Natan Sharansky Biography
Natan Sharansky was born in Donetsk, Ukraine. He was a spokesman for the human rights movement, a Prisoner of Zion and leader in the struggle for the right of Soviet Jews to immigrate to Israel. Subsequent to his request to make aliya, Mr. Sharansky was arrested on trumped up charges of treason and espionage. He was convicted in a Soviet court and served nine years in the Gulag with many stretches in a punishing cell. Following massive public campaigns by the State of Israel, World Jewry and leaders of the free world, Mr. Sharansky was released in 1986, making aliya on the very day of his release.
In his first few years in Israel, Mr. Sharansky established the Zionist Forum to assist Soviet olim (immigrants) in their absorption in Israel. In the 1990's, he established the Yisrael B'Aliyah party in order to accelerate the integration of Russian Jews. He served in four successive Israeli governments, as Minister and Deputy Prime Minister.
In 2018 he received the highest Israeli award – the Israel Prize for promoting Aliyah and the ingathering of the exiles.
Mr. Sharansky is the recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor in 1986 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2006. He is the only living non-American citizen who is the recipient of these two highest American awards.
From 2009-2018, Mr. Sharansky served as Chairman of the Executive of the Jewish Agency for Israel. The primary mission of the Jewish Agency is guaranteeing the future of the Jewish People by strengthening the connection of every Jew to the State of Israel and to the Jewish people.
Mr. Sharansky is also the author of four books: The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny & Terror, Defending Identity: Its Indispensable Role in Protecting Democracy, Fear No Evil and Never Alone: Prison, Politics, and My People. He remains a champion of the right of all people to live in freedom and believes that the advancement of human rights is critical to peace and security around the world.