The Deliberate Extermination Of Judaism In Yemen

Yemeni Jews arriving in Israel Jewish AgencyA few days have passed since all the joyous headlines. So now I want to throw a little cold water over the orgy of happiness that accompanied a very sad event.

Nineteen of the last remaining Jews in Yemen have been airlifted to Israel in a covert operation to rescue members of a community dating back two millennia from a brutal civil war.

One of them, a rabbi, carried with him a 500-year-old sacred Torah scroll, the removal of which symbolised the end of Yemen’s Jewish community.

Most Yemeni Jews, who numbered about 50,000 in the middle of the last century, have been brought to Israel over almost seven decades of secret airlifts, which the state has now declared are at end.

So why was everyone else celebrating the “homecoming” of these Yemeni Jews? In Israel we do celebrate when Jews come home, that’s true.

But consider for a moment what right those Jews had to live in Yemen. The Jewish Virtual Library has this to say on the origins of Jews in Yemen:

We do not know exactly how Jews came to settle in Yemen. According to Yemenite tradition, a group of well-off Jews left Jerusalem after they heard Jeremiah predict the destruction of the Temple in 629 BCE, 42 years before the destruction of the city. Historians believe that King Solomon’s trading and naval networks brought Jews to Yemen from Judea around 900 BCE. The first evidence of Jewish presence in Yemen can be traced to the third century CE.

That places Jews in Yemen long before Christianity or Islam. Let that sink in. Even according to the Guardian, there were 50,000 Jews in the middle of the last century and a population of around 5 million. That’s a huge proportion of the country. Today there are over 25m people there and perhaps 50 Jews cowering next to the American embassy. Those 50,000 Jews had a distinct Jewish culture and history that is deeply intertwined with Yemen.

Just think about that: the world has watched them be “ethnically cleansed” out of their ancient homeland and nobody cares about it. They’re extremely lucky in this regard: there is a country to welcome them and there is a Yemenite Jewish community keeping some of the specific things that keeping Yemeni Judaism alive. But just like any people moved from their home, it will get increasingly harder to maintain this. Their kids will become “Israeli” and taken on mainstream Israeli Jewish culture.

Those Yemenite Jews living in Israel have much more right to be in Yemen than the alien Arab/Muslim culture which replaced them by conquest. They have more inherent rights of longstanding presence than any Arab claim to Israel, that’s for sure.

But most people won’t be able to think this way. Which is a pity.

With the ongoing war and civilian slaughter in Yemen, I’m sure they’re better off in Israel. But this was yet another victory for the 1400 year old Islamic cultural genocide: another ancient culture pushed out. The only positive is the re-affirming of the indigenous rights of Jews to our homeland in Israel and another proof of how desperately important Israel is.

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Brian of London

Brian of London is not the messiah, he's a very naughty boy. Since making aliyah in 2009, Brian has blogged at Israellycool. Brian is an indigenous rights activist fighting for indigenous people who’ve returned to their ancestral homelands and built great things.