen has no future. Perhaps it will be necessary to bring only their remains to Israel," he said.

Moshe Nahari, the Jewish man killed several days ago in Raida, has still not been buried. His relatives and associates tried to pressure the authorities to allow the body to be brought to Israel for burial, but approval was not granted. Nahari previously lived in Israel, in the Oshiyot neighborhood of Rehovot, but returned to Yemen.

A Muslim resident, a former pilot who demanded that Nahari convert to Islam or leave Yemen, was reported to have killed him. The Muslim man has been detained since the killing and is awaiting the start of his trial. If he is judged according to Muslim law, he is likely to be sentenced to death.

The Yemenite press reported that there is concern that the continued persecution of Jews by radical Yemenite Muslims will lead to the departure of all Jews from the country. The independent Internet site, Yemen News, reported that Jewish community officials warned of a new Operation Magic Carpet, much like the operation carried out shortly after the establishment of the State of Israel, to evacuate the Jews of Yemen.



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