Person

Natan Sharansky

Nationality:

Israeli

Occupation:

Chair of the Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy

Political Party:

N/A

Residence:

Israel

Natan Sharansky is a human rights activist, former Israeli government minister, author, and Soviet-era Jewish dissident. [1] Sharansky was imprisoned for nine years in the Soviet Union’s gulag system. [2] [3] Upon his release in 1986, Sharansky moved to Israel; he would serve in several government ministerial posts and high-profile official positions, most notably serving as Chairman of the Executive of the nonprofit, para-statal Jewish Agency for Israel from 2009 through 2018. [4] [5] [6] [7]

Sharansky was an influential figure in American neoconservative politics, including with President George W. Bush. Bush once told reporters that they should read Sharansky’s book, The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror, to better understand his Middle East policy agenda. [8] Sharansky is a member of the Bush Institute’s Human Freedom Advisory Council. [9] [10]

Sharansky has also developed a concept of “new anti-Semitism,” which attempts to differentiate legitimate and anti-Semitic criticisms of Israel. Sharansky proffered a “3D” test to determine if something is anti-Semitic in his definition, using the criteria of of demonization, double standards, and delegitimization to determine the nature of criticism. [11]

Career

Natan Sharansky is an Israeli human rights activist, former member of the Israeli cabinet, author, and Jewish dissident. [12] Born in 1948 in Soviet-controlled Ukraine, Sharansky was imprisoned for nine years in the Soviet Union’s gulag system due to his activism as a “refusenik” barred from emigration from the USSR from 1977 until 1986. [13] [14]

Upon his release, he immediately emigrated to Israel and became involved in Israeli politics. Sharansky formed the B’Aliyah party to help accelerate the integration of Russian Jews in Israel [15] and spent nine years as a member of the Knesset. [16] He served various senior roles in government including Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Industry and Trade, Interior Minister, Minister of Construction and Housing, [17] and the Minister for Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs. [18]

Policy Positions

Natan Sharansky was an influential figure in American neoconservative politics, including with President George W. Bush. In 2004, Sharansky and Ron Dermer wrote the book The Case for Democracy: The Power to Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror, [19] which Bush once told reporters to read to understand his Middle East policy agenda. [20] [21] Sharansky also met several times with President Ronald Reagan. [22] He is currently is a member of the Bush Institute’s Human Freedom Advisory Council. [23] [24]

Sharansky has also developed a concept of “new anti-Semitism,” which attempts to differentiate legitimate and anti-Semitic criticisms of Israel. Sharansky used a “3D” test to determine if a criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic:

  • Demonization: when Israel is being demonized or Israel’s actions are blown out of proportion; when comparisons are made between Israelis and Nazis between Palestinian refugee camps and Auschwitz;
  • Double Standards: when criticism of Israel is applied selectively; singled out by the United Nations for human rights abuses, etc.;
  • Delegitimization: when Israel’s fundamental right to exist is denied. [25]

Sharansky has criticized the left-of-center Amnesty International for criticizing Israel while ignoring the offenses of Palestinian extremist group Hamas. [26] In a conversation with Anti-Defamation League (ADL) CEO and former Obama administration official Jonathan Greenblatt, Sharansky also said progressives “cannot blind” themselves to liberal politicians who spread hate, even if it is in the name of progressivism. [27]

Nonprofit Work

Soon after arriving in Israel in 1986, Natan Sharansky established the Zionist Forum to assist Soviet Jews immigrating to Israel. [28] In 2003, he founded the Global Forum against Anti-Semitism. [29] From 2009 until 2018 Sharansky was the head of the Jewish Agency, the largest Jewish nonprofit in the world, which promotes and aids resettlement of Jews into Israel. [30] [31] [32] Since his departure, he has criticized Israeli politicians for abusing the role of the agency and using it as an opportunity to offer a job to fellow politicians. [33]

As of February 2022, Sharansky is the chairman of the Shlihut Institute [34] and the chair of the Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy.  [35]

Personal Information

Natan Sharansky was born in January 1948 in Donetsk, Ukraine, then a part of the Soviet Union. [36] Sharansky was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 1986 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2006. [37]

