How the current war between King Ibn Saud of the Hedjaz and King Imam Yahia of Yemen, is bringing hunger and death to thousands of Jews in Arabia is described in a piteous letter of appeal made public yesterday by the Joint Distribution Committee. The letter is from the Yemenite Relief Committee of Aden, Arabia, headed by Yahia Salem, prominent Jewish community leader.
Hostilities between the two Arab chieftains struggling for power has brought thousands of Jewish refugees to Aden, where all their belongings are confiscated by the Yemen government. A picture of boys and girls straying through the streets of Aden begging for bread, of adults literally without clothes, is described in the communication, which says:
“Although we are aware of the conditions and the crisis prevailing in the world at large, nevertheless we must call your attention to your brethren in Yemen. We expect you, the Jews of America, who are known the world over as great philanthropists, to extend a helping hand.”
By arrangement with the Emergency Refugee Committee, to which the Joint Distribution Committee has made large contributions in the past, a grant has been made to meet some of the most urgent Jewish relief needs in Aden.
The political and military disturbances in Southern Arabia have caused a concentration of Jews in Aden, where the local Jews are too poor to cope with the problems of relief thereby created.
Yemen is referred to as “the Iron furnace” in the description of the status of the Jewish refugees.
“This community is screaming with pain in a remote corner of the world and nobody listens to her,” the message from the Yemenite Jewish leader says. “She is starving in darkness and there is no one to rush help.
“It is true that the misery of our brethren is great in Germany. Yet there is no comparison between this and the plight of the Yemenite Jews. Who can count the number of restrictions against the Yemenite Jews? Laws prohibiting the Jew to ride a donkey or any other means of transportation and similar humiliations worse than those applied to the untouchables of India are now matters of course to us.
“But now a new burden has fallen upon us. The war that is raging between the kings of Arabia, Saud and the Imam, has caused great fear to the Yemenite Jews. From all sides of the Yemenite countries Jews flee and flock to Aden. Conditions in Aden are going from bad to worse. Never before did we have so many Jewish refugees who came here, risking their lives, only that they might eventually go to Palestine. All their properties, mobile as well as immobile, have been confiscated by the treasury of the Yemen Government. Who can behold the precious boys and girls going astray in the streets of Aden, begging for bread, and not offer assistance to them? We possess no adequate word to picture their dreadful condition.
“We ask only that you in the West stretch out the hand of brotherhood to those of your people who are burnt of the sun of the Orient. We are helpless but we are certain that you can do much to solve favorably our bitter problems.”