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 Allegation: Netanyahu Wanted the Best Image Power Could Buy

By allegedly subverting the free press, he showed why it is so essential.

After Benjamin Netanyahu returned to Israel from the United States as a young man, he worked for a time as a marketing executive for a furniture company. Around the time he came back to Israel, he also changed his name back to Netanyahu. In the States, he'd rebranded himself as Benjamin Nitay. It was easier for Americans to pronounce. Marketing and branding were the specialties that Netanyahu brought to his next career, in politics. He treated image-massaging not as a tool, but as a political philosophy. This week he came a step closer to a possible prison term for that philosophy. Early on, Netanyahu developed a doctrine that Israel's poor standing internationally wasn't caused by its policies. Rather, the problem was a strategic failure to sell itself well to foreign audiences. Most of all, though, Netanyahu marketed Benjamin Netanyahu. He worked hard on his speaking style, especially in front of television cameras. He learned to insert jokes, to toss in a line about American sports...

Airbnb Quit the Settlement Business. If Only Israel Would.

The Netanyahu government response to the company pulling out of the West Bank is insane, incompetent, or both. 

An old friend from America who's a tour operator came to Jerusalem and I went to meet him. His tour group was staying in a hotel in the center of town that I'd never noticed because, in the past, it was probably a down-on-its-luck apartment building or home to small offices of lawyers, accountants, and companies of indistinct purposes. Converting it to a hotel made sense, my friend said, because even in the November off-season, every hotel room in Jerusalem is full. Tourism is roaring. So are short-term rentals of apartments and of rooms in them. A 2017 survey of tourists in Tel Aviv found that half were staying in Airbnb or similar accommodations. Young friends tell me of Jerusalem university students making the rent by going home to mom and dad on weekends and renting their apartments to tourists. Then again, the rent is likely higher because some landlords are moving their properties from yearly leases to nightly rentals. Now Airbnb is in the middle of a political ruckus in Israel...

Netanyahu's Saudi Fantasy

Like Likud leaders before him, the Israeli prime minister thinks he can redesign the Middle East.

Perhaps because he was at a conference in Bulgaria, just a few hundred miles up the Black Sea coast from Istanbul, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu got around to publicly commenting last Friday on the murder of Saudi dissident and Washington Post columnist Jamil Khashoggi a month earlier in the Turkish capital. “What happened in the Istanbul consulate was horrendous, and it should be duly dealt with,” Netanyahu said. The first part of that sounds fine. The second part sounds like he was talking about someone being pulled over for DUI, rather than about a brutal murder carried out by agents of the government of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Both parts belonged to the lip-service clause, after which Netanyahu got to his point. “Yet ... it is very important for the stability of the world, for the region and for the world, that Saudi Arabia remain stable.” Read that in light of the report the day before in The Washington Post that Netanyahu (...

Apropos Those Bombs: Netanyahu Says He Had Nothing to Do with Rabin's Assassination

The more a leader stokes the hate, the less he can claim that he couldn't have imagined the results.

“If the campaign of incitement and vilification against anyone who disagrees with your views does not stop, blood will be spilled here. ... There is a deep division and you, elected leaders, have the power to end it.” Those words were spoken in Hebrew at the beginning of this week. They were not intended as a comment on the bombs that had not yet been discovered in the mail in America. Unintentionally, though, they provide commentary on the responsibility for violence by the supposed lone extremist. The words come from Noa Rothman, granddaughter of Yitzhak Rabin. She was speaking at the state memorial ceremony for the prime minister who was assassinated 23 years ago. The “you” to whom she referred to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was present to hear her, and more widely to his political camp. Netanyahu and his loyalists were terribly offended. Quite a few reporters, more practiced at “balance” than at the pursuit of truth, colored their...

For the Left, No Hope Means No Votes

Netanyahu is likely to win Israel's next election because the left fails to challenge the raw emotions of anger and fear. 

The two prevailing predictions in Israeli politics are that elections will be held in early 2019, and that Benjamin Netanyahu will be prime minister again when the votes are counted. Naturally, a zillion things could prove these forecasts wrong, especially the second one. For instance, the police and attorney general could wrap up the three or four endless corruption probes (depending on how you count) against Netanyahu and indict him, though it would seem like Godot strolling onstage in the middle of the play about him. A new party and candidate could emerge, and sweep the election. Who knows? Yet the reasons behind these predictions are solid, and say a lot about politics in Israel and beyond: Personality does matter, and the people who do politics best are experienced politicians. Most basic: The right will always do anger better. The mostly likely pretext for new elections is that Netanyahu's coalition breaks up over a new conscription bill that could force more ultra-Orthodox men...