References

  1. “Our Professional & Academic Staff.” The Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism & Policy. Accessed February 21, 2022. https://isgap.org/our-people/our-fellows-staff/. ^
  2. Thirty-Six Podcast. “Natan Sharansky on freedom, identity and memory.” The Times of Israel. January 30, 2022. February 21, 2022. https://www.timesofisrael.com/spotlight/natan-sharansky-on-freedom-identity-and-memory/. ^
  3. Abrams, Elliott. “In Case You Missed It: Sharansky!” George W. Bush Presidential Center. February 11, 2016. Accessed February 21, 2022. https://www.bushcenter.org/publications/articles/2016/02/icymi-sharansky.html?s=09. ^
  4. Sharansky, Natan. “3D Test of Anti-Semitism: Demonization, Double Standards, Delegitimization.” Jewish Political Studies Review 16:304 (Fall 2004). Accessed February 21, 2022. https://www.jcpa.org/phas/phas-sharansky-f04.htm. ^
  5. Maltz, Judy. “Jewish Agency Announces Biggest Cutbacks in 90-year History.” Haaretz. April 8, 2019. https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-jewish-agency-announces-biggest-cutbacks-in-its-90-year-history-1.7092340. ^
  6. “Our Professional & Academic Staff.” The Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism & Policy. Accessed February 21, 2022. https://isgap.org/our-people/our-fellows-staff/. ^
  7. Zvika Klein and Gil Hoffman. “Sharansky: It’s a pity the Jewish Agency can’t pick a chairperson.” The Jerusalem Post. February 16, 2022. Accessed February 21, 2022. https://www.jpost.com/israel-news/politics-and-diplomacy/article-696716. ^
  8. Guttman, Nathan. “Sharansky To Resign From Politics.” Forward. October 20, 2006. February 21, 2022. https://forward.com/news/5939/sharansky-to-resign-from-politics/. ^
  9. Abrams, Elliott. “In Case You Missed It: Sharansky!” [note] George W. Bush Presidential Center. February 11, 2016. Accessed February 21, 2022. https://www.bushcenter.org/publications/articles/2016/02/icymi-sharansky.html?s=09. ^
  10. “Human Freedom Team.” George W. Bush Presidential Center. Accessed February 21, 2022. https://www.bushcenter.org/explore-our-work/issues/human-freedom-team.html. ^
  11.  Sharansky, Natan. “3D Test of Anti-Semitism: Demonization, Double Standards, Delegitimization.” Jewish Political Studies Review 16:304 (Fall 2004). Accessed February 21, 2022. https://www.jcpa.org/phas/phas-sharansky-f04.htm. ^
  12. “Our Professional & Academic Staff.” The Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism & Policy. Accessed February 21, 2022. https://isgap.org/our-people/our-fellows-staff/. ^
  13. Thirty-Six Podcast. “Natan Sharansky on freedom, identity and memory.” The Times of Israel. January 30, 2022. February 21, 2022. https://www.timesofisrael.com/spotlight/natan-sharansky-on-freedom-identity-and-memory/. ^
  14. Abrams, Elliott. “In Case You Missed It: Sharansky!” George W. Bush Presidential Center. February 11, 2016. Accessed February 21, 2022. https://www.bushcenter.org/publications/articles/2016/02/icymi-sharansky.html?s=09. ^
  15. “Natan Sharansky.” Wilson Center. Accessed February 21, 2022. https://www.wilsoncenter.org/person/natan-sharansky. ^
  16. “Our Professional & Academic Staff.” The Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism & Policy. Accessed February 21, 2022. https://isgap.org/our-people/our-fellows-staff/. ^
  17. Sharansky, Natan. “3D Test of Anti-Semitism: Demonization, Double Standards, Delegitimization.” Jewish Political Studies Review 16:304 (Fall 2004). Accessed February 21, 2022. https://www.jcpa.org/phas/phas-sharansky-f04.htm. ^
  18.  Sharansky, Natan. “3D Test of Anti-Semitism: Demonization, Double Standards, Delegitimization.” Jewish Political Studies Review 16:304 (Fall 2004). Accessed February 21, 2022. https://www.jcpa.org/phas/phas-sharansky-f04.htm. ^
