Animosity against Jews intensified. Notes nailed to the homes of Jews accused them of working for Israel and corrupting Muslim morals. “Jews were specifically targeted by Houthi rebels,” says a spokeswoman for the Yemeni embassy in Washington.
In January 2007, Houthi leaders threatened Jewish families in Saada. “We warn you to leave the area immediately… [W]e give you a period of 10 days, or you will regret it,” read a letter signed by a Houthi representative cited in a Reuters article.
Virtually the entire Jewish community in the area, about 60 people, fled to the capital. Since then, they have been receiving food stipends and cash assistance from the government while living in state-owned apartments in a guarded enclave, says the Yemeni embassy in Washington.
President Saleh, a Shiite, has been eager to demonstrate goodwill toward the Jews. On the Passover holiday, he invited TV crews to videotape families in the government complex as they feasted on lamb he had ordered.
Raida became the last redoubt of Yemeni Jews, who continued to lead a simple life there alongside Muslims.
Ancient stone homes dot the town. Electricity is erratic; oil lamps are common. Water arrives via truck. Most homes lack a TV or a refrigerator. The cell phone is the only common modern device. Some families receive financial aid from Hasidic Jewish groups in Brooklyn and London, which has enabled them to buy cars.
Typically, the Jewish men are blacksmiths, shoe repairmen or carpenters. They sometimes barter, trading milk and cow dung for grass to feed their livestock. In public, the men stand out for their long side curls, customarily worn by observant Jewish men. Jewish women, who often marry by 16, rarely leave home. When they do, like Muslim women, only their eyes are exposed.
It is bewildering to me when people question the need for a Jewish Homeland. The Jews have been persecuted for centuries. Since the Roman era diaspora. Christian purges, Czarist pogroms, Islamic expulsions. The Holocaust of Nazi Germany. Jews are forever the scapegoat for the inadequacies, incompetence and criminal acts of the elite.
Yet, today, people question the need for a homeland wherein the Jews can defend themselves and live with dignity. A place where the Jewish people can live without fear. A place where a future as a Jew is possible.
Palestine is a fiction. There was never a Palestine in history except as a Roman province. The name itself comes from the Roman language. The Romans dubbed the area Palestine as an affront to the Jews. Palestine is the Roman transliteration of the word Philistine. Thus, the Romans named the area once known as Judea after the ancient enemy of the Kingdom of Judea. Jews have had a constant presence in the area for thousands of years. They have been present in the Levant since the time of the ancient Kingdoms of Assyria and Babylonia and the ancient Persian Kingdoms. Alexander’s Generals and historians wrote of the Jews there. The Romans conquered them there.
Then came the Muslim Empire. The great and bloody Empire of Islam.
Islam conquered the area and forced mass conversion on the inhabitants of the region. Well, technically the didn’t force conversion. You had choices. Flee. Become a slave. Pay a hefty tax called the Jizya. To avoid all of these choices, one had merely to convert. State three times the words “there is no God but Allah and Mohammad is his Prophet.” Yes, many people “chose” to convert to Islam. And what a choice it was.
Today, all across the Muslim world, Jews are second or third class citizens. They are treated poorly. Subject to rules and regulations and the whims of a mostly illiterate populace. Antisemitism is on the rise across the globe. Especially in Europe and the Arab lands.
The Arabs like to say that Israel is a guilt price for the actions of Europe during World War II.
And perhaps there is some truth to that.
Even so, the Jews have paid their own blood price for that land. When Israel declared independence in 1948, the Arabs attacked. Killing thousands of Jews and proclaiming that they would drive the Jews into the sea. The Jews fought back and held off that bloody calamity. The Arabs maintained a steady war of attrition for the next 30 to 40 years. Attacking at the borders. Raiding across the border and murdering families and communities much like the bloodletting and rockets that the Palestinians and Hezbollah plan and execute today. In 1956, 1967 and 1973, the various Arab factions have pursued outright war against Israel by closing the straits and bottlenecking the Red Sea, by bombarding the country with artillery and build ups on the borders of Israel and by outright attacking as Sadat did in the ’73 October War.
Yet, through it all, Israel has survived. They’ve had the assistance of the US at times. Their enemies have also had assistance. The Soviets paid for most of the militaries of Egypt and Syria. The Army that attacked Israel in 1973 was “mentored” by Soviet “advisers.” Soviet pilots were shot down in combat action in the ’73 war.
These are things that the opponents of Israel will deny or claim inconsequential.
Israel has always existed in one form or another. Most of the land that comprises Israel was owned by Jews in 1948. This land was purchased from the Arabs who owned the land. Most of the business in Israel in 1948 was Jewish owned. The Arabs who lived in the area in 1948, moved there because of developments created by the Jewish immigrants to the area.
I have been to Israel. What is striking about the region is that Israel is much like a mini-European country in a vast wasteland. Exit Israel and enter Egypt or Jordan or Syria. You enter a time warp. As if traveling back to the Ottoman Empire. If Israel were to fail as a nation, this is the same fate that awaits the land. It will corrupt and fall into disuse and neglect. This is why the Arabs want it? The people of Israel took a barren wasteland and made it into a paradise. The Arabs simply let the wasteland stand as it is.
I do not support the creation of a Palestinian State. Never do I think this should happen. A Palestinian State would be nothing more than another Islamic Despotism wherein the people are kept illiterate and a few corrupt leaders in the mold of Yassar Arafat will enrich themselves at the expense of the masses. The Arabs of Palestine would do better to make their own treaty. Expel the thugs of the PLA, Hamas and FATAH and make their own treaty with Israel. Create a non-religious state and live side by side with Israel in peace. Either as an autonomous region or a City-State along the lines of the Vatican. Live in peace with their neighbors and let religion be no issue at all.
Israel is the only beacon of light in the darkest region of the Planet. In almost every country that claims Islam as it’s dominant religion, the people are merely slaves to the whims of despotism and tyranny.
Israel should be supported by all democracies and all liberal peoples. The PLA and the other groups that keep this war going should be international pariahs. Iran, Saudi Arabia and any other country who supports these groups should be ignored.
But, of course, oil makes that impossible. America, China, Europe and India will kiss the feet of the Arab oil men of the Middle East and ignore the real injustice of the region. And the despots of the Arab Nations will forever use Israel as the scapegoat for their corruption to avert the eyes of their illiterate masses away from the real enemies that are the leaders of their own nations.