Why is Yahya Zandani still in Yemen? In an interview after the murder of his father Aharon in Yemen, he vowed to bring his wife and two children out to Israel. Instead, he went back to that war-torn country to live in a guarded compound in Sana’a with his wife’s family. They are among the last 40 Jews in the capital, who are exasperating the Israeli authoritiesby stubbornly refusing to budge. Nevertheless, Yahya confides his fears to the Times of Israel:
Yahya Zandani with two of his brothers. The photo was taken in Israel at the funeral of Yahya’s murdered father Aharon two years ago (photo: Elhanan Miller, ToI)
In June 2012, Yahya Zandani’s father, Aharon,
was stabbed to death at the main market in Sana’a. His body was brought
to Israel for burial. Nevertheless, Yahya returned to Yemen, where his
wife’s father and three brothers still live.
the family are among Yemen’s last 60 Jews — 40 of whom are huddled in a
gated government compound in the heart of what is now the
rebel-controlled capital, Sana’a.
Speaking by phone to The Times of Israel on
Tuesday, Zandani, 31, said that despite their avowedly anti-Semitic
credo, the Houthi rebels who captured Sana’a last September and have
moved south to the port city of Aden, are not threatening the Jews, at
least not yet. But he confided deep fears of what may lie in store.
Zandani was speaking from a compound known as
the touristic city — where deposed president Ali Abdullah Saleh
relocated the community in 2008 after it was driven out of the northern
province of Saada by the Houthis. Arab diplomats from Iraq and Egypt
have also moved into the compound in recent days, after their embassies
were bombed out.
Zandani said that Jews, like other Yemenis, are experiencing nightly aerial bombings by the Saudi-led coalition, but are not being singled out for their religion.
An Arab coalition headed by Saudi Arabia began
bombing Houthi strongholds across the country last week after President
Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi fled the country from Aden, which the Shiite
rebels captured in March, pleading for foreign assistance.
The motto of the Shiite insurgency, which
emerged in Saada in 2004, is “death to America, death to Israel, cursed
be the Jews, victory to Islam.” Nonetheless, the Jews have not been
targeted by the rebels to date, said Zandani.
“The situation is difficult in Yemen with
the war and everything, but there’s no [distinct] problem for the Jews,”
Zandani said. “It’s all [directed at] the government.”
“The Houthis aren’t speaking with the Jews,
but there’s still some fear,” Zandani admitted. “We don’t know who is a
Houthi and who isn’t, who’s good and who’s bad… We don’t know what the
Arabs are planning.”