Natan Sharansky 311.
(photo credit: Reuters)
WASHINGTON – Jewish Agency chairman and former Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky
blasted Western governments for pushing Israel to make concessions amid upheaval
in the Middle East that has left the fate of Arab governments unclear.
told The Jerusalem Post that it would be an “absolute mistake” for Israel to
make such concessions as long as Arab citizens were still under the rule of
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“At this moment, with whom are we making an
agreement? Dictators whose days are counted, or with the masses who are not
represented in any way? The real peace process has to be built from the bottom
up, through democratic reforms,” he declared following an appearance on Capitol
“One-sided concessions are all the time strengthening the bad
guys,” he said. “Concessions have to be done as a result of a democratic
During testimony before a small panel of the US House
Foreign Affairs Committee, Sharansky also took the West to task for not doing
enough to bolster democratic movements seeking to reshape the
“It’s time for the free world, for the Congress, to support
openly these dissidents that are leading these cyber-revolutions.
they see the leaders of the free world are ready to support them with word but
not deed, there is a problem,” he told them.
He also spelled out more
specific action the US could take to support these opposition groups,
particularly by conditioning American aid to countries such as Egypt on
democratic benchmarks, an idea he first spelled out in an interview with the
“You need your assistance to be linked to the wellness of the
people in that country,” he said. “The quicker the forces of the civil society
will move, the broader the support of the free world will be – the bigger is the
chance for positive outcome.”
He directed some of his most critical
comments at the Obama administration’s handling of the situation in Iran in June
2009, when large groups of protesters took to the streets to oppose flawed
“It almost happened in Iran a year and a half ago, but
the message of the free world was unfortunately very problematic.
message from the free world was, they are not interested in revolution, they are
interested in engagement,” he charged, adding that for those who were deciding
whether to risk standing up to dictatorial regimes, “the moment [they] hear the
free world is not with them, they stay at home.”
Still, he maintained
that whatever the West did, “these regimes are doomed to fail.”