Elliott Abrams: Middle East in the Bush Years

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations Elliott Abrams supervised US policy in the Middle East during the Bush administration, discusses his new book Tested by Zion: The Bush Administration and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict 



Elliott Abrams

Comments [58]


@Noach (|) from Brooklyn

You wrote:

"What gives fodder to those who wish to destroy us (Jews) is when Jews commit or support injustice or immorality in any form. This, more than anything else, puts Jews everywhere in danger and brings disgrace upon our name.

When the State of Israel or it apologists do wrong, it is particularly and especially pernicious, for they bill themselves as being representative of world Jewry and even Judaism itself. (and, tragically, are widely perceived this way throughout the world.)

Effectively, crimes and injustices are being perpetrated in my name. "

1. Whether you like it or not, antisemites hold all Jews responsible for Israel and they will always find a pretext to attack us. This is something that you somehow fail to understand.

2. injustice or immorality IN ANY FORM? Essentially, you hold Israel to a higher standard than any other country. Israel does not commit more injustice than any other state, yet, it is the focus of constant criticism.

3. crimes ... are being perpetrated in my name. What CRIMES? You just heard a guest on this show repeating how Israel made all those peace offers and Arabs rejected them. I think it is obvious who is trying to achieve peace and who is not.

I am starting to get a feeling that you are not who you claim you are....

Feb. 12 2013 04:39 PM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

Remember US Senator Robert F. Kennedy - assassinated in 1968 by a "palestinian".

Feb. 12 2013 04:17 PM
Noach (Non-Zionist, Independent Orthodox Jew) from Brooklyn

To follow-up my first post:

1.) After listening to the segment, I must say that it would not quite be fair to to accuse of B. Lehrer of giving Abrams, "the softball "book tour" treatment", as "halloran" had predicted in his post.

Mr. Lehrer did make what appeared to be a sincere attempt at challenging Abrams, albeit not sufficiently.

I have been quite critical of both B. Lehrer as well as L. Lopate. There have been countless times that I have heard both men allow outrageous statements to go unchallenged.

At the same time, I also realize that every host must walk a fine line; no matter how legitimate and justified the questions may be, if a host is perceived as too confrontational by guests, they will not come back. And it will be difficult to get new ones.

2.) I probably should not have used the language I did to describe Elliot Abrams.

Not because I don't consider him worthy of such verbiage but because using such gratuitously inflammatory language generates far more heat than light.

Feb. 12 2013 03:12 PM
Noach (Non-Zionist, Independent Orthodox Jew) from Brooklyn


What gives fodder to those who wish to destroy us (Jews) is when Jews commit or support injustice or immorality in any form. This, more than anything else, puts Jews everywhere in danger and brings disgrace upon our name.

When the State of Israel or it apologists do wrong, it is particularly and especially pernicious, for they bill themselves as being representative of world Jewry and even Judaism itself. (and, tragically, are widely perceived this way throughout the world.)

Effectively, crimes and injustices are being perpetrated in my name.

How can I remain silent?

Feb. 12 2013 02:27 PM

@Noach (A Useful Idiot (don't blame me for the term, blame Lenin)) from Brooklyn

There is nothing like a discussion about Israel to bring out hidden Black Hundred with all the suttle and not-so comments.

However, their commentary is here to remind us, Jews - religious, ultra-religious, super-duper-orthodox and atheists alike - that we are all in it together, as for these people we all LOOK the same.

Thus, we may or may not agree with Israel's policies. BUT, we have to remember that when we disagree, we give fodder to the people who want to destroy us.

Feb. 12 2013 12:46 PM

The usual kooks out supporting criminals.

Overlooking character or the rule of law as long as it supports their RABID ideology.


Feb. 12 2013 12:36 PM
Noach (Non-Zionist, Independent Orthodox Jew) from Brooklyn

April from Manhattan wrote,
"When Ben Ami of J St comes on, Brian allows only callers from Ultra Orthodox Brooklyn."

While I share at least much of the criticism you expressed in your post, I must challenge and de-construct the above statement:

1.) The Ben Ami interview you refer to was was quite brief and as I recall it, no more than two calls or so were taken-- maybe even just one.

