A Former Soviet Dissident Observes a Current Russian One

After surviving an attempt to poison him—almost certainly the work of the Kremlin’s intelligence agents—the Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny decided to return to his native country from Germany. He was arrested immediately upon his arrival in Moscow, sparking demonstrations across Russia, as well as in Europe. Bari Weiss discusses Navalny’s struggle with Natan Sharansky, who spent nine years in Soviet prisons for the crime of wanting to immigrate to Israel.

On [Israeli] radio, I was asked: isn’t [Navalny] a stupid man to go back to Russia? If your aim in life is to live a little bit longer, to guarantee that you are safe, then of course it’s very stupid [to return]. But if the aim of your life is to unmask the real face of this regime and you are ready to fight it—even risk your life to fight it—then it is a brilliant move.

I’ll give you an example from my own life. Three years before I was released—and of course I didn’t know if it would be three years or 30 years—the Americans reached what they believed was a very good deal with the USSR. The [latter] said: we’ll release Sharansky if he asks to be released on humanitarian grounds, because of his poor health.

The Americans wanted me to accept, Many Jewish leaders also wanted me to accept. And they were very angry at me for refusing it, and with Avital, my wife, for refusing to pressure me. But it wasn’t a question for a moment whether I would accept this deal.

Why? Because this was a global struggle. The struggle was to unmask the real nature of this regime. The moment that they are perceived as caring about humanitarianism, you lose. It’s not a struggle of how to get out of prison. The struggle is how to defeat them. It’s a moral struggle.

I’m sure, already long ago for Navalny, that his is not a struggle for his physical life. His address is all of Russia and the rest of the world. If he were to remain in exile, he would be one more respectable person in exile, writing his articles and so on. He can keep explaining the regime like I can do now to you over the phone. But he was put by history in this place to mobilize the Russian people and to reveal the nature of the Putin regime to the world.

Read more at Common Sense

More about: Natan Sharansky, Russia, USSR, Vladimir Putin


An Israeli Buffer Zone in the Gaza Strip Doesn’t Violate International Law

 The IDF announced on Thursday that it is safe for residents to return to some of the towns and villages near the Gaza Strip that have been abandoned since October 7. Yet on the same day, rocket sirens sounded in one of those communities, Kibbutz Mefalsim. To help ensure security in the area, Israel is considering the creation of a buffer zone within the Strip that would be closed to Palestinian civilians and buildings. The U.S. has indicated, however, that it would not look favorably on such a step.

Avraham Shalev explains why it’s necessary:

The creation of a security buffer along the Gaza-Israel border serves the purpose of destroying Hamas’s infrastructure and eliminating the threat to Israel. . . . Some Palestinian structures are practically on the border, and only several hundred yards away from Israeli communities such as Kfar Aza, Kerem Shalom, and Sderot. The Palestinian terrorists that carried out the murderous October 7 attacks crossed into Israel from many of these border-adjacent areas. Hamas officials have already vowed that “we will do this again and again. The al-Aqsa Flood [the October 7th massacre] is just the first time, and there will be a second, a third, a fourth.”

In 2018 and 2019, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad organized mass marches towards the Israeli border with the goal of breaking into Israel. Billed by Palestinians as “the Great March of Return,” its name reveals its purpose—invasion. Although the marches were supposedly non-violent, they featured largescale attacks on Israeli forces as well as arson and damage to Israeli agriculture and civilian communities. Moreover, the October 7 massacre was made possible by Hamas’s prepositioning military hardware along the border under false cover of civilian activity. The security perimeter is intended to prevent a reprise of these events.

Shalev goes on to dismantle the arguments put forth about why international law prohibits Israel from creating the buffer zone. He notes:

By way of comparison, following the defeat of Nazi Germany, France occupied the Saar [River Valley] directly until 1947 and then indirectly until reintegration with Germany in 1957, and the Allied occupation of Berlin continued until the reunification of Germany in 1990. The Allies maintained their occupation long after the fall of the Nazi regime, due to the threat of Soviet invasion and conquest of West Berlin, and by extension Western Europe.

Read more at Kohelet

More about: Gaza Strip, Gaza War 2023, International Law, Israeli Security