Yemeni Jews adhere to their homeland

Sanaa |By Nasser Arrabyee | 06-07-2002

Very few Jews remain in Yemen following organised

emigration to Israel, the U.S. and UK over the past

five decades.

However, all those who stayed back here say that they

do not want to leave the "homeland of our parents and


They even say that they hate Israel and consider the

Israeli leaders to be "very far from the real Judaism

and Torah."

Official statistics indicate that there are about 400

Jews left in Yemen, but non-official estimates say

there are some 1,500 Jews who are living mainly in

Raydah town, 45km north of the capital Sanaa. They are

a minority among 18 million Yemeni Muslims.

With the constitution and laws granting rights of full

citizenship, they seem to be loyal to their homeland

of Yemen and don't want to migrate anywhere,

particularly to Israel. They go to the polls and vote

freely like any other Yemeni citizen.

They have full membership in political parties. Most

of them are members of President Al Abdullah Al

Saleh's ruling party, the People's General Congress.

Yahya Habeeb, a Jew from Raydah, the main centre of

the remaining Jews in Yemen, told Gulf News that he

refuses to emigrate to Israel because he can't leave

the place where he and his parents and grandparents

were born. He said that Jews live in peace with the

Yemeni tribes and they are not suffer from any

annoyance or harassment.

"We, the Jews, and the tribes are brothers, we don't

quarrel with them and neither do they quarrel with

us," Habeeb noted. 

Like other citizens, Jews rushed quickly to the

donation centres when the 10-day donation campaign to

raise funds for the victims of Jenin Camp in the

Occupied Territories was launched in Yemen earlier

this year.

They donated both money and blood to the Palestinian

people. They even voiced their readiness to fight

against Sharon and his troops.

They declared their condemnation of what they

considered as terrorist practices and crimes committed

by Israel against the Palestinian people.

In TV interviews during the Jenin donation campaign,

Jews described the Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon

as a "terrorist and war criminal".

"He has nothing to do with Judaism. All his acts are

prohibited by the Torah and are a violation of the

Jewish doctrines," another Jew told Gulf News. 

They say their brothers who migrated to Israel could

not adapt to the Jews there as well as those coming

from other countries, especially from Europe, because

of the sense of isolation and discrimination they

suffer from.

Seven Jewish families from Yemen who migrated only

about two years ago requested the Israeli authorities

to return them to Yemen due to economic difficulties

and their inability to adapt to the new circumstances,

an Israeli newspaper reported last month.

Amran Bin Yahya migrated to the U.S. with his

seven-member family eight years ago. Two years later,

he decided to return to his hometown of Raydah,

leaving his wife and children behind.

He didn't like the traditions and habits which he said

are completely different from what he is used to,

especially the exaggerated liberation of women.

Yahya said he couldn't control his wife when she

suddenly renounced the traditions, customs and morals

she had learnt since childhood.

"I wish I had not travelled. It would have been better

if my children and wife had stayed in Yemen," Yahya


"The social life in Yemen is better. What you have is

yours, your wife is yours and so are your children.

But there if your wife gets out of your control, you

cannot do anything to keep her," Yahya stated. 

The Jewish sect in Yemen love and respect President

Saleh and they pray for him and wish him the best of

health and all success. In return, they enjoy his

protection and safety.

However, they say they should not be blamed for the

mistakes of others, referring to the Israel massacres

committed against the Palestinian people.

Jews are believed to have come to Yemen in the

aftermath of the first destruction of the Temple in

589 BC. They migrated to the north of the Arabian

Peninsula where they lived preaching and spreading

Judaism until Prophet Mohammed's (PBUH) Islamic

mission arrived in Yemen in 628 AC.

So, they only had to convert to Islam or pay jeziah

and continue living as before.

In 1876, Rabbi Yezhaq Shaool called upon the Jews of

the world to help Yemen's Jews remain in contact with

him, but Yemen's Jews refused to migrate to Palestine

out of the conviction that the return to Palestine

must happen only "according to Allah's will, and not a

human being's will".

Jews used to enjoy good relations with the ruler of

Yemen, Imman Yahya Hameed Al Dain, (1904 -1948), who

ordered no entry into Jewish zones from Friday evening

until Sunday morning every week as a sign of respect

for their religious rituals.

The ban was not only on the public but also on

soldiers, officials and judges. He also prevented

judges from summoning Jews on their sacred Saturdays.

In 1911, Samuel Yazer Yavenly came to Yemen to

convince the Jews there that the Zionist movement

would "liberate the Jews from oppression". Some were

convinced while others refused.

Some 4, 234 Jews migrated to Palestine between 1911

and 1919 and about 4,700 Jews from 1939 to 1945.

With support from the UK and U.S. and cooperation from

Yemeni authorities, 47,170 Jews migrated to Palestine

in a famous exodus known as the "flying carpet"

between 1948 and 1950. The "flying carpet" used 430

flights and cost $4,500,000.

The Jewish emigration from Yemen to Palestine started

in 1882. The number of Jews who migrated from Yemen to

Israel are estimated at 130,000-150,000, with only few

of them having gone to the U.S. and Britain.


Back To Islam Awareness Homepage

Latest News about Islam and Muslims

Contact for further information