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Israeli woman who fought IS returns to Iraq to help freed Yazidis

Canada’s Steve Maman, the ‘Jewish Schindler’ who claims to have saved 128 people, says Gill Rosenberg is working as his envoy

Gill Rosenberg, in a photo which is presumed to have been taken in Iraq and which was uploaded to Facebook on November 9, 2014 (photo credit: Facebook)
Gill Rosenberg, in a photo which is presumed to have been taken in Iraq and which was uploaded to Facebook on November 9, 2014 (photo credit: Facebook)

Gill Rosenberg, an Israeli-Canadian who fought alongside the Kurds, has returned to Iraq to help the Yazidi women and children freed by a Jewish Montreal businessman.

According to a report by Channel 2, Rosenberg returned to Iraq last week on behalf of Steve Maman, who has been nicknamed the “Jewish Schindler” for founding the Liberation of Christian and Yazidi Children of Iraq project, which purports to have saved 128 women and children from sex slavery and abuse at the hands of the Islamic State.

Rosenberg, 31, had returned to Israel in mid-July after more than six months in Syria and Iraq.

Maman told Channel 2 that he had contacted Rosenberg on Facebook upon her return from Iraqi Kurdistan, and recruited her in his efforts to free Yazidi women.

He said that Rosenberg was in a safe place, and was using her local connections to free additional Yazidis. Maman praised Rosenberg’s bravery, and said it was unfortunate there were not more activists like her.

On Saturday, a group of Yazidi spiritual leaders, politicians, activists and aid workers demanded that Maman provide evidence that he is saving lives. In a letter to Vice news – whose signers include the supreme spiritual leader of the Yazidis, Babasheikh Kherto Ismael; a Yazidi member of the Iraqi parliament, Vian Dhakil; and the heads of Yazda, a Yazidi rights advocacy group – they raised several issues with the way Maman has conducted his work.

Steve Maman shakes hands with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. (Courtesy Steve Maman)
Steve Maman shakes hands with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. (Courtesy Steve Maman)

First, the letter claims that while Maman has taken credit for rescuing Christians, there is no evidence that the Islamic State has abused Christian women. The signees also claim that when CYCI said it had rescued 102 people several weeks ago, it had only raised around $80,000 – a sum that seemed impossibly low, the letter’s signers said.

The letter also argues that Maman has “has brought a high level of visibility to a delicate and sensitive rescue effort that should have been kept low-profile.”

“We are concerned that this may be reckless,” the letter reads.

Maman told Vice News that he has not revealed the names of all 128 people he has saved in order to protect their identities and to uphold the integrity of the work his group is doing. He said that some people, if provided with names and information about those he has rescued, might take credit for the rescues.

Maman also told Vice News on Tuesday that he was going to have journalists accompany future rescue trips, including one on Wednesday, to bear witness to his group’s work. On Friday, Maman shared the testimony of a man named Sean Moore, who claimed to have “Canadian International PRESS[sic] creds,” on Facebook.

A Yazidi Iraqi woman sits with her children at the Bajid Kandala camp near the Tigris River, in Kurdistan's western Dohuk province, where they took refuge after fleeing advances by Islamic State jihadists in Iraq on August 13, 2014.(Photo credit:AFP/AHMAD AL-RUBAYE)
A Yazidi Iraqi woman sits with her children at the Bajid Kandala camp near the Tigris River, in Kurdistan’s western Dohuk province, where they took refuge after fleeing advances by Islamic State jihadists in Iraq on August 13, 2014.(Photo credit:AFP/AHMAD AL-RUBAYE)

“I can tell you Mr. Steve Maman is loved here for the work he has done,” Moore wrote. “The VICE report is not accurate at all.”

JTA could not verify Moore’s press credentials.

As of Friday, the CYCI GoFundMe campaign has been shut down, but the project was still taking donations on its website.

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