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Today in history: Sharanski in Israel

Peres welcomes sharanski. Government Press Office (Israel)

Today in 1986, Natan Sharansky, a well-known ‘prisoner of Zion’, immigrated to Israel after a long term in prison.

Sharansky was born to a Jewish family in Ukraine (part of the Soviet Union) in 1948, and became an enthusiastic Zionist activist. During the 70s, the Soviet Union refused to allow Sharansky to leave, and he became a major activist for assisting other immigration seekers and ‘prisoners of Zion’ (Jews arrested due to Zionism) as a whole. In 1978, Sharansky was convicted of espionage and incitement and sent to a Soviet prison. Sharansky became the world-renowned Prisoner of Zion, and demonstrations for his release took place around the world, and many pressures were exerted on the Soviet Union. In the end, the Soviet Union agreed to release Sharansky to Israel in 1986, as part of a US-brokered spy exchange deal. Sharansky arrived in Israel in February and was accepted by her leaders – Prime Minister Peres and Foreign Minister Shamir, in an exciting ceremony. Sharansky later entered Israeli politics and served as Minister of the Interior for a short period; he later retired to public relations, and became chairman of the Jewish Agency. Sharansky also won the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom, and currently resides as a Jerusalem retiree.

Photo Source: Wikipedia

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