The Jews of Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Lebanon

This is an old piece written some time ago, but I decided to update it. Hope you enjoy it. Note: Long, 20 pages.

The Jews of Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Lebanon

By Robert Lindsay

Please note: This piece is from some time ago. In the meantime, the Houthis have ethically cleansed all of the remaining Jews in Yemen. I’m not sure how many were left. Maybe 20? This is just terrible and I will never support it! The Houthis, otherwise known as Ansar Allah, are antisemites. Their chant is

Allahu Akbar (God is greatest!)! Death to America! Death to Israel! A curse on the Jews! Victory to Islam!

The standard Zionist line is that there are no Jews in “Arabia,” or certainly none in Saudi Arabia. However, as of 2016, there are still Jews living in Yemen, which is a part of Arabia.

As a sign of changing times, although there are only 2,000 Jews left in Yemen, the ruling party recently nominated a Yemeni Jew to run on its platform as a parliamentarian representing the northern region. This was a very controversial move in Yemen and unfortunately ran up against the stumbling block of a regressive law that says that everyone running for office must be a Muslim.

Since one of the religious laws of the Yemeni Jews was that they were not allowed to serve in the army or government of the state (How is that for a dual loyalty problem?), this law meant nothing to the Yemeni Jews, and neither was it an issue under traditional Islamic rule when non-Muslims were kept out of the military and probably discouraged from government office too.

The fact that a Yemeni Jew considered running for office shows that the remaining Jews were giving up some of their strict traditional religious rules. Some rules, however, remained. For instance, the Yemeni Jews refused to eat with non-Jews, and intermarriage was strictly forbidden. The rule about eating was actually a normal practice for all pious European Jews up until about 1800 or so, a little-known fact.

Also, many Yemeni Jews both inside and outside Yemen continued the ancient Jewish practice of prostrating themselves for daily prayer, similar to what Muslims do in a mosque. European Jews generally only do this nowadays, if at all, during portions of certain prayers during the Jewish High Holidays. So in some ways, the remaining Yemeni Jews were stuck in time.

The Yemeni Jews that remained were banned from certain occupations (probably more by traditional Muslim prejudice than by state law), allowed to live only in certain parts of towns, forbidden to serve in the military or government, and had little interaction with their Muslim neighbors, but unfortunately, it has always been that way in Yemen.

On the ban on serving in government or military, note above how this was possibly changing in the government aspect, and how this was a traditional Yemeni Jewish law for themselves anyway.

The Yemeni Jews are some of the most religious Jews in the whole world, and have always been deeply religious.

For instance, on the daily prostration for prayer still practiced by Yemeni Jews.

Here are some of the religious laws that the Yemeni Jews lived under:

  • Men and women may not bathe together.
  • Women may not bathe in the sea, even in a woman-only area, if there is a male lifeguard.
  • Women may not bring boys older than 3 to the women’s bathing beach.
  • Women may not bathe in the sea where there are men and women present together.
  • One must not look at a picture of a woman.
  • A woman may not look into the home of an unmarried man.
  • Women and girls over six years old may not ride bicycles because parts of their bodies that should be covered get exposed.
  • All married women must wear head coverings.
  • Married women must wear a head covering even when alone in their own homes.

Sometimes the Mizrachi are subsumed into the category of Sephardic, though Sephardic traditionally refers to the Jews of Spain and Portugal, who later moved to Italy, Greece, the Balkans, Turkey and Latin America, with some moving to North Africa.

Nowadays, it is quite common for militant Israeli Arab Jews to demand to be called Mizrachis and to say that if anyone called them an Arab Jew, they might hit the person. This is clearly an outgrowth of the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

The Arab Jews were mostly forced out of their lands by the creation of the state of Israel. Riots erupted across the Arab World, and hundreds of Jews were killed amidst a general atmosphere of terror. Many left with little but the shirts on their backs.

Quite a few had most of their money confiscated upon leaving and were allowed to take few possessions. Their homes, properties and money were in many cases confiscated by Arab governments. This is clearly an injustice, but the Palestinians experienced a similar injustice, and the Arab Jews at least have the right to go back to their home countries, but almost none of them seem to be interested in doing so.

