Sharansky Recalls Force Feeding in Soviet Prison Was ‘Torture’

YERUSHALAYIM -
Head of the Jewish Agency, Natan Sharansky, underwent force feeding many times while a prisoner in the Soviet Union. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Head of the Jewish Agency, Natan Sharansky, underwent force feeding many times while a prisoner in the Soviet Union. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

A day after the High Court’s decision to uphold a recently passed law permitting the force feeding of hunger striking Palestinian prisoners, Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky recalled his own experience as a prisoner of Zion in the Soviet Union.

Sharansky told Israel Radio on Monday that “I was force-fed in Soviet prison at least 35 times. I remember it vividly, I was very weak and I felt like I was going to die. They would ask me if I am willing to eat and when I refused, one guard held me by my feet, another by my head and they would put a long pipe down my throat. It was difficult to breathe.”

“They would put a few liters of liquids inside me, probably soup,” he continued. “My heart suddenly started beating very hard and it would hurt. Your body starts to feel like it just wants to stop already.”

“To put it simply,” he added, “it was very unpleasant.”

While noting that he was not “equating Israel and the Soviet Union, but force-feeding prisoners is definitely a sort of torture,” he said.

”I really hope and am sure that in Israel it is done in a different way.”

Sharansky said that he was definitely willing to die in prison. “When fighting my ideological war for Soviet Jews I made a decision that there are more important things than my physical survival.”

He added that “when you start a hunger strike you go into it knowing that if they break you and you eat, then they will never take you seriously again.”