Afghanistan’s ‘last Jew’ plans to leave amid fears of Taliban return


Afghanistan’s “last remaining Jew” may soon flee the country as the prospect of the Taliban’s return to power looms, according to a report.   

Zebulon Simentov, who was born in the 1950s, has remained in the country throughout a Soviet Invasion, imprisonment and the Taliban’s reign — but the group’s potential resurgence may be the last straw, the Jewish Afghani told Agence France-Presse. 

“Why should I stay? They call me an infidel,” Simentov told the news agency.

Simentov, who lives in Kabul in its only synagogue, said he might move to Israel, where his wife and two daughters live, according to reports. 

He is certain he is the last Afghan Jew in the country.

“I’m the last, the only Jew in Afghanistan,” he said, according to AFP. “It could get worse for me here. I have decided to leave for Israel if the Taliban returns.”

Zebulon Simentov recites the Torah scripture at synagogue, housed in an old building in Kabul.
Zebulon Simentov recites the Torah at synagogue, housed in an old building in Kabul.
WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP via Getty Images

When the Taliban, a Sunni Islamist group, ruled much of the country from 1996 through 2001, Simentov was imprisoned four times by the “disgraceful” movement, he said.

They also tried to convert him, he told AFP.  

Zebulon Simentov prays after eating lunch in his house in Kabul on April 5, 2021.
Zebulon Simentov prays after eating lunch in his house in Kabul on April 5, 2021.
WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP via Getty Images

At one point while in prison, the obstinate Simentov argued so vehemently with the then-only other Jew in the country, who has since died, that they were both booted from prison, according to Foreign Policy.

But despite his imprisonment and mistreatment, Simentov held out hope that things would change for the better in his country after 2001. 

Zebulon Simentov was imprisoned four times living in Afghanistan.
Zebulon Simentov was imprisoned four times living in Afghanistan.
WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP via Getty Images

“I thought the Europeans and Americans would fix this country,” he told AFP, “but that didn’t happen.” 

Now, he’s lost hope.   

“The Taliban are still the same as 21 years ago,” he said, according to AFP. “I have lost faith in Afghanistan. … There is no more life here.”

Afghanistan, where American troops have been stationed since 2001, could “in the not-too-distant future” see a Taliban-controlled government, former Secretary of State and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton warned Sunday.

President Biden in April said he would withdraw all US forces from the country in September.  

The Taliban on Sunday said US troops would be attacked, since American soldiers remain in the country past the previously agreed upon May 1 withdrawal deadline. 

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