Some years ago the son of Moammar Qaddafi asked the Libyan Jews to return to Libya. None of them took him up on his offer. This is a typical mindset of the Arab Jews, and this is the crucial difference between the Jewish and Palestinian refugees that lies at the core of the conflict.

The notion of “population transfers” – actually sickening, Nazi-like, super-racist episodes of ethnic cleansing – is frequently brought to the table during Middle East discussions, especially by liberal Zionist Jews.

Pakistan/India and Turkey/Greece are mentioned along with Israel and Palestine. The ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians is equated with the largely voluntary flight of the Arab Jews.

The notion is that both populations fled, so the circle is squared and the conflict is over. Yet the Arab Jews do not wish to go home! And those that do, just pack up and do so, as we shall see later on in this post. But the Palestinians, virtually alone amongst the world’s refugees, are not allowed to return to their lands!

This is at the very root and heart of the conflict, and until there is resolution of this issue, I do not think that peace is possible. In a larger sense, it is deeply disturbing that liberal Zionist Jews, the most progressive of Zionists, casually and glibly equate Zionism with some of the worst horrors of the 20th Century, such as the mass slaughters that accompanied the creations of Turkey and Pakistan.

The flight of 800,000 Arab Jews from their lands was accomplished in part by Zionist terrorists, who, disguised as Arabs, killed Jews in Iraq with hand grenades and bombs in order to terrorize them into fleeing to Israel. The government of Israel cut a deal with the pro-British government of Iraq to deprive Iraqi Jews of their rights and property, throw them out of their jobs, and ultimately to confiscate their wealth.

All of this was cleverly done to facilitate the flight of Iraqi Jews to Israel. Upon arrival in Israel, 5

In fact, getting the Arab Jews into Israel was a necessity for the newfound Israeli state. 800,000 Arabs had been thrown off the land, and there were not enough workers to work the fields and do manual work, despite decades of working class and back-to-the-land propagandizing by socialist Ashkenazi Zionists.

Even the terrible riots that swept the Arab World were complex. In many cases, especially in Iraq, local Arabs fought off Arabs who attacked the Jews and helped to hide the Jews from the mobs. In most cases, the number of Jews killed was in the scores. The usual Zionist transcription of this madness as “Arabs try to do Holocaust II on the Arabs” is false, as reality was more nuanced than that.

This article by Dr. Ella Habiba Shohat, a Professor of Cultural Studies and Women’s Studies at CUNY-City University of New York, Reflections of an Arab Jew is typical of the identity issues that many Arab Jews face. She says that when her Iraqi Jewish parents came to Israel in the 1950’s, they thought that the Ashkenazi European Jews were actually European Christians – this is how alien the Ashkenazi seemed to her Mizrachi parents.

In Israel nowadays, the political delineation, a line drawn with blood and guns, is “Arab versus Jew”. For many Arab Jews, this makes no sense as they see themselves as both. For centuries in the Arab World, despite Ashkenazi Zionist revisionist nonsense, there had been no such distinction. The only delineation was religious. People were either Jews, Muslims, or Christians.

Modern Israel and the Diaspora Jewish community are hostile, to say the least, to the very notion of Arabness or Middle-Easternness outside of their Zionist primordialist cant.

This is in spite of the fact that Israeli Jews now have adopted many Arabic words into their Hebrew, have added many Arabic dishes to their national cuisine (falafel is a national dish) and have adopted Arabic architecture to their homes and buildings. All while adopting a discourse of hatred for the very Arabs whose lands and homes they stole to make their gangster state.

All of the above is difficult for the Arab Jew. I remember reading a piece by a Yemeni Jew who went to Israel and never felt at home. At one point, he was living in a home in Israel and hired an Arab gardener who told him up front that he had used to own the home that the Yemeni Jew was now living in. The Yemeni Jew was so upset that he moved.

The Yemeni Jews never spoke Yiddish and know nothing of it. The women never wore wigs either, and the Yemeni Jews continue to disdain this common Ashkenazi Orthodox practice as heretical. If you go to their synagogue even now, the music sounds like it is coming from a mosque.

In opposition to what we call the Judeo-Christian tradition, the experience of the Arab Jews can only honestly be described, painful as it is for Zionists, as a Judeo-Muslim tradition.

