Saudi Crime Against Humanity

From the Port of Djibouti in North Africa, it is with great sadness and burning outrage that I announce that the voyage of the Iran Shahed Rescue Ship has concluded. We will not reach our destination at the Port of Hodiedah in Yemen to deliver humanitarian aid.

The unsuccessful conclusion of our mission is the result of only one thing: US-backed Saudi Terrorism.

Yesterday, as it appeared our arrival was imminent, the Saudi forces bombed the port of Hodiedah. They didn’t just bomb the port once, or even twice. The Saudi forces bombed the port of Hodiedah a total of eight times in a single day!

The total number of innocent dock workers, sailors, longshoremen, and bystanders killed by these eight airstrikes is still being calculated.

Furthermore, the Yemeni revolutionaries arrested 15 people yesterday, who were part of a conspiracy to attack our vessel. The plan was to attack the Iran Shahed when we arrived, and kill everyone onboard, including me.

With its so many criminal threats and actions, the Saudi regime was sending a message to the crew of doctors, medical technicians, anesthesiologists, and other Red Crescent Society volunteers onboard the ship. The message was “If you try to help the hungry children of Yemen we will kill you.”

These actions, designed to terrorize and intimidate those seeking to deliver humanitarian aid, are a clear violation of international law. I can say, without any hesitation, that I have witnessed a crime against humanity.

In the context of the extreme Saudi threats, after lengthy negotiations which have been taking place around the clock in Tehran, it has been determined that the Red Crescent Society cannot complete this mission. The 2,500 tons of medical supplies, food, and water are being unloaded, and handed over to the World Food Program, who has agreed to distribute them on our behalf by June 5th.

Here in Djibouti, I can clearly see what the people of Yemen and Iran have been fighting against for so long. Unlike in Tehran, here in Djibouti I see masses of desperate staving people. Impoverished Africans, who are desperate for a day of work, are lined up outside the port. They are joined by Yemeni refugees who fled the fighting, and crossed the water. The Yemeni refugees are living in tent cities.

There is a huge US military base here in Djibouti, and this small country of only 3 million people is well under the control of western neo-liberalism. This country was basically carved onto the maps of the world by imperialists. As the European plunderers divided up the African continent for themselves, they created this tiny country so that naval bases could be conveniently placed in a strategic location.

The imperialists falsely drew the borders of the African continent in the same way they divided the Arab peoples and the peoples of Latin America. The maps were drawn to serve the colonizers, and determine who got the right to rob and subjugate the people of each specific region.

The living conditions that I see here in Djibouti are horrific in comparison to Iran. Iran has broken the chains of imperialism, and is independently developing. In Iran, I saw very few people begging for work, and the few I did see are refugees from Afghanistan.

Since the US invasion of Afghanistan, the Islamic Republic has opened its doors to 3 million refugees, and most of them are steadily employed. Iran’s oil resources are in the hands of a government that comes out of a massive people’s revolution. The oil revenue has been utilized to create a vast apparatus of social programs.

One of the Red Crescent Society volunteers told me: “The Iranian government has a department to make sure that everyone in our country who wants to work, can work.” Iranian mothers are given a guaranteed stipend for each of their children. Education in Iranian Universities is absolutely free, and the Ministry of Health provides free medical care to everyone in the country.

Compared to the millions of enslaved guest workers in Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates, or the impoverished people throughout the African continent, even the poorest Iranians are very, very wealthy. By breaking from neo-liberalism, Iran has been able to guarantee all of its people a great deal of economic security.

If the resistance forces are successful in their fight against the Saudi onslaught, Yemen will soon join Iran in becoming an independent country. The logo of the Ansarullah organization shows a hand holding a rifle to represent armed resistance. Perpendicular to the rifle on the Ansarullah logo is a shaft of wheat, said to represent “economic development.”

Its no secret that Yemen has vast, untapped oil resources. If the resistance forces are victorious, they can seize these resources, and start using them to build up Yemeni society. Yemen can then begin to do what the people of Venezuela have done, and transform their country with public control of natural resources.

The religious group that leads Ansarullah, the Zaidis, have a slogan. They say: “A True Imam is a Fighting Imam.”

They contrast their religious beliefs with those of the Whabbais who lead Saudi Arabia. The Saudi religious leaders say that Muslims must avoid rebellion and protest because it leads to instability and chaos. They stress obedience to the government and to authority figures.

The Zaidis, who lead Ansurrullah and are at the center of Yemen’s unfolding revolution, emphasize that a religious leader is not truly doing the work of God, unless he picks up a sword or a gun and “fights for the oppressed.”

As I prepare to return to Tehran I have become even more convinced of the need to overthrow the system of western monopoly capitalism. I am reinvigorated in my belief that there must be a global alliance of all forces who oppose imperialism. Whether they are Marxist-Leninists, Bolivarians, Anarchists, Shias, Sunnis, Christians, or Russian nationalists, all forces that oppose the continued domination of the planet by Wall Street bankers must firmly stand together.

The people of Yemen, like the forces of resistance in so many other parts of the world, have refused to surrender. As they face a horrendous onslaught with US made Saudi bombs, I hope that news of our peaceful, humanitarian mission has reached them. I hope they are aware that in their struggle against the Saudi King, the Wall Street bankers, and all the great forces of evil, they are not alone. There are millions of people across the planet who are on their side.

Why almost no one’s covering the war in Yemen

by By Jared Malsin, CJR

More than 1,200 people have died since Saudi Arabia and its allies launched a military operation in Yemen in March, but the country has become so hard to access that news organizations are finding it almost impossible to cover the conflict. At the same time, a lack of electricity and poorly developed internet infrastructure are hampering the citizen journalism and online activism that have offered a window into other recent conflicts.