2.) The one caller I recall and whom you were obviously referring-to did appear to be _Jewish_ but I recall no indication whatsoever that he was even _Orthodox_ , let alone "Ultra-Orthodox" [sic]*.

3.) Said caller may very well have been identified as calling from Brooklyn but I do not recall any indication that it was an "Ultra-Orthodox" [sic]*section of Brooklyn.

4.) A legitimate criticism of the segment may be that it was too short and did not feature enough calls.

But if only one or two or calls were to be taken, shouldn't they have been _critical_ ones?

For all of the above reasons and more, I find the accusation that Mr. Lehrer only "allow[ed] caller from Ultra Orthodox Brooklyn" [sic]* not only preposterous but offensive as well.

*See my post below, dated 11:27 a.m., on why "Ultra-Orthodox" is a sloppy, tendentious, misleading term. "Ultra-Orthodox" lumps together the most fanatically nationalist, violent "Religious ZIONIST settlers with the most zealously ANTI-Zionist Orthodox Jews (such as Neturei Karta) and a whole lot in between.

Feb. 12 2013 12:28 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

Also, I do thing it is a very good idea for all Israeli Jews to learn some Arabic so they can actually understand what the Arabs are saying about them in the Arabic language. That would make Israeli Jews more right wing than ever!

Feb. 12 2013 11:57 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

To April

Israel is Jewish land, not Arab land. The Arabs are the occupiers of Jewish land, not the other way around. The Arabs don't want to go to Israeli public schools because they don't want to learn "Zionist history." So, they have their own school system to teach what they want, as long as they don't teach treason against the state they are allowed to live in peacefully.
And Arabic is ISrael's second official language.

Feb. 12 2013 11:49 AM
JerseyGuy from NJ

If Ethan Bronner of the Times ever reported anything negative about the Palestinians he would never survive another foray into their territory. Almost all of the "news" reporters and camera crews in the PA territories are Palestinian. Why is it that 100% of the news out Gaza and the West Bank is pro-Palestinian? Hmmm? Freedom of the press? NOT!

Feb. 12 2013 11:49 AM


Jewish brigade was formed before establishment of Israel. It consisted primaraly of Palestinians - that's how JEWS were called at that time.

The brigade had a Zionist flag and after the war had formed the core of the Israel Defence Force.

I would also like to remind you that Israel was not allowed to join the coalition fighting Saddam Hussein, because Arab states would then leave the coalition.

Feb. 12 2013 11:48 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

To Carlos

What have you got against the HOuse of Rothschild? Did they do something to you?

Feb. 12 2013 11:44 AM
Carlos from 10024

jgarbuz from Queens

No - that's called playing the Rothschild game...

Feb. 12 2013 11:42 AM
April from Manhattan

AIPAC is as powerful as the NRA. Brian is trying to defeat Hagel. When Ben Ami of J St comes on, Brian allows only callers from Ultra Orthodox Brooklyn. Do you read comments on The New York Times regarding Israel? Here are a few common ones, by others, not me: "Israel is a foreign country. Why do we talk so much more about them than other countries?" "AIPAC buys congress". (A NY Times reporter at the Foreign desk told me AIPAC tries to change their coverage of the middle east.) Back to other's comments: "What does Israel do for us?" (I believe we should cut aid until Israel STOPS the settlements.) Israel is democracy? Yet it has segregated schools. Jews don't learn Arabic. I'm allowed to say this on Haaretz but not on The Times comments. A few days after I did on Haaretz, Tzivi Lipni said "We aren't Switzerland. We should learn Arabic." Israel wants Palestinians to demilitarize. Would you, if you were Palestinian, with IDF forces coming in the middle of the night when you're breaking a Ramadan fast, to search your house? And when, you the man of the house, throws a stone, he gets shot by the IDf, all reported by Ethan Bronner of the Times. And Israeli peace workers, whom Brian never speaks to. If that happened in Israel by a Palestinian it would be called Palestinian terrorism. Brian, do you belong to the ADL? Their main weapon is slinging the term "anti semitism". The Nation calls them the Defamation League. Please try to be objective.

