Yemen rebels arrest rabbi accused of smuggling ancient Torah scroll to Israel

Like all Jews in Yemen, the rabbi, Yahia Youssef Yaish, has been the target of an anti-Jewish campaign launched by local Houthi militias upon their seizure of power Sanaa in December 2014.

April 19, 2016 18:46
1 minute read.
Yemenite Jews

500-600-year-old torah scroll brought from Yemen. (photo credit: ARIELLE DI-PORTO FOR THE JEWISH AGENCY FOR ISRAEL)


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The Houthi militias reigning in Yemen's capital, Sanaa, have recently arrested a rabbi who was accused of aiding in the "smuggling [of] an ancient Torah scroll to Israel," Yemenite media reported Monday.

Like all Jews in Yemen, the rabbi, Yahia Youssef Yaish, has been the target of an anti-Jewish campaign launched by the local Houthi militias upon their seizure of power in the capital in December 2014.

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Local sources told the Yemenite news site "Yemen News" that Yaish, who has been interrogated by the police in Sanaa, was arrested in order to pressure Jews in Yemen to leave the country and immigrate to Israel.

Following his arrest, a group of local activists issued a statement of support for the rabbi, urging the Houthi militias to free him and several employees in Sanaa's airport, who were arrested with him.

"Israel is the most racist state on earth, but our Arab nation can vanquish the racist Israeli regime only by resisting ethnic discrimination. Jews were also victims while they resided in their Arab homelands, and today they are oppressors in Palestine. Suffering repression does not justify repressing others," the statement read.

On March 21, a group of 19 Yemenite Jews were brought to Israel in a clandestine Jewish Agency mission. Among the new immigrants was Rabbi Saliman Dahari who brought with him a Torah scroll that is 500-years-old, arousing rage among Yemenites who blamed Israel for "robbing Yemen's historical assets."

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