  19. Abrams, Elliott. “In Case You Missed It: Sharansky!” George W. Bush Presidential Center. February 11, 2016. Accessed February 21, 2022. https://www.bushcenter.org/publications/articles/2016/02/icymi-sharansky.html?s=09. ^
  20. Guttman, Nathan. “Sharansky To Resign From Politics.” Forward. October 20, 2006. February 21, 2022. https://forward.com/news/5939/sharansky-to-resign-from-politics/. ^
  21. Guttman, Nathan. “Sharansky To Resign From Politics.” Forward. October 20, 2006. February 21, 2022. https://forward.com/news/5939/sharansky-to-resign-from-politics/. ^
  22. Nordlinger, Jay. “Being Sharansky.” National Review. July 4, 2005. Accessed February 21, 2022. https://www.jta.org/2016/01/20/united-states/michael-douglas-natan-sharansky-to-visit-u-s-campuses. ^
  23. Abrams, Elliott. “In Case You Missed It: Sharansky!” George W. Bush Presidential Center. February 11, 2016. Accessed February 21, 2022. https://www.bushcenter.org/publications/articles/2016/02/icymi-sharansky.html?s=09. ^
  24. “Human Freedom Team.” George W. Bush Presidential Center. Accessed February 21, 2022. https://www.bushcenter.org/explore-our-work/issues/human-freedom-team.html ^
  25. Sharansky, Natan. “3D Test of Anti-Semitism: Demonization, Double Standards, Delegitimization.” Jewish Political Studies Review 16:304 (Fall 2004). Accessed February 21, 2022. https://www.jcpa.org/phas/phas-sharansky-f04.htm. ^
  26. “From Interview with Natan Sharansky, Time Magazine.” NGO Monitor. June 6, 2005. Accessed February 21, 2022. https://www.ngo-monitor.org/reports/from_interview_with_natan_sharansky_time_magazine/. ^
  27. Kornbluh, Jacob. “’Berserk came into ascendance’: ADL chief opens up about Trump, antisemitism, and democracy’s future in new book.” Forward. January 2, 2022. Accessed February 21, 2022. https://forward.com/news/480262/jonathan-greenblatt-book-excerpt-adl-trump-antisemitism-democracy/ ^
  28. “Natan Sharansky.” Wilson Center. Accessed February 21, 2022. https://www.wilsoncenter.org/person/natan-sharansky. ^
  29. Sharansky, Natan. “3D Test of Anti-Semitism: Demonization, Double Standards, Delegitimization.” Jewish Political Studies Review 16:304 (Fall 2004). Accessed February 21, 2022. https://www.jcpa.org/phas/phas-sharansky-f04.htm. ^
  30.  Maltz, Judy. “Jewish Agency Announces Biggest Cutbacks in 90-year History.” Haaretz. April 8, 2019. https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-jewish-agency-announces-biggest-cutbacks-in-its-90-year-history-1.7092340. ^
  31. “Our Professional & Academic Staff.” The Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism & Policy. Accessed February 21, 2022. https://isgap.org/our-people/our-fellows-staff/. ^
  32. Zvika Klein and Gil Hoffman. “Sharansky: It’s a pity the Jewish Agency can’t pick a chairperson.” The Jerusalem Post. February 16, 2022. Accessed February 21, 2022. https://www.jpost.com/israel-news/politics-and-diplomacy/article-696716. ^
  33. Zvika Klein and Gil Hoffman. “Sharansky: It’s a pity the Jewish Agency can’t pick a chairperson.” The Jerusalem Post. February 16, 2022. Accessed February 21, 2022. https://www.jpost.com/israel-news/politics-and-diplomacy/article-696716. ^
  34. “Natan Sharansky.” Wilson Center. Accessed February 21, 2022. https://www.wilsoncenter.org/person/natan-sharansky. ^
  35. “Our Professional & Academic Staff.” The Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism & Policy. Accessed February 21, 2022. https://isgap.org/our-people/our-fellows-staff/. ^
  36. [1] Nordlinger, Jay. “Being Sharansky.” National Review. July 4, 2005. Accessed February 21, 2022. https://www.jta.org/2016/01/20/united-states/michael-douglas-natan-sharansky-to-visit-u-s-campuses. ^
  37. “Michael Douglas, Natan Sharansky to discuss anti-Semitism in campus visits.” Jewish Telegraphic Agency. January 20, 2016. Accessed February 21, 2022. https://www.jta.org/2016/01/20/united-states/michael-douglas-natan-sharansky-to-visit-u-s-campuses. ^
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