Fears for Yemenites

The threat of permanent closure of the American and British embassies in Yemen has heightened fears for the safety of some 200 Yemenite Jews.

The main channel of contact with the community has, in recent years, been the American State Department.

American diplomats have helped Jewish groups transfer aid to the community and keep abreast of its condition. Last year, Moshe Yaish-Nahari was murdered by a former Yemeni Air Force pilot after he refused to convert.

The fear of al Qaida and other Islamic movements has caused many rural Jews to move to the capital, Sana’a.

“We would like to bring them to Israel,” said a Jewish Agency official. “We have brought some families over in the last couple of years but those who remain have been poisoned against Israel by Satmar.”

The official was referring to the anti-Zionist Chasidic group, based in upstate New York, which has been paying stipends to Jewish Yemenite families prepared to remain in the country. Along with the US State Department, they have also helped parts of the community move to America and the UK.

    Last updated: 5:11pm, January 7 2010