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"

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 »

Cuba: More Political Prisoners, But the New U.S. Policy Marches Onward

by Elliott Abrams

There are more Cuban political prisoners  today than on the day President Obama announced his deal with the Castro brothers, December 17.

Part of that deal was supposed to see 53 Cuban political prisoners released, but now it’s three weeks later and they have not been released. Nor have they even been identified. As the Washington Post put it in a headline, “Mystery surrounds 53 Cuban political prisoners supposed to be set free.” Instead of releasing them, the Cuban regime has in fact arrested more dissidents, two weeks after the Obama speech and just before New Year’s. Read more »

What Did President Obama Trade for Alan Gross?

by Elliott Abrams

There is wonderful news this morning: that Alan Gross is finally free, out of a Cuban prison and back on American soil. For his family, this is the answer to prayers and the right outcome to a long struggle.

Gross was unjustly imprisoned by the Castro regime. The Obama administration finally gave in and traded three Cuban spies for Gross. Whether that was a smart move can be debated. Some would argue that as Gross’s health deteriorated, the Castro regime would release him rather than see him die in their prisons. But that’s playing with Gross’s life, and it’s pretty clear that his health has already deteriorated badly. Read more »