Sunday, June 15, 2008

Kabul's whisky-loving last Jew an 'embarrassment'

Who can blame Zebulon Simantov for exploiting his status as Afghanistan's last Jew? NBC's Martin Fletcher, however, reinforces the worst of anti-Jewish stereotypes:

KABUL, Afghanistan – Behind a metal door on Flower Street, past a courtyard piled with junk, up some steep concrete stairs and along a narrow corridor with ornate metal railings in the style of Stars of David, lives the last Jew in Afghanistan.

His home is a side-room off the synagogue; a thin mattress laid along one wall is his bed. In one corner, there is a small table with dusty prayer books, three folding chairs, a crumbling carpet, and a few pictures on the wall, including one of a bearded Hassidic Jew. In the corner by the door, opposite the guest’s chair, there is a small blackboard with his name spelled clearly in chalk: Zebulon Simantov. "So that journalists spell my name correctly," he said.

"Who do you work for?" Simantov asked straightaway.

"NBC News," I answered proudly.

Zebulon Simantov, 45, poses at the synagogue in Kabul on Jan. 25, 2005."So can you give me lots of money," he said, his tone turning a question into a blunt demand.

"No, I’m afraid not."

"Did you bring me whiskey?" The interview, which I had looked forward to ever since I received the assignment to visit Kabul, quickly became an embarrassment.

"That bastard," Simantov said, spitting out a nut, "he’s no friend of mine!"

Read article in full

Photo of Simantov AP , taken in 2005

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