British publisher Lord George Weidenfeld is helping to fund 2,000 Christian Syrians fleeing ISIS to repay a personal debt.
The co-founder of British publishing house Weidenfeld and Nicolson, now 95, was born a Jew in Vienna and was helped by Quakers and Plymouth Brethren to escape persecution from the Nazis to the UK when he was just 19.
The Weidenfeld Safe Havens Fund aims to offer 12-18 months’ paid support for refugees. The fund has been assisting Syrians since July, when it enabled 150 Syrian Christians to reach refuge in Poland on a privately chartered plane.
“I had a debt to repay,” Lord Weidenfeld told The Times of London. “It was Quakers and other Christian denominations who brought those children to England. It was a very high-minded operation and we Jews should also be thankful and do something for the endangered Christians.”
“The primary objective is to bring the Christians to safe havens. ISIS is unprecedented in its primitive savagery compared with the more sophisticated Nazis. When it comes to pure lust for horror and sadism, they are unprecedented. There never was such scum as these people.”
Lord Weidenfeld added: “I can’t save the world but there is a very specific possibility on the Jewish and Christian side.”
Lord Weidenfeld escaped to the safety of the UK in 1938, before co-founding Weidenfeld and Nicolson 10 years later. He was made a life peer in the Lords in 1976.
The project is also supported by private organizations such as the Barnabas Fund, a Christian organization that has planned and funded a series of similar rescue missions, as well as the Jewish National Fund. Its focus on saving Christians and Jews, but not Muslims, has faced criticism, according to The Catholic Herald.