NEW YORK – Texas Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee nominated the Jewish philanthropist Yank Barry on Wednesday for the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize for his work in providing refuge to Syrian refugees in Bulgaria who escaped their war-torn country.
Jackson Lee issued a statement saying that Barry “singlehandedly spearheaded a never before accomplished mission to rescue over 60 individuals from the deplorable conditions in the refugee camps of Bulgaria. He continues to support the rescued families by providing a ‘safe-house’ where children and their families are given a place to call home, food, medical care, employment, legal assistance, education and other ongoing provisions.”
She continued, “He also has been and continues to be instrumental in keeping peace amongst Bulgarian government officials and groups in the Syrian refugee crisis. He has crossed religious and economic boundaries for the helpless victims of the Syrian war; giving new life to Muslims and Christians, as a Jew. His foundation, Global Village Champions Foundation, and his longtime friend and partner Muhammad Ali have successfully fed nearly 1 billion documented and delivered meals, all privately funded by Mr. Barry.”
Barry told The Jerusalem Post in February that “growing up I knew that Bulgaria saved two of my family [during the Holocaust].” He said Bulgaria “is very, very close to my heart” and wants to return the generosity.
He said he wants to convert houses in abandoned towns in Bulgaria into permanent housing for Syrians and aims to help “300 to 400 more families” over the next three to four months.
Barry became known as the “Jewish Schindler” in Bulgaria over the past year for his work in relocating Syrian refugees into permanent housing. He has also spanned the globe with his NGO to provide food and clothing for the recent Typhoon victims in the Philippines.
The Nobel nomination is Barry’s third.
Barry gained notoriety with his negotiating skills in 2007. He played a critical role in convincing Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi to release the “Benghazi Six.”
Gaddafi had imprisoned five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor on trumped-up charges involving allegations of contaminating children with the AIDS virus.
A nurse released due to those negotiations and a Bulgarian doctor, who was also imprisoned by Gaddafi, now volunteer to provide medical care to Syrian children at a Global Village Champions run-residence in Sofia.
Barry also sang for the band The Kingsmen, known for the song “Louie Louie.”