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

How Far-Right Nationalism Fuels Jerusalem's Temple Mount Controversy

Netanyahu's awful choice of PR chief reveals how nationalism feeds the conflict at Jerusalem's holiest spot. 

AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner, File
Just before Benjamin Netanyahu took off for Washington, he flew straight into a political storm at home. Israel's prime minister announced his choice of Ran Baratz for the post of public diplomacy director—the government's spin czar, responsible for Israeli PR globally. Netanyahu and Baratz, a right-wing Internet pundit and ex-philosophy professor, had hit it off personally and politically. No one at the Prime Minister's Office bothered with an obscure vetting tool called Google. Reporters did use that tool, however, and immediately turned up provocative pronouncements on Baratz's Facebook page and in op-eds in the mainstream media. Netanyahu canceled plans to bring Baratz with him to Washington, dissociated himself from the statements, and said he'd deal with the mess when he got home. None of this erased the impression that Baratz writes the thoughts that Netanyahu represses. Here's a quiz. Below are four of Baratz's controversial comments. Please underline the one that you...

Not Yet an Intifada

Recent attacks in Israel do not represent an uprising, but despair expressed with knives. 

AP Photo/Ariel Schalit
The day passes quietly, which only seems like a deception. At 7:55 in the evening, the phones in the house start beeping news alerts. Sanity would require turning off the news notifications. Anxiety requires keeping them on. The first bulletin on that particular evening says there is a shooting attack in the central bus station in Beersheba, in southern Israel. (I choose which attack to tell you about nearly randomly; the beeping news feels the same each time.) At least five people have been wounded. The number will go up; it always does. The next alert, nine minutes later, says there are two terrorists in the station. By 8:17 p.m. a two-sentence bulletin says one attacker has been shot dead, and the other wounded, but an angry crowd won't let the ambulance crew get to him. At 8:36, one of the people who was shot while waiting for a bus is dead. A little after nine at night, the picture shifts: The second "terrorist" was an Eritrean asylum-seeker, shot by the bus station security...

Orthodox, Progressive, Invisible

There’s a price for treating religious groups as homogenous political blocs.

(Photo: AP/Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)
My family was once asked to host a pair of Southern Baptists for Friday night dinner. That, in any case, was how they were described in the email from our synagogue. Our South Jerusalem synagogue often hosts non-Jewish groups from abroad who want to meet religious Israeli Jews. My wife and I decided beforehand to keep the conversation off politics, American or Israeli. Word had reached our far side of the globe that Southern Baptists were seriously conservative and supported the Israeli right. We didn’t want to give offense or ruin the Sabbath atmosphere with a conversation that started at pianissimo and ended at fortissimo. Over dessert, though, we discovered that we had misunderstood. Our guests were in fact Baptists from the American South. But they were members of the Alliance of Baptists , which split from the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) over issues including women clergy, race relations, homosexuality, and how to study the Bible. The SBC describes itself as...

Netanyahu Has Lost on the Iran Deal, But Won't Leave the Table

Will the Iran fight make it easier for Democratic politicians to criticize the occupation?


AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner, File
Benjamin Netanyahu speaks American. From the start of his public career, his accent has convinced many people that he also gets America. No one has acted more convinced of this than the Israeli prime minister himself. If anyone still needs proof that this is a misconception, this week should provide it. Senator Barbara Mikulski's announcement Wednesday that she'll support the Iran deal provided the 34 th votes that Barack Obama needs in the Senate—and marked the defeat of Netanyahu's ill-considered campaign in the American political arena against the agreement. Just because he has the accent doesn't mean he has the acumen. While we wait to see if President Obama lines up enough senators to filibuster a resolution against the Iran deal, here are some lessons from this fight: No stratagem : Forget the convoluted theories about how Netanyahu expected to lose but intends to game defeat for political advantage. He fought because he expected to stop the deal, which was a mistake, and...

Deterrence, and that Truck in Austria

Anyone serious about countering extremism in the Middle East should be doing much more for refugees.

AP Photo/Rick Wilking, Pool
AP Photo/Rick Wilking, Pool Secretary of State John Kerry, left, shakes hands with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif before a meeting in Geneva, Switzerland Wednesday, January 14, 2015. "Deterrence" is the hot word of the summer. Ex-diplomat Dennis Ross and ex-general David Petraeus wrote that they could support the Iran deal if President Obama supplies more deterrence against Iran breaking it. Columnist Thomas Friedman argued that Israelis should see the up side of the agreement, "especially if the U.S. enhanced its deterrence." Friedman didn't suggest how to do that. But ex-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, coming out for the deal, gave details. The administration's "robust deterrence," she wrote in support of the deal, includes stepped-up "efforts to counter Iranian proxies" and provides Israel with the sophisticated, fabulously expensive F-35 warplane. Obama himself, in his letter to Representative Jerry Nadler, gave a long list of ways he's boosting deterrence...