Fighting the wrong battle [Archives:2009/1224/Viewpoint]

January 12 2009

Nadia Al-Saqqaf
There is a small Jewish minority in Yemen consisting of less than 400 families, living mainly in the Amran governorate in the north of Yemen. The Jewish community was living peacefully with their Muslim neighbors for quite some time until some extremists threatened their peace and killed one of their prominent figures.

Today with the Israeli aggression against Palestinians in Gaza, some uneducated Yemenis have poured their anger and frustration on the Yemeni Jews. The mix up between Israelis and Jews is very common in many Muslim countries. They fail to understand that Judaism is a religion and Israeli is a political affiliation to a country.

Many consider all Jews as oppressors and Zionists, although there are many Jewish movements and individuals around the world that don't approve of the Israeli policy or the Zionist regime.

Attacking the local Jews – even though some have never even been outside their hometown in Yemen – is a severe misjudgment and a wrong equal to what the Israelis are doing in Gaza. Threatening the peace and livelihood of our country's people just because they share the same religion as the oppressors is not right and not even Islamic.

In fact, there are many Muslim leaders who are equally guilty of what is happening in Palestine today. Does that mean all Muslims are bad and should be attacked?

What is even worse is that the Yemeni government is not taking any significant stand to protect the minority and educate the surrounding villagers. When asked for protection, the President suggested to the Jewish leaders in Yemen that they should leave their homes and come live in Sana'a so that he can to protect them.

What kind of suggestion is this? And what does it imply? It is as if he said, “Sorry I have no power to protect you in your town, but leave everything that means anything to you and come live in Sana'a near me so that I can watch over your safety.”

Not only is this ridiculous, it is even sad to feel that our state can not protect us. It is sad that minorities such as Jews, African Yemenis, women, and so forth cannot look up to the state as a system that can govern and protect them. They are left to defend themselves in any way possible.

And so, you will find Yemenis seeking justice by themselves and not paying any attention to the law. This is what happened when the man killed the Jewish figure last month. We are starting to take matters into our own hands and doing what we see fit because the state is not powerful or interested enough to govern.

Yemenis who harm the Jews in Yemen are fighting the wrong battle. They should look within and see what is wrong with the whole system and demand change rather than waste their time and energy picking on the weaker entities.