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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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 »

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 »

How Safe Are the Jews of Europe?

by Elliott Abrams

A new study by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research (a London-based research organization, which conducted the survey on behalf of the Fundamental Rights Agency of the EU) is “the first in a series of reports looking at the perceptions and experiences of antisemitism among Jews in different EU Member States.” Read more »

The End of French Jewry?

by Elliott Abrams

Here’s the situation in Paris:

Violent anti-Jewish riots in Paris on Sunday [July 20], sparked by Israel’s ongoing operation in Gaza to halt rocket attacks from the coastal enclave, left Jews in the French capital fearing for their lives….An anti-Israel demonstration at the city’s Bastille Square quickly turned violent with protesters seeking out and attacking Jewish targets and screaming “death to the Jews” and “Hitler was right” according to community newspaper, JSS News….Hundreds of Parisian Jews were trapped in a synagogue while rioters threw stones and bricks. The group was initially thought to be held hostage and was freed to leave the center only after police intervention at 9 p.m. 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 »

Time for Panetta to Visit Paris

by Elliott Abrams

Foreign Policy reports that Secretary of Defense Panetta is in Europe: “The SecDef is wheels up from Lisbon this morning, headed for a day-stop in Madrid and then staying overnight in Rome. In Madrid, he will meet with the crown prince, the president, and the minister of defense, and he will hold his second press conference of the day, Situation Report is told. In Portugal, Panetta visited Air Base Lajes…. Panetta also visited Strike Force NATO, a U.S.-led command in Portugal that conducts maritime security operations.” Panetta is also scheduled to visit London. Read more »

Mali: Vive La France

by Elliott Abrams

The French intervention in Mali deserves American applause and support, and thus far is getting both.

While regarded for many years as one of Africa’s model democracies, Mali had a weak central government and never seriously addressed the north-south regional conflict within the country. That conflict exploded last year, and the timing reflected the return home of Malians who had served in Qadhafi’s forces. They brought arms back with them and quickly overwhelmed Malian Defense Force (MDF) troops and captured most of the north. This humiliation for the MDF in turn contributed to a military coup that has left Mali with an even weaker government–and left it ineligible for American aid. Read more »