A Yemeni Jew has been in jail and ‘tortured’ for over a year, accused of helping a Jewish family escape the country. He will not be released, say the authorities, until the old Torah scroll the family took with them is returned to Yemen.
The scroll is said to be 700 years old.
The Houthis in Yemen have refused to release the Jew, Levi, until the family, which is now in Israel, agrees to send the Torah scroll back to Yemen.
Manny Dahari’s family was on the last Jewish Agency airlift from Yemen to Israel in March 2016. He says that the Torah scroll has been in his family’s possession for generations.
“Unfortunately, my family will not release it to them or anyone else. It will remain with my family in Israel,” he writes in a Facebook post.
On the family’s arrival in Israel, young members were photographed reading from the scroll, watched by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The Houthis claim that the Torah scroll belongs to the Republic of Yemen.
The fifty Jews still in Yemen have proclaimed their desire to stay there, in spite of the war raging in the country. They live in a government compound in the capital Sana’a. Manny Dahari claims that the Houthis, who are in control of the capital, broke into the compound and seized the remaining Torah scrolls, thus ‘preventing the Jews from practising their religion freely.‘
“This is just a continuation of the oppression against Jews in the Middle East,” he writes. “Close to one million Jews have been forced out of their homes throughout the Middle East. Yet, the international community continues to ignore these atrocities. They have turned a blind eye to the ethnic cleansing of Middle Eastern Jews.
“Why are we different than any other refugees? Why is there a double standard when it comes to Jews?