Back in WWII, Oskar Schindler, a German industrialist, spy, and a member of the Nazi party, was once credited with saving the lives of more than a thousand Jews from the deathly concentration camps by employing them in his factories.
Now with the rise of ISIS and the increasing reports of sex slavery among Yazidis and Christian women in war-torn Syria and Iraq, media reports are picking up the story of a modern-day Jewish Schindler, who has decided to pay it forward by doing his part in saving female prisoners from ISIS slave handlers.
The story of Steve Maman, a Canadian Jewish businessman who took it upon himself to rescue Christian and Yazidi girls from ISIS is being disseminated by the Accidental Talmudist through social media posts.
When Maman heard that Iraqi jihadists started forcing girls into sex slavery, he decided to do something and set up a nonprofit foundation called the Liberation of Christian and Yazidi Children of Iraq (CYCI). More information on CYCI can be found at www.liberationiraq.com.
The report says that Maman was motivated by the Jews' own experience during the Holocaust.
"We waited for six years for people to come and help us," he said. He does not want anyone to go through what his people did.
According to the report, the foundation has raised over $500,000, mostly from Moroccan Jews. The rescue operations work by placing negotiators inside ISIS areas. The negotiators then redeem the captives for $2000 to $4000 each.
Maman describes how he was able to partner with key people to help them rescue the women: "There are 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."
Nevertheless, Maman and his efforts are not immune from criticism. Recently the Times of Israel reported that a group of Yazidi leaders have demanded the Canadian businessman to prove that he has indeed rescued Christian and Yazidi women and children from ISIS. To date, the foundation claims it has rescued 128 individuals.
Others have also said that Maman is enabling ISIS to continue to kidnap girls by rewarding them for their behavior through cash payouts to the kidnappers.
Maman thinks differently. He says, "ISIS is worth today $4 billion. Do you think that my little two or three thousand dollars per child is going to help the power and might of ISIS? You'd have to tell the 1,200 survivors saved by Oskar Schindler and their 15,000 descendants, that they were liberated unlawfully because Oskar Schindler gave money to the Nazis."