Thursday, January 27, 2005

Why Can't We Both Just Get Along?

This story in the Washington Post absolutely must be the basis for a movie. Last week, Ishaq Levin, a resident of Kabul died. His death left his "housemate and archnemesis," Zablon Simintov, "in all likelihood the last Afghan Jew still living in the country."

It's a sad story. But in sadness, one can find comedy. One can also find really kick-ass movie ideas.

Simontov and Levin had spent seven years cohabitating in the last remaining synagogue in Kabul -- "feuding bitterly" for much of that time.

You'd think the indignancies they suffered under five years of Taliban rule would have created unbreakable bonds of camaraderie between them. The Taliban repeatedly hauled both of them to jail and beat them with electric cables and rifle butts, for days on end. They held true to their faith, telling their Tabliban captors they wouldn't convert to Islam for "one million dollars."

Somehow, they survived the Taliban -- but in the process became sworn enemies. After they were released from their first detention by the Taliban, in 1998, they moved in together in the synagogue. Like a really unfunny episode of the Odd Couple, everything really fell apart. They "quarreled about Levin's work as a fortuneteller and maker of amulets for Afghan women." Simintov accused Levin of "telling the Taliban he was a spy."

Then the shit really hit the fan. The synagogue contained a 400-year-old handwritten Torah scroll. Simintov says he wanted to send the scroll to Israel for safekeeping. Levin was having none of that, though. Simintov -- invoking the time-honored tradition of defaming a dead man -- says that Levin reported to the Taliban that Simontov was trying to sell the highly non-Islamic scroll. They were both arrested. Levin -- possibly invoking another time-honored tradition, of selling out -- helpfully appraised the scroll at $2 million, to satisfy the Taliban's curiosity. Lo and behold, the scroll was gone when the men returned to the synagogue.

The comedy continues, even after Levin's death. Simontov says, "I have nothing. I live like a dog." He's trying to recover the scroll and refurbish the synagogue. Like many shady trails in the world today, this one leads to Guantanamo Bay, where the Afghan commander who stole the scroll is purportedly confined. ROAD TRIP!

I assume the Hollywood fashion makers are all over this. Simontov should pocket a tidy sum for the trouble of living through the Taliban's rule, becoming the archenemy of the one man in Afghanistan who shared his heritage, and assuming a life "like a dog."

3 Comments:

Blogger TheUnknownBlogger said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

3:42 PM  
Blogger TheUnknownBlogger said...

The question REALLY is: If he becomes a rich dog, what dog what KIND of dog would he be? Perhaps Richie Rich's dog Dollar? Or since he's self-made, perhaps the Snausages Dog? Maybe an adventuresome dog like Dynomutt? The possibilities are endless...

3:43 PM  
Blogger Joseph K said...

Alas, he's already been beaten to celluloid by the Swedes in Lasse Hallestrom's 1987 film "My Life As A Dog" (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/6305228868/104-0195602-1933544?v=glance). It is about a 12 year old Swedish boy who has a crappy life. I thought most dogs are happy, but all the films transmogrifying human existence into that of canines are so, so sad...sigh.

10:21 PM  

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