- Afghanistan’s last Jewish resident will remain in Kabul and live under another Taliban rule.
- Zebulon Simantov previously indicated he wanted to leave Afghanistan, per The New York Post.
- A rescue mission was underway last week before ultimately being called off.
Afghanistan’s last Jewish resident will stay in Kabul and live under another Taliban rule, multiple people involved in an effort to rescue him told The New York Post.
Zebulon Simantov lives in the country’s last synagogue, the report said, and the 62-year-old indicated a desire to leave Afghanistan as late as last week.
An attempt last week to rescue Simantov, led by American-Israeli businessman Moti Kahana, was taking shape before taking a sudden turn, according to the Post. Simantov was reportedly packing as recent as August 17, but then demanded $50,000 as a condition of his departure.
“After initially indicating that he wants to come out, he decided that he wants to stay,” Mendy Chitrik, chair of the Alliance of Rabbis in Islamic States, told the Post. “And if someone wants to stay, that’s up to him.”
Chitrik told the Post that Simantov didn’t further clarify his decision, but said he is comfortable living in Kabul.
Simantov lived through the Taliban’s 1996-2001 rule, during which his wife and daughters fled to Israel, and told Voice of America in June that he wanted to leave.
“God willing, I cannot say seven to eight months, but I will definitely leave by the time the Taliban come,” he told VOA.
Simantov became the country’s last Jew after the death of Yitzhak Levy, with whom Simantov took care of the synagogue.
According to the Post’s report, the two men hated each other so much that they were both released from a mutual stint in jail because their arguing was “so annoying” to their Islamic jailers.
The US has so far evacuated and facilitated the evacuation of approximately 37,000 people from Kabul since August 14. American and Afghan evacuees have been sent to countries all over the Middle East, Central Asia, and Europe.
The Pentagon on Sunday ordered 18 commercial planes from six airlines to facilitate with the global evacuation effort.