A Jewish man in the U.K. is funding the rescue of up to 2,000 Christian families from Islamic State terrorists in Syria and Iraq to show his gratitude for the Christians who saved him from Nazi persecution, The Independent reported on Tuesday.
The resettlement project, named Operation Safe Haven, last week arranged the flight of 150 Syrian Christians to Poland, where they will seek refugee. The group aims to provide 12-18 months of paid support to the refugees, according to The Independent.
The man behind the project is Lord Weidenfeld, 94, a former publisher who said he has “a debt to repay” to Christians because they provided him as a child with food and clothing, and helped him reach Britain after he fled Nazi-occupied Austria. In 1938, a year before the start of World War II, he arrived in Britain by train as part of the Kindertransport rescue effort that brought thousands of Jewish refugee children to the U.K.
“I had a debt to repay. It applies to so many young people who were on the Kindertransports,” he said. “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,” he added.
Lord Weidenfeld said he hopes to repeat the work of Sir Nicholas Winton, who organized Kindertransport trains that saved 669 youths from Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia. The famed humanitarian died on July 1.
Operation Safe Haven has faced criticism for its exclusion of Muslims, who have also been persecuted and forced from their homes by ISIS.
Lord Weidenfeld defended the project’s focus on Christians saying, “I can’t save the world, but there is a very specific possibility on the Christian side. Let others do what they like for the Muslims.”