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.

The Cease Fire That Broke Itself

by Elliott Abrams Monday, August 11, 2014

The Spanish language uses reflexive verbs more than English, and one of my favorite has always been “se cayo.”  Roughly translated that means “it fell itself down” or “it broke itself.” The closest English might be the use of the passive voice, as in “the glass broke” or “the glass fell down” in place of “I broke the glass” or “I dropped the glass.” Read more »

Yasser Arafat International Airport

by Elliott Abrams Friday, August 8, 2014

To those unfamiliar with the term, “Yasser Arafat International Airport” must seem like the punch line to some joke about international terrorism.

Yet it existed in Gaza, briefly, and President Clinton and Hillary Clinton visited there in 1998 to stand next to Arafat and cut the ribbon opening the facility. These were the years when Clinton viewed Arafat as the key to peace, and invited him to the White House 13 times – more than any other foreign visitor. The airport was destroyed by Israel in 2001 as part of the reaction to the intifada that Arafat launched after he refused Israel’s offer and rebuffed Clinton’s efforts at Camp David. Read more »

The Gaza Numbers Game: 18% and 14%

by Elliott Abrams Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Here are a few numbers about Gaza that are not widely known.

18% of the rockets fired by Hamas (by IDF calculations), which is to say about 600 rockets, were fired from schools, hospitals, mosques, and cemeteries.

14% of the rockets fired by Hamas actually fell inside Gaza. That’s more than 450 rockets, and before Israel is blamed for every bit of damage done inside Gaza by rocket fire a calculation must be made of the damage inflicted by Hamas itself. Read more »

The Gaza War and the Feeble PA

by Elliott Abrams Friday, August 1, 2014

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 »

The End of French Jewry?

by Elliott Abrams Saturday, July 26, 2014

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 Thursday, July 24, 2014

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 »

Gaza: More Negotiations

by Elliott Abrams Saturday, July 19, 2014

With Ban ki-Moon and John Kerry arriving in Cairo today, there will be lots of talk about a cease-fire deal. It is important that the United States keep Egypt in the forefront, and keep using the term “cease-fire.”

As to Egypt, it is not only that the Egyptian government shares our own view of Hamas as a terrorist group whose influence and military capabilities must be fought. That alone is a reason for the United States to want Egypt, not Qatar or Turkey, to be central. It is also that Egypt has genuine national security interests at stake here because it is a neighbor to Gaza. Terrorist activities in Gaza and Sinai matter to Egypt in a way that they do not to Qatar or Turkey. Any agreement that improves Hamas’s chances of importing more weaponry harms Egypt’s security, and the Egyptians have a right to a say in this. Read more »