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July 5, 2012 2:06 pm

Murder Victim’s Family Urges Exodus for Yemen’s Jews

avatar by Ezriel Gelbfish

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The Family of Aharon Zindani, Yemenite-Jewish Murder Victim. Photo: Moshe Shai

The family of Aharon Joseph Zindani, a Yemenite Jew who was murdered in his native country in May, is urging Yemen’s remaining Jews to emigrate to countries that are safer for Jewish people.

Mr. Zindani, a native of Yemen who moved to Israel ten years ago, had returned to his native land in 2010 to sell his family’s remaining assets, after financial troubles plagued his father in Israel. Zindani’s brother-in-law explained that Zindani, who had become a community leader in his two years in Yemen, hoped to buy a small synagogue, among other things, in Rehovot, his hometown.

The attack on Zindani was anti-Semitic in nature, according to Zindani’s family and the Jewish Agency, and is not the first one to occur in Yemen, a  hotbed for rising Islamists and an ambivalent government . In 2008, Moshe Naish al- Nahari, a Jewish teacher of Hebrew and father of nine, was gunned down by a Muslim Yemenite who demanded al-Nahiri convert to Islam. Mr. Zindani  was stabbed in his head and neck in the marketplace of Sanaa – Yemen’s capital – at the hands of a Muslim who claimed Zindani had bewitched and ruined him.

After a long and protracted extraction process, the Jewish Agency in conjuction with Israel’s Foreign Ministry convinced Yemen’s government to allow Zindani’s burial in Israel, a luxury not granted to al-Nahiri, who was buried in Yemen in 2008. Zindani’s remains were accompanied to Israel by his family, who plans to stay in the future in Rehovot, where they buried Zindani last May.

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The attack has motivated Zindani’s family, influential in Yemenite circles, to exhort Yemen’s remaining Jews to emigrate to safer countries like Britain, where the plight of Yemeni Jews has been a topic of conversation among British MPs. Israel and the Jewish Agency have also offered to resettle Yemen’s Jews, who mostly live in government compounds for fear of anti-Semitic attacks. However, Yemen’s few hundred Jews have opted to stay in their communities, which, at thousands of years old and thought to date from the time of King Solomon, are some of the oldest Jewish settlements in existence. Heavily populated by about 60,000 Jews in the first half of the twentieth century, these settlements dramatically shrank after the 1949-1950 airlift of Yemen’s Jews to Israel, under the code name “Operation Magic Carpet”, leaving only a few hundred Jews left in Yemen.

Zindani, whose age has been reported to be between 46 and 50, is succeeded by his wife and eleven children.

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