'George Shultz will be remembered as liberator of Soviet Jews'

30 years after his release from prison, Natan Sharansky presents Sec. of State George Shultz with award for contribution to struggle.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Natan Sharansky, George Shultz, and Limmud FSU Founder Chaim Chesler
Natan Sharansky, George Shultz, and Limmud FSU Founder Chaim Chesler
Ekaterina Efimova

More than three decades after his release from Soviet imprisonment, Natan Sharansky, the former refusenik and current Chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel, met former US Secretary of State, George P. Shultz, and awarded him with a life achievement award for his contribution to the struggle of Soviet Jewry for the right to liberty and freedom.

The event took place in the framework of the 2017 Limmud FSU West Coast conference, taking place in San Francisco, with more than 800 Russian-speaking Jewish participants. Julius Berman, President of the Claims Conference for Material Claims against Germany and Israel’s Minister of Science and Technology, Ofir Akunis (Likud), also took part in the ceremony.

Sharansky’s incarceration in the USSR became a major human rights cause for Shultz and President Ronald Reagan, who campaigned for his release. He was eventually released in 1986 after nine years in Soviet prisons. The plight of Soviet Jewry was one of the most prominent issues on Shultz’s agenda, who used his position and influence to obtain the release of specific prisoners, citing their names, from the Soviet Union.

“Shultz was the first to call me after my release, even before President Reagan,” Sharansky told the audience. Addressing Shultz he said, “You played a crucial role in bringing down the Iron Curtain and giving freedom to the [Russian] people. I can assure you that your name will remain with us forever as a liberator of millions of Soviet Jews.”

“I have a great sense of gratitude to the Soviet Jews because they showed us what courage is all about,” said Shultz in his speech of acceptance. “They showed us how important it is to stand up for what you believe in and to never give up.”