Preserving a Jewish Cemetery amid the Yemeni Civil War

As of February, only seven Jews remained in war-torn Yemen, the remnants of a venerable community famous for its piety. Yet in the port city of Aden, in the southwestern part of the country—currently controlled by UAE-backed forces—authorities have reportedly been restoring the Jewish graveyard. The Times of Israel relates a recent interview with the local journalist Ahmad Shalbi by the Kan news channel:

Initially reluctant to speak with an Israeli news site, Shalbi, who has covered the cemetery’s renovation in Yemen for months, said the move came after years of neglect. “This cemetery was neglected and ruined. Parts of its surrounding wall were damaged,” he said, adding that efforts to renovate the site were first led by voluntary civil organizations before General Aidarus Qassem Abdulaziz al-Zoubaidi, the president of Yemen’s Southern Transitional Council, [which governs the area], got involved.

The Jewish cemetery in Aden has existed for more than 160 years and is believed to house hundreds of graves belonging to members of a community that no longer exists. A local researcher told local media that, according to Jewish tradition, the cemetery is the burial site of the biblical figure Abel.

[T]he Yemeni initiative to restore the cemetery should not be taken lightly, and is even more surprising considering the civil war between a Saudi-led coalition and Iranian-backed Houthi rebels, which the country has been embroiled in for years. . . . Houthi rebels have carried out systematic persecution of Yemen’s few remaining Jews, pushing the ancient community out of the country almost entirely.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Jewish cemeteries, Yemen, Yemenite Jewry


Israel Just Sent Iran a Clear Message

Early Friday morning, Israel attacked military installations near the Iranian cities of Isfahan and nearby Natanz, the latter being one of the hubs of the country’s nuclear program. Jerusalem is not taking credit for the attack, and none of the details are too certain, but it seems that the attack involved multiple drones, likely launched from within Iran, as well as one or more missiles fired from Syrian or Iraqi airspace. Strikes on Syrian radar systems shortly beforehand probably helped make the attack possible, and there were reportedly strikes on Iraq as well.

Iran itself is downplaying the attack, but the S-300 air-defense batteries in Isfahan appear to have been destroyed or damaged. This is a sophisticated Russian-made system positioned to protect the Natanz nuclear installation. In other words, Israel has demonstrated that Iran’s best technology can’t protect the country’s skies from the IDF. As Yossi Kuperwasser puts it, the attack, combined with the response to the assault on April 13,

clarified to the Iranians that whereas we [Israelis] are not as vulnerable as they thought, they are more vulnerable than they thought. They have difficulty hitting us, but we have no difficulty hitting them.

Nobody knows exactly how the operation was carried out. . . . It is good that a question mark hovers over . . . what exactly Israel did. Let’s keep them wondering. It is good for deniability and good for keeping the enemy uncertain.

The fact that we chose targets that were in the vicinity of a major nuclear facility but were linked to the Iranian missile and air forces was a good message. It communicated that we can reach other targets as well but, as we don’t want escalation, we chose targets nearby that were involved in the attack against Israel. I think it sends the message that if we want to, we can send a stronger message. Israel is not seeking escalation at the moment.

Read more at Jewish Chronicle

More about: Iran, Israeli Security