School of Public Policy Honors Ronald Reagan Centennial With Faith and Public Policy Forum

October 25, 2011  | 2 min read

The School of Public Policy, in partnership with the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation Centennial Celebration, presented a lecture on the faith of Ronald Reagan on September 13 at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.

Dean James Wilburn presented the introductory remarks, followed by a discussion of “Faith in the Power of Freedom” by Natan Sharansky, chair of the Executive of the Jewish Agency for Israel. Sharansky is a Soviet dissident and former prisoner who has credited Ronald Reagan’s faith, moral clarity, and courage in the freedom of Russian immigrants who fled to Israel.

Born in 1948 in Ukraine, Sharansky graduated from the Physical Technical Institute in Moscow and immediately became a human rights activist known as the spokesperson for the Helsinki movement. At this time, Sharansky was denied an exit visa to Israel and in 1977 was accused of collaborating with the Central Intelligence Agency. Despite denials from the U.S. government, he was found guilty and sentenced to 13 years in prison. Due to intense international pressure from Ronald Reagan, Sharansky was released in 1986, emigrated to Israel, and arrived in Jerusalem on the same day, becoming active in the integration of Soviet Jews and forming the Zionist Forum.

Sharansky also cofounded Peace Watch, an independent nonpartisan group committed to monitoring the compliance to agreements signed by Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, and served as associate editor of the Jerusalem Report. In 1996 he founded the political party Yisral B’Aliya, established to accelerate the absorption of the massive numbers of Russian immigrants into Israeli society and to maximize their contribution. From 1996 to 2005 he served as minister, as well as deputy prime minister, of Israel.

Sharansky was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 1986 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2006. He is the author of several books, including his memoir of his time as a prisoner, Fear No Evil, which was published in the United States and has been translated into nine languages.

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