The Last Afghan Jew Prepares to Say Farewell

Since the U.S. announced its decision to remove all its troops from Afghanistan by September, there is widespread fear that the Taliban will soon vanquish the national government. Having lived through the Islamist group’s rule once already, the country’s last Jew has decided to leave. Sam Raskin writes:

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. . . . “Why should I stay? They call me an infidel,” Simentov told [reporters]. 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.

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. . . . 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.

Jewish merchants lived and traded in Afghanistan since at least the 7th century, arriving there from nearby Persia—although a local tradition has it that Afghan Jews are descended from the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel. For most of the community’s history, the largest Jewish population was concentrated in the northwestern city of Herat, where Simentov himself was born, and which was home to a few hundred Jews in the 20th century. Now Afghan Jewry has gone the way of many Jewish communities of the Islamic world.

Read more at New York Post

More about: Afghanistan, Anti-Semitism, Mizrahim, Taliban


Israel Is Courting Saudi Arabia by Confronting Iran

Most likely, it was the Israeli Air Force that attacked eastern Syria Monday night, apparently destroying a convoy carrying Iranian weapons. Yoav Limor comments:

Israel reportedly carried out 32 attacks in Syria in 2022, and since early 2023 it has already struck 25 times in the country—at the very least. . . . The Iranian-Israeli clash stands out in the wake of the dramatic events in the region, chiefly among them is the effort to strike a normalization deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia, and later on with various other Muslim-Sunni states. Iran is trying to torpedo this process and has even publicly warned Saudi Arabia not to “gamble on a losing horse” because Israel’s demise is near. Riyadh is unlikely to heed that demand, for its own reasons.

Despite the thaw in relations between the kingdom and the Islamic Republic—including the exchange of ambassadors—the Saudis remain very suspicious of the Iranians. A strategic manifestation of that is that Riyadh is trying to forge a defense pact with the U.S.; a tactical manifestation took place this week when Saudi soccer players refused to play a match in Iran because of a bust of the former Revolutionary Guard commander Qassem Suleimani, [a master terrorist whose militias have wreaked havoc throughout the Middle East, including within Saudi borders].

Of course, Israel is trying to bring Saudi Arabia into its orbit and to create a strong common front against Iran. The attack in Syria is ostensibly unrelated to the normalization process and is meant to prevent the terrorists on Israel’s northern border from laying their hands on sophisticated arms, but it nevertheless serves as a clear reminder for Riyadh that it must not scale back its fight against the constant danger posed by Iran.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Saudi Arabia, Syria