In Israel, Arab Jewish women dye their hair blond to hide their hated Arabness. The men, suspected of being “Arabs”, are arrested and beaten. The profound racism of the past has significantly diminished, but as recently as the 1970’s, the racism of Ashkenazis towards Mizrachis in Israel was as bald-faced and unselfconscious as one found in the US South in the 1960’s.

The history of this naked racism has been systematically hidden from Americans by the Zionist Ashkenazi Jews who dominate our media. Their Gentile colleagues do not dare to run such an article, as they live in terror that the US Zionist (Jewish) Lobby would bombard them with hostile phone calls and letters to the editor, drown them with calls for resignation, stage demonstrations in front of the office, threaten advertiser boycotts, and plot media campaigns of character assassination.

Wherever their minds are at, media Gentiles know who signs the checks.

This situation of an ethnic lobby dominating a nation’s media, then terrorizing the same media into de facto censorship, is profoundly undemocratic and hostile to (so-called) basic American values. Whether or not it is an innate value for US Jews with “zero-sum game” Middle Eastern tribal values of ethnic warfare and hyperethnocentrism is not important.

In the late 1800’s, Karl Marx said that in 100 years, he predicted that America will be a Jewish country. And so it has come to pass, for better and for worse.

European Jews term their movement from the Diaspora to Israel (in a gratuitous insult to the Palestinian natives) as an aliya or an ascent. For the Arab Jews, it has always been a yerida or descent.

In Shohat’s excellent piece, she notes a common Mizrachi complaint – that what they see as their rich, wonderful history has been co-opted and revisionized by Ashkenazi Jews into the party line Ashkenazi “pogrom and persecution” history of the Jews.

Interestingly, many Mizrachis vociferously object to this and see it as an invalidation of their culture. As Shohat protests:

The Jewish experience in the Muslim world has often been portrayed as an unending nightmare of oppression and humiliation. Although I in no way want to idealize that experience–there were occasional tensions, discriminations, even violence–on the whole, we lived quite comfortably within Muslim societies.

Our history simply cannot be discussed in European Jewish terminology. As Iraqi Jews, while retaining a communal identity, we were generally well integrated and indigenous to the country, forming an inseparable part of its social and cultural life. Thoroughly Arabized, we used Arabic even in hymns and religious ceremonies.

The liberal and secular trends of the 20th-century engendered an even stronger association of Iraqi Jews and Arab culture, which brought Jews into an extremely active arena in public and cultural life. Prominent Jewish writers, poets and scholars played a vital role in Arab culture, distinguishing themselves in Arabic-speaking theater and in music as singers, composers, and players of traditional instruments.

In Egypt, Morocco, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Tunisia, Jews became members of legislatures, municipal councils, the judiciary, and even occupied high economic positions. The finance minister of Iraq in the ’40’s was Ishak Sassoon, and in Egypt, Jamas Sanua–higher positions, ironically, than those our community had generally achieved within the Jewish state until the 1990’s.

Note that Shohat speaks positively of the tremendous achievements Mizrachi Jews made in the 20th Century Arab World before the creation of Israel. In typical Ashkenazi Zionist histories of Arab Jews one finds on the Internet, the entire 20th century histories of the Arab Jews of each Arab land is described only as a litany of woes, crimes, persecutions, killings, and general unpleasantness.

As Shohat notes, there is another proud history there, when in the 20th Century, Arab Jews reached the peak of power and influence in their societies, and more importantly, played profound roles in the modernization of their backward societies.

As I noted above, Zionists love to talk about the fact that “there are no Jews in Saudi Arabia”. At times, they also sometimes wallow in primordialism by talking about how Mohammad supposedly killed and ethnically cleansed all of the Jews of Arabia in the 700’s.

The Zionists who talk like this actually say that, as a response to these supposed crimes by Mohammad against the Arabian Jews, Zionists had a right to steal Arab Palestine from Arab Muslims in revenge.

The fact is that standard history says that there have been no Jews in Arabia proper for centuries. It is true that Mohammad did fight wars against three tribes of Arabian Jews (who apparently had come to Arabia after the destruction of temples by the Romans 500-600 years before).

