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

They Don't Mind Being Called McCarthyites

A process of political selection in the Israeli right favors paranoia and disregard for democracy.

Abir Sultan, Pool Photo via AP, File
“In most cases, it turned out he was right,” Ronen Shoval tweeted in Hebrew a few days ago. The “he” in that sentence refers to Joseph McCarthy. Shoval, founder of the attack-dog organization Im Tirtzu, was responding to critics who charge his organization and its allies in government with McCarthyism, as described here in Peter Dreier's article this week. Shoval's answer was to happily accept the label. He's not alone. Knesset Member Ofir Akunis of Prime Minister's Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party once responded to the same charge on a TV talk show with, “Every word [McCarthy] said was correct.” Shoval sometimes plays the part of McCarthy so well that one wonders if he knows that the Cold War is over. In an interview with me five years ago, he not only accused the New Israel Fund (NIF) of “aiding Hamas” but also of “serving Communist interests.” This inspires me to quote Marx, who said that history repeats itself, “the...

Washington Discovers the Occupation Is not a Good Thing

The U.S. ambassador to Israel has harsh, honest, and long-overdue words about Israeli actions in the West Bank.

AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner, File
Dan Shapiro is not just a diplomat, but the U.S. ambassador to Israel. For someone in that politically fraught job, Shapiro made an unusually clear remark this week about Israel's actions in the occupied West Bank. But before looking at Shapiro's comments, I must tell a story. On a Friday in March 2014, Abbas Momani—a Palestinian photographer for the AFP news agency—drove to the Jalazun refugee camp near Ramallah to shoot a weekly, virtually ritual confrontation between Palestinian teens and Israeli soldiers and police. Momani was a bit late. The Israeli forces had already broken up the Palestinian protest, which had included throwing rocks at the adjacent Israeli settlement of Beit El. Then they'd had a second face-off with a group of settlers, who'd thrown stones in the opposite direction and attacked journalists at the entrance of the camp. Momani was driving a car with Palestinian plates and a sign saying “Press” in the windshield. As he came to sharp bend...

Why Are Democrats Voting for Israeli Settlements?

The Customs Bill, set to pass the Senate soon, includes a provision protecting Israeli settlements. 

AP Photo/Cliff Owen
Sometime very soon, the U.S. Senate will pass a bill that requires the government to treat the West Bank as part of Israel. Not only that, it will obligate the administration to pressure other countries to do the same. These provisions have provoked no serious opposition as the bill has worked its way through the congressional maze. Instead, Democratic lawmakers raise their hands to do the work of the GOP-Likud axis, in what may be a bizarre act of penance for their own courage in supporting the Iran deal last summer. The bill's own language says it's aimed at fighting the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel. In reality, it may actually encourage boycotts of Israel. The bill says it's meant to preserve the “sustainability of peace” between Israel and the Palestinians. In reality, it helps the efforts of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to make a two-state agreement impossible. The bill is called the Trade Facilitation and Enforcement...

Terrorists Want You to Be Very Afraid. So Don't Be.

Panic, wild hyperbole, and hatred of Muslims are victories for the Islamic State. So please, chill out.

AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews
The original meaning of words is washed away by overuse. So a reminder: Terrorism is intended to make you feel terror, to make fear flood your mind and keep you from thinking straight. That's true whether it takes place in Paris, San Bernardino, or Jerusalem. The first step in defeating terrorism, therefore, is to chill out. Take a long slow breath. Then we can talk calmly about things to do next. Here's a small example to start with. In October, when the current wave of terror attacks began in Israel and the occupied territories, a major Israeli supermarket chain removed knives from its kitchenware shelves. It was done without fanfare. The owner of the chain explained that it didn't make much sense to have a guard at the entrance checking handbags for weapons—a standard precaution in Israel—if someone could walk in, grab a knife off at Aisle 3, and start stabbing people. There a couple of lessons from this. Removing the knives wasn't going to end attacks elsewhere. But...

The Spy Who Couldn't Keep His Mouth Shut

With Jonathan Pollard out on parole after serving 30 years for spying for Israel, the public deserves a reprieve from the bilateral hypocrisy his case inspired.

(Photo: AP/Bryan R. Smith)
In the fall of 1985, I was a night news editor at The Jerusalem Post. The stress of the job was greater than usual, because the FBI had arrested an Israeli spy named Jonathan Pollard. Every evening we'd design the next day’s front page, with a big rectangle at the top of Page 1 reserved for the spy affair, and then we'd wait. Because it was seven hours earlier in Washington than in Jerusalem, the last possible moment for our Washington correspondent to file his story was 5 p.m. on his wristwatch, midnight our time, and the last minute was usually when it came. Then it was my job to phone the military censor's office, read the story aloud to the duty officer, and listen to him bar publication of all the important parts. It would be another few years before the Israeli Supreme Court drastically curtailed the censor’s powers. One night, as I recall, the officer said "Scratch that!" after every paragraph I read, his voice rising paragraph by paragraph as he destroyed my front...

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