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Yemen’s remaining Jews to be transferred to UAE following Israel deal

August 17, 2020 at 1:22 pm

An elderly Yemeni Jew arrives at an immigration centre in the Israeli city of Beersheba on March 21, 2016 following a secret rescue operation to evacuate a group of 19 Jews from war-torn Yemen to Israel. [MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP via Getty Images]

Yemen’s remaining Jewish community are to immigrate to Abu Dhabi following the peace deal made between the UAE and Israel, reported Al-Araby Al-Jadeed over the weekend.

According to a Yemeni rabbi, the plan will see 100 Jews transferred to the UAE, although previous estimates of the community were said to be as low as 50 or less.

Al-Araby added that the US government was behind the request for the move, while the UAE has asked Iran to help facilitate the transfer. The report, which is yet to be confirmed by an official source, also suggests some 40 Yemeni Jews have agreed to the move with others being persuaded by being told they will not have any problems integrating into Emirati society.

The vast majority of Yemeni Jews, numbering some 50,000 were airlifted to Israel shortly after it was founded in 1948 during the so-called Operation Magic Carpet (1949-1950). Last month, a Yemeni Jewish rabbi who emigrated to the US said the Jews who remained behind have refused to leave due to “their fear of educational and tznius [propriety] issues,” according to Yeshiva World News.

“They heard from their brothers who made aliyah before them and understand that Israel is not for them,” he said. “The US is also not appropriate for their lifestyle. They searched for an Arab country that would agree to accept them, and there are a number of countries that may be willing to host them with assistance from the US. Perhaps we’ll merit to soon see a new Yemenite community in a country with a similar Arab nature but without threats to its security and yahadus [Judaism].”

READ: Israel’s ambitions in south Yemen increase risk of conflict with Houthis

Issues of settling in Israel among Yemeni Jews were also due to the strictly secular Jewish Agency taking responsibility for their integration with many forced to cast religious practice aside, along with some ancient traditions and customs, in the process of becoming citizens of the fledgling state.

There was also the scandal involving the disappearance of thousands of children and babies born to Mizrahi, mostly Yemeni immigrants, it is widely believed many were abducted from hospitals and given or sold to wealthier Ashkenazi couples.

Last month it was reported in some Yemeni outlets and Egyptian newspaper Al-Mesryoon, that the Houthi movement in Yemen had begun rounding up Jews and imprisoning them due to their faith and were pressurising them to leave the country.

However, the Jerusalem Post asked Israel’s Foreign Ministry on the veracity of the reports, which appears to be false. Another international organisation with connections to the Jewish community in Yemen also told the Post that it investigated the reports and found them to be false.

The normalisation of relations between the UAE and Israel came a few days after it was reported that the UAE helped to reunite a Jewish Yemeni family with its other members in London after 15 years of separation. Emirati authorities facilitated the travel of the mother and father from Yemen to the UAE, as well as arranging for their children and grandchildren who are living in London to join them there.

READ: STC Yemen official hails Israel-UAE normalisation deal