Res­cuer in­spired by Yad Vashem

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS -

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.”

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