Gershom Gorenberg

Gershom Gorenberg is a senior correspondent for The Prospect. He is the author of The Unmaking of Israel, of The Accidental Empire: Israel and the Birth of the Settlements, 1967-1977 and of The End of Days: Fundamentalism and the Struggle for the Temple Mount. He blogs at South Jerusalem. Follow @GershomG.

Recent Articles

So Let the Settlers Stay. They Won't.

Netanyahu's strange new PR video is a bluff that deserves to be called out.

AP Photo/Ariel Schalit
I overheard the conversation on a home-buyers' tour of West Bank settlements. No, I was not thinking of buying anything. It was May 1992, a few weeks before the Israeli election in which Yitzhak Rabin was expected—correctly—to defeat Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir. In a bid to preserve its policies, Shamir's government was trying to sell every house available in the settlements, at incredibly low prices. Big newspaper ads announced free bus tours to see the offerings. I decided to slip onto a bus, listen, and watch. At one stop, a young guy posed a question to the guide. “What if they give it all back?” he demanded. He had his arm around his wife, who looked even younger and was noticeably pregnant. They were the definition of people who needed an inexpensive home they could count on keeping. “We don't build here to give it back,” the guide answered. “What if Rabin wins?” the young guy pressed him. “What if they give it back?...

The Beach Movie of the Absurd

The Burkini fuss isn't just an embarrassment for France. Diversity is under attack across the West.

AP Photo/Claude Paris
At midday last Friday, in an upstairs room in central Copenhagen, 1,400 miles north of the beach in Cannes, jumma prayers began: A woman imam chanted the call to prayer and another delivered the Friday sermon. It was reportedly the first female-led Muslim service in Scandinavia. The event at the Miriam mosque, as the room in Copenhagen is now known, garnered far fewer headlines than the controversy over Muslim women wearing full-body bathing suits on the beaches of southern France. To be fair, the Copenhagen service wasn't a stand-alone breakthrough. A women-led, women-only mosque began holding services in Los Angeles last year. It's been over 20 years since the female scholar of Islam Amina Wadud gave the sermon at Cape Town's Claremont Main Road Mosque, at the invitation of Rashied Omar, the mosque's imam. But gradual liberating changes within a traditional religion make weaker news items than the absurdity of a mayor making a link between unrevealing swimwear and terrorism, or a...

Things That Aren't Genocide: The Iran Deal and the Occupation

The Israeli defense minister’s Holocaust comparison, like that of the Black Lives Matter platform, is a serious political mistake.

AP Photo/Dan Balilty, File
“What possible foreign policy purpose could that serve?” That, more or less, was the first tweeted response I saw to the statement issued by Israel's Defense Ministry, which means by Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman. It equated the year-old Iran nuclear deal to the 1938 Munich pact, which, it said, “did not prevent the Second World War and the Holocaust, precisely because [the] basic assumption, that Nazi Germany could be a partner to any kind of agreement, was wrong.” Yes, folks, it's 1938 again. The statement was a response to a comment by President Barack Obama. It served no foreign policy purpose whatsoever. But it does serve another, unintended purpose: It spotlights an irrational, maddening, misleading motif in how people—from government leaders to radical critics—talk about Israel: very quickly, the conversation is about genocide. In this respect, Lieberman is on the same page as the authors of the foreign policy chapter of the new Movement...

Why Netanyahu Suddenly Wants a Deal on U.S. Aid

The prime minister, in an attack of good sense, realizes that a GOP victory may not be good news for Israel.

Ronen Zvulun/Pool Photo via AP
Here's one more twist to the Year of Bizarre Politics: Benjamin Netanyahu, prime minister of Israel and Republican-in-all-but-name, has recognized that the best deal on American aid he can get is from Barack Obama. The timing of this decision, just after the GOP formally nominated a certain oft-bankrupt businessman and racist agitator for president, may be a coincidence. People running out of a house just as smoke starts coming out the windows, I suppose, could also be due to some coincidence. The more logical explanation is that like many of his conservative ideologue friends, Netanyahu has concluded that a Republican victory in November will not bring salvation. Here's the plot line up to now: The current 10-year U.S.-Israel memorandum of understanding on military aid will expire in 2018. It provides for $3.1 billion per year in American aid for Israel. Congress has allocated additional funds each year for missile defense, which creates an opening for ongoing Israeli lobbying...

The Frenemies Gambit

Benjamin Netanyahu uses European support for human rights to attack domestic dissent in Israel.

(Photo: AP/Dan Balilty)
When a human-rights group points to government abuses, what should the country’s leaders do? Let’s see. They could ignore it. They could debate the facts. They could even investigate and change policies. Or they could label it a tool of foreign powers. I’m sorry, but not surprised, to report that the last option is the one being taken by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his closest coalition partners. The smear campaign has gone on for years. Sometime late on Monday night, rhetoric turned into legislation, as Netanyahu’s coalition pushed the so-called Transparency Law through parliament. More widely known as the NGO Law, ostensibly it merely tightens financial reporting rules for nongovernmental organizations in Israel. In reality, the law is a transparent bid to mark some of the country’s main human-rights groups—including those that report on and challenge government actions in the West Bank and Gaza—as borderline treasonous...