Jews of Yemen staying put


NEW YORK (JTA) — The 250 or so Jews remaining in Yemen insist on staying despite the upheaval in their country, Jewish organizational officials say.

Long a target of campaigns by Jewish organizational officials in the United States and Israel to get them to emigrate, the Jews remaining in Yemen simply do not want to leave, according to a Jewish organizational official involved in the effort.

Earlier this month, Yemen’s president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, blamed the violence and unrest in his country and around the Arab world on “an operations room in Tel Aviv” that is “run by the White House.” Despite his pronouncements, Saleh has given protection and support to the country’s Jews at a compound in the capital city of Sanaa.

Though Saleh recently indicated that he could be convinced to step down — he said he would yield power if he was certain Yemen would be left in “safe hands” — the developments have not prompted an exodus of Jews from the country.

“They refuse categorically to leave,” said the Jewish organizational official, who insisted on anonymity. “They have been under a barrage of phone calls from relatives encouraging them to leave. Prominent ex-Yemenite rabbis were drafted as well and asked to call them, saying leave now before things get hectic and you can’t leave.”

Some appear to be making contingency plans to leave, the official added, but so far the community is sticking together.

Most of Yemen’s remaining Jews live in Sanaa.

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