Just a handful of Jews remain in Yemen, and the remaining few are said to be contemplating an emergency exodus to Israel or the United States after the Iran-backed Shiite Houthi militia staged a coup and overthrew the government.
On their march to Sanaa, the Houthis frequently espoused their motto, which reads, “Death to America, death to Israel, curse the Jews, victory to Islam.”
The 70 or so remaining members of Yemeni Jewry, who have a history that predates Islam by thousands of years, live in a situation that remains comparable to “house arrest,” the New York Times writes.
“Since last September, our movements have become very limited for fear of the security situation, and there are some members of the community who preferred to leave Yemen,” chief rabbi Yahya Youssef told Reuters.
Because of the hostile Iran-backed Houthi militia that now runs the country, “there isn’t a single one of us here who doesn’t want to leave,” Suleiman Jacob, 45, told the New York Times.
Under Muslim rule, Yemen’s Jews remain a heavily persecuted minority. They are subject to a jizya tax for their faith, and live very much as second-class citizens. Jews are also forbidden from even touching Muslims or eating within their vicinity. In return for their compliance, Yemen’s former governments protected its Jewish community, but the Houthi takeover has created an unpredictable situation for its remaining few.
After the modern state of Israel was born, almost one million Jews were expelled from the Arab world, simply because of their faith. From 1949-1950, Israel initiated “Operation Magic Carpet,” which brought almost 50,000 Yemenite Jews to safety in Israel.