Jewish 100, 2015: Natan Sharansky – Community
Chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel
Natan Sharansky, chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel, oversees Jewish immigration to Israel from such trouble spots as Brazil, France and Ukraine.
He has specifically focused on Israel’s development of a long-term plan to absorb new immigrants; otherwise, he said, thousands of Jews fleeing from Europe will head to Canada, the United States and Australia.
“There is no future for Jews in Western Europe,” said Sharansky, first widely known around the globe in the 1970s as a founder of the Refusenik movement and as a Soviet prisoner of conscience.
After coming to Israel, he was disappointed with the absorption of the large influx of Soviet Jews, wrote frequently on the subject, and in 1995 created a new political party, Yisrael b’Aliyah, dedicated to helping immigrants’ professional, economic and social acculturation.