Last Jew to flee Afghanistan demands $10m to move to Israel

Zebulon Simantov, was rescued from Afghanistan in a rescue operation organized by an Israeli humanitarian contractor, Moti Kahana, in September.

The last known member of Afghanistan’s Jewish community, a 62-year-old man, is allegedly demanding $10 million in order to move to Israel. The man left his country due to the Taliban’s takeover of power in August, local media in Israel reported.

Zebulon Simantov was rescued from Afghanistan in a rescue operation organized by an Israeli humanitarian contractor, Moti Kahana, in September 2021. He was transferred to a country he did not name for security reasons but is now in Istanbul, where he is staying in a hotel.

Moti told Israel’s Haaretz newspaper that he originally offered to charter a plane to take Zebulon to Israel, to which he agreed but changed his mind at the last minute. Instead, he asked to make his way to the United States.

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Moti warned that Zebulon is not on the US priority list and that the visa process could take up to two years.

Zebulon in response demanded $10 million dollars to come to Israel, citing losses he suffered when he left Afghanistan and also asked for money for a winter coat.

“I’m not a babysitter. I can’t go on funding and supporting Zebulon in Istanbul for an unlimited time, and I told him I won’t take him back to Kabul,” Haaretz quoted Moti.

Simantov, a carpet and jewellery merchant, was born in the Afghan city of Herat, which has been home to hundreds of Jews for decades. He eventually moved to Kabul but fled to Tajikistan in 1992 before returning to the capital.

Earlier in September, Zebulon granted his wife a divorce, after refusing for more than 20 years. Zebulon’s divorced wife and two daughters have lived in Israel since 1998.

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