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Zionist group opposes Yemenite rescue to N.Y.

NEW YORK (JTA) — The World Zionist Organization is pressing the United Jewish Communities not to aid the transfer of Yemenite Jews to a New York community.

The Jerusalem-based WZO is drafting a statement to the UJC asking the North American Jewish federation umbrella organization to stop raising funds for an effort to help some 113 Jews who want to leave Yemen and move to a Satmar Chasidic community in New York.

Jews in Yemen have had their property attacked by local Islamists; a Jewish man was murdered earlier this year.

"We believe they should be offered the option of coming to Israel and that the UJC, which is a partner of the Jewish Agency, shouldn’t be raising money to bring them to the Satmar community without making every effort to offer them the option of coming to Israel first," Paula Edelstein, who sits on the WZO executive and is co-chair of the Jewish Agency’s Immigration and Absorption Committee, told the Jerusalem Post.

The WZO also objects to the fact that the Satmars, who have been helping the Yemenite Jews, are not Zionists.

In March, the Jewish Agency for Israel, which is charged with facilitating alliyah to Israel, said it opposed the move of Yemenite Jews to New York instead of Israel.

“We vehemently oppose the emigration of Jews in distress anywhere in the world to the USA ,including the group of Jews from Yemen, who will not be coming to Israel,” a spokesman for the agency said in March. “The  destination for the Jews of the world — among them the Jews of Yemen — is in their ancestral homeland in Israel." 

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