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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The Challenge of ISIS is Not Only Military

by Elliott Abrams

The military challenge posed by ISIS (or the “Islamic State”) is grave, as we have seen in both Syria and Iraq. It has destroyed the border between those two states and roams over both at will. It captured Mosul and threatens Baghdad; its forces defeated the Iraqi army and the Kurdish Pesh Merga easily in several battles. The threat was sufficient to force an extremely reluctant President Obama to pivot to the Middle East, use American forces, and work to build a coalition of states that would bomb the ISIS forces. Read more »

The Gaza War and the Feeble PA

by Elliott Abrams

The Gaza war took a new turn today, when Hamas violated a cease-fire in order to kill and capture IDF soldiers. The reasonable conclusion to draw is that Hamas’s agreement to the cease-fire was a ruse, meant to give them this opportunity.

That action has several effects beyond destroying the cease-fire itself and prolonging the war. It certainly solidifies Israeli public backing for the war, which was extremely high anyway. The nature of the enemy is made even clearer. The contemptible nature of so much of the criticism of Israel around the world is also made clearer, coming from voices that appear indifferent to the nature and conduct of Hamas, to Israeli deaths, and to the deaths of Arabs anywhere else—in Syria, for example—as long as Jews are not responsible for those deaths and if there’s no opportunity to criticize Israel. Read more »

Gaza: the EU’s Split Personality and America’s Failed UN Human Rights Council Experiment

by Elliott Abrams

In the course of the Gaza war, several key European leaders have made tough, sensible statements supporting Israel’s right to defend itself and demanding a cease fire that does not give in to Hamas demands. Chancellor Merkel said Germany “stand[s] by the side of Israel” and noted that the weapons used by Hamas were of “a completely new quality.” French President Hollande said Israel had the right to use “all the necessary measures” to protect itself from rockets and missiles. Britain’s new Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said “Everybody in the UK and the west is appalled by the scenes coming out of Gaza but every country has the right to defend itself against attack.” Read more »

The EU’s Mrs. Ashton and the Invisible Jews

by Elliott Abrams

It’s becoming a habit. The EU’s “foreign minister,” High Representative for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton, cannot seem to see Jews or anti-Semitism or to pronounce the word “Jew.”

In 2012 a terrorist murdered three Jewish children at a Jewish day school in Toulouse, France. Mrs. Ashton issued a statement saying that “When we think of what happened in Toulouse today, when we remember what happened in Norway a year ago, when we know what is happening in Syria, when we see what is happening in Gaza and Sderot and in different parts of the world, we remember young people and children who lose their lives.” It was beyond her to acknowledge what had just happened: the murder of Jewish children in Europe for the crime of being Jewish. Read more »

Protests About Palestinians

by Elliott Abrams

There were protests this week about some construction notices issued by the Government of Israel. In tandem with the release of murderers from Israeli prisons–something the United States has indefensibly pushed–the Netanyahu government has sought to appease complaints within Israel by announcing new construction in settlements. Mind you, whether the construction will actually take place, or when, is unclear; the protests come nevertheless. Read more »

Mere State-Building in Palestine

by Elliott Abrams

How can a Palestinian state be built? For those who believe that the “two-state outcome” is important, and this includes the governments of Europe and the United States, that’s a critical question. Former prime minister Salam Fayyad had an answer: start building, now, under the Israeli occupation, despite the occupation, against the occupation. Get ready for independence step by step. Read more »

Is There a Future for Jewish Communities in Europe?

by Elliott Abrams

Is there a future for the Jewish communities of Europe?

Two-thirds of a century after the Second World War, this question remains a troubling one–above all to many Jews who live there. It is examined in depth in a brilliant new article entitled “You Only Live Twice” by Michel Gurfinkiel in Mosaic, the invaluable web site dealing with Jewish life, thought, and religion. Gurfinkiel is a French journalist and writer who for some years edited the conservative journal Valeurs Actuelles, is the founder and president of the Jean-Jacques Rousseau Institute, and serves on the board of governors of the Consistoire, the organization representing France’s Jewish communities. Read more »

Why Europe Can’t Bring Peace to the Middle East

by Elliott Abrams

Lady Catherine Ashton, the EU’s top foreign policy official, has received a remarkable letter from the “European Eminent Persons Group on the Middle East Peace Process.” This self-selected collectivity might more accurately be called the “Formerly Eminent Persons Group,” inasmuch as the first word describing each one of its members is “Former,” but I suppose that these Formerly Eminent Persons do indeed also represent the views of Currently Eminent European Persons. The letter and its list of signatories are copied below. Read more »