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.

“Plotting to Celebrate Christmas”

by Elliott Abrams Monday, December 31, 2012

Here’s a non-celebratory story for the new year, from the newspaper Al Akhbar on December 27:

Saudi religious police stormed a house in the Saudi Arabian province of al-Jouf, detaining more than 41 guests for “plotting to celebrate Christmas,” a statement from the police branch released Wednesday night said. Read more »

2012 and the Shame of American Policy in Syria

by Elliott Abrams Monday, December 31, 2012

As the year ends, the news from Syria becomes worse and worse.

Today’s Washington Post reports that 400 people were killed in one single day on Saturday, December 29, and “About half of them were civilians slain in an alleged mass killing carried out by government troops at a petrochemical university in central Syria, opposition groups reported.” Read more »

Is Education a Threat to Peace?

by Elliott Abrams Friday, December 28, 2012

The newest threat to peace in the Middle East is a college–at least according to the government of the United Kingdom.

The educational institution in question is Ariel College, now Ariel University, in the Israeli settlement of Ariel in the West Bank. Ariel was founded in 1978 and now has about 20,000 residents. Ariel College was founded in 1982 as a branch of Bar Ilan University, became independent in 2005, and now has a remarkable 14,000 students from all over Israel and even a branch in Tel Aviv. It also has the largest group of Ethiopian-born immigrant students of any university in Israel, and hundreds of Israeli Arab students. The university has five faculties as of now: architecture, natural science, engineering, health sciences, and humanities and social sciences, and plans to add more. In 2008 Ariel College applied for upgrading from college to university, and despite strong opposition in some parts of Israel’s educational establishment, that change was just approved. Read more »

For Peace in Syria, Assad Must Go First

by Elliott Abrams Thursday, December 27, 2012
Syria's President Bashar al-Assad (R) meets International peace envoy for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi in Damascus December 24, 2012 in this handout photograph released by Syria's national news agency SANA. Brahimi met with Assad in Damascus on Monday to discuss a solution to the country's 21-month-old conflict. (Courtesy REUTERS/Sana). Syria's President Bashar al-Assad (R) meets International peace envoy for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi in Damascus December 24, 2012 in this handout photograph released by Syria's national news agency SANA. Brahimi met with Assad in Damascus on Monday to discuss a solution to the country's 21-month-old conflict. (Courtesy REUTERS/Sana).

With 45,000 or more Syrians dead at the hands of Bashar al Assad and his “security forces,” it should be obvious that any conclusion to the current civil war must include his departure from power as soon as possible.

But it isn’t obvious. Unsurprisingly Russia is trying to save him, and is pushing a “peace plan” that leaves him in place.  As the Washington Post reported today, Russia is still promoting a plan, agreed in Geneva when Kofi Annan was the UN envoy, that might save Assad: Read more »

American Support for Israel Steady–With Exceptions on the Left

by Elliott Abrams Thursday, December 27, 2012

The newest Pew poll of American opinion about the Middle East shows support for Israel steady, with exceptions.

Here is the bottom line:

For decades, the public has sympathized with Israel over the Palestinians and that remains the case today. Overall, 50% say they sympathize more with Israel, compared with just 10% who say they sympathize more with the Palestinians; almost a quarter (23%) do not offer an opinion while 13% volunteer that they sympathize with neither side, and 4% say both. Attitudes on this question have been stable over the past six years, after showing more volatility in the middle of the last decade. Read more »

The UN Closes Out 2012: Nine Resolutions Against Israel, Silence About Syrian Attacks on Palestinians

by Elliott Abrams Thursday, December 20, 2012

The UN General Assembly is closing out 2012 in a blaze of glory. The UNGA adopted nine resolutions against Israel in one day, December 18. They are usefully summarized by Tom Gross in his web site, and I copy his list of them at the bottom of this blog  post. More information about this important UN work for world peace can be found at the UN’s own web site. Read more »

The New York Times Interprets Israel

by Elliott Abrams Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Last Sunday the New York Times printed a summary correction of all the errors made in a December 2 article by its  Jerusalem bureau chief, Jodi Rudoren. Her Times story was about Israel’s announcement that it would proceed toward additional construction in Jerusalem and several settlements, including in the area known as E-1 that separates Jerusalem from the  city of Ma’ale Adumim in the West Bank. Read more »

Hamas and Fatah: Does Familiarity Breed Non-Support?

by Elliott Abrams Monday, December 17, 2012

Palestinians have joked for years that West Bankers living under Fatah oppose Fatah, while those living in Gaza under Hamas rule oppose Hamas. Familiarity breeds contempt, it seems, or at least suppresses support.

The most recent polling lends further credence to this view. A poll by Arab World Research and Development in Ramallah sampled 1,200 Palestinians from both Gaza and the West Bank, in the aftermath of the recent Gaza conflict and the UN General Assembly vote according “non-member state” status to “Palestine.” As the story in The Times of Israel summed up results, Read more »

Alas Denmark

by Elliott Abrams Thursday, December 13, 2012

Denmark has long been regarded as one of the world’s most attractive nations, for citizens and tourists alike. My own visits there years ago as a student were delightful. And the Danes have a wonderful history of civic virtue, not least during the Holocaust. As the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum notes in a web site dedicated to “The Rescue of the Jews of Denmark,” Read more »