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 »
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 »
The Omnibus Appropriations bill recently passed by Congress contains an interesting provision regarding the support for terrorists and their families by the Palestinian Authority:
The Secretary of State shall reduce the amount of assistance made available by this Act under the heading “Economic Support Fund” for the West Bank and Gaza by an amount the Secretary determines is equivalent to that expended by the Palestinian Authority in payments to individuals and the families of such individuals that are imprisoned for acts of terrorism or who died committing such acts during the previous calendar year. Read more »
At the end of last summer’s war between Israel and Hamas, all sorts of pledges were made about rebuilding Gaza. Hamas in particular claimed victory because it had broken the “siege of Gaza” and now all Gazans would benefit.
This was nonsense, and clearly so back then. It was obvious from previous experience that goods would not flow easily into Hamas-controlled territory, especially with Egypt smashing the network of smuggling tunnels between Gaza and Sinai. Read more »
There is wonderful news this morning: that Alan Gross is finally free, out of a Cuban prison and back on American soil. For his family, this is the answer to prayers and the right outcome to a long struggle.
Gross was unjustly imprisoned by the Castro regime. The Obama administration finally gave in and traded three Cuban spies for Gross. Whether that was a smart move can be debated. Some would argue that as Gross’s health deteriorated, the Castro regime would release him rather than see him die in their prisons. But that’s playing with Gross’s life, and it’s pretty clear that his health has already deteriorated badly. Read more »
“It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future,” Yogi Berra once said. But it’s also necessary, and the Council on Foreign Relations tries it at the end of each year. The Center for Preventive Action at CFR surveys 2200 foreign policy officials, academics, and experts to see what they think will emerge as the toughest and most dangerous problems of the coming year. Read more »
Here’s a thought: when American scholars disagree with foreign officials, they should join together to try and ban those officials from entering the United States or any country in the European Union. Moreover, they should seek a freeze on any assets those officials may have–a bank account in the United States, for example. Read more »
This morning’s New York Times reveals the paranoia and vulnerability of the current Egyptian regime.
Michele Dunne, a former career diplomat who served in Cairo and also at the National Security Council (in the George W. Bush administration), is now a scholar at the Carnegie Endowment. She was refused entry into Egypt yesterday. Here is part of the Times story: Read more »
Pressure Points tracks developments in the Middle East and democratization and human rights issues globally.