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

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...

Marriage of Inconvenience

Economics have pushed Israel and Turkey to an overdue reconciliation. But Gaza, supposed cause of the rift, gains too little

Murat Cetinmuhurdar, Presidential Press Service, Pool via AP
At mid-day Tuesday, a couple of hours after Israeli and Turkish officials signed the accord to end the two countries' six-year estrangement, a targeted ad popped up in my Twitter feed in Jerusalem. It came from Turkey_home, a joint effort of Turkey's Tourism Ministry and its national airline, and linked to a video of sensuous scenes of swimming and windsurfing in an azure sea. Aha, I thought, that didn't take long. They want us back. In the evening, a few hours after that, my phone began vibrating with news alerts, first in Hebrew, then in English, with fragmentary reports about gunfire and suicide bombers at Istanbul's airport. The death count rose. The photos showed chaos. It occurred to me that my neighbors were not likely to buy package-deal beach holidays in Turkey this summer. The timing of the attack, unlike that of the ad, appears unrelated to the Turkish-Israeli rapprochement. Turkey has suffered 14 major terror incidents in a year, some by Kurdish rebels, some by the Islamic...

Trump as a Strategic Asset of the Islamic State

The candidate is playing the part assigned to him in terrorist strategy.

AP Photo/Jim Cole
Somewhere in Raqqa on Monday night, we can presume, several Islamic State higher-ups gathered around a screen to watch Donald Trump's speech about the mass murder in in Florida—his renewed demand to ban immigration by Muslims, and his allegation that American Muslims as a group, all of them, are giving cover to terrorism. The first comment in that room in Syria was mostly likely, “Thank God, at least something is going right for us.” The details of the scene are conjecture. The import of Trump's words is not. For this reason, Hillary Clinton's post-Orlando speech was missing one critical connection. She was right to use the word “terrorism,” to talk about the battle against the Islamic State, and to warn against transforming grief into hatred of Muslims. But that doesn't quite go far enough. President Obama came closer to the mark when he said that “painting all Muslims with a broad brush” is “doing the terrorists’ work for them...

The Expulsion and the Evidence

In 1972, the Israeli government lied to the Supreme Court about why it expelled thousands of people from their homes. Here's the real story.

AP Photo
The report is 44-years-old, typed in Hebrew, copied by mimeograph for a few high officers and officials. It describes, in dry military language, how the Israeli army came to evict thousands of Beduin from their homes in the Sinai Peninsula, then under Israeli occupation. It took a legal battle before the Israeli Supreme Court for me to be allowed to see it. What it proves decisively is that before the same court, 44 years ago, a senior government lawyer presented an argument for the state that—let me put this delicately—has no connection to the facts, and the court accepted it. Army and government papers show that the same happened in two other key Supreme Court rulings early in the occupation. I am retelling this now not just to set the historical record straight in light of new evidence, though that's important enough. The affair also says a great deal about the role that Israel's highest court has played, then and ever since, in giving a veneer of legitimacy to what the...

The Elegance of a Dissident

How scholar and activist David Shulman showed that you can oppose what a state is doing without rejecting the state itself.

Cunaplus/Shutterstock
Sometimes sanity prevails. In Israel today, I feel the need to point such an unusual—such a not surrealistic—moment. David Shulman, renowned scholar of Indian religions, won the country's highest civilian honor—even after announcing that he would donate the prize money to an intensely controversial Israeli-Palestinian group. I regret to inform you that this has implications that are not black and white. The Israel Prize is a kind of local Nobel, with the state rather than the bequest of the long-dead rich funding the awards. In contrast to the Nobel, the fields for which the prize is granted vary from year to year, in order to give recognition to a wider spectrum of achievement. It's very much a national institution: The prize ceremony is held on Independence Day, with the president, prime minister, and chief justice in attendance. This year one of the fields was philosophy and religious studies. A committee of four judges—chosen by a branch of the Education...

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