Elliott Abrams

Pressure Points

Abrams gives his take on U.S. foreign policy, with special focus on the Middle East and democracy and human rights issues.

A Candid Speech from President Abbas

by Elliott Abrams Sunday, September 25, 2016

There have been many attacks on aspects of Palestinian President Abbas’s speech to the UN General Assembly last week, but it had one saving grace: candor.

Let’s take just two examples. First, Mr. Abbas said this about the Temple Mount: Israel must cease its aggression and provocations against the Holy Al-Aqsa Mosque,” and Israel “continues to commit aggressions and provocations against our Christian and Muslim holy sites, especially Al-Aqsa Mosque. The continuation of the Israeli aggressions against our Muslim and Christian holy sites is playing with fire.” Read more »

The Crime of Writing to The New York Times

by Elliott Abrams Tuesday, September 13, 2016

You might think that publishing a letter to the editor in The New York Times cannot possibly be a crime. But you probably don’t live in Bahrain.

Nabeel Rajab has been in prison since June in Bahrain, facing a sentence of up to 15 years for things he has written criticizing that government’s repressive policies. From prison, he sent a letter to the Times which was published on September 4th and can be found here. Read more »

Naming Names–and Naming Streets

by Elliott Abrams Monday, September 12, 2016

The Russian Embassy in Washington is on a street called Sakharov Plaza, so named in 1984 in honor of the great Russian scientist and human rights activist who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1975.

Honoring great men such as Sakharov by and renaming streets and plazas anywhere after them is a fitting tribute–and also a lovely way to show our support for the cause of human rights. But renaming streets and plazas where the embassies of repressive regimes sit is an even better action, more supportive of the cause and sending a direct message to the tyrannies. Read more »

The United States Bars Christian, Not Muslim, Refugees From Syria

by Elliott Abrams Friday, September 9, 2016

The title of this blog post–The United States Bars Christian, Not Muslim, Refugees From Syria–will strike many readers as ridiculous.

But the numbers tell a different story: The United States has accepted 10,801 Syrian refugees, of whom 56 are Christian. Not 56 percent; 56 total, out of 10,801. That is to say, one half of one percent. The BBC says that ten percent of all Syrians are Christian, which would mean 2.2 million Christians. It is quite obvious, and President Obama and Secretary Kerry have acknowledged it, that Middle Eastern Christians are an especially persecuted group. Read more »

The Danger to Scholars

by Elliott Abrams Thursday, September 8, 2016

I’m a proud co-signer of an open letter defending some of America’s most impressive scholars against Middle Eastern dictators who are trying to keep them out and shut them up. The title is “Open letter on the hostility of Middle Eastern governments and media to foreign researchers and journalists,” and it can be found here (with a full list of signers) and below. Read more »

Obama: See No Evil, See No Enemies

by Elliott Abrams Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Two almost simultaneous events in recent days have shed even more light on the Obama administration’s treatment of America’s enemies.

In Cuba, a Marxist, pro-Russian, anti-American tyranny, the administration pressed hard to abandon decades of policy in exchange for nothing. Human rights conditions there are awful, but the United States did not bargain to end the embargo in exchange for improvements. And since Obama’s announcement of a new policy, which was a simple free gift to the Castros, human rights conditions have deteriorated further. Read more »

Another Defense of Sisi Down the Drain

by Elliott Abrams Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Defenders of Egypt’s President Sisi have long claimed that he was a protector of that country’s beleaguered Christian minority. Roughly ten percent of Egyptians are Coptic Christians, and they suffer not only discrimination but repeated physical attacks (that the authorities do not fully investigate and do not punish). Moreover, for decades they have been refused permission to repair old churches or build new ones. Read more »

The Syria Red Line, Three Years Later

by Elliott Abrams Tuesday, August 30, 2016

It was three years ago, Labor Day weekend in 2013, that President Obama reversed himself and refused to enforce his “red line” against use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime.

What’s the outcome of that decision? In July, 2016, former Obama administration official Derek Chollet wrote an article in Politico with this subtitle: “The offhand remark spurred a massive success in Syria. Why does the foreign policy establishment consider it a failure?” Read more »

Deja Vu and the Coming Palestinian Elections

by Elliott Abrams Monday, August 29, 2016

Municipal elections are scheduled for October 8th in the West Bank and Gaza. Hamas has reversed its previous position and is now participating, and may win–not as Hamas, per se, but by putting forth “fellow traveler” candidates known to be close to Hamas. The elections will likely be close. Read more »

The Lutheran Church Attacks Israel, Again

by Elliott Abrams Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, or ELCA, is a church in decline–but whose enthusiasm for attacks on Israel never wanes.

The decline is very clear in the numbers. The ELCA when formed in 1988 had over 5 million members, but is now down to about 3.8 million– down over a fourth. The number of member churches is similarly in decline. Read more »