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'File 8/15 Arab Series - 1933-1939' [‎95r] (189/434)

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The record is made up of 1 file (214 folios). It was created in 31 Aug 1933-20 Mar 1939. It was written in English and French. The original is part of the British Library: India Office The department of the British Government to which the Government of India reported between 1858 and 1947. The successor to the Court of Directors. Records and Private Papers.


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Enclosure 5 to Serial No. (33).
Demi-official letter from Mr. R. S. Champion, Political Secretary, Aden to
Mr. Max Nurock, Chief Secretary's Office, Palestine, No. 0.1189 dated
the 23rd of March 1932.
AVith reference to your demi-official letter No. I.|552|31 of the 31st January
1932 regarding the national status of Jews in the Yemen, 1 have made a number
of independent enquiries from my Agents in that country, and from Jews of
A emem stock in Aden, one of whom is a well-known and prosperous merchant of
The following information will serve, not only to answer your specific ques-
• lion, but to give you an impression of the social position of the Imam’s Jewish
subjects :—
(a) .There is no formal Nationality Law in the Yemen, the national status
of the inhabitants of which is regulated by custom or by the Imam’s
(/>) Jews born or having their permanent resident in the Imam’s terri
tories, and not having other nationality, are considered to be his
subjects. I presume that foreign nationals residing in the Yemen
and their children born in the Yemen do not lose their foreign
nationality save by their own act, in the absence of specific Yemeni
law in that respect. This question has, as far as I know, never been
(c) The Imam appears to be reluctant to allow his Jewish subjects to
emigrate. If the prospective emigrant is poor and owns no pro
perty he is obliged to provide a surety against his return ; if he
owns property he must transfer it to administration by the Imam
and can recover it on his return to the country. There is a special
department in San’a for the administration of such trust estates.
(d) The Jewish subjects of the Imam between the ages of 13 and 60, and
male, pay a poll tax annually. The tax is assessed in three grades,
of M. T. dollars 4, 2 or 1, in accordance with the financial status of
the tax-payer. No other direct tax is levied on Jews. Customs
duties are levied irrespective of race or creed.
(e) There is a Rabbinical Court in San’a with jurisdiction in disputes
between Jews, but such cases may also be heard bv a Moslem Qadhi
specially appointed for the purpose. “ Mixed ” cases go to the
Shar’ia Court, where however (I am informed) Jewish evidence
against a Moslem is not accepted.
(/) Jews in the Yemen are permitted to manufacture and consume
“ arak ” and wine in Jewish quarters, but are prohibited from
selling or distributing such liquor to Moslems. (In this connection
cf. Aden Political Intelligence Summary, paragraph 1858.)
(g) Jewish children, having no parents or other relations and no means
of support, are collected and absorbed into the Moslem Orphanage
in San’a where they grow up as Moslems without distinction from
their fellow orphans. I do not know the method of their conversion
nor at what stage it is effected. And although there was at one
time a good deal of talk about it in Jewish circles here, I do not
think that _ the system, objectionable as it must be to Jewish
susceptibilities, has been accompanied by undue compulsion or
deliberate disregard of evidence.
(h) Jews in the Yemen are subject to certain traditional disabilities relat
ing to the wearing of silken garments (except on holidays in their
own quarters) ; the riding of horses, or of mules and asses except
pn journeys, and then only sideways ; and to behaviour when pass
ing or accompanying Moslems.
I am under the general impression that the life of Jews in the Yemen, while
it is subject to many disabilities and prohibitions, which, however repugnant to
the more enlightened of them and to western ideas, have long been established
by tradition and custom, is not unhappy and need not be unprosperous. The
present Imam is tolerant to them and lends a ready ear to their complaints. The
Crown Prince ” Seif A1 Islam Ahmed, may be less so when he succeeds, but
they have friends among the other Princes.
Most of the foregoing is irrelevant to your question, and much of it may be
old news, but I send it to you for what it is worth.

About this item


The file contains the Foreign Office confidential prints of the Arabia Series for the years 1933 to 1938. It includes correspondence, memoranda, and extracts from newspapers. The correspondence is principally between the British Legation in Jedda and the Foreign Office. Other correspondents include British diplomatic, political, and military offices, foreign diplomats, heads of state, tribal leaders, corporations, and individuals in the Middle East region.

Each annual series is composed of several numbered serials that are often connected to a particular subject. The file covers many subjects related to the affairs of Saudi Arabia.

Included in the file are the following:

  • a memorandum on Arab Unity produced by the Foreign Office dated 12 June 1933 (author unknown), folios 11-13;
  • a memorandum on petroleum in Arabia produced by the Petroleum Department dated 5 August 1933 (author unknown), folios 23-26;
  • a record of interviews with Ibn Sa‘ūd, King of Saudi Arabia, conducted by Reader Bullard and George William Rendel between 20 and 22 March 1937;
  • a memorandum on Yemen by Captain B W Seager, the Frontier Officer, dated 20 July 1937;
  • several records of proceedings of ships on patrol in the Red Sea, including that of HMS Penzance , Hastings , Colombo , Bideford , and Londonderry .

Folios 213-15 are internal office notes.

Extent and format
1 file (214 folios)

The file is arranged chronologically.

Physical characteristics

Foliation: the main foliation sequence (used for referencing) commences at the front cover with 1 and terminates at the back cover with 217; these numbers are written in pencil, are circled, and are located in the top right corner of the recto The front of a sheet of paper or leaf, often abbreviated to 'r'. side of each folio. An additional foliation sequence is also present in parallel between ff 2-215; these numbers are also written in pencil, but are not circled, and are located in the same position as the main sequence.

Written in
English and French in Latin script
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'File 8/15 Arab Series - 1933-1939' [‎95r] (189/434), British Library: India Office Records and Private Papers, IOR/R/15/2/310, in Qatar Digital Library <> [accessed 17 February 2020]

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