Will Afghanistan’s Last Jew Weather the Rise of the Taliban?

YERUSHALAYIM -
A Taliban fighter runs towards crowd outside Kabul Airport, Kabul, Afghanistan, on Monday. (Reuters)

Suhail Shaheen, a Taliban spokesman in Doha, Qatar, said that the minorities in Afghanistan will not be harmed, including the last of the country’s Jews believed to remain, Zabulon Simantov, Kan News reported Tuesday.

“I do not know the last Jew,” Suhail said, when asked by Kan regarding Simantov.

“We do not harm minorities,” he added. “There are Sikhs and Hindus in the country, and they can practice their religion.”

Kan identified itself by name, without mentioning its Israeli origin.

“I do many interviews with journalists every day after the falling of provincial centers of Afghanistan and the capital Kabul to the Islamic Emirate,” Shaheen later posted. “Some journalists may be masquerading but I haven’t done an interview with anyone introducing himself he is from an Israeli media.”

Shaheen is in Doha as part of negotiations with the defunct government that has fled the country.

The Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan has prompted the U.S., U.K. and other countries to send in forces to secure the evacuation of their nationals, as well as to bring Afghans out of the country.

Footage from the Kabul airport shows swarms of Afghans attempting to be rescued by U.S. transports.

“I will not leave my home,” Simantov told the India-based WION network. “If I had left, there would have been no one to maintain the synagogue. I had the opportunity to leave for the U.S. but I wasn’t interested.”

Simantov has said that the Taliban in the past had tried to convert him, even sending him to prison four times. He has family, who live in Israel.

Some 5,000 Jews once lived in Afghanistan, yet numbers dwindled after the founding of Israel in 1948.