US-Israeli activist raises funds for Syria via new taxi service

Moti Kahana campaigning for safe zone.

People stand near near rubble of damaged buildings in the northern Aleppo countryside in Syria in December 2016 (photo credit: REUTERS)
People stand near near rubble of damaged buildings in the northern Aleppo countryside in Syria in December 2016
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Israeli-American philanthropist Moti Kahana has launched a taxi-driving initiative in the US to advocate for a safe zone in Syria and raise funds for humanitarian aid.
Kahana is the founder and CEO of Amaliah, a nonprofit organization that delivers humanitarian aid to civilians in southern Syria by way of the border with Israel and is vocal about the need for a safe zone in the war-torn country, to allow civilians access to schools and medical treatment.
Kahana’s latest initiative sees him offering Uber and Lyft taxi services across the country, he says, while discussing the Syrian conflict with his customers and putting the tips he receives toward Amaliah’s humanitarian work inside Syria.
“I have chosen a radical method to get my voice heard even further, because it seems that the media is not interested in highlighting the refugee problem in Syria,” he writes in a video posted to social media.
Kahana strives to use his taxi rides as an opportunity to raise awareness of the need for a safe zone in Syria.
He told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday that he has been taking an average of 10 customers per day since he launched last week and has made some $200 in tips per day. “Many people will give a high tip when they find out it’s for charity,” he said, noting that his first customer tipped him $20 for a $7 dollar journey.
“It’s a tough battle, but everybody has a right to live, has a right to be safe, to be free and to enjoy life like everybody else,” that customer told Kahana, expressing strong support of efforts to help Syrian civilians.
“Put yourself in their shoes,” he said in the discussion that was posted online.
Kahana has begun uploading videos of his exchanges with customers to his YouTube channel, though he notes that not all customers are willing to appear on camera. He mentions that BDS activists in particular are opposed to participating in the project or to donating to the cause. Nonetheless, he uses the opportunity to tell them about Israeli efforts to help civilians in Syria, which he points out includes Palestinians.
Kahana is searching for a corporate partner in this initiative and also calls on other taxi drivers to join in the effort and to donate their tips to Amaliah or other Syria aid organizations.
Amaliah’s objective is “to create a stabilized environment that will catalyze the rebuilding of Syrian civil society and pave the way for friendly and supportive relations with Syria’s neighbors.”