Rosa Doherty – Jewish Chronicle
Lord Weidenfeld is funding a rescue mission of up to 2,000 Christian families from Syria and Iraq.
Weidenfeld’s Safe Havens Fund flew 150 Syrian Christians who were fleeing Daesh (sometimes known as Isis) to Warsaw on Friday to seek refuge in Poland.
But the project has faced criticism over Lord Weidenfeld’s decision not to include Muslims in the rescue effort.
The United States refused to take part and other countries made claims of discrimination.
Funding was also given by other Jewish philanthropists and charitable groups such as the JNF, and aims to offer 12 to 18 months of support to the refugees.
Lord Weidenfeld defended the project and 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.”
The publisher, who co-founded Weidenfeld and Nicolson in 1948, was rescued from Nazi-occupied Austria thanks to the generosity of members of the Plymouth Brethren, a Christian group, which took him in, fed and clothed him.
He said: “I had a debt to repay. It applies to so many of the young people who were on the Kindertransports. 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.”
The peer paid for the privately chartered plane to carry the first batch of refugees with the agreement of the Polish government and the Assad regime in Syria.
Lord Weidenfeld, 95, told the Times: “The primary objective is to bring the Christians to safe haven. Isis is unprecedented in its primitive savagery compared with the more sophisticated Nazis.
“When it comes to pure lust for horror and sadism, they are unprecedented. There never was such scum as these people.
“My main concern is — and this is terribly important for me as a member of the generation that can look back to the time before World War Two — the lack of will to defend oneself; to get boots on the ground and to get rid of these people. The lack of desire to fight the enemy, to slay the dragon in his lair.
“I am appalled by the lack of action. The brave Kurds have shown in the battle for Kobani that you can defeat them. In a disunited world, the road is wide open for the terrorists.”