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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The dwindling Jews of Yemen

The Yemen Post has a very nice article tracing the history of Jews in Yemen, and how things have been going downhill since, oh, Mohammed:
According to traditions the Jews of Yemen history can be traced back as far as King Solomon , with legends telling the tale of some 75,000 Jews who, having foretold the fall of Jerusalem - destruction of the first Temple - emigrated to Yemen in search of a more hospitable land where they would spread their beliefs and sprung forth a new community.

Historians established that the first mention of the immigration of Jews to Yemen took place at the beginning of the second century BC.

While Judaism flourished in Yemen provinces for several centuries the coming of Prophet Mohammed and the fast-paced spread of Islam throughout ancient Arabia changed everything.

By the fifth century C.E. The Jewish population had rose to about 5,000 souls, with communities scattered throughout the country.

When Saladin became sultan in the last quarter of the twelfth century and the Shiites revolted against him, the trials of the Yemenite Jews began. Their capital at the time was Teima and they called themselves Rechabites.

Tribes lost in the middle of the Islamic empire, the Jews of Yemen were often at war with their Ismaelitic neighbors.

As centuries past and Islam became the beating heart of Arabia, Yemen Jewish communities were ostracized, forced back to the outskirts of Yemen metropolis.

In the 19th Century, under the rule of the Imams, the Jews of Yemen became social pariahs, being forced to follow harsh and often humiliating rules -- they were forbidden from wearing new or flamboyant clothes, compelled to walk long distances on foot as riding donkey and mules were reserved for Muslims; they were also prohibited from engaging in money transactions --

Reports estimated the Yemeni Jewish community to be standing at 30,000 with 200 in Aden - southern seaport - 10,000 in Sana'a, 1,000 in Sa'ada, 1,000 in Dhamar and 2,000 in the desert of Beydha --

A series of mass migration to the Jewish of Israel left only a handful of Jews in Yemen northern highlands, the only remnants of a long exhausted line of Israelite migrants, who once upon a time sought refuge in the land of Queen Sheba.

Yemen 2011 Revolution left the Jewish community ever more so vulnerable as sectarian tensions started to flare up again in Yemen, awaken by the Houthis' claims over provinces lying north of Sana'a and Sunni extremists clamoring for a return to Sharia law.

With most of the remaining Jews of Yemen now living in a guarded compound in Sana'a, the dwindling community has said to be living a nightmare, with the walls of history literally closing down on them.
There's more, read it all.

Now there are rumors that Israel is trying to save the remaining Jews of Yemen. The rumors are coming from Arab and Iranian sources, though, not Israeli, so they are a bit suspect.

As a result of these rumors, a Houthi spokesman says that they have no problem with Jews and they are willing to let them go back to their homes. Except for those who supported the deposed president Ali Abdullah Saleh, which is realy every single Jew in Yemen.  Saleh saved their lives by protecting them and giving them a place to live when the Houthis took over the areas the Jews lived in.

So the offer seems a bit hypocritical.

Especially since, as I've reported, the Houthi logo includes the words "Damn the Jews".


But wasn't it nice of them to offer?