By Ron Kampeas
Systematic persecution of Jews in Yemen by Houthi rebels and a previous government has driven the ancient community almost entirely out of the country, with possibly just seven remaining, a United Nations panel said.
The revelations, first reported this week by Jewish Insider, were included in a report commissioned by the U.N. Security Council on the civil war ravaging the country. According to the report, one of the seven verified Jews in Yemen is imprisoned.
“The panel documented the systematic persecution of Jews in Houthi-controlled areas,” said the report, released Jan. 26. “Most of Jewish population left Yemen after several years of persecution, which started under former President Ali Abdullah Saleh but intensified under the Houthis. The panel knows of seven Jewish individuals still in Yemen, including one who remains detained despite an order to release him issued in July 2019.”
That appears to refer to Levi Marhabi, arrested for his role in bringing an ancient Torah to Israel.
The Houthis, a Shi’ite faction backed by Iran, assassinated Saleh in 2017 after allying with him in a bid to unseat his successor.
The report said that the Houthis preach anti-Jewish violence to their school-age children.
“Children were expected to regularly shout the Houthi slogan ‘Death to America, Death to Israel, Curse the Jews, Victory to Islam’,” the report said, describing a Houthi summer camp.
The report laid much of the blame for the conflict with the Houthis, describing their practices as “posing a constant threat to the civilian population.” It noted also that airstrikes carried out by the Saudi-led coalition backing Yemen’s government “also continue to result in civilian casualties.”
The remaining Jewish population in Yemen was already thought to be quite low, with estimates in 2021 placing the total at fewer than 10 people amid regular reports of anti-Jewish persecution in the country.