Natan Sharansky at the rally
Natan Sharansky at the rallyChris A. Williams for Jewish Federations of North America

Former Soviet refusenik Natan Sharansky compared the unity of the Jewish people today, in the aftermath of the Hamas massacre of October 7, to the support world Jewry gave to Soviet Jewry from the 1960s through the fall of the Soviet Union.

Addressing the March for Israel Rally in Washington DC today (Tuesday, Sharansky said: "Dear family, when a small group of Soviet Jews started to fight to move to Israel, they challenged the most powerful empire, the most cruel dictatorship of those days. And that's why many people thought that their struggle, our struggle, is doomed. How can [just] a few men and women bring down the empire on their own?"

"But the fact is that we never thought that we were alone. We knew the Jewish people and the State of Israel is with us. From the small demonstration initiated by four students at Columbia University in 1964, to the massive rally of 250,000 just here in this place in '87, there were three generations of world Jewry who fought for our freedom. Many of your grandparents fought for our freedom. Many of your parents fought for our freedom. Many of you fought for our freedom. And that made all the change," he said.

He continued: "So, when in the long years in prison, I was told again and again that I am alone, that I am abandoned, that we failed, it was enough for me simply to remember all those faces of Jews from America, from Britain, from Canada, who were coming to us to Moscow to support us, to understand that the KGB was lying. Because you were bringing so much love and so much strength to us. This picture of one Jewish fighting family was always in my head. And that is why it was so clear that whatever would be my personal fate, the outcome of our struggle could be only our victory."

"This clearness, that as long as we all stand together and fight together we will win, that is what gives us hope today in Israel. Because we in Israel go through difficult days. We go from one funeral of the soldier who fell fighting against Hamas yesterday and another funeral of the family who was tortured and killed five weeks ago but was identified only now. And in-between you go to the family whose children were kidnapped and became hostages. And wherever you go, you hear more and more stories about torture and murder.

"How do you keep going? You keep going by doing it together. When our brave soldiers are fighting, they know very well that they fight for the future of Israel and the Jewish people. When all our country, in solidarity, in mobilization, in devotion, is embracing them, we know again we are one fighting family: Family which is so strong, which has so much love, and you know that there is only one outcome in this battle, our victory.

Sharansky noted that there "is another front in this war" in the halls of ivy league universities such as Harvard, Yale, Penn, and Columbia. "In all those places that are supposed to be bastions of enlightenment and reason, and from these places we hear today the gleeful cheers of those who watched this most barbaric, awful pogrom in modern history and say that is a liberation movement. They speak about democracy, and they are ready to give away the most democratic country in the Middle East. They speak about justice, and they are ready to welcome the killers of babies. They speak about families, and they are ready to welcome rapists."

"Dear friends, together we'll fight against those who try to give legitimacy to Hamas, we'll fight for Israel, we'll fight for every Jew, we'll fight against antisemitism, we'll fight for [our] values and against the corruption of those values which are at the center of our Jewish identity and American identity.

"We defeated the Soviet Union, we'll defeat our enemies today," he declared.