Afghanistan’s last Jew warns Israel: “Don’t count on the US”
Zebulon Simantov, the last Jew in Afghanistan, who fled the Taliban regime earlier this month, warned Israel it could not count on the United States, as he gave his first interview to Israeli media since. his escape.
Simantov, 62, who left Afghanistan across the border to a neighboring country, told public broadcaster Kan on Tuesday that he had no choice but to leave once the Taliban took control. to be able to. He spoke to the station through an interpreter and the report did not reveal which country he was in currently.
“I was in danger every day,” he said. “I protected the synagogue for years and now I had no choice.
Simantov criticized the United States for its chaotic withdrawal in August after a 20-year presence in Afghanistan that overthrew the Taliban and aimed to build democracy. As the Taliban returned to power, the United States quickly withdrew its forces, leaving behind thousands of foreigners and Afghan allies who rushed to escape the Taliban and their radical Islamic ideology.
“I say to Israel, don’t count on the United States,” Simantov said. “The United States and the international community have shed blood in Afghanistan. They did not bring peace and left the citizens in this situation.
Despite his criticisms, Simantov said he intended to move to the United States, although the process was delayed by bureaucracy and difficulty in obtaining the necessary documents.
Businessman Moti Kahana, who helped get Simantov out of Afghanistan, told Kan that Israeli officials were trying to help “but it’s not moving fast enough.”
Simantov also wants to visit Israel, he said, to see friends.
“I am very looking forward to traveling to Israel and seeing a lot of people there,” he told Kan.
And he still has the hope of returning home.
“If there is peace, of course I will go back to Afghanistan,” he said.
Simantov was convinced that a synagogue in Kabul, which he looked after for years even though he was the only remaining Jew, was safe, guarded, and the Taliban will not destroy it.
Since leaving Afghanistan, Simantov has granted his wife a divorce after refusing for more than 20 years.
He has reportedly in the past refused to leave Afghanistan and travel to Israel in order to avoid having to deal with his divorce and the rabbinical authorities, who sanction those who do not grant a Jewish divorce.
Simantov told Kan he was happy to have granted the divorce, saying his wife had in the past been undecided about staying in Afghanistan, until she eventually left in 1995.
Beyond that, “I have nothing to say,” he said.
Under Jewish law, a “get” or rabbinical divorce law is required for women to remarry. Women whose husbands refuse to give a get are called “agunot,” or women in chains, and their plight is considered a major point of gender inequality in Orthodox Judaism.
The obtaining process was granted remotely via a video call by the Sydney Beth Din, headed by Rabbi Yehoram Ulman, the weekly Makor Rishon reported on Sunday. They then passed his agreement on to the rabbinate in Israel, where his wife lives after moving there with the couple’s daughters in 1998.
Kahana had been pushing for a divorce from Simantov since his perilous flight from Afghanistan earlier this month.
The date of the divorce proceedings was unclear, but last Wednesday Kahana tweeted that he had Simantov sign the relevant documents, without a rabbi present.
After the full withdrawal of the United States from Afghanistan in late August, Simantov crossed the border with a neighboring country in September.
The operation was funded by Moshe Margaretten, an ultra-Orthodox American fixer whose passion is to put Jews out of harm’s way.