Yemen’s political turmoil has gone underreported for years, but journalists say the current conflagration has made reporting on the country more difficult than at any other time in memory. There are vanishingly few foreign journalists in Yemen as a result of the violence on the ground, access restrictions, and wavering commitment on the part of international news organizations.

Read more.

Image:  An air strike hits a military site controlled by the Houthi group in Yemen’s capital Sanaa May 12, 2015. Khaled Abdullah

More than 600 people have been killed in Yemen in the past three weeks as a result of Saudi Arabia’s airstrikes and ground fighting. More than half of those killed are civilians, including 74 children. Saudi Arabia continues to do this with the help of 10 other Arab States, not because they were attacked or in self-defense, but to ensure a Sunni pro-Saudi government will return to power in Yemen. I have yet to see any major protests against the horrendous killing of so many innocent lives, a number that will continue to rise!

Source

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Far from the heights, far from the heart. Far, even, from eyes. Nestling at the foot of the famous Yemeni summits, the Tihama, a coastal plain on the Red Sea, is little by little losing its grandeur. With its sculpted cities of a glorious yet faded past and its abandoned villages of decorated huts, this little known region breathes its last sighs to complete indifference, Pascal Meunier.

If the Yemenis aren’t Arabs then who’s an Arab? The Yemenis don’t need to prove their Arab or Islamic identity, it’s those attacking Yemen that need to search for proof of their Arab or Islamic identity.
—  Sayed Hassan Nasrallah on propaganda against the Yemeni people accusing them of being a “Persian rebellion”. In Arab media today, “Persian” is the new word for Shi'a as “thug” is the new “N word” in western media.

‘Jews in Yemen?’

The above couple are a Jewish couple from Yemen, a place where most people wouldn’t think there would exist a historic Jewish population because well, Yemen is considered an ‘Arab country’ and most of the world always identifies the term ‘Arab’ and the religion of Islam. These Jews call themselves ‘Yehudei teiman’, and many of them aren’t even in Yemen anymore. Between 1949 and 1950, the greater majority of the Yemeni Jews were airlifted to Israel in Operation Magic Carpet, which is one of the many airlifts used by Israel to bring back Jewish populations to Israel. According to tradition, there is 2 ways they could’ve gotten to Yemen:

  1. They are simply followers of the Judaism brought back by the Queen of Sheba, Bilqis, upon her return from Jerusalem.

  2. That with the prophet Jeremiah some 75,000 Jews came to Yemen, 42 years before the destruction of the Temple of Solomon by the Babylonians. (Basically around 545 BC)

While they may just be a mix of both scenarios, it is well known that they are in fact a population with an ancestral tie to the ancient Israelite people, and they are carriers of the Kohanim Marker distinctive of Jewish populations. The Yemeni Jews have a very distinct identity from other Jewish populations for a number of reasons. For one, their form of Hebrew, Yemeni Hebrew, is considered the most accurate modern day form of Biblical Hebrew. Second, they do have their own unique traditions including the marriage traditions as pictured above. The Yemeni Jews aren’t simply some recent phenomenon, it is known that at one point they had power in Yemen. During the 5th and 6th century, they had power over the kingdom of Himyar. In fact the Himyarite King deposed by Negus Kaleb of Aksum was in fact a Jewish man named Yusuf As'ar Yath'ar, who’s Jewish mother was possibly of Mesopotamian origin. The Yemeni Jews of our day in Yemen face an uncertain future, they’re mainly centered around the capital Sana'a, which is currently in Houthi control. The Yemeni Jews have no real say in Yemen, and are as vulnerable as the very structures holding together Yemen as a country.

2

When I landed in Sanaa three years ago, men carrying guns on the street was a rare sight. Yes, every man owns at least one, but I rarely saw them displayed publicly, even among the more rural and traditional tribesmen. Now even young boys carry rifles, like the one in the photo above. He’s part of a generation that’s being lost to the turmoil of Yemen: a country torn by war, with no clear direction or solution at hand.

So how did Yemen get to this point?

I knew very little about Yemen when I first came and chose it partly by default. With so much unrest in the region, Yemen was one of the places I thought I could live and work in relative safety. After three years in the country on and off, I can’t imagine living anywhere else. Other countries have housed me, but only Yemen became my home. So when the ongoing troubles finally boiled over into war, my heart broke.

Yemen’s Descent, Through A Photographer’s Lens

Photo credit: Alex Potter for NPR

Mizrahim 101

When it comes to discussion of Mizrahim both in ME and Jewish spaces, in 40% of cases people don’t even know, who we are (where we are from, what’s so different about us, etc.); so let’s start our acquaintance with small reading list.

I did my best to not include pro-Israel sources in this post, however if I didn’t succeed - please let me know.

Also this post consists links to articles, which main point are Mizrahi communities part of which I am not, so If any of you feel that those articles are inaccurate - please let me know.

Basic Information:

Mizrahi Jews of North Africa and Middle East

About relationship with Ashkenazim:

“Middle East Eye” article about Mizrahim

“When Jewish means Ashkenazi” article about relationship between Mizrahi, Sephardi and Beta Israel communities with Ashkenazim

Mizrahim and Palestinians:

The article about differences of treating Mizrahim and Palestinians by Israel

Yemen:

“TIME” article about current state of Yemenite Jews

“Yemen Times” on the same topic

Iraq:

About exodus of Iraqi Jews

One more

Egypt:

“The approaching end of Egypt’s Jewish community”

“The last seven Jews in Egypt”

Syria:

A brief history of Syrian Jews

Lebanon:

About remaining community

Another one on similar subject

Lybia:

Brief history

Book about Libyan Jews

Morocco:

Brief history

“The Moroccan-Jewish experience and why I have hope for peace in the Middle East”

My fellow Jews should feel free to add more if they want!