The Yemen Spin

Recently, there has been a great deal in the Jewish news and blog-o-sphere, and emails and phone calls are a constant, dealing with the danger to the Yemen Jewish community. Particular emphasis has been placed on the relationship between the UJC and the Satmar community and also whether those leaving Yemen should be settled in the U.S. or Israel. Personally, I’ve heard multiple sides of the same story.

If the situation in Yemen resonates with you, check out this article from The Forward:

Visitors to Yemen Report That Jews Are Reluctant To Be Rescued;  New Assessment at Odds With Communal Groups’ Dire Warnings

In recent weeks, Jewish organizations have insisted that Yemen’s tiny Jewish population is in grave danger and that a secret evacuation is necessary to bring the people to safety. But a new report written by on-the-ground observers suggests that one of the primary barriers to the Jews’ departure is the resistance of the Jews themselves.

According to a copy of the report seen by the Forward, a high-ranking member of the Yemeni government has offered his assurance that Jews are free to leave for any country they like, whenever they like, and one of the primary obstacles to getting the Jews out of the country is their insistence that they be compensated for the houses they will leave behind. The report does say that the Jews there are concerned about their safety, but it also made clear that the Jews’ concerns about their material situation weighs heavily in their decision-making.

UJA-Federation of New York board member Linda Mirels and an unnamed representative of the Israeli Foreign Ministry wrote the report.

Both the Jewish Agency for Israel and a coalition of American organizations that includes the United Jewish Communities, New York’s federation, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, and the Satmar-run United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg have presented attempts to bring Jews out of Yemen as an essential, life-saving operation. In a public statement released on March 18, UJC president Howard Rieger declared, “The entire Yemenite-Jewish community now lives in fear of Islamic extremists and the persecution they may inflict in response to Israeli and world events. As a result of worsening conditions, this community is actively seeking to leave the country.”

But it now appears that the picture on the ground is more complex.