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.

“We Stand with UNIFIL”

by Elliott Abrams Thursday, January 29, 2015

The recent violence between Hezbollah and Israel elicited a statement from the State Department yesterday. It’s a marvel of moral equivalency and confusion.

Here it is, in full:

The United States strongly condemns Hezbollah’s attack today from Lebanon on Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) in blatant violation of the cease fire between Lebanon and Israel and UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which called for the immediate cessation by Hezbollah of all attacks. We support Israel’s legitimate right to self-defense and continue to urge all parties to respect the Blue Line between Israel and Lebanon. We urge all parties to refrain from any action that could escalate the situation. Read more »

Freedom in the World 2015

by Elliott Abrams Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The invaluable annual report on “Freedom in the World” from Freedom House has just been published.

The bottom line is grim:

More aggressive tactics by authoritarian regimes and an upsurge in terrorist attacks contributed to a disturbing decline in global freedom in 2014. Freedom in the World 2015 found an overall drop in freedom for the ninth consecutive year. Nearly twice as many countries suffered declines as registered gains—61 to 33—and the number of countries with improvements hit its lowest point since the nine-year erosion began. Read more »

No “Gentleman’s Agreement” for Jews in Sweden

by Elliott Abrams Sunday, January 25, 2015

The book “Gentleman’s Agreement,” by Laura Z. Hobson, appeared in 1947, followed by the film of the same name starring Gregory Peck (and winning three Oscars).

The plot is simple: a journalist assigned to write about anti-Semitism in the post-war United States decides to pose as a Jew and see what happens. He encounters a good deal of social anti-Semitism: country clubs, “restricted” neighborhoods, jobs that somehow are off-limits. He is not beaten or assaulted, nor does he face physical danger. Instead he faces quiet, unwritten “Gentleman’s Agreements” that exclude Jews. Read more »

The al-Saud Do It Again

by Elliott Abrams Saturday, January 24, 2015

In 2001 to 2003, after the 9/11 attacks, more and more analysts predicted the demise of the House of al-Saud. I recall classified intelligence analyses saying this, and a good example of the journalism of the time is “The Fall of the House of Saud” by Robert Baer (a former intelligence officer) in The Atlantic. The last line of that piece was “sometime soon, one way or another, the House of Saud is coming down.” Read more »

Bahrain: “Insulting a Public Institution” Means Prison

by Elliott Abrams Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Americans who complain about the post office, or more seriously the police, or (God forbid) whoever happens to be president do not expect to be jailed, but Bahrainis do.

This week a leader of the (peaceful) opposition and founder of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, Nabeel Rajab, was sentenced to six months for the crime of “insulting a public institution.” His criminal act was publishing a tweet last September that said, in full, this: Read more »

Human Rights Watch and the Destruction of Rafah

by Elliott Abrams Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Rafah is a town in Egypt, on the border of Gaza, that will soon cease to exist. The government of Egypt is destroying it, leaving thousands of Egyptians homeless, in an effort to create a buffer zone along the border.

Smoke rises after a house is blown up during a military operation by Egyptian security forces in the Egyptian city of Rafah, near the border with southern Gaza Strip October 29, 2014.  (Suhaib Salem/Courtesy: Reuters)

Smoke rises after a house is blown up during a military operation by Egyptian security forces in the Egyptian city of Rafah, near the border with southern Gaza Strip October 29, 2014. (Suhaib Salem/Courtesy: Reuters)

Read more »

Argentina and Iran: The Strange Death of Alberto Nisman

by Elliott Abrams Monday, January 19, 2015

Today in Buenos Aires, Alberto Nisman was found dead.

Who was he and why does it matter?

Nisman was the official charged with investigating the 1994 bombing of the Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, which killed 85 people. It has long seemed that Iran and Hezbollah were the responsible parties, and that senior Argentine officials were covering this up and preventing justice from being done. Nisman was a fearless, honest official who probed for the truth. Read more »