Yemeni Jews Visits to Yemen to be Furthered [Archives:2000/14/Front Page]

April 3 2000

A group of Jews of Yemeni origin had last week paid a first of its kind visit to Yemen, as being their original homeland and place of birth. Members of the visiting group were provided with travel transit permits by the Yemeni government instead of using their passports. The visit aroused much controversy in the political arena. Many people commented on the visit, considering it as a prelude to other ensuing steps on the road to relations’ normalization with Israel. Political observers and analysts interpret the Yemeni acceptance to grant the visiting group entry visas to Yemen as a signal of the government’s non-rejection of any future normalization of relations with Israel despite its attempt to suggest that permission of the visit was no more than a humanitarian question. A Yemeni diplomat described the visit as normal and has nothing to do with politics but the humanitarian aspect which is that we can not forbid Yemeni Jews to visit their home country. 

“A seventy-year-old man of the Jewish visiting group expressed his great ecstasy that God has realized his wish to visit his homeland and place of birth after more than fifty years of yearning and longing” the diplomat added. On the other hand, the leading Yemeni Muslim religious man and senior leader of Islah party, Sheikh Abdulmajeed Al-Zandani stressed in his Friday prayers sermon the serious consequences of the Jews visit describing it as extremely dangerous and that the Jews would allure the Yemenis to leave their homeland as they had done with the Palestinians. In addition, in a special statement to the Yemen Times, Mr. Hatem Abu Hatem, Chairman of the Committee Against Normalization with Israel, pointed out that the visit is against all the ethical and constitutional norms of Yemen as an Islamic country. ” How can we normalize the relation with the zionists while they are killing our brothers in Lebanon and Palestine?. We can accepts the Yemeni Jews to visits Yemen provided they admit the Israeli invasion of Palestine and want to come back and live in Yemen as Yemeni citizens.” The Committee Against Normalization also issued a statement in which it criticized the visit ruthlessly holding the government responsible for such developments and warned against any further steps.
But it seems the visits will go on. The Jerusalem Post indicated in its issue of last Friday that another group of the Israeli passport-holders will visit Yemen this coming Thursday. ” Participants in the 14-day tour would include those who in the future accompany tours to Yemen, as well as others in the tourism field and leaders of the Yemenite community in Israel” the paper said.
In an exclusive interview to the Yemen Times, a number of the Jewish visiting group told the newspaper that the visit was arranged through contacts with Yemeni officials. Nevertheless the two Israeli newspapers, Jerusalem Post and Maariv mentioned that the Jewish delegation could not meet the Prime Minister Dr Al-Eryani due to his health condition and could not meet Parliament Speaker Sheikh Al-Ahmer because their visit was not arranged beforehand though the group had called at the latter’s house but he refused according to the Jerusalem Post, to meet them.