US State Department spokesman Ned Price has announced that the Biden Administration is calling for the release of Levy Marabi, a young Yemeni Jew accused of helping Jews who immigrated to Israel take an ancient Torah scroll from Yemen with them.
For about four years, Levi Marabi has been imprisoned in Yemen. The Iranian-backed Houthi rebels say the Torah Scroll as a 'stolen national treasure.'
Among the detainees is Rabbi Yahya ben Yosef, who was arrested by the Houthi rebels on suspicion of aiding in the smuggling of a Torah scroll.
Three workers at the Sanaa airport were also arrested on suspicion of aiding and abetting smuggling. But in the end everyone was released except Levy Marabi, who remains imprisoned until this day.
A State Department spokesman said the US had repeatedly raised Marabi's plight in the UN Security Council. The representative also confirmed the statement issued by former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in November 2020, calling on Houthis to "respect religious freedom, stop oppressing the Yemenite Jewish population and immediately release Levy Marabi."
American Sephardi Federation (ASF) Director General Jason Goberman said the US should be more aggressive on the issue. "The State Department has called for the release of Marabi, but it is not enough" Goberman said.
He said, "The case of Marabi should be mentioned in a similar manner at the beginning of every meeting with the Houthis, as well as in negotiations with the Iranian regime."
As of March,, the population of Yemeni Jews was reduced to only four elderly men, after the Houthis deported three Jewish families to Egypt.