One of the oldest Jewish communities in the diaspora, having survived successive waves of persecution, mostly departed for Israel following its independence in 1948. But several dozen Jews still remain. Now that Iranian-backed rebels have seized control of the country under the motto “Death to America, Death to Israel, Curse the Jews, Victory to Islam!,” these holdouts, too, are making plans to leave. Tom Finn and Tik Root write (2013):
Most of the twenty or so [Jewish] families that remain . . . live behind the walls of a government compound for expats near the U.S. embassy in Sana‘a [the Yemenite capital]. . . . The elders never leave. Now and again the younger men venture out to sell jewelry at a nearby market.
Reels of razor wire, soldiers, and German shepherds make the entrance look like a prison. Inside it is quiet and leafy. With a playground, two ATMs, a restaurant, pharmacy, and a bus to shuttle them around the compound, it has the sleepy feel of a retirement community in Florida.
The Jews, who raise goats and chickens on plots of land next to the homes of Russian oil barons and aid workers, rarely leave the compound. Instead they rely on a monthly stipend for food and rent provided by the government.