Feb. 12 2013 11:41 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

To Carlos, again

It was the US that began calling Israel "an ally" after 1967, because the Israelis singelhandedly, with no US help, defeated Soviet-backed and armed and with Soviet advisors Arab armies. Israel did not call the US an ally until recently. But the US never gave Israel the same treaty of alliance it gave to 40 other countries, such as Turkey, Poland, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, the Czech Republic, Romania, and dozens of others. We have no legal constitutional commitment to come to Israel's defense. We give Israel $4 biilion worth of arms a year, so that we can in good conscience sell its Arab enemies another $8 billion worth of arms a year. That means $12 billion a year in business for our defense industry and workers. The US arms BOTH sides of the conflict. Is that an alliance?

Feb. 12 2013 11:40 AM

Cheers, Brian!

Finally, I saw your journalistic teeth, when you grilled Elliott Abrams.
I wish you'd use them interviewing people from another side of debate.

Your choice, when to use them and when not, leaves bad taste.

Feb. 12 2013 11:39 AM

Next time ask him about his support of war criminals in Central America and lying under oath. Abrams is a thug,a criminal and apologist for human rights abuses in the Middle East and Central America.

Feb. 12 2013 11:39 AM
Carlos from 10024

To sanych

The "Jewish Brigade" was a division in the British Army.

Not Israeli.

There is a difference between Jews and Israel. I was asking about Israel and Israeli soldiers and use of the word "Ally". 56 German soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan fighting what, for all intents and purposes, is an "American" war.

Feb. 12 2013 11:38 AM


Accusations?????? Brian?????

Freedom of speech is a great thing .....nothing exposes the speaker for what he really is as well as his own words

Feb. 12 2013 11:38 AM
Christopher Brunt from NYC

Two comments about Elliott Abrams. He is undoubtably a supporter of Israel. So am I.
What happened to Olso is tainted by Mr Abrams tendency to only see things from the right wing of Israeli and America. The history that took place is conflicted and many view the problem as one related to Barak's and Israel's offer and the impossibility for Palestinians to accept as is was presented. Barak was under pressure politically in Israel and laid a take it or leave proposal on the table. Arafat demanded more negotiations, Barak refused and Arafat made the mistake of walking. The fact that Arafat walked is always stated but the rest is not.
My second comment is that Elliot Abrams should not be taken seriously because he is a convicted liar. He directly lied to Congress during his disgraced Iran Contra days and was convicted of perjury. His right wing convictions have clouded his ability to do a simple thing. Tell the truth.

Feb. 12 2013 11:37 AM


As jgarbuz correctly stated, Jews are a nation, united by history and culture. Part of that culture is Judaism - Jewish religion. Some Jews are religious, some are not. Majority of Israelis are not religious.

The religion states that god had selected Jewish nation to serve him. Somehow, this is a sore point with antisemites.

No one on this thread had mentioned this belief.

But you did. Once again, you reveal yourself as a pure scum.

Feb. 12 2013 11:34 AM

This guy dodges all of Brian's challenges and makes ad homonym attacks on Hagel. With six billion people in the world, why do have to repeatedly listen to tired lobbyists who have so clearly discredited their own honesty and integrity? Surely, there are newer and/or more honest voices that we could offer airtime to.

Feb. 12 2013 11:33 AM
Carlos from 10024

To jgarbuz from Queens

Some "Ally" then...

Feb. 12 2013 11:31 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

JG - your argument that "Jews invented the a-bomb" for America, therefore - America owes Israel something special, is almost anti-Semitic.

Feb. 12 2013 11:31 AM

good job brian. push a little harder next time :)

Feb. 12 2013 11:31 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

The Land of Israel west of the Jordan river is JEWISH LAND, not Arab land, but it was occupied by Arabs and Islamized and Arabized over the centuries.Many Jews were forced to become Muslims due to heavy taxation.
To say that Israel is Arab land is like saying that Kentucky and Tennessee are SCots-Irish land. No, they are lands that were occupied by people originating in the British isles.

