Zaydi Discriminatory Decrees and Their Effect on Yemenite Jews in Nomi Eve’s Henna House
Keywords:Yemenite Jews, Orphans’ Decree, Persecution, Discrimination
Nomi Eve’s novel Henna House: A Novel (2014) is the first novel to tackle the history of Jews in Yemen—one of the poorest and most forgotten countries of the world—in English. The novel revisits the last period of the Jews’ history in Yemen before their transportation to Israel in Operation Magic Carpet between 1949 and 1950 and is illustrative of the subordination and suffering of Jews in Yemen. It explores the experience of the Yemenite Jews in the first half of the twentieth-century Yemen and reveals the explicitly racialized association of human repression of Zaydi majority. It also explores the experiences of marginalization and segregation in the lives of Yemenite Jews. It raises questions on the relation between religion, politics and minorities and legal implications of the incorporation of a religious minority into the mainstream of national identity. The aim of the present article is to examine the effects of Zaydi discriminatory laws particularly the Orphans’ Decree on the Yemenite Jewish community and explores the experience of the Jewish children under the threat of being uprooted just to be planted in another soil. It argues that Eve has been able to articulate the suffering experienced by Yemenite Jews at the hands of Zaydis and that the novel presents a realistic picture of the Jewish community during the first half of the 20th century.
Abu Jabal, K. (1999). Yahud Al-Yemen: Dirasa Siyasiyah, Iqtisadia and Ijtima’eya
[Yemenite Jews: A Political, Economic and Social study]. Damascus, Syria: Dar Alnumair Publishering house.
Al-Muqri, A. (2011). Al-Yahudi Al-Hali [The Handsome Jew]. Beirut, Lebanon: Dar Al-Saqi.
Ariel, A. (2010). A Reconsideration of Imam Yahya's Attitude Toward Forced Conversion of
Jewish Orphans in Yemen. Shofar, 29(1), 95-111.
Ariel, A. (2014). Jewish-Muslim Relations and Migration from Yemen to Palestine in the Late
Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill NV.
Blady, K. (2000). Jewish Communities in Exotic Places. Jerusalem, Israel: Jason Aronson Inc.
Ellison, R. (2003). The Collected Essays of Ralph Ellison: Revised and Updated. (J. F. Callahan,
Ed.). New York: The Modern Library.
Eraqi-Klorman, B. (2001). The Forced Conversion of Jewish Orphans in Yemen. International
Journal of Middle East Studies, 33(1), 23-47.
Eraqi-Klorman, B. (2014). Traditional Society in Transition: The Yemeni Jewish Experience.
Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill.
Eve, N. (2014). Henna House: A Novel. New York, Scribner.
Gaimani, A. (2004). The Orphans' Decree' in Yemen: Two New Episodes. Middle Eastern
Studies, 40(4), 171-184.
Morrisn, T. (1995). The Site of Memory. In William Zinsser (Ed.), Inventing the Truth: The Art
and Craft of Memoir (2nd ed., pp. 83-102). New York: Houghton Mifflin.
Nini, Y. (1991). The Jews of the Yemen, 1800-1914. (H. Galai. Trans.). London: Routledge.
Parfitt, T. (1996). The Road to Redemption: The Jews of the Yemen 1900-1950. Leiden,
The Netherlands: E J Brill.
Saleh, H. M. (2016). Asifat Al-Hazm [Decisive Storm]. Al-Janadria, KSA: Al-Janadria
Tawil, H. (1998). Operation Esther: Opening the Door for the Last Jews of Yemen. New York,
NY: Belkis Press.
Tobi, Y. (1999). The Jews of Yemen: Studies in Their History and Culture. Leiden, The
Tobi, Y. (2013). Jews of Yemen. In A. Meddeb and B. Stora (Eds.), A History of
Jewish-Muslim Relations from the Origins to the Present Day (pp. 248-257). Princeton: Princeton University Press.