Jews in Yemen
Jews in YemenIsrael news photo: (file)

According to the Yemen News Agency (Saba), most of the country's remaining Jews are planning to emigrate due to Muslim persecution. The paper quoted the desert country's Chief Rabbi, Yahya Yaish, as saying that Yemen's entire remaining Jewish community would immigrate to Israel within days.

However, a report in the Jerusalem Post indicates that only half of Yemen's 250 Jews are planning to come to Israel, while roughly 100 will emigrate to the United States and 20 or 30 will remain in Yemen.

Several Jewish families from Yemen have made aliyah to Israel this year. Immigration picked up following the murder of Jewish community leader Moshe Yaish al-Nahari, the brother of Rabbi Yaish, at the hands of a Muslim killer who warned him to convert to Islam or die.

Among the latest immigrants from Yemen to Israel were three sons of Moshe Yaish. His three daughters came to Israel in late 2008, shortly after his murder, to live with their aunts.

Other incidents of harrassment of Jews were reported as well, including beatings and kidnappings. In July, members of the Jewish community reported that a young bride had been kidnapped by a Muslim man she had spurned, and forced to marry him and convert to Islam. Muslim authorities rejected the allegations and said that the young woman had abandoned her husband of her own free will.

Media outlets in Yemen later released a video of the young woman addressing a camera and saying she had chosen to marry her new Muslim husband. However, the woman made no contact with her family or community, leaving Jews suspicious of the video's veracity.

Most of Yemen's Jews live in Sana'a. They were transferred to the city from the provinces of Sa'ada and Amran following harassment in those areas. Several have complained of severe poverty following the move to Sana'a, while those remaining in Amran face continuing threats.

One century ago, Yemen had an estimated Jewish population of more than 75,000. Several thousand left for pre-state Israel around the turn of the century and some Yemenite families were among the pioneers of the first neighborhoods built outside Jerusalem's walls. The bulk of Yemen's Jewish population, roughly 47,000 people, was brought to Israel shortly after the State of Israel was established in an operation called “Magic Carpet."