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.

Posts by Category

Showing posts for "Israel"

Israel, Secrecy, and American Meddling

by Elliott Abrams

The Israeli Knesset has just passed a law requiring that NGOs who receive more than half their budget from foreign governments and organizations state this publicly. A clamor has arisen, with critics denouncing the new legislation as anti-democratic.

This strikes me as ridiculous, and let’s do some hypotheticals. The UK is facing the Brexit referendum, and the government of France secretly funds pro-Remain groups. Is that fair or democratic? In the past decade several states in our country held referenda over same-sex marriage. How would we feel if it turned out groups proposing a “yes” vote had been funded by the government of Sweden? We would feel, as the Brits would feel in my first example, that our internal debate was being thwarted and distorted by foreigners. That is precisely how the Israeli lawmakers who voted for the new law felt. Prime Minister Netanyahu said the new law will “prevent an absurd situation in which foreign countries meddle in the internal affairs of Israel.” He’s right. Read more »

Israel to Head UN Committee for the First Time: So Much for Isolation

by Elliott Abrams

The argument that Israel is becoming increasingly isolated in the world took another blow this month when–for the first time in the history of the United Nations and of Israel–the Israeli ambassador was elected to head one of the UN’s permanent committees.  This the Legal Committee, also called the “Sixth Committee,” and its covers the United Nations’ international law operations–which include matters related to terrorism and to the Geneva Conventions. Read more »

Abbas Spurns Rivlin’s Hand–and Peace

by Elliott Abrams

Since leaving the White House in January, 2009, I’ve been telling audiences that Palestinian president and PLO leader Mahmoud Abbas will never, never sign a peace agreement with Israel–no matter what its content.

Those still in doubt might reflect on the events of this week. Abbas and Israel’s president, Reuven Rivlin, were both in Brussels, and European President Martin Schulz thought it would be nice to get them together. Rivlin’s post is ceremonial, but that’s all the more reason for a ceremonial gesture toward reconciliation. Abbas simply refused. Rabin could shake the hand of the terrorist Arafat, but Abbas could not shake the hand of the ex-parliamentarian, now president, Rivlin. Read more »

American Jews and Israel

by Elliott Abrams

Are American Jews and Israel drifting apart? In an article and a podcast I examine the theories and two recent books on the subject.

The article is the monthly essay at the web site Mosaic, and can be found here. There are very interesting responses as well from several distinguished commentators: Profs. Jack Wertheimer, Martin Kramer, and Daniel Gordis. Read more »

Biden’s Untimely Assault on Israel

by Elliott Abrams

Yesterday, Israel was assaulted twice: once by terrorists, and once by the Vice President of the United States.

The physical attack was in Jerusalem, where a bomb injured 21 people in a bus, several of them seriously.

On the very same day, the VP addressed the group called J Street and shared with it not solidarity with Israelis under attack but–with remarkable timing–a rhetorical attack on the government of Israel. Read more »

Israel and Saudi Arabia: Good Neighbor Policy

by Elliott Abrams

The recent announcement that Egypt was returning control over Tiran and Sanafir islands in the Gulf of Aqaba to Saudi Arabia has gotten some attention, but deserves more. It is a moment that reveals much about current Middle Eastern politics.

In 1950 the Saudis transferred control, but in their view never sovereignty, over the islands to Egypt to protect them from what it claimed was the threat of an Israeli takeover. During a visit to Egypt by King Salman this past week, control was transferred back. (There is a reasonably fierce debate in Egypt over whether in fact President Sisi has unconstitutionally abandoned sovereign territory– or anyway as fierce as debates can be given repression and censorship in Egypt.) Read more »

The “Stabbing Intifada” Gets Worse (But Not on CBS)

by Elliott Abrams

The stabbing attacks that have plagued Israel in the last several months have generally been “lone wolf” attacks. That is, as bad as the attacks were, they have been actions by single individuals. Yesterday that situation changed.

In Jerusalem, at the Damascus Gate to the Old City, three Palestinians attacked when they were approached by border police, killing an 18 year old border policewoman and wounding another. The three terrorists were armed not only with knives, but also with automatic weapons and explosive devices. It seems obvious they were planning a larger event, with many fatalities. So this was no lone wolf attack, but a planned conspiracy to inflict mass casualties. Read more »