In one of these battles, the battle against the Banu Nadir and Banu Qurayza at the Battle of Kaybar, he executed hundreds of Jews after they surrendered, stole their lands and possessions and enslaved their women. In another war against the Banu Qaynuqa, Mohammad took their possessions and banished the tribe.

In the Battle of Kaybar, Mohammad took a Jewish slave woman, Safiyya bint Huyayy, as a bride. One Muslim tradition has it that a Banu Nadir woman, angry at what he did to her tribe, slowly poisoned Mohammad, from which he apparently died. This hadith is not very well attested but is a favorite of Muslim anti-Semites.

The truth, as usual, is so much more complicated. It turns out that there were nine separate Jewish tribes in Arabia. Mohammad only had conflicts with three of these nine tribes. With the other six, the Banu Auf, Banu Harif, Banu Jusham, Banu Najjar, Banu Shutayba, Banu Sa’ida, Mohammad made peace and signed the Constitution of Medina with them, in which they were allowed to retain their Jewish religion.

Clearly, the ultranationalist Zionist notion that Mohammad killed all the Arabian Jewish men, enslaved all their women, stole all their possessions and ethnically cleansed them is simply false.

After the recordings in the Koran, the trail of the Arabian Jews grows dim. We find one clue in the controversy over the apparently false hadith, in which Mohammad supposedly said on his deathbed, “There shall no other religion in Arabia”.

This fake hadith is used by the Saudi ultrareactionaries to disallow the open practice of any non-Muslim religion in Arabia, to forbid the building of non-Muslim houses of worship, to mandate that all Saudi citizens must be Muslims, and to allow only Muslims to visit Mecca.

The hadith, probably written long after Mohammad died, is dubious for several reasons. For one, history tells us that Christians, and possibly Jews, lived in Arabia for at least 200 years after Mohammad. If Mohammad actually said this, why were non-Muslims allowed to reside in Arabia for 200 years after his death?

Furthermore, are we to believe that non-Muslims lived in Arabia the whole time during Mohammad’s rule with his permission, yet Mohammad suddenly changed his mind on his deathbed and decided they had to leave, yet this was not enforced until 200 years later? What we do know is that 200 years later, under the influence of this dubious hadith, apparently all Christians, and possibly any remaining Jews, were thrown out of Arabia.

Yet the history of Arabian Jews is more mysterious than even this poorly attested history.

Saudi society is virulently anti-Semitic these days for various reasons. An example of this nasty anti-Semitism is a fad in Saudi society to accuse various Saudis one does not like, especially members of the Saudi royal family whose commitment to Islam is suspect, of having Jewish ancestors.

Saudi history (mostly oral) is insistent that a number of Saudi tribes supposedly have Jewish origins. They all apparently converted long ago. Therefore, at the very least, a fair number of the ultra-Muslims of Saudi Arabia are actually converted Jews, as hard as it may be for either group to accept.

Now we find a shocking obscure gem of a web page on the Jews of Iraq from August 2001 that suggests that thousands of Saudi crypto-Jews exist to this very day. From the page:

Wow! What a fantastically historical site you have!! My name is Joseph ElHadef, and I live in NY. I am Greek, Hungarian, Egyptian, and Iraqi. In the article from Montefiore Hall, the lecturer mentions that Mr. Dangoor spoke to a crypto-Jew in Saudi Arabia, tell me more about this incident? I had two Kuwaiti friends at Hofstra University in NY, and they both told me that there are STILL Jews in Kuwait? As well as Bahrain? Tell me more about the Saudi Jews!

Joseph ElHadef

The Scribe responded:

A crypto-Jewish couple from Saudi Arabia with their twelve children came to London a few years ago and visited the offices of the Exilarch’s Foundation, asking for help to obtain a Visa to enable them to emigrate to Israel. However, the Israel Embassy in London turned down their application, and they decided to travel to Jordan and move over to Israel clandestinely.

According to their evidence, there are thousands of crypto-Jews in Saudi Arabia who lead a separate existence from the main population. To our knowledge, there are no Jews living in Kuwait, but a number of Jewish families still live in Bahrain, mainly of Iraqi origin.

