Steve Maman helped save 128 Yazidi and Christian women and girls in Iraq, saying: ‘What motivated me is being Jewish, being part of a people that actually survived the Holocaust. We waited for six years for people to come and help us.’
By: Tzipi Shmilovitz
Canadian Jewish businessman Steve Maman has earned the nickname “the Jewish Schindler” after establishing an organization that saves Christian and Yazidi-Kurdish women and girls in Iraq who were kidnapped by the Islamic State.
Yazidi refugees escaping the Islamic State in Iraq (Photo: Reuters/File)
“We raise the funds…we have the team on the ground which is a trusted team…these people receive the funds that we send to them…they actually have made great connections throughout the last 15 years in the areas of Iraq,” he told Canada’s CBC Radio.
“There’s millions of inhabitants in Mosul and they’re not all ISIS so we, within those millions of people, have found teams that were willing to work with us in order to get those girls out,” he added.
The CYCI funds all of the logistics and security expenses for the teams negotiating with ISIS, but Maman says the money is not transferred directly to the terror organization.
“We don’t deal with ISIS and that’s enough for me…we deal with intermediaries that are willing to help and I’m willing to cover their cost in order to save a world,” he told CBC Radio.
Maman met with several of the women he helped save and heard horror stories from them about their time in captivity.
“When it’s women, younger women, it’s always a question of rape…repeated rapes…it’s a question of being resold numerous times, we hear about beatings, we hear about women being under fed, we hear about women actually being kept in cages, we hear about women that were actually threatened with being burnt if they wouldn’t do certain sexual acts,” he said.
CYCI fundraising page.
Amid worries that paying ransom for the women would encourage ISIS to consider it a “profitable business model,” Maman noted that “ISIS is worth today $4 billion. Do you think that my little meager two or 3,000 dollars per child is going to in any way or form help the power and might that ISIS may attain?”
“You’d have to stand up and tell the 1,200 survivors thanks to Oskar Schindler and their 15,000 descendants, that they were liberated unlawfully…because we were liberated thanks to Oskar Schindler giving money to the Nazi,” he argued.
“What motivated me is very simple…being Jewish, being part of a people that actually survived the Holocaust…we for six years waited for people to actually answer the call and come and help us,” he told CBC Radio.
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