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


The IDF’s First Investigation of Its Conduct on October 7 Is Out

For several months, the Israel Defense Forces has been investigating its own actions on and preparedness for October 7, with an eye to understanding its failures. The first of what are expected to be many reports stemming from this investigation was released yesterday, and it showed a series of colossal strategic and tactical errors surrounding the battle at Kibbutz Be’eri, writes Emanuel Fabian. The probe, he reports, was led by Maj. Gen. (res.) Mickey Edelstein.

Edelstein and his team—none of whom had any involvement in the events themselves, according to the IDF—spent hundreds of hours investigating the onslaught and battle at Be’eri, reviewing every possible source of information, from residents’ WhatsApp messages to both Israeli and Hamas radio communications, as well as surveillance videos, aerial footage, interviews of survivors and those who fought, plus visits to the scene.

There will be a series of further reports issued this summer.

IDF chief Halevi in a statement issued alongside the probe said that while this was just the first investigation into the onslaught, which does not reflect the entire picture of October 7, it “clearly illustrates the magnitude of the failure and the dimensions of the disaster that befell the residents of the south who protected their families with their bodies for many hours, and the IDF was not there to protect them.” . . .

The IDF hopes to present all battle investigations by the end of August.

The IDF’s probes are strictly limited to its own conduct. For a broader look at what went wrong, Israel will have to wait for a formal state commission of inquiry to be appointed—which happens to be the subject of this month’s featured essay in Mosaic.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Gaza War 2023, IDF, Israel & Zionism, October 7