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 Bibi and the BDS Movement Need Each Other

The boycott movement provides Israel's prime minister with a useful enemy, and he reciprocates with valuable publicity.

AP Photo/Ariel Schalit
"We are in the midst of a great struggle being waged against the State of Israel," Benjamin Netanyahu warned in a statement to the media before a recent cabinet meeting. A warning like that from Israel's prime minister isn't new. Neither was his identifying the threat as a modern expression of eternal anti-Semitism. "It is not connected to our actions. It is connected to our very existence. ... Now, this is a phenomenon that we have known in the history of our people. ... They said we are the foundation of evil in the world. They said that we are the poisoners of the wells of humanity." That's all classic Netanyahu rhetoric. The twist was that he wasn't talking about the Iranian regime, but about what he portrayed as a powerful international campaign to isolate and boycott Israel. Why now? In comparison, Netanyahu's "this is 1938 and Iran is Nazi Germany" campaign was reality-based. One could disagree with Netanyahu's monomania about Iran and his strategy for dealing with it. But...

The Soldier's Story

What happens when one corporal speaks out about how the occupation corrupts Israel.

AP Photo/Ariel Schalit
Corporal Shachar Berrin's commander in the Israeli army sentenced him to a week in prison. His brother emailed me to let me know so I wouldn't be surprised when the story eventually broke in the news. Shachar's offense, as handwritten on a disciplinary form, was participating "in a political meeting, while in uniform, in the presence of the media." That's partly true: He was in uniform, and TV cameras were recording. But it wasn't a political meeting. And judging from circumstances, the real reasons for his quick trial and sentence were the presence of right-wing activists and what he said about serving in the West Bank in daily interaction with Palestinians. "When soldiers, when we, are conditioned and persuaded on a daily basis to subjugate and humiliate people... I think that seeps in," he said, "and I think that when the soldiers go home, when they go inside Israel... they bring that back with them." But yes, he was in uniform and knew he was on camera. So the case of Cpl. Berrin...

Netanyahu's New Government: Weak, Extreme, and Unpredictable

To stay in power, Israel's prime minister created a government even further right than he is.

(Photo: AP/Sebastian Scheiner)
As the minutes and seconds left for Benjamin Netanyahu to form a government flashed on my screen Wednesday night, I passed the time by reading Daniel Kahneman on the futility of political predictions. "Reality emerges from many different agents and forces. ... Short-term trends can be forecast with fair accuracy from previous behaviors," writes the Israeli-American psychologist and Nobel laureate in economics. "You should not expect much from making long-term forecasts." Kahneman seems overly optimistic about even short-term predictions when it comes to the politics of his native land—though he could fairly answer that in Israel seven weeks is long-term. That's how long it's been since the Israeli election, when Netanyahu defeated both his left-wing challenger and all of the country's pollsters. Immediately after the vote, the impression among the public and most of the expert class was that his way was paved to a new coalition, stronger than the one that fell apart last fall...

16 Million Refugees Are Not Some Other Country's Problem

A Marshall Plan now is cheaper than military action to deal with collapsing states later.

Alessandro Di Meo/ANSA via AP Photo
The world today is facing a crisis of people fleeing their home countries in the greatest numbers seen since World War II. How is it responding? Item: Two Eritrean refugees who reached Israel by crossing the Sinai desert went to court Thursday, asking for an injunction preventing the government from deporting them to Rwanda. The policy of forced deportation is new, but a recent report by Israeli refugee-rights organizations shows that in case after case, Sudanese and Eritrean asylum-seekers who supposedly left voluntarily in 2013-2014 did so under pressure, including threats of indefinite detention. Those sent to Rwanda were in turn expelled by authorities there almost immediately. Others were sent back to Sudan, where some were imprisoned and tortured for the crime of visiting an enemy state—Israel. Dozens of refugees who "voluntarily" left Israel for Africa are now trying to reach Europe: by land to Libya, then across the Mediterranean on smugglers' boats. Item: An Australian...

The Sensible, Risky Option

The Iran deal is a gamble, but the best one available. 

(AP Photo/Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader)
"There are only bad options. It's about finding the best one." "You don't have a better bad idea than this?" "This is the best bad idea we have, sir." That snippet of dialogue is from the film Argo , set just after the Iranian revolution in 1979. It's the scene in which CIA Director Stansfield Turner is listening to the out-of-any-box scheme of two CIA men for smuggling six American diplomats out of Teh e ran. Turner is sensible. Since this is the best bad plan available, he approves it. Risky as it is, it even turns out to be a good plan. Thirty-six years later, the same script would be appropriate for calmly discussing the framework agreement with Iran on limiting its nuclear program. Calm, though, has been in short supply. Since before the agreement was announced, before they knew what it would say, Republican politicians have been ranting against it. They, in turn, are singing back-up to the lead ranter, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose stream of press statements...

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