Defending Identity

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Defending Identity: Its Indispensable Role in Protecting Democracy
AuthorNatan Sharansky with Shira Wolosky Weiss
CountryUnited States
PublisherPublic Affairs
Publication date
Published in English
June 1, 2008
Media typePrint (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages234 pp.
Preceded byThe Case for Democracy 

Defending Identity: Its Indispensable Role in Protecting Democracy is the third book by Natan Sharansky published on June 1, 2008 by Public Affairs.


In Defending Identity, Sharansky presents nationalism and religious commitment as a "force for good," not merely an ideology of evil. "Strong identities are as valuable to a well-functioning society as they are to ... well-functioning individuals." He writes that "without identity, a democracy becomes incapable of defending the values it holds most dear." [1] He says religious identity "is very difficult to neutralize with rational argument, because what, after all, is the totalitarian regime trying to do? It’s trying to discover rational arguments to prove your physical survival [depends on obedience]."[2]

Sharansky makes a provocative argument against Western intellectuals who have increasingly come to see religion and nationalism as antithetical to freedom. Jonathan S. Tobin writes that "Sharansky reminds us democracies can't defend themselves without 'identity,'" [3]

Ira Stoll writes that, “If the next American president reads this latest book by Mr. Sharansky on the interplay between identity, democracy, and freedom, it could be more important than any CIA or State Department briefing in understanding the foreign policy horizon." [4]


  1. ^ quotations form the book cited in Jonathan S. Tobin, “Rediscovering the Will to Win Sharansky reminds us democracies can't defend themselves without 'identity,'” Jewish Exponent, May 29, 2008 [1]
  2. ^ Sharansky Interview regarding Defending Democracy, July 14, 2008
  3. ^ "Rediscovering the Will to Win," Jonathan S. Tobin, "Jewish Exponent," May 29, 2008 [2]
  4. ^ Ira Stoll, "The Foundation of Democracy: Sharansky's 'Defending Identity,'" New York Sun, May 28, 2008, [3]