Sharansky will become only the fourth non-American citizen who has been awarded both the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the nation’s other high civilian honor, the Congressional Gold Medal of Honor, thereby joining Nelson Mandela, Mother Theresa and Pope John Paul II.
The White House statement reads:
Natan Sharansky’s life is the story of good conquering evil. Imprisoned by the Soviet regime for his work to advance religious liberty and human rights, he spent nine years in the gulag. Following his immigration to Israel, he served with distinction in that nation’s government. He remains a powerful champion of the principles that all people deserve to live in freedom and that the advance of liberty is critical to peace and security around the world. The United States honors Natan Sharansky for his contributions to the cause of democracy and freedom.“The commitment of the American people and their leaders to democracy and freedom for every individual has always given, and continues to give, strength and hope to oppressed nationals and people around the world. I am deeply moved by having been chosen to receive this honor,” Sharansky said.
“Natan Sharansky’s determination in facing down tyranny in Soviet Russia inspired people around the world, and the moral clarity of his thought has provided much-needed intellectual leadership to the West under attack,” said Daniel Polisar, president of the Shalem Center. “He is not only one of the leading statesmen of the Jewish people but is a genuine hero to millions.”
The Shalem Center is a Jerusalem-based research and educational institute dedicated to developing the ideas that will guide the Jewish state and the Jewish people in the decades to come.