US Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism Implores Houthis to Free Yemenite Jew

August 18, 2020

US Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism Elan Carr has urged the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen to release an imprisoned member of Yemen’s small Jewish community, according to a report in the Jerusalem Post.

“The Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen have a record of persecuting religious minorities. Levi Salem Musa Marhabi, a member of Yemen’s small Jewish community, has endured 4 years in prison despite a legal order for his release. We join in calling for his immediate release,”  Carr said in a statement released on Twitter.

Providing background on Marhabi’s imprisonment, The Jerusalem Post sites a report from Ami Magazine which states that “In May 2016, a group of dazed but ecstatic Yemenite Jews arrived in Israel after a long trip that was the culmination of over two years of planning. Among their possessions was a very rare deerskin Sefer Torah, claimed by some to be 800 years old. The successful aliyah of this family angered the Yemeni authorities and their Iranian backers, and a young Jewish Yemenite named Levi Marhabi was arrested on suspicion of aiding the Jews’ departure with the scroll, which they consider a ‘national Yemeni treasure.”‘

The Iranian-backed Houthi rebel movement has been engaged in a brutal civil war in Yemen since 2015 and controls large swaths of the impoverished nation. The formal name of the Houthi movement is Ansar Allah (God’s supporters) and its official slogan is “Allah is Greater, Death to America, Death to Israel, Curse on the Jews, Victory to Islam.”

At its peak, the Yemenite Jewish community, once numbered more than 55,000 people. Nearly the entirety of Yemen’s Jewish community fled persecution in the country and immigrated to the State of Israel after its independence. Today, it is estimated that only a few dozen Jews remain in Yemen. Recently, the United Arab Emirates helped reunite a Yemenite Jewish family that had been separated for more than 15 years.

Elan S. Carr serves as the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism. As Special Envoy, he advises the Secretary of State and is responsible for directing U.S. policies and projects aimed at countering anti-Semitism throughout the world. The Office of the Special Envoy, under Elan Carr, has placed an increased emphasis on combating anti-Semitism in the Arab world, amid warming ties being certain Arab nations and the Jewish state, while also highlighting the plight of the hundreds of the thousands of Jewish refugees from Arab countries.

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