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Elliott Abrams

Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies

Expertise

U.S. policy in the Middle East, Israel-Palestinian affairs, democracy promotion, human rights policy, U.S. foreign policy.

Featured Publications

All Publications

Op-Ed

Obama's Halfway Effort in Syria

Author: Elliott Abrams
National Review

Elliott Abrams says the problem with the Obama administration's probable reaction in Syria is that it does not seem likely to address real American security interests at stake or the growing humanitarian disaster, and instead focus narrowly on another: Assad's use of chemical weapons.

See more in Syria; Defense and Security

Op-Ed

The Unsettled Question

Authors: Elliott Abrams and Uri Sadot
ForeignPolicy.com

Elliott Abrams and Research Associate Uri Sadot look at the demographics of Israelis living in the West Bank. By analyzing trends in electoral data from the past three Israeli elections, they conclude that settlements continue to grow outside the large blocs, albeit in reducing pace, and that the numbers of Israelis currently living outside those blocs is different than what is commonly accepted.

See more in Israel; Peace, Conflict, and Human Rights

Op-Ed

After Fayyad

Author: Elliott Abrams
Weekly Standard

Elliott Abrams analyzes the implications of the forced resignation of the Palestinian Authority prime Minister, Salam Fayyad.

See more in Palestine; Israel

Ask CFR Experts

What could be done to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

Asked by Michael Varacalli, from New York University

Conflict between Israelis and Palestinians began even before the State of Israel was established in 1948, and the two populations have opposing claims to the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea that have defeated numerous U.S. efforts to broker peace. Right now there is little hope of a comprehensive solution—one that resolves all the issues and involves not only Israel and the PLO but the Arab states as well. Today, the most that Israel can realistically offer is less than the least the Palestinians can realistically accept. For now, the best way forward is to continue talks, but to emphasize practical steps forward on the ground that move Palestinians toward construction of a state.

Read full answer

See more in Israel; Palestine

Article

Alas Denmark

Author: Elliott Abrams
Weekly Standard

Elliott Abrams examines recent news of Jews in Denmark being warned against openly wearing religious symbols amid rising anti-Israeli sentiment in Copenhagen.

See more in Denmark; Religion

Current Projects

Middle Eastern Studies Roundtable Series

Staff: Elliott Abrams, Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies
May 2009—Present

Conflict in the Middle East has been near the top of the American foreign policy agenda for a half century. Through discussions with academic experts and especially with current and former government officials, this roundtable series aims to inform the debate surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as well as other challenges facing the region. These roundtables discuss developments in the region and the goals and impact of U.S. actions, with an eye to deepening understanding of the Middle East and analyzing how to make U.S. foreign policy more effective.

Recent Activity from Pressure Points

CFR Events

General Meeting ⁄ New York

NY Town Hall: Middle East Update

Panelists:

Elliott Abrams, Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies, Council on Foreign Relations, Isobel Coleman, Senior Fellow and Director of the Civil Society, Markets, and Democracy Initiative, and Director of the Women and Foreign Policy Program, Council on Foreign Relations, Steven A. Cook, Hasib J. Sabbagh Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies, Council on Foreign Relations, Robert M. Danin, Eni Enrico Mattei Senior Fellow for Middle East and Africa Studies, Council on Foreign Relations, Ray Takeyh, Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies, Council on Foreign Relations

Presider:

Richard N. Haass, President, Council on Foreign Relations
July 22, 2014 12:15-12:45 p.m. - Lunch
12:45-2:00 p.m. - Meeting

This meeting is on the record.

Listen

General Meeting ⁄ Washington

Iran: The Nuclear Challenge

Speakers:

Elliott Abrams, Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies, Council on Foreign Relations, Robert M. Danin, Eni Enrico Mattei Senior Fellow for Middle East and Africa Studies, Council on Foreign Relations, Richard A. Falkenrath, Shelby Cullom and Kathryn W. Davis Adjunct Senior Fellow for Counterterrorism and Homeland Security, Council on Foreign Relations

Presider:

Robert D. Blackwill, Henry A. Kissinger Senior Fellow for U.S. Foreign Policy, Council on Foreign Relations; Editor, Iran: The Nuclear Challenge
June 7, 2012 6:00-6:30 p.m. - Dinner Reception
6:30-7:30 p.m. - Meeting

This meeting is on the record.

ListenWatch

Symposium

Session One: Prospects for Democracy

Speakers:

Elliott Abrams, Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies, Council on Foreign Relations, Michael Willis, Director of Middle East Centre and H.M. King Mohammed VI Fellow in Moroccan and Mediterranean Studies, St. Antony's College, University of Oxford

Presider:

James M. Lindsay, Senior Vice President, Director of Studies, and Maurice R. Greenberg Chair, Council on Foreign Relations
March 29, 2012 - March 30, 2012 10:00-10:30 a.m.

This meeting is on the record.

ListenWatch

Bio

Elliott Abrams is senior fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) in Washington, DC. He served as deputy assistant to the president and deputy national security adviser in the administration of President George W. Bush, where he supervised U.S. policy in the Middle East for the White House.

Mr. Abrams was educated at Harvard College, the London School of Economics, and Harvard Law School. After serving on the staffs of Sen. Henry M. Jackson and Daniel P. Moynihan, he was an assistant secretary of state in the Reagan administration and received the secretary of state's Distinguished Service Award from Secretary George P. Shultz. In 2012, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy gave him its Scholar-Statesman Award.

Mr. Abrams was president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, DC, from 1996 until joining the White House staff. He was a member of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom from 1999 to 2001 and chairman of the commission in the latter year, and in 2012 was reappointed to membership for another term. Mr. Abrams is also a member of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council, which directs the activities of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. He teaches U.S. foreign policy at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service.

Mr. Abrams joined the Bush administration in June 2001 as special assistant to the president and senior director of the NSC for democracy, human rights, and international organizations. From December 2002 to February 2005, he served as special assistant to the president and senior director of the National Security Council for Near East and North African affairs. He served as deputy assistant to the president and deputy national security adviser for global democracy strategy from February 2005 to January 2009, and in that capacity supervised both the Near East and North African Affairs and the democracy, human rights, and international organizations directorates of the NSC.

He is the author of four books, Undue Process (1993), Security and Sacrifice (1995), Faith or Fear: How Jews Can Survive in a Christian America (1997), and Tested by Zion: the Bush Administration and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (2013); and the editor of three more, Close Calls: Intervention, Terrorism, Missile Defense and "Just War" Today; Honor Among Nations: Intangible Interests and Foreign Policy; and The Influence of Faith: Religion and American Foreign Policy.

Languages:

French (fluent), Spanish (fluent)