One of the great forgotten stories of the 20th century is that of the Jewish refugees from Arab countries. Close to a million Jewish residents of Arab countries were forced to leave their homes in the years around the creation of the State of Israel, but their story is rarely told. However, what may be even less well known is that there are still Jewish communities in some of these countries, who are caught up in the wars of today. At Rockland Community College, CAMERA-supported group RCC Friends of Israel wanted to hear the incredible story of Manny Dahari, a modern day, Yemenite Jewish refugee.
Manny was born in Yemen, but his parents sent him to live in America when he was thirteen to get away from the instability in the country. However, the situation in Yemen deteriorated even further, and in recent years his parents and family also wanted to flee. In 2012, Aharon Zindani was killed in an anti-Semitic attack, and a Jewish woman was abducted, and forcibly converted to Islam – the situation had become perilous for the remaining Jews. Manny spent two years working with State Department and Jewish Agency officials to try and get his family out of Yemen and to Israel. They actually tried unsuccessfully three times to get out, but at the fourth try, in March 2016, nineteen Jews made it to Israel. They also managed to bring with them a five hundred year old Torah Scroll, a living piece of the heritage of their community.
Manny told the incredible story at Rockland to an enthusiastic audience of staff and students. His story attracted a wide audience, and many of the people engaged in the question and answer session at the end. As well as sharing his family’s story, Manny used his talk to share his belief’s about the Middle East. He believes that discrimination and racism must come to an end, and that Israel, as a bastion of tolerance, is leading the way in this field.
It is always inspiring to meet people who have really made a difference, and whose stories show their determination and effort to achieve a goal. Manny Dahari is a modern day Jewish hero, fighting for his family’s rights, to do nothing more than live their lives, as Jews, in safety and freedom.
Contributed by Aron White, CAMERA intern