Feb. 12 2013 11:31 AM
Taher from Croton on Hudson

Is Mr. Abrams the ambassador for the Likud Party?

Feb. 12 2013 11:30 AM


Feb. 12 2013 11:28 AM
JerseyGuy from NJ


What exactly is your litmus test of who the land belongs to? Is it might versus right? If that's the case, Israel won the land in a war. If it's not might versus right and indigenous people have the right to the land, then I have two questions. When are the Europeans going to give North America back to the native Americans? AND Is there any dispute about the fact that the Romans exiled the Jews from Israel in 135 AD? (

Feb. 12 2013 11:28 AM
Noach (Non-Zionist Orthodox Jew) from Brooklyn

Yet again, the misleading, sloppy term "Ultra-Orthodox"....

The media uses this term indiscriminately, labeling everyone from the most fanatic and violent "religious-ZIONIST" settlers, to the most zealously ANTI-ZIONIST Orthodox Jews (such as Neturei Karta), under the same "Ultra-Orthodox" label.

The other problem with the term "Ultra-Orthodox" goes beyond the scope of the topic at hand but I will just summarize briefly.

"Ultra-Orthodox" is used (usually with at least a hint of pejorative intent) to label any Orthodox Jews who are to the right (theologically/ in terms of level of observance) of "Modern-Orthodox". This sets _"Modern-Orthodox"_ as the standard of normative halakhic Judaism, against which others are compared. Such an assertion is, at _best_, highly _subjective_ and contentious-- certainly not one that can be made by anyone claiming objectivity.

Feb. 12 2013 11:27 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

The Council of the League of Nations gave western Palestine to the Jews in 1922, so the Arabs are living on Jewish land, not Jews living on Arab land. Judah and Samaria legally belong to the Jewish people according to the League of Nations, and both houses of the US Congress approved the Mandate back in July 1922. The Jewish settlements have every right to be there, as long as Arabs live in the State of Israel.

Feb. 12 2013 11:26 AM
Louis from Jersey Shore

How long should American soldiers fight wars for Israel?

Feb. 12 2013 11:26 AM

This guy is totally out of touch with reality. It's people like him that are keeping peace from every happening. I can't believe I'm hearing him correctly.

Feb. 12 2013 11:26 AM
Taher from Croton on Hudson

It’s really laughable when he speaks of human rights. In the 1980’s he was part of the Reagan
administration that supported human rights abuses, massacres, in Central America.
Now he is an advocate for human rights in the Middle East?

Feb. 12 2013 11:25 AM

Abrams is evasive.

Feb. 12 2013 11:25 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

To Carlos

When has a US GI fought alongside the IDF? Not in 1948, '56, 67, 73, 82 ,etc. No US GIs fought for Israel, or vice versa. The US never gave Israel a treaty of alliance. There is no obligation for either side to come to the aid of the other. It is purely that both countries sometimes need each other for their own reasons. Israel exists and is a nuclear power, just like France or Britain, and we came to their defense on a number of occasions.

Feb. 12 2013 11:23 AM

So... being one of g_d's "chosen" means NEVER having to go to JAIL?!?!


Feb. 12 2013 11:23 AM


among many others.

Feb. 12 2013 11:22 AM


Feb. 12 2013 11:22 AM
Jim from Westchester

This is a bogus interview, Abrams is only interested in expanding the territory of Israel, and has always worked to undermine any chance of a peace agreement in the Middle east. Shame that Mr. Lehrer doesn't call Abrams out on his well known opposition to a viable Palestinian state.

Feb. 12 2013 11:22 AM

"Normalcy" is not a proper English word. The correct word is "normality."

Feb. 12 2013 11:20 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

There is no treaty of alliance between the US and Israel. The US and Israel are NOT allies. The US refused to give Israel a treaty of alliance. But Israel stopped the USSR in the Middle East anywa, which helped s. Israel has removed nuclear reactors from the hands of Saddam and Assad.

