President suggests relocating Raidah Jews to Sana’a [Archives:2008/1217/Local News]

December 18 2008

Mohammed bin Sallam
Leaders of the Jewish community in Raidah, Amran province met with president Saleh on Wednesday to demand protection after the murder of a Jewish teacher by an extremist last Thursday. In response, president Saleh suggested that they move to Sana'a.

AMRAN, Dec. 17 ) President Saleh met with the father and relatives of Moshe bin Yaish bin Yusif Nahari, 30, who was killed on Thursday by a mentally disturbed former air force pilot. The delegation explained to the president that their community is currently under threat and needs protection. Otherwise, they would be forced to leave Yemen and emigrate to Israel and other countries.

“We want to stay in Yemen because this is our fathers' land and we love it,” said Moshe's father Yaish Nahari.

Responding to their plight, Saleh instructed his office to grant a small piece of land abut 222 square meters in Sana'a for every Jewish family in Raidah in order to facilitate their recommended transfer to the capital city. He also ordered 400,000 YR (USD 2000) for the funeral expenses.

The trial of the killer, Abdulaziz Hamoud Al-Abdi, 39, which was announced to take place on Tuesday, was delayed until next Saturday. And while official statements claim to have arrested a group of eight men said to be involved in the crime, tribal people from the area deny this, stating that they are hiding under the protection of one of the tribal sheiks in Amran.

Security forces are currently present in the area in order to make sure the Jews are not targeted again. At the same time, they are also searching for the extremist group said to have instigated the murder.

“The extremists want to clean the area from Jews. This is simply ethnic cleansing, especially considering that there aren't many Jews left in Yemen anyway,” said Sa'eed Al-Ammar, rabbi of the entire Jewish community in Yemen. Al-Ammar referred to the ultimatum given by the murderer to Nahari three days before he killed him: “Convert to Islam, leave the country, or die.”

Abraham bin Yahya bin Yusif, a member of the community, explained that local Sheikh Yahya Mujahid Abu Shawarib, who is a deputy at the National Security Apparatus, wants to facilitate the selling of the Jews' homes and lands as well as their transfer to Sana'a where they can get better protection.

“How are we expected to start all over again?” said one of the Jews in the community about the suggested plan. “Even if they give us the lands, who will build the homes for us? And who will buy our homes and lands in the village at a decent price? It all seems very unreal and highly unpractical. Instead of protecting us in our own village, they are asking us to leave.”

According to tribal ritual, the body of the deceased will not be buried until the murder is solved, even given the money received from the state for burial expenses. And while a specific date has not been set yet, members and supporters of the Jewish community continue to arrive in Yemen to participate in the funeral.

Nahari was a prominent activist in the community and a teacher in the local Jewish school. Although his mother and four sisters emigrated to Israel, he insisted on staying in Yemen with his father as he is the only son in his family. He also stayed in order to help the remaining Jewish community in the country. He had previously studied Judaism and Hebrew in the USA for six years before returning to Yemen to live with his wife, five daughters, and four sons.