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.

Assad Bows to Iran, Even in Clothing

by Elliott Abrams Saturday, October 15, 2016

Check out these two photos of Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad, celebrating the Eid al-Adha in 2012 and 2016. The men to his left and right are the same people, dressed the same way. But Assad is now affecting Iranian style: ties are for the hated Western imperialists and colonialists, and Assad here renouncing them here just as Iranian officials always do. Read more »

Who Supported the Shameful UNESCO Vote on Jerusalem?

by Elliott Abrams Friday, October 14, 2016

There is little to be added to the scorn rightfully shown in the United States and in Israel (which has cut all ties to UNESCO) toward the UNESCO vote this week that in essence wipes out Jewish and Christian history in Jerusalem by referring to it only in Muslim terminology. UNESCO’s own Director General Irina Bokova criticized the vote, saying “Jerusalem is the sacred city of the three monotheistic religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam. To deny, conceal or erase any of the Jewish, Christian or Muslim traditions undermines the integrity of the site….” Read more »

Reading The Jerusalem Post in Riyadh

by Elliott Abrams Saturday, October 8, 2016

It is easy to exaggerate the opening that is occurring between Israel and several Gulf states, but it’s easy to underestimate it too.  The most recent change: Saudi Arabia has stopped blocking access to Israeli newspapers on line.

As Al Akhbar in Beirut reported in a story entitled “Saudi Arabia Lifts Ban on Israeli Press.” Here’s a part of the story: Read more »

Prince Charles and Israeli Funerals

by Elliott Abrams Sunday, October 2, 2016

Prince Charles attended the funeral of Shimon Peres last week, in Jerusalem. This was not his first visit: he also attended the Yitzhak Rabin funeral in 1995.

In the 21 years since then he has visited Arab countries repeatedly, but Israel has remained on the blacklist. No official visit, no tourism, sum total of visits there = two visits to Mount Herzl Cemetery. Read more »

In What Country is Shimon Peres Buried?

by Elliott Abrams Saturday, October 1, 2016

Last week President Obama spoke at Shimon Peres’ funeral and watched him buried–in some sort of No Man’s Land. Not in Israel, it seems.

The Obama White House actually issued a correction of its press release of Obama’s remarks, to strike the world “Israel.” You can see a screen shot of the corrected release here at the McClatchy news site. Read more »

Shimon Peres

by Elliott Abrams Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The last American founding father, James Madison, died in 1836, 60 years after independence had been declared. Today, in the 68th year of its independence, Israel experienced the loss of its own last founding father. Shimon Peres was the last statesman who had been a force in Israeli life from independence in 1948 through all of its wars and all of its peace treaties, and served as Israel’s president until 2014. Read more »

A Candid Speech from President Abbas

by Elliott Abrams Sunday, September 25, 2016

There have been many attacks on aspects of Palestinian President Abbas’s speech to the UN General Assembly last week, but it had one saving grace: candor.

Let’s take just two examples. First, Mr. Abbas said this about the Temple Mount: Israel must cease its aggression and provocations against the Holy Al-Aqsa Mosque,” and Israel “continues to commit aggressions and provocations against our Christian and Muslim holy sites, especially Al-Aqsa Mosque. The continuation of the Israeli aggressions against our Muslim and Christian holy sites is playing with fire.” Read more »

The Crime of Writing to The New York Times

by Elliott Abrams Tuesday, September 13, 2016

You might think that publishing a letter to the editor in The New York Times cannot possibly be a crime. But you probably don’t live in Bahrain.

Nabeel Rajab has been in prison since June in Bahrain, facing a sentence of up to 15 years for things he has written criticizing that government’s repressive policies. From prison, he sent a letter to the Times which was published on September 4th and can be found here. Read more »

Naming Names–and Naming Streets

by Elliott Abrams Monday, September 12, 2016

The Russian Embassy in Washington is on a street called Sakharov Plaza, so named in 1984 in honor of the great Russian scientist and human rights activist who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1975.

Honoring great men such as Sakharov by and renaming streets and plazas anywhere after them is a fitting tribute–and also a lovely way to show our support for the cause of human rights. But renaming streets and plazas where the embassies of repressive regimes sit is an even better action, more supportive of the cause and sending a direct message to the tyrannies. Read more »

The United States Bars Christian, Not Muslim, Refugees From Syria

by Elliott Abrams Friday, September 9, 2016

The title of this blog post–The United States Bars Christian, Not Muslim, Refugees From Syria–will strike many readers as ridiculous.

But the numbers tell a different story: The United States has accepted 10,801 Syrian refugees, of whom 56 are Christian. Not 56 percent; 56 total, out of 10,801. That is to say, one half of one percent. The BBC says that ten percent of all Syrians are Christian, which would mean 2.2 million Christians. It is quite obvious, and President Obama and Secretary Kerry have acknowledged it, that Middle Eastern Christians are an especially persecuted group. Read more »