It looks like the Zionists who talk about “no Jews in Saudi Arabia” may need to reform that line in light of this suggestive new evidence that there at least 2,000 crypto-Jews still living in Saudi Arabia! At the least, I think these possible crypto-Jews of Saudi Arabia ought to be investigated by an intrepid, discreet reporter.

One more Zionist lie about Saudi Arabia ought to be disposed of, while we are at it. Zionists love to rail about how no Jews are allowed in Saudi Arabia. Along the same lines, some acknowledge that Jews and Christians are allowed in Saudi Arabia, but are not allowed to practice their religion, according to such august sources as the New York Times. These falsifications really need to be dealt with.

Without defending the fundamentalists in the House of Saud, the fact is that there are quite a few Christians and even some Jews living in Saudi Arabia. None are citizens. All are immigrants working there for foreign companies. Prior to March 1, 2005, the Saudi Tourist Office website had a notice that Jews were not allowed to enter Saudi Arabia. Never mind that many did anyway.

On March 1 of last year, that notice was removed along with a statement apologizing for any inconvenience it may have caused. And there are both observant Jews and observant Christians amongst the expat community, and both are permitted to practice their religions. They are not permitted to proselytize or hold public religious services.

However, foreign business and government offices have facilities that they use to hold religious services for their non-Muslim workers. Furthermore, many of these organizations have what are called “dual-use” employees – workers who also serve to lead these non-Muslim services.

The loss of the Arab Jews is used by Zionist super-racists to continuously bash the Arab World over the head. What is truly disturbing about this line, though, is the way in which many of these Jews left the Arab World. For instance, in Operation Magic Carpet in the early 1950’s, virtually the entire 40,000-strong Yemeni Jewish community was airlifted out of Yemen.

Many of the Yemeni Jews claim that they were taken out virtually against their wills, that children were separated from parents, that they were rudely sprayed with disinfectant as soon as they landed in Israel and that they have been treated poorly in Israel ever since. This has been a pattern. In the late 1980’s, a Jewish community, the Chabani Jews, was discovered in the mountains on the disputed border of Yemen and Saudi Arabia. Although they were actually living in Saudi Arabia (I thought there were no Jews in Arabia!?), they were not citizens.

In contrast to the stereotype of the Jew as “rootless cosmopolitan”, these Jews were living the life of the noble savage. They went barefoot in the desert, and the men all carried long guns on their backs at all times to defend themselves in this dangerous tribal region. Upon learning of the existence of these Saudi Jews, Israel immediately demanded that this small group of Jews had to go to Israel “for safety” right now.

Never mind that they had been residing in the desert without significant incident, living lives as normal as anyone else in the region lived, for as long as anyone could remember. They were promptly airlifted out to Israel.

By 1990, towards the end of the Afghan-Soviet War, it was discovered that there were still a few Jews left in that forlorn land, mostly in Kabul, but a few in Herat. This was for the most part a community of Iranian Jews that moved to Afghanistan long ago and developed its own customs. They had weathered the war about as well as anyone and apparently did not want to leave.

Israel immediately demanded that all of these Jews had to leave Afghanistan and go to Israel right now. An airlift was organized and most of the baffled Jews took the bait and left. Only one Jew, Zebulon Simontev, remained.

It is important to note that when Israel “rescues” these communities that are usually not even in danger, they bribe them to come to Israel. They are often offered large cash payments, a free house, a free income for five years or more, etc. It is not surprising that many take the bait. In this manner the entire remaining Afghan Jewish community was decimated – by Israel!

Even after the Taliban took over, there were still two Jews remaining in Kabul, Zebulon Simontev and Isaac Levy. They had stayed to take care of the crumbling synagogue and the scrolls. What was interesting was that the Taliban, who we are continuously told are “Islamofascists” dedicated to exterminating all the Jews on Earth, did not even bother to kill these two Jews, although it would have been a trivial exercise.

In fact, they were allowed to live freely with no restrictions. They did get into problems with the Taliban because they engaged in fortune telling, which was illegal under the Taliban. Both of these Jews were jailed for a few weeks for this offense. These two Jews got on great with the Muslim neighbors, who were truly fond of them.

Wait! I thought all Afghans were “Islamofascist” exterminationists? Tragicomically, these two Jews, though the last remaining of their community, utterly despised each other and spent most of their time fighting each other in various ways. Their constant fighting seems to have landed them a couple of Taliban jail terms too.

