Taliban Spokesman Talks to Israeli Media About Afghanistan’s 'Last Remaining Jew'

Published August 18th, 2021 - 06:32 GMT
Suhail Shaheen and Zebulon Simantov
Suhail Shaheen (R) Zebulon Simantov (L) (Twitter)

Three days after the Taliban took full control of Afghanistan, the group's spokesman in charge of addressing international media has been contacted by Israel's Kan News for an interview, in which he discussed the fate of Afghanistan's last remaining jew; Zebulon Simantov.

During the interview with Israeli Kan broadcaster, the Doha-based Suhail Shaheen 'stressed' the Taliban's intention to protect the religious freedom of the country's minorities, including that of the last remaining Jewish-Afghan.

According to the Times of Isreal, communications with Zebulon Simantov who has insisted on staying in his home country throughout different political conflicts that rocked Afghanistan over the last four decades concluded that he still refuses to leave Afghanistan. Simantov has for years been known as "Afghanistan's last remaining Jew", as he continues to live in the country, practicing his faith despite the threat of extremists ideologies.

He believes he is the only person capable of keeping the only existing synagogue in Afghanistan from being shutdown. 

Upon finishing the interview, Shaheen realized that Kan News is an Israeli media broadcaster and took to Twitter to say that the Kan News journalist "did not introduce himself as Israeli," which is the main reason he agreed to be featured. 

Shaheen's tweet suggested that the Taliban's stance continues to refuse to carry out contact with Israel. Yet, social media commentators wondered if Shaheen's mention of Israel in his tweet without quotation marks suggests a shift in the group's attitude towards Israel.

For the last several days since the Taliban took over Afghanistan, the fundamentalist group has been "reassuring" the world that it has abandoned extremist practices it used during its first role of the country during the late 1990s, saying it will grant everyone full freedoms "within the framework of Islamic law."

The Taliban has announced a full amnesty for everyone, including individuals who worked with the former Afghan government and US forces. It has also promised to allow women to receive education and to continue working in public spaces. 

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