From Freedom from Egyptian Slavery to Freedom from Soviet Tyranny—and Freedom from Anti-Semitism

In their recent book Never Alone, Natan Sharansky and Gil Troy discuss the former’s experiences as a Soviet refusenik, as a member of the Knesset and the Israeli cabinet, and as head of the Jewish Agency. Here, in conversation with Abraham Socher, the two examine some of the book’s themes in light of both the upcoming holiday of Passover and the troubles of the present. Sharansky recalls celebrating his first seders with other Jewish dissidents, and later in solitary confinement in a KGB prison—where he had three pieces of dried bread for matzah, hot water for wine, salt for a bitter herb, and no text to read from. Yet he had the Haggadah’s declaration “This year we are slaves, next year we will be free men; this year we are here, next year in Jerusalem” to give him strength.

Moreover, says Sharansky, for him the real liberation had already arrived when he decided no longer to live in fear of the totalitarian regime—an experience he has shared with the Chinese dissident Jimmy Lai and the Russian dissident Alexei Navalny. It is also one, he and Troy note, to be emulated by American and European Jews afraid to express their admiration and affection for the state of Israel. (Audio, 59 minutes.)

Read more at Jewish Review of Books

More about: Anti-Semitism, Avital Sharansky, Natan Sharansky, Passover, Refuseniks


Hamas’s Hostage Diplomacy

Ron Ben-Yishai explains Hamas’s current calculations:

Strategically speaking, Hamas is hoping to add more and more days to the pause currently in effect, setting a new reality in stone, one which will convince the United States to get Israel to end the war. At the same time, they still have most of the hostages hidden in every underground crevice they could find, and hope to exchange those with as many Hamas and Islamic Jihad prisoners currently in Israeli prisons, planning on “revitalizing” their terrorist inclinations to even the odds against the seemingly unstoppable Israeli war machine.

Chances are that if pressured to do so by Qatar and Egypt, they will release men over 60 with the same “three-for-one” deal they’ve had in place so far, but when Israeli soldiers are all they have left to exchange, they are unlikely to extend the arrangement, instead insisting that for every IDF soldier released, thousands of their people would be set free.

In one of his last speeches prior to October 7, the Gaza-based Hamas chief Yahya Sinwar said, “remember the number one, one, one, one.” While he did not elaborate, it is believed he meant he wants 1,111 Hamas terrorists held in Israel released for every Israeli soldier, and those words came out of his mouth before he could even believe he would be able to abduct Israelis in the hundreds. This added leverage is likely to get him to aim for the release for all prisoners from Israeli facilities, not just some or even most.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli Security