Month: June 2012

Yemen murder blamed on Al-Qaeda

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.

Members of the Zandani family pray at Aharon's grave in Rehovot (photo credit: Elhanan Miller/Times of Israel)

Members of the Zandani family pray at Aharon’s grave in Rehovot (photo credit: Elhanan Miller/Times of Israel)

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.

Read article in full

Murder victim buried as fears grow for Yemenite community (Jewish Chronicle)

Jews are under my protection, says Erdogan

Prime minister Tayyip Erdogan (Photo:Flash 90)

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has sought to reassure the country’s Jewish community, saying that he will ensure its safety, Anatolia news agency reported.

Two American-Jewish men reportedly approached the Turkish PM while he was attending the Rio 20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development to ask him “to protect” Jewish people living in Turkey.

“Under my leadership, the Jewish community in Turkey is safe,” Erdogan said. “They are under my protection. We see [Jewish people] as brothers.”

“We have no problem with the Israeli people,” Erdogan said in response to a question.

“Our problem is the aggressive behavior of the Israeli government. We have to find solutions to problems in the Middle East. The Israelis have to treat the Palestinians better.”

The Algemeiner identified the men as brothers Avraham and Yirmi Berkowitz, rabbis of Chabad Lubavitch. “It was a chance meeting,” they said, adding, “we mentioned the ancient and prestigious history of Jews in Turkey, which the Prime Minister acknowledged.”

Read article in full (Arutz Sheva)

Jewish teachings behind drugs trade: Iranian VP

Anti-Zionism in Iran slipped into outright antisemitism at a UN conference in Tehran when the First Vice President of Iran, Mohammed Reza Rahimi (pictured), blamed the international drugs trade on the teachings of the Talmud. Fox News covered this story – a rare diatribe by an Iranian official targeting the Jewish faith.

The teachings of the Jewish book of law, the Talmud, are a driving force behind the international drug trade, Iranian First Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi said in comments reported Wednesday.

Rahimi’s remarks, at an international anti-drug conference in Tehran attended by many foreign diplomats Tuesday, were a rare diatribe by an Iranian official targeting the Jewish faith, rather than the state of Israel.

“The spread of narcotics in the world emanates from the teachings of the Talmud … whose objective is the destruction of the world,” Rahimi said in comments published by the official website of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and state media. “The Talmud teaches that it is lawful to acquire wealth through legal and illegal means … which gives [the Jews] the right to destroy humanity.”

Rahimi added, “If one seeks what lies behind all forms of corruption, there is the repugnant face of Zionists. This is the same case for the narcotics trade … whose primary operator is the Zionist regime. The Zionists spread destruction not only by drugs, but also by [attacking] cultures.”

Iranian officials have repeatedly courted international outrage with tirades against the state of Israel, but criticism of Judaism as a faith has been rare.

The Talmud is a book of oral tradition derived from the Jewish holy book, the Torah, that contains all the principles that govern daily life.

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Officials slam Iran on anti-semitic statements (Ynet News)

Egypt blocks pilgrims from visiting rabbi’s tomb

The pilgrimage to the tomb of rabbi Yaakov Abuhatseira will be a thing of the past

Whatever other values the new Muslim Brotherhood president of Egypt, Muhammed Morsi, might stand for, freedom of worship for Jews is not among them. Egypt puts the final nail in the coffin of the Egypt-Israel peace treaty by blocking Jewish pilgrims from visiting the tomb of a famous 19th century rabbi, Israel National News reports. (With thanks: Jeremy)

Egypt’s Foreign Ministry said Wednesday it had told Israel that it would not be “appropriate” for Israeli pilgrims to make an annual visit to the tomb of a 19th-century Jewish holy man in the Nile Delta.

Egypt notified Israel two months ago that it would be “impossible to hold the annual ceremony because of the political and security situation in the country,” the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said.

Wednesday’s announcement came as Muslim Brotherhood activists mobilized to block the pilgrimage route.

Ceremonies at the tomb of Rabbi Yaakov Abuchatzeira have triggered yearly political sparring in Egypt throughout most of the last decade.

An Islamist politician involved in organizing protests against the march meanwhile said that visiting the gravesite in the village of Daymouta, 180 kilometers (112 miles) north of Cairo would be a “suicide mission” for Israelis.

“Normalization (of relations) with Israel is forced on the people, and the visits too come against the will of the people and despite popular rejection,” said Gamal Heshmat of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Egypt’s daily Al-Ahram newspaper reported Tuesday that 31 parties and groups had joined this year’s campaign to block Israeli pilgrims from reaching the site.

A son to a chief rabbi of Morocco, Yaakov Abuchatzeira was revered by some Jews as a mystic renowned for his piety and for performing miracles. The elderly rabbi was making his way from his native Morocco to the Holy Land in 1879, when he fell ill and died in the Egyptian city of Damanhour near Alexandria.
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Save the Borgel cemetery in Tunis

With thanks: Ahoovah

This is a sad little clip by the Forward‘s Nate Lavey recording the sorry state of the Borgel Jewish cemetery, the largest in North Africa, which contains 30,000 Jewish graves. A small number were transferred from another Jewish cemetery in the centre of Tunis, including the tomb of the famous Rabbi Hai Taieb (Lo Met). This central cemetery was turned into a park shortly after Tunisia gained its independence in 1956, and the vast majority of tombs bulldozed into the ground.

Unless something is done urgently, fears lone campaigner Joseph Krief, the same fate awaits the Borgel. Once on the outskirts of Tunis, the cemetery is threatened by the encroaching city, and soaring land values make it ripe for redevelopment if it is declared ‘abandoned’. Krief has been leading a drive to raise funds to clean up and restore the cemetery, so far without success. If nothing is done soon, another slice of Tunisian-Jewish history will be lost for ever.
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