Members of the Jewish nation-in-exile living in America have contributed a lot to America, and vice versa. Jews invented the atomic bomb for America. More recently an Israeli engineer living in America, Abe Karem, invented what became the Predator drone. He was featured in the recent Nova documentary, "Rise of the Drones." Both Israel and members of the Jewish nation-in-exile living in America have contributed as much to America as the other way around. Israel and the US are not allies. It is a symbiotic relationship.

Feb. 12 2013 11:20 AM


"During investigation of the Iran-Contra Affair, Lawrence Walsh, the Independent Counsel tasked with investigating the case, prepared multiple felony counts against Abrams but never indicted him.[22] Instead, Abrams entered into a plea agreement with Walsh. Abrams pled guilty to two misdemeanors of withholding information from Congress.[23] He was sentenced to a $50 fine, probation for two years, and 100 hours of community service. However, Abrams was pardoned by President George H. W. Bush, in December 1992 (as he was leaving office following his loss in that year in the U.S. presidential election). On February 5, 1997, the D.C. Court of Appeals publicly censured Abrams for giving false testimony on three occasions before congressional committees. Although a majority of the court voted to impose a public censure, three judges in the majority would have imposed a suspension of six months, and a fourth judge would have followed the recommendation of the Board on Professional Responsibility that Abrams be suspended for a year."

Feb. 12 2013 11:19 AM
Carlos from 10024

Ally? When has an Israeli soldier fallen alongside an American serviceman like the British, Canadian, Dutch, Polish, Danish etc?

Feb. 12 2013 11:17 AM
MikeInBrklyn from Clinton Hill

Mr. Abrams you are reaching. Have you nothing better for 4+ Billion dollars wasted each year?

Feb. 12 2013 11:16 AM

"Abrams himself claimed that Washington’s policy in El Salvador was a 'fabulous achievement.'"


Feb. 12 2013 11:16 AM

well said, jg.

this is what separates jmen from dboys.

Feb. 12 2013 11:16 AM
Noach (Non-Zionist Orthodox Jew) from Bklyn

Sadly (though hardly surprisingly), it seems that poster "halloran" has called this one right...

This war-mongering thug (Abrams) needs to be vigorously challenged.

Feb. 12 2013 11:15 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

There is only one issue that matters. Either the Arabs recognize Israel as the Jewish state, the way Britain had to recognize Ireland as the Irish state, or there will be no new Palestinian state. That's the only issue that matters - full recognition of Jewish NATIONAL rights. Jews are a nation, not a religion. The religion is just part of the Jewish culture.

Feb. 12 2013 11:12 AM
Tony from UWS

I agree with halloran.

Feb. 12 2013 11:11 AM


Feb. 12 2013 11:10 AM


Is Elliot calling from prison??

Feb. 12 2013 11:09 AM

this was the offer
doesn't seem fair to me

Feb. 12 2013 11:09 AM


More paranoid zionisim?!?!?

Feb. 12 2013 11:08 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

You hear that "Martin" - Your Bush waited until the last of his 8 years to visit Israel but he gets a neocon aipac pass.

Feb. 12 2013 11:04 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

Obama as the Commander-in-Chief of our "too big" military sadly reminds me of that old quote-

"I would rather have 100 lambs led by a lion, than 100 lions led by a lamb."

Feb. 12 2013 10:37 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

We should be considering Elliott Abrams for Secretary of Defense, not sleepy, mediocre Chuck Hagel that Barry Obama wants for a patsy.

Obambi just wants some lackey that he and Valerie Jarrett can roll over on their way to shrinking America's role in the world.


Feb. 12 2013 10:25 AM

So this highly disreputable figure, Elliot Abrams, who pleaded guilty to giving false testimony to Congress, who was deeply involved in circumvention of the Boland Amendment (meeting secretly with the Sultan of Brunei, among others, to solicit 7 figure "donations" for the terrorists the U.S. was funding and training), and whose hands were all over the dirty wars the Reagan Administration was conducting in Latin America, is now going to get the softball "book tour" treatment, because whatever else you can say about him, at least he's pro-Israel and pro-Likud?

Feb. 12 2013 10:11 AM

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