Two heroes of the campaign for freedom and human rights in the Middle East -- Natan Sharansky of Israel and Saad Eddin Ibrahim of Egypt -- jointly received the Washington Institute's Scholar-Statesman Award at a benefit dinner in Manhattan on December 5, 2011.
Sharansky is the chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel and Ibrahim is the founder of the Arab Organization for Human Rights and an emeritus professor at the American University in Cairo.
The Washington Institute's Scholar-Statesman Award celebrates outstanding leaders who, through their public service and professional accomplishments, exemplify the idea that sound scholarship and a discerning knowledge of history are essential to wise and effective policy and the advancement of peace and security in the Middle East.
Sharansky and Ibrahim are the first Middle Easterners to receive this coveted prize. Previous winners include President Bill Clinton, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, historian Bernard Lewis, and former secretaries of state George P. Shultz and Henry Kissinger.
During the evening, Sharansky and Ibrahim engaged in a public conversation with Institute executive director Robert Satloff about the direction of change in the Middle East since the fall of Hosni Mubarak and the uprisings that have shaken Arab countries.