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.

No “Gentleman’s Agreement” for Jews in Sweden

by Elliott Abrams Sunday, January 25, 2015

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 »

The al-Saud Do It Again

by Elliott Abrams Saturday, January 24, 2015

In 2001 to 2003, after the 9/11 attacks, more and more analysts predicted the demise of the House of al-Saud. I recall classified intelligence analyses saying this, and a good example of the journalism of the time is “The Fall of the House of Saud” by Robert Baer (a former intelligence officer) in The Atlantic. The last line of that piece was “sometime soon, one way or another, the House of Saud is coming down.” Read more »

Bahrain: “Insulting a Public Institution” Means Prison

by Elliott Abrams Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Americans who complain about the post office, or more seriously the police, or (God forbid) whoever happens to be president do not expect to be jailed, but Bahrainis do.

This week a leader of the (peaceful) opposition and founder of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, Nabeel Rajab, was sentenced to six months for the crime of “insulting a public institution.” His criminal act was publishing a tweet last September that said, in full, this: Read more »

Human Rights Watch and the Destruction of Rafah

by Elliott Abrams Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Rafah is a town in Egypt, on the border of Gaza, that will soon cease to exist. The government of Egypt is destroying it, leaving thousands of Egyptians homeless, in an effort to create a buffer zone along the border.

Smoke rises after a house is blown up during a military operation by Egyptian security forces in the Egyptian city of Rafah, near the border with southern Gaza Strip October 29, 2014.  (Suhaib Salem/Courtesy: Reuters)

Smoke rises after a house is blown up during a military operation by Egyptian security forces in the Egyptian city of Rafah, near the border with southern Gaza Strip October 29, 2014. (Suhaib Salem/Courtesy: Reuters)

Read more »

Argentina and Iran: The Strange Death of Alberto Nisman

by Elliott Abrams Monday, January 19, 2015

Today in Buenos Aires, Alberto Nisman was found dead.

Who was he and why does it matter?

Nisman was the official charged with investigating the 1994 bombing of the Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, which killed 85 people. It has long seemed that Iran and Hezbollah were the responsible parties, and that senior Argentine officials were covering this up and preventing justice from being done. Nisman was a fearless, honest official who probed for the truth. Read more »

France: Solidarity with Journalists, but not Jews

by Elliott Abrams Sunday, January 11, 2015

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 »

Cuba: More Political Prisoners, But the New U.S. Policy Marches Onward

by Elliott Abrams Tuesday, January 6, 2015

There are more Cuban political prisoners  today than on the day President Obama announced his deal with the Castro brothers, December 17.

Part of that deal was supposed to see 53 Cuban political prisoners released, but now it’s three weeks later and they have not been released. Nor have they even been identified. As the Washington Post put it in a headline, “Mystery surrounds 53 Cuban political prisoners supposed to be set free.” Instead of releasing them, the Cuban regime has in fact arrested more dissidents, two weeks after the Obama speech and just before New Year’s. Read more »