Houthi rebel fighters, Aug. 1, 2019. (AP/Hani Mohammed) (AP/Hani Mohammed)
Yemen Houthi rebels

US special envoy calls on Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen to release Jewish hostage.

By Yakir Benzion, United With Israel

The United States has responded to reports of anti-Semitic attacks on Yemen’s dwindling Jewish community with a demand that the Iran-backed Houthi rebels release an illegally imprisoned Jew.

Elan Carr, the U.S. Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, called on Houthis to release Levi Marhabi, who was arrested and is being held on trumped up charges.

“The Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen have a record of persecuting religious minorities. Levi Salem Musa Marhabi, a member of Yemen’s small Jewish community, has endured 4 years in prison despite a legal order for his release. We join in calling for his immediate release,” Carr said on his official Twitter account.

Armed, trained and funded by Iran, the Houthi rebels are the main force trying to overthrow the legitimate government of Yemen in the civil war that broke out in 2015.

The Houthis are believers in the radical ideology promoted by Tehran and have taken the Iranian mantra of “death to America, death to Israel” to a new level, integrating anti-Semitism as a key tenet of their ideology. The motto of the Houthis, known as the Ansar Allah or “God’s supporters,” says “Allah is Great, death to America, death to Israel, a curse on the Jews, victory to Islam.”

The American Sephardi Federation endorsed Carr’s call, saying Marhabi is the victim of state-sponsored Iranian anti-Semitism.

“The Houthis, Hamas, Hezbollah, & other Khomeinist regime proxies practice the #antisemitism they preach. Levi Salem Musa Marhabi, a Yemenite Jew, is languishing in a Houthi prison for allegedly saving a Torah scroll,” the federation tweeted, using the hashtag #FreeLeviMarhabi.

Marhabi was apparently arrested in retaliation for reports of Yemini Jews who had successfully escaped war-torn Yemen and arrived in Israel in 2016. Those Jews had brought with them an 800-year-old Torah scroll.

Yemen rebel authorities were angered by the success of the Jews who fled and in return grabbed Marhabi on the trumped up charge that he aided the other Jews in escaping the country with a “national Yemeni treasure.”

Carr has previously stated that “Iran is the chief state sponsor of terrorism and anti-Semitism and must be held accountable for its crimes.”

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