Rabbi Dweck in conversation with Natan Sharansky
Discussing his new book with Gil Troy: Never Alone: Prison, Politics, and My People
In this inspirational account, Soviet dissident Sharansky (Defending Identity) chronicles his life. In this inspirational account, Soviet dissident Sharansky chronicles his life story and offers his perspective on the evolving relationship between the state of Israel and the Jewish people.
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He learned the art of “doublethink,” publicly professing allegiance to the regime while harbouring private doubts, and fully embraced his Jewish heritage after Israel’s victory in the Six-Day War. In 1973, Soviet authorities denied his request to emigrate to Israel. He joined the “Refusenik” and democratic dissident movements, was surveilled and arrested by the KGB on trumped-up treason charges, and served nine years in the gulag before international outcry led to his release. Arriving in Israel in 1986 at age 38, Sharansky cofounded a new Russian immigrants’ political party and became head of the Jewish Agency for Israel. He forcefully articulates his center-right political views, including opposition to the Oslo peace accords, and defends Trump administration policies on Israel while condemning the president’s “moral dithering” after a neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Va. The result is a worthy introduction to the life and work of one of the world’s most famous political prisoners
Natan Sharansky was born in Donetsk, Ukraine. He was a spokesman for the human rights movement, a Prisoner of Zion and leader in the struggle for the right of Soviet Jews to immigrate to Israel. Subsequent to his request to make aliya, Mr. Sharansky was arrested on trumped up charges of treason and espionage. He was convicted in a Soviet court and served nine years in the Gulag with many stretches in a punishing cell. Following massive public campaigns by the State of Israel, World Jewry and leaders of the free world, Mr. Sharansky was released in 1986, making aliya on the very day of his release. In his first few years in Israel, Mr. Sharansky established the Zionist Forum to assist Soviet olim in their absorption in Israel. In the 1990’s, he established the Yisrael B’Aliyah party in order to accelerate the integration of Russian Jews. He served in four successive Israeli governments, as Minister and Deputy Prime Minister. In 2018 he received the highest Israeli award – the Israel Prize for promoting Aliyah and the ingathering of the exiles. Mr. Sharansky is the recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor in 1986 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2006. He is the only living non-American citizen who is the recipient of these two highest American awards. 2009-2018 Natan Sharansky served as Chairman of the Executive of the Jewish Agency for Israel. In July 2019 Mr. Natan Sharansky became Chair of ISGAP (The Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy). Mr. Sharansky is also the author of four books: – Fear No Evil – The Case for Democracy – Defending Identity – Never Alone: Prison, Politics and My People
A Distinguished Scholar in North American History at McGill University currently living in Jerusalem, Gil Troy is an award-winning American presidential historian and a leading Zionist activist. In the Foreword to Troy’s latest book, The Zionist Ideas: Visions for the Jewish Homeland – Then, Now, Tomorrow, which was a 2019 National Jewish Book Award Finalist, Natan Sharansky writes: “This magnificent work is the perfect follow-up to Arthur Hertzberg’s classic The Zionist Idea. Combining, like Hertzberg, a scholar’s eye and an activist’s ear, Gil Troy demonstrates that we now live in a world of Zionist Ideas, with many different ways to help Israel flourish as a democratic Jewish state.”
Recently designated an Algemeiner J-100, one of the top 100 people “positively influencing Jewish life,” Troy wrote The Age of Clinton: America in the 1990s, and eight other books on the American presidency. One leading historian called Age of Clinton “the best book on the man and his times.” Troy edited and updated another classic, the multi-volume History of American Presidential Campaigns, originally edited by Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. and Fred Israel.
His next book, co-authored with the former Soviet Prisoner of Zion and human rights activist Natan Sharansky, Never Alone: Prison, Politics and My People, will be published in September by PublicAffairs of Hachette – it’s already possible to pre-order the book on Amazon and at fine book stores everywhere.
Troy’s book Moynihan’s Moment: America’s Fight against Zionism as Racism, describes the fall of the UN, the rise of Reagan and the spread of Anti-Zionism. Jewish Ideas Daily designated it one of 2012’s “best books.”
He appeared as a featured commentator on CNN’s popular multipart documentaries, The Eighties, The Nineties, and The 2000s. He has been interviewed on most major North American TV and Radio networks.
Troy has published essays in the American, Canadian, and Israeli media, including writing essays for the New York Times’ “Campaign Stops” in 2012 and 2016. He writes a monthly column for the Daily Beast, “Secret Lives,” putting current events in historical perspective, and writes a weekly column for the Jerusalem Post.