A Former Soviet Dissident Observes a Current Russian One

Jan. 26 2021

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.

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Read more at Common Sense

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

Condemning Terrorism in Jerusalem—and Efforts to Stop It

Jan. 30 2023

On Friday night, a Palestinian opened fire at a group of Israelis standing outside a Jerusalem synagogue, killing seven and wounding several others. The day before, the IDF had been drawn into a gunfight in the West Bank city of Jenin while trying to arrest members of a terrorist cell. Of the nine Palestinians killed in the raid, only one appears to have been a noncombatant. Lahav Harkov compares the responses to the two events, beginning with the more recent:

President Joe Biden called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to denounce the attack, offer his condolences, and express his commitment to Israel’s security. Other leaders released supportive statements as well. Governments across Europe condemned the attack. Turkey’s foreign ministry did the same, as did Israel’s Abraham Accords partners the UAE and Bahrain. Even Saudi Arabia released a statement against the killing of civilians in Jerusalem.

It feels wrong to criticize those statements. . . . But the condemnations should be full-throated, not spoken out of one side of the mouth while the other is wishy-washy about what it takes to stave off terrorism. These very same leaders and ministries were tsk-tsking at Israel for doing just that only a day before the attacks in Jerusalem.

The context didn’t seem to matter to some countries that are friendly to Israel. It didn’t matter that Israel was trying to stop jihadists from attacking civilians; it didn’t matter that IDF soldiers were attacked on the way.

It’s very easy for some to be sad when Jews are murdered. Yet, at the same time, so many of them are uncomfortable with Jews asserting themselves, protecting themselves, arming themselves against the bloodthirsty horde that would hand out bonbons to celebrate their deaths. It’s a reminder of how important it is that we do just that, and how essential the state of Israel is.

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Read more at Lahav’s Newsletter

More about: Jerusalem, Palestinian terror