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.

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Showing posts for "Democracy and Human Rights"

The Cuba Score: Obama 53, Castro 492

by Elliott Abrams

As part of the Obama administration’s deal with the Castro regime in Cuba, Castro agreed to release 53 prisoners. This was not quite the concession that it appeared to be, for some of the prisoners had already been released and the release of the rest had already been promised to Spain. Sen. Robert Menendez noted that “Some of the 53 were released well before June, before the list was supposedly put together,” he said. “As a matter of fact, 14, to be exact, were released six to eight months before the December 17 announcement. One was released over a year ago.” Read more »

Analyzing Obama’s Cuba Policy

by Elliott Abrams

The shortcomings of the new Obama administration policy toward Cuba have been sharply described in a recent blog post at the Cuban civil society web site SATS, by Antonio G. Rodiles. Rodiles, a human rights activist, was beaten and arrested in 2012, and released after Amnesty International and other groups protested this arrest. Read more »

Freedom in the World 2015

by Elliott Abrams

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

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 »

Bahrain: “Insulting a Public Institution” Means Prison

by Elliott Abrams

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

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 »

France: Solidarity with Journalists, but not Jews

by Elliott Abrams

The massive march today in France is a wonderful sight in many ways, and represents France’s rejection of efforts to crush freedom of expression and especially to ban criticism of Islam.

But in addition to the ubiquitous “Je Suis Charlie” slogans it would have been nice to see more “Je Suis Juif” signs as well. After all, the journalists of Charlie Hebdo knew exactly what risks they were running. Their offices had already been bombed, and the constant presence of two police guards (both murdered by the terrorists last week) was a powerful reminder of the dangers. The French Jews who were murdered were just shoppers, preparing for the Sabbath. The journalists were killed for their deliberate actions–challenging and criticizing Islamic beliefs. The Jews were killed for being Jews. Read more »