The Iranian-backed Houthi insurgency in Yemen has given the country’s few remaining Jewish citizens an ultimatum: either convert to Islam or be exiled immediately.
Israeli Regional Cooperation Minister Ayoub Kara, a Druze lawmaker, told the Jerusalem Post on Sunday that Yemen’s Jewish community reached out to him with the panicked message.
Yemen’s ancient Jewish community, which predates Islam by over a thousand years, were told to “convert or leave the state,” Kara said, adding that Yemen’s Jewish leaders “requested that I” do something about their plight.
The Houthi terrorists in Yemen, who are backed by Iran, are notoriously anti-American and anti-Semitic, as proven by their motto, “God is Great, Death to America, Death to Israel, Curse on the Jews, Victory to Islam.” Almost a third of the group is made up of child soldiers, and the outfit continues to battle Sunni forces for a stake in Yemen. In just the past six months, over 2,300 civilians have been killed due to the war.
Yemen’s Jewish community has dwindled over the past few decades. During the mid-20th century, an estimated 50,000 Jews lived the country. Now, there are less than a hundred left. Many are long gone, having emigrated to Israel after Yemen’s Islamic rulers persecuted its Jewish community for decades.
After the modern state of Israel came to fruition in 1948, an estimated 750,000 Jews were expelled from the Arab world because of the faith they held. From 1949-1950, Israel commenced “Operation Magic Carpet,” which brought almost tens-of-thousands of Yemenite Jews to safety in Israel.
Currently, Yemen’s Jews live in a situation comparable to “house arrest,” the New York Times reported back in February.
Before being given their ultimatum, the few Jews of Yemen were already being treated inhumanely. They are already subject to a jizya tax for maintaining their non-Muslim faith and are forbidden from eating within the vicinity of a Muslim.
Kara called upon Israel to immediately retrieve the Jews of Yemen, worrying that the Houthis pose a severe threat to their lives.
The Yemeni Jewish leadership relayed to Kara that they “want to leave fast,” he said.
“We need to act fast to get them out and we will do that, God willing. The whole world ought to know that there is a problem with the Houthis,” he added.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry, when reached for comment, told the Jerusalem Post that the situation is “very delicate and people’s lives are at stake.”