The Virtues of Empire

For the first time since the Ottoman Empire fell, Muslims in the Middle East are free to pursue the same dream that inspired Europe’s nationalists. Next: widespread ethnic cleansing?

Read more at First Things

More about: Ethnic Cleansing, Europe, Genocide, Islamism, Middle East, Nationalism, Ottoman Empire, Syrian civil war, Woodrow Wilson

Remembering the Heroism of Natan Sharansky, on the 30th Anniversary of His Release

Feb. 12 2016

Thirty years ago yesterday, the refusenik Natan Sharansky (now head of the Jewish Agency) was released from Soviet prison after eight years of confinement. (Read a moving tribute by his daughter, Rachel Sharansky Danziger, here.) Elliott Abrams recounts the circumstances and quotes Sharansky’s speech at his 1977 sentencing:

These were years of incredible courage and sacrifice. Sharansky’s remarks to the court that sentenced him in Moscow will be remembered and revered for as long as men fight for freedom:

During my interrogation the chief investigators threatened me that I might be executed by a firing squad, or imprisoned for at least fifteen years. But if I agreed to cooperate with the investigation for the purpose of destroying the Jewish emigration movement, they promised me freedom and a quick reunion with my wife.

Five years ago, I submitted my application for exit to Israel. Now I am further than ever from my dream. It would seem to be cause for regret. But it is absolutely the other way around. I am happy. I am happy that I lived honorably, at peace with my conscience. I never compromised my soul, even under the threat of death. . . .

For more than two-thousand years the Jewish people, my people, have been dispersed. But wherever they are, wherever Jews are found, every year they have repeated, “Next year in Jerusalem.” Now, when I am further than ever from my people, from Avital, facing many arduous years of imprisonment, I say, turning to my people, my Avital, “Next year in Jerusalem.”

Now I turn to you, the court, who were required to confirm a predetermined sentence: to you I have nothing to say.

Abrams comments:

February 11 is a date worth celebrating not just for Sharansky and his family, . . . and not just for Jews and Israelis, but for everyone struggling for democracy worldwide, and all those supporting them. Sharansky’s irrepressible spirit is a reminder that freedom itself is irrepressible, and can arise again even after long decades of dictatorship.

Read more at Pressure Points

More about: History & Ideas, Natan Sharansky, Refuseniks, Soviet Jewry, Soviet Union, Zionism