Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Since March 2003, he is a Minister without portfolio, responsible for Jerusalem, social and Jewish diaspora affairs. Previously he served as the Deputy Prime Minister of Israel, Minister of Housing and Construction since March 2001, Interior Minister of Israel (July 1999 - resigned in July 2000), Minister of Industry and Trade (1996-1999).
After being denied an exit visa to Israel on the grounds of "national security" in 1973, he worked as an English interpreter for prominent physicist and dissident Andrei Sakharov, and also became a human rights activist. Sharansky was one of the founders and the spokesman of Jewish and the Refusenik movement in Moscow Helsinki Watch Group, also known as Yuri Orlov's group.
In March 1977 he was arrested and in July 1978 convicted on the (trumped up) charges of treason and spying for the United States and sentenced to 13 years of forced labor. After 16 months of incarceration in Lefortovo prison he was sent to a Siberian labor camp where he served for nine years. The fate of Sharansky and other political prisoners in the USSR, repeatedly brought to attention by Western human rights groups and diplomats, was a cause of embarrassment and irritation for the Soviet authorities. In 1986, he was exchanged for a Soviet spy and emigrated to Israel, adopting a Hebrew given name Natan.
In 1988 Sharansky was elected the President of the Zionist Forum, an umbrella organization of former Soviet dissidents-Zionists. Sharansky also served as a contributing Editor to Jerusalem Report and a Board member of the Peace Watch .
Sharansky is the chairman and founder (1995) of the political party Yisrael BaAliya ("Israel for aliya" or wordplay "Israel on the rise") promoting the absorption of the Soviet Jews into the Israeli society. The party won seven Knesset seats in 1996.
His book The Case For Democracy : The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror, written together with Ron Dermer , had a major influence on the United States president George W. Bush and other government officials, who urged their subordinates to read the book:
"If you want a glimpse of how I think about foreign policy read Natan Sharansky's book, The Case for Democracy... For government, particularly — for opinion makers, I would put it on your recommended reading list. It's short and it's good. This guy is a heroic figure, as you know. It's a great book." (CNN), 
The book is a "must reading" on Embassy Row.  In it, Sharansky postulates that freedom is essential for security and prosperity, and every people and nation deserve to live free in a democratic society. Sharansky argues that human rights, safety and stability can only be assured by releasing people from their oppressors and turn them into free societies when each would have the freedom to express his opinion. Therefore, he concludes, the free world must insist of promoting democracy for the oppressed people, instead of appeasing dictatorships and doing business with tyrant regimes,
I then explained why democracy was so crucial to international stability and security, why linkage had been so successful during the Cold War, and why the free world had betrayed its democratic principles at Oslo. I outlined my plan to help the Palestinians build a free society and help Israelis and Palestinians forge a lasting peace. 
Sharansky takes what many of his critics call a hardline position against the Palestinians, arguing that there can never be peace between Israel and the Palestinians until the latter rid their society of terrorist groups like Hamas and of anti-Semitism.
- Fear No Evil. The Classic Memoir of One Man's Triumph over a Police State. ISBN 1891620029.
- The Case for Democracy. The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror. (with Ron Dermer) ISBN 1586482610.
- Natan Sharansky's views on modern anti-semitism
- Yisrael BaAliya (political party)
- Refusenik (Soviet Union)
- Natan Sharansky at Knesset English Homepage
- at Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- Bio at JVL
- The View from the Gulag. An interview with Natan Sharansky
- Sharansky's Case For Democracy (Review on Sharansky's book The Case For Democracy
- Sharansky's Final Statement in the Soviet Court, July 14, 1978
- Natan Sharansky speech on The Case for Democracy at the American Enterprise Institute
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