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

Why Would Netanyahu Want to Remind the World of the Golan Heights?

The Israeli prime minister comes from a movement that suffers from desperate attraction to defiant gestures.

Rex Features via AP Images
Next week the normally near-empty country roads that take you up the grassy slopes into the highlands will be packed with cars. It will be Passover, and Israeli families on vacation will be heading for trailheads leading to the green gorges of the Golan Heights. On Israeli maps the Golan is simply part of Israel, unilaterally annexed for all practical purposes nearly 35 years ago. On the rest of the world's maps it is Israeli-occupied Syrian territory. Right now, it is most definitely the calmest stretch of sovereign Syrian soil. Foreign ministries around the world know that, ironically, the Golan is possibly the only piece of Syria that at least one armed group is not actively trying to take from another. In principle, no country in the world accepts Israel's rule of the Golan Heights. In practice, this is the least burning issue on the agenda regarding Syria. Surely no sensible Israeli politician would want to spoil this situation by calling attention to it. Perhaps no sensible...

Why Bernie's Socialism Doesn't Make Him Anti-Zionist

It makes no sense to portray Sanders as leading a charge against Israel. 

AP Photo/Steve Helber, File
Here's a certain version of history: Once, in a different era, the era into which Bernie Sanders was born, “New York was full of Yiddish socialists.” Jews, or very large numbers of them, continued leaning left until the late 1960s, when right-wing Zionism took over as the moving spirit of American Jewish life. Universalism, sadly, gave way to exceptionalism. Sanders, though, is an “evangelist” of the old socialist tradition, “the kind of Jew that Zionists would very much like us to forget.” In very brief form, that's the account in Jesse Myerson's cover story in the Village Voice a few days ago. A colleague sent me a link, which reached me on a stopover between North America and my small Hebrew-speaking country in the Middle East. It's a strange read. Let's leave Sanders aside for now. Seen from Israel, or from much of Europe, the only thing remarkable about Sanders's social democratic stance is that it's considered remarkable in America rather than...

It Doesn't Matter What Trump Said about Israel. It Matters That He Got to Say It.

First Adelson tilted toward Trump, then AIPAC gave him a counterfeit stamp of legitimacy.

AP Photo/Evan Vucci
The day before Donald Trump spoke at the AIPAC conference in Washington, the top morning talk show on Israel Radio began with commentary on a proposal to lower the voting age in Israel to 17. “Getting young people into the voting booth sounds wonderful,” said co-anchor Beni Teitelbaum. “The question is whether this will accelerate a trend of putting reality TV stars in parliament, because young people will en masse vote for the star ... of some passing televised nonsense.” Teitelbaum is on the political right and has a left-wing partner on the show, which usually begins with one making a pointed remark about a news item and the other rebutting it. This time the left-wing host said nothing, signaling agreement. There are several ex-journalists in Israel's parliament, but no one who moved over from reality TV. Teitelbaum was really talking about the spectacle of Donald Trump across the Atlantic. The politics of Israel's superpower patron are heavily covered in...

When Your Enemy's Enemy is Your Enemy

A defense of Hezbollah by two Israeli Arab parties is a lesson for progressives on the pitfalls of obsolete rhetoric.

AP Photo/Mohammed Zaatari
Three news items from the strange political morass known as the Middle East: ◦ Last week, the Gulf Cooperation Council—a six-country Arab alliance dominated by Saudi Arabia—officially designated Hezbollah as a terror organization, laying the ground for harsh legal steps against anyone connected with the Lebanese Shi'ite group. ◦ This week two political parties representing Palestinian citizens of Israel condemned the GCC decision. Hezbollah had come to the aid of Lebanon against Israel aggression and “stands in the breach against American-Israeli efforts to impose hegemony,” said a resolution of the National Democratic Assembly. A similar statement was published in the name of the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality. (The former party is often identified in reports from Israel by the Hebrew acronym Balad, which is an Arabic word for “land.” The latter party uses the Hebrew acronym Hadash, which means “new”; in Arabic it's...

Isaac Herzog: The Man With Small Answers

The leader of Israel's Labor Party says he has the solution for the diplomatic deadlock. But he's really part of the problem.

AP Photo/Ariel Schalit
Isaac Herzog, the nominal and ineffectual leader of the Israeli opposition, has found what he believes to be a platform for challenging Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: despair of reaching a two-state agreement in the foreseeable future. The main lesson of this exercise is that despair is not an inspiring political message. But then, Herzog has never been accused of being an inspiring politician. Despair does not provide a reason to act; it is an excuse for failing to do so. The danger of Herzog's despair isn't just that it will provide the current Israeli government with one more PR argument for inaction, but that it will also fuel the sense in other capitals that there's nothing to be done about the Israeli-Palestinian problem and therefore no reason to try. Herzog does have reason to feel desperate. A year ago, running against a prime minister bereft of accomplishments, Herzog managed to lose. Netanyahu's Likud won 30 out of 120 seats in parliament. The Zionist Union, an alliance...

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