Rescuer inspired by Yad Vashem
phones. He travelled regularly to the area, spoke to fighters in English and even drank whisky with them.
“These were kids on the street asking for democracy,” he said. “It was the right thing to do. They wanted democracy and freedom — the early Syrian revolution was kids in college. There weren’t fanatics.
"To them, I was an American Jew. I never told them I was an Israeli.” Then in 2013 his identity was exposed by Islamist activists on social media. He has never entered Syria since — but instead works with rebels and governments to establish diplomatic solutions to the conflict.
He says he has raised $1m for his cause and is looking for more donations to get the last Jews out of Syria.
He is confident that the money has not been used to fund terrorists: “I am a businessman and a control freak. I will give a satellite phone or goods, Kahana publicising the plight of Syrian rebels outside the White House but I won’t send money.”
Mr Kahana, who used his contacts to get Canadian-Israeli Gill Rosenberg out of Iraq after she joined the fight against Daesh, says he is negotiating with Israel to create a no-fly zone in southern Syria.
It was, he says, through his Syrian contacts that the last Jews of Aleppo were identified.
And he is determined to provide humanitarian care for Syrians, even though he is often asked why he does not turn his attention to Israeli organisations in need: “We are Jews; helping others is what we do.”
He grew up in Jerusalem and served in the Israeli Air Force.
Aged 22, he took a week’s holiday in New York. “That week turned into years,” he laughs.
“Personality-wise, I am way out of the box.”