My point here is that whenever a Jewish community turns up in the Arab or Muslim World, Israel immediately races to “rescue” them with an airlift and massive bribes. In this manner have many of these Jewish communities been decimated in recent years.

Then, at the same time, Zionists have the chutzpah to say, “There are no Jews left in the region!”, and blame the poor Muslims and Arabs, when Israel is, nowadays anyway, one of the major reasons for that dearth.

Now, on to the Jews of Lebanon. As recently as 2006, there were 250 Jews who had just returned from the Diaspora to Beirut on July 6, 2006, as they felt that the atmosphere was finally safe enough for them to return.

It fascinating to note that only six days later, Israel launched a massive invasion of Lebanon nearly destroyed Lebanon. Although it seems crazy to suggest such a thing, it is perfectly possible that one reason for the Israeli invasion was the return of the 250 Jews to Beirut. I realize that sounds crazy, but Israel is a very crazy country.

Bear with me.

Israel is completely hostile to the notion that Jews can live peacefully anywhere in the Arab World and has engaged in repeated provocative behaviors seemingly intended to frighten Jews into leaving Arab lands. See above about the murderous Israeli attacks on the Jews of Iraq and see below for a reference to the Israeli attacks on the Beirut synagogue during 1982.

Soon after Israel attacked Lebanon in July, the Jews of Lebanon blog posted a statement strongly condemning the attack. For this, apparently, they were attacked by a Zionist Jews who attacked them for being “traitors”. The authors of the blog were so shocked by this assault that they made a post called Enough is Enough, telling the Zionists to go away.

There were some sad and awful cases where Hezbollah, in the insanity of the Lebanese Civil War, killed some Lebanese Jews simply for being Jewish. It is also interesting to note that during that war, Israel seemed to have deliberately bombed one of the main synagogues in Beirut, apparently in order to help push the Lebanese Jews into fleeing, hopefully to Israel.

This is in line with standard Zionist practice.

Zionism assumes, adopting the line from the Jewish religious Haggadah,

Every generation, they rise up to kill us.

that no Jew in the Diaspora is ever safe, that Gentiles (even the most Judeophilic) are permanently afflicted with anti-Semitism, that anti-Semitism is not understandable  except as some sort of bizarre infection of pure evil or utter insanity, and that the only safe place for any Jew is Israel.

Therefore, all Jews in the Diaspora must move to Israel as soon as possible. This is a bizarre formulation for a couple of reasons.

First, Zionism is a poor way to go about protecting the Jews. Is it really intelligent, if the Jews are always in danger of imminent extermination, to gather such a huge percentage of them into one tiny country, where they can be wiped out all the easier?

Second, Israel is now probably one of the most dangerous places on Earth to be a Jew. If we take extreme liberties with the truth and refer to every attack on Israelis as a murderous or at least violent “anti-Semitic assault”, there are probably about 13 violent anti-Semitic attempted homicides in and around Israel every single day as far back as 2008. A number of these end up killing or hurting Jews or at least damaging or destroying their property.

Comparing this to the latest out-of-breath report by the ADL about anti-Semitic incidents in America is an exercise in comedy. If one Jew is killed in an anti-Semitic assault in the US in a given year, that is a notable year.

Prior the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, during the 1950’s and 1960’s, the Lebanese Jews had good relations with the other sects in Lebanon (to the extent any ethnic group has good relations with others in such a fractious land).

What is particularly interesting are claims by Lebanese Jews that they had superb relations in particular with the Shiites of Lebanon.

As Israel bombarded and invaded Lebanon repeatedly through the 1970’s and finally invaded en masse in 1982, all of that ended, the Shia radicalized, and Hezbollah was born. All of which portended ill for the Jews of Lebanon. The lesson here is clear. The more Israel attacked Lebanon, the worse things got for the Lebanese Jews.

And the line that pounds our ears night and day these days, with Iran and Lebanon ricocheting off the news, that the Shia Muslims have always harbored, continue to harbor, and will always harbor genocidal hatred for Jews, based on the immutable texts of the Islamic religion, is exposed as the hate speech that it is.

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