The Times of Israel has this interview with Yahya Zindani, 28, the son of Aharon Zindani, murdered in May. Yahya accompanied the body to its last resting place in Israel. Yahya blames the murder on Al-Qaeda, saying half of Yemen supports them now. Yahya has such faith in the justice system (not!) that he has appointed a lawyer ‘to ensure that the murderer is not released.’
The Zandanis are among the last Jews to stay in Yemen. They moved to Sanaa four years ago from the city of Saada, 150 miles north of the capital, after Al-Qaeda drove the Jews of that town out of their homes.
“They gave them one week’s written notice to leave and then began shooting at their homes,” says Shlomo Zandani, Aharon’s brother-in-law, who emigrated to Israel in 1961.
Former president Ali Abdullah Saleh provided the Jews with free housing in an ex-pat compound in Sanaa, as well as a financial stipend.
“But what use is money when you can’t leave your home?” chorus the family members.
Yahya says that following the murder he would only leave his home for five-minute periods before rushing back, for fear of being attacked on the street. He tells of a man from the Jewish community in Raidah who recently had a landmine placed at his doorstep, and who exits his home through the window ever since.
The Zandani family takes pains to differentiate between the government of current President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi — which like his predecessor Ali Abdullah Saleh, protects the Jews – and members of Al-Qaeda, who they say have taken effective control of the country.
“The government is good to us, but Al-Qaeda threatens it too,” says Yahya. “Half the country is Al-Qaeda, if not more than that.” Jews can still travel to and from Yemen, so the family is understandably wary of speaking out against the government.
‘We only have 20-30 relatives left in Yemen and we want them here with us, for better or worse.’
It is not with nostalgia that the Zandanis recall their former homeland, but with pity. As the community shrunk, educating the children became a true challenge.
“I want my children to grow up here and receive a proper education,” says Yahia, who left his wife and two children behind to escort his father’s body to Israel. “Once I bring my family here, I won’t go back.”
But an elderly man dressed in traditional Yemeni garb says he still travels back and forth to Yemen on business. “Look, the stones in Israel are good for being buried in,” he says with a smile.