The Hero of Jewish Resistance to Soviet Tyranny Speaks to His Successors

During his nine years in prison for the crime of wanting to emigrate to Israel, Natan Sharansky achieved the dubious distinction of setting a probable record—405 days—for time spent in solitary confinement. Like most recordholders, he is not happy about the high likelihood that his will be surpassed by the Russian dissident Alexei Navalny, who has already spent 200 days of his two-and-a-half years of imprisonment in what is known as a punishment cell. Jay Nordlinger speaks to Sharansky about his own experiences, and his perspective on those who now find themselves at the mercy of Vladimir Putin:

Vladimir Kara-Murza, another Russian oppositionist, has been sentenced to 25 years for “high treason.” This was after he criticized the war on Ukraine. You have to go back to Stalin, says Sharansky, to find 25-year sentences. . . . In other respects, the situation is less bad today than before, says Sharansky. Putin has not yet closed emigration. You can still leave the country if you want, and have the means to do so. “In the days of our struggle,” Sharansky recounts, “the country was really a prison for everybody.”

In the past month, Sharansky has received letters from both Kara-Murza and Navalny. They have read his memoir and other such books, and drawn inspiration from them.

Before they were imprisoned, both Kara-Murza and Navalny were abroad, for medical treatment and other reasons. Both of them went back to Russia, knowing they would be arrested, imprisoned, and possibly killed. Sharansky understands them very well. Dissidents in the Soviet Union were always taking actions that they knew would lead to terrible fates. They did it because someone had to show courage. Someone had to stand up to the tyranny—to disturb it a little, or a lot.

If a dictatorship is to fall, says Sharansky, it is imperative that people on the outside—people who are free—stand in solidarity with people who are risking their lives inside. Free World governments must not allow the dictatorship, the persecutors, to conduct international business as usual.

Read more at National Review

More about: Natan Sharansky, Russia, Soviet Jewry, Vladimir Putin

Iran’s Program of Subversion and Propaganda in the Caucasus

In the past week, Iranian proxies and clients have attacked Israel from the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, and Yemen. Iran also has substantial military assets in Iraq and Syria—countries over which it exercises a great deal of control—which could launch significant attacks on Israel as well. Tehran, in addition, has stretched its influence northward into both Azerbaijan and Armenia. While Israel has diplomatic relations with both of these rival nations, its relationship with Baku is closer and involves significant military and security collaboration, some of which is directed against Iran. Alexander Grinberg writes:

Iran exploits ethnic and religious factors in both Armenia and Azerbaijan to further its interests. . . . In Armenia, Iran attempts to tarnish the legitimacy of the elected government and exploit the church’s nationalist position and tensions between it and the Armenian government; in Azerbaijan, the Iranian regime employs outright terrorist methods similar to its support for terrorist proxies in the Middle East [in order to] undermine the regime.

Huseyniyyun (Islamic Resistance Movement of Azerbaijan) is a terrorist militia made up of ethnic Azeris and designed to fight against Azerbaijan. It was established by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps . . . in the image of other pro-Iranian militias. . . . Currently, Huseyniyyun is not actively engaged in terrorist activities as Iran prefers more subtle methods of subversion. The organization serves as a mouthpiece of the Iranian regime on various Telegram channels in the Azeri language. The main impact of Huseyniyyun is that it helps spread Iranian propaganda in Azerbaijan.

The Iranian regime fears the end of hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan because this would limit its options for disruption. Iranian outlets are replete with anti-Semitic paranoia against Azerbaijan, accusing the country of awarding its territory to Zionists and NATO. . . . Likewise, it is noteworthy that Armenian nationalists reiterate hideous anti-Semitic tropes that are identical to those spouted by the Iranians and Palestinians. Moreover, leading Iranian analysts have no qualms about openly praising [sympathetic] Armenian clergy together with terrorist Iran-funded Azeri movements for working toward Iranian goals.

Read more at Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security

More about: Azerbaijan, Iran, Israeli Security