Natan Sharansky, former cabinet minister and Refusnik has been elected as chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel. His election is for a four-year term. Sharansky was Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s candidate, but there was significant opposition from members of the Board of Governors and major American donors, who felt slighted – expecting to have the right to select the next chairman themselves. Deals were made and the sides reached an agreement resulting in Sharansky’s election.
In the 1980s, Sharansky, 61, was imprisoned in the USSR for his Jewish refusnik activities. He was released in 1986 and came to Eretz Yisrael. He ran for Knesset in 1996 under the Yisrael B’Aliyah immigrant party which he started and became a minister in the government. He left the political arena in 2006.
Sharansky is chairman of the Adelson Institute for Strategic Studies at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem, a published author and recipient of the United States Presidential Medal of Freedom and the US Congressional Gold Medal.
(Yechiel Spira – YWN Israel)