Elderly Jewish peer to fund rescue of Syrian Christians: “I had a debt to repay”
search

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

Elderly Jewish peer to fund rescue of Syrian Christians: “I had a debt to repay”

Lord Weidenfeld
Lord Weidenfeld
Lord Weidenfeld
Lord Weidenfeld

A Jewish peer has said he is funding the rescue of Christian Syrians from jihadists because he has a 77-year old “debt to repay”.

Retired businessman Lord Weidenfeld, 94, who was born in Vienna, is paying for planes and resettlement, remembering that it was Christians who took him when he arrived as a Jewish child on the Kindertransport in 1938.  

The private operation, which saw the first 150 Syrians arrive in Warsaw on Friday, comes as the British Jewish community remembers Sir Nicholas Winton, who rescued 669 children from Czechoslovakia on his own initiative, often placing them in Christian homes.

“I had a debt to repay,” said philanthropist Weidenfeld, who was brought up by members of the Plymouth Brethren, a Christian group.

“It applies to so many of the Kinder. It was Quakers and other Christian denominations who brought those children to England. We Jews should be thankful and do something for the endangered Christians.”

Weidenfeld’s fund aims to offer 12-18 months’ support those rehoused in European countries, with a target of 2,000 refugees to be airlifted out, from a conflict that has displaced ten million people.

By comparison, the UK government has only offered asylum to 200 Syrians – a statistic slammed by Jewish groups as shameful, when other European governments are taking in thousands. 

Despite his efforts to redress the balance, however, Weidenfeld has been criticised for focusing only on saving Christians and Jews.

“The primary objective is to bring the Christians to safe haven,” he said. “I can’t save the world but there is a very specific possibility on the Jewish and Christian side. Let others do what they like for the Muslims.”

Most of Syria’s 1.1 million Christians are believed to have fled the country in recent years, as civil war waged between President Bashar al-Assad’s Alawite (Shi’ite)-minority government and Sunni Muslim militias of various stripes.

Discussing today’s scourge, philanthropist Weidenfeld said: “ISIS is unprecedented in its primitive savagery compared with the more sophisticated Nazis. There never was such scum as these people.”

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...

Engaging

Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.

Celebrating

There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.

Pioneering

In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.

Campaigning

Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more:
comments