Remembering a Terrible Pogrom in Yemen, 69 Years Later

When the UN, on November 29, 1947, voted in favor of the partition of Palestine, the Jews in the British-controlled Yemenite city of Aden cheered. But then, 69 years ago today, the local Muslims viciously set upon their Jewish neighbors, leaving 87 dead and many more wounded. Ofer Aderet describes the events. (Free registration may be required.)

The rioting began on December 2, 1947 and lasted three days. “On the night of December 2, the Arabs started to burn Jews’ cars in the streets,” Shimon Sasson [who was fifteen-years-old at the time], recalled. “The next day they invaded our neighborhood. The streets were totally empty. We threw bottles at them.”

A day later Arabs started to torch Jewish stores, businesses, and homes. “A few families fled their homes and ran to our house, which was in the middle of the neighborhood. I opened the door and took in five families,” whose names he still remembers.

The Jewish leaders asked the British for help. In response, they sent a unit of Bedouin policemen under British command. “That’s when the disaster started,” [the Jewish Agency representative in Aden, Ovadiah] Tuvia wrote [in a report to his superiors]. “The hooligans started to loot Jewish stores. The policemen stood aside and smiled. Another minute and you could see them assisting in the looting and pillaging.”

The British declared a curfew. “I didn’t know what a curfew was, so I went up on the roof to see what was happening in the street. I saw a soldier there with a rifle. I ducked and he shot at me.” The bullet didn’t hit him, but hit a fifteen-year-old girl who had found refuge in his house. “The bullet hit her in the head. She died on the spot,” he said. “There was great turmoil in the house.” They had to wait three days until they could put the body out for burial in a collective grave.

“Any Jew who called out for help or who went up to the roof to put out the fires in his house or to escape it was greeted with a hail of bullets,” wrote Tuvia.

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Read more at Haaretz

More about: Anti-Semitism, Britain, History & Ideas, Mizrahi Jewry, Pogroms, Yemenite Jewry

To the Anti-Semite, Jews Aren’t Just One Problem among Many, but the Source of All Problems

While it likely had some ancient antecedents, the blood libel—the myth that Jews murder Christian children and consume their blood as part of a Passover ritual—as we know it began in Norwich, England in 1144. That same city was the location of one of several blood-libel-fueled massacres of Jews in 1190, and researchers have recently concluded that a mass grave found in Norwich contained the bones of the victims. Meir Soloveichik reflects on this discovery:

The popularity of the blood libel, in its very absurdity, captures the essence of anti-Semitism. By taking the tale of the origin of Jewish chosenness—the exodus from Egypt—and turning it into a pernicious plan for annual evildoing, the libel illustrates how, as Robert Nicholson once wrote, hatred of Jews “isn’t just any old hatred or racism. It is a grand anti-myth that turns Jewish chosenness on its head and assigns to the people of Israel responsibility for all the world’s ills.”

The readiness of all today to denounce the massacres of medieval Jewish communities often highlights how, as the writer Dara Horn put it, “people love dead Jews.” The blood libel is not a thing of the past. It is ongoing. The world is all too prepared to bemoan the injustice against Jews in the past and yet all too ready to overlook those who purvey blood libels today.

Such a phenomenon can be seen in the successful career of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. As Seth Mandel has noted, . . . the congresswoman has taken rhetorical dishonesty about Israel to entirely new level, linking—like the libelists of old—purported Jewish activity to grievances around the world. Commenting on the situation at the Mexican-American border, she accused, without offering any evidence, Israel of placing Palestinian children in cages. During one debate, standing on the floor of the House next to an image of a dead Palestinian child, she linked Israel’s airstrikes to the naval base in Vieques, Puerto Rico.

The bones of murdered Jews may have been exhumed from the soil of the site where the blood libel was born, but what has yet to be exhumed from the present is the blood libel itself. And it is only if we do all we can to identify, and call out, the liars and the libelists that we can honestly hope that the murdered Jews of Norwich will rest in peace.

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Read more at Commentary

More about: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Anglo-Jewry, Anti-Semitism, Blood libel