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Jews flee Yemen due to rising anti-Semitism

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A group of Jews have been smuggled out of Yemen by the United States, after rising anti-Semitism put one of the world's oldest Jewish communities in grave danger.

The Yemenite Jewish community dates back as long as 2,500 years ago. Although they have lived in the area for few thousand years, they endured daily discrimination. The Jews were given a special status, known as Dhimmis. This made them second class citizens, as numerous restrictions and a special tax were imposed on the Jews.

The 1940's and the establishment of Israel saw rapid emigration of Jews out of Yemen, in the wake of anti-Jewish riots and massacres. By the late 90's, only several hundred remained, mainly in a northwestern mountainous region named Saada and a town known as Raida.

In recent years, a rebel Shiite group known as the Houthi began an armed conflict against the army of Yemen. Houthi members put up notes on the Jews' doors, accusing them of corrupting Muslim morals. Eventually, the Houthi leaders sent threatening messages to the Jewish community: "We warn you to leave the area immediately... We give you a period of 10 days, or you will regret it."

The Jews of Saada were forced to flee to the town of Raida. Soon after, Raida itself saw a rapid increase in anti-Semitic activity. A prominent figure of the Raida Jewish community was murdered in December of 2008, after he refused to convert to Islam.

Following the Israeli armed conflict in the Gaza strip, Jews began to be heckled and beaten in the streets of Raida. Jewish homes would have rocks and sometimes grenades thrown through them. In recent months, Jews were forced to disguise as Muslims in order to even go outside of their own home.

The Yemeni president agreed to cooperate with the U.S. state department to help bring the Jews out of Yemen. The remaining Jews will likely be brought out as well, as life becomes unbearable for this ancient community.