A week after the secret airlift of the Ben Yisrael family last week, it appears that some 150 Jews 'desperate to leave for Israel' have had their passport applications held up by government officials. The computers are not working, they are told. The National of the UAE reports:
AMRAN, YEMEN // Jewish community members in Amran who have been living in fear following a wave of threats and hate attacks have stepped up their efforts to migrate to Israel.
“We are all fed up. All of the Jews are willing now to migrate to Israel but some prefer not to speak up their desire,” said Yahia bin Yaish, the rabbi of the Jewish community in the northern governorate of Amran, about 60km north of the capital Sana’a.
“We have faced intimidation, attacks and threats. Some have even faced hand-grenade attacks. I myself have received SMS threats on my mobile.
“We are no longer secured. We are afraid to go to the market and even at home. We have reported this to the local authorities but they are lenient with the people behind the threats,” said Mr bin Yaish.
Last week, a Jewish Yemeni family was taken to Israel in a secret airlift organised by the quasi-governmental Jewish Agency for Israel.
Said bin Yisrael, the head of the Jewish community in Rydah, and his eight children and wife arrived at Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv last Thursday following attacks and death threats.
“Said went crazy after an attack on his house with a hand grenade last December,” a Jewish Yemeni, who is believed to have orchestrated Mr bin Yisrael’s migration, said on condition of anonymity.
“He was scared for his family. He will be back for his father and brothers who are still here.”
Mr bin Yaish said his family did not want to leave Yemen.
“This is our home and we prefer to live here, even on mountains if there is security. Life here is better because we can make sure that our kids are brought up well in line with our religious teachings.”
Amran bin Yahia, a Yemeni Jew, said he had a bad experience emigrating to Israel and had left his wife and children there to return to Yemen, where he remarried.
“I went to Jerusalem 10 years ago with my wife and children. They have been influenced by the life there. But I felt isolated. I left them behind and came back home,” he said, adding that he could not go back to Israel despite the dangers of staying in Yemen.
But for those who do want to leave, Mr bin Yaish said about 150 of their passport applications have been held up in Sana’a for over two months.
“Whenever we go to them, they keep telling us the computers are not working,” he said.
Moshe Yaish al Nahari, a Jewish teacher and father of nine, was shot in Rydah’s market in Amran in December.
Abdulaziz Hamud al Abdi, a former military pilot whose family claims he is mentally ill, admitted in a hearing in December that he killed al Nahari following a warning that Jews should either leave the area or convert to Islam.
Attacks and threats against Yemeni Jews in Amran governorate flared up again following Israel’s attack on the Gaza Strip.
“The offensive was in Gaza and we were be blamed. Some used to threaten me, telling me to stop the war. These attacks are meant to force us to leave our houses which tribesmen want for themselves,” Mr bin Yaish said.
After al Nahari’s murder, Ali Abdullah Saleh, the president, discussed with Jewish community leaders a plan to relocate Jews from Amran to Sana’a, where each Jewish family would receive a plot of land.
The Jewish community, however, said the government has taken no action.
“The president is not to be blamed. He gave clear directives. But, his government officials wanted to relocate us to a bad place where a big family is expected to be housed in a small flat that is liable to attack,” Mr bin Yaish said, adding that the community has asked to be moved to a safer area with better housing conditions.
Government officials declined to comment.
Mahmud Taha, an Amran-based journalist who has been following the issue of Yemeni Jews, said the migration of the Jewish family to Israel was not unexpected.
“There is no option for the Yemeni Jews but to migrate. The local authorities have failed to protect them and the promises of relocation have not been serious. The Jews are fed up and have reached intolerable situation,” Taha said.
As recently as the early 1950s Yemen was home to about 50,000 Jews, but most have since migrated to Israel and less than 500 remain. They had gained a reputation for intricate jewellery work and their decorative swords and knives. Fewer than 500 remain.
Taha said the verdict against al Abdi, which the court has set for March 2, will likely absolve the defendant on mental health grounds.
“This will drive the Jews crazy and will be a driving force for their migration,” he said.