Review of The “Magic Carpet” Exodus of Yemenite Jewry: An Israeli Formative Myth, by Esther Meir-Glitzenstein Sussex Academic Press, £67.50 / $89.95, published in The Jerusalem Post Magazine January 10
By SETH J. FRANTZMAN
Yemenite Jews in a camp in Israel
In 1949 they came from all over Yemen, from 1,000 villages, often traveling on foot to reach camp. “It was a desert place without any sign of vegetation. Refugees living in matted huts, like sardines, living a base, primitive life. The camp has 4,000 people and babies are born every day,” recalled Ethel Slonim, a nurse who had arrived in Aden, now Yemen, in 1948. Many died en route, and in the camp.
Yet even more than half a century later, the traumatic immigration is thought of as a miracle. Why has the myth of the Yemenite migration not been fully understood for what it was: a massive tragedy in…