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

Netanyahu Cements His Place in the Illiberal International

His new Nation State Law fits his friendship with the new autocrats.

These two things happened within a few hours of each other‫: Hungary's authoritarian leader, Victor Orban, landed in Israel as the warmly welcomed guest of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. On a party-line vote, Israel's parliament passed Netanyahu's flagship piece of legislation, the Nation State Law—which enshrines second-class status for the country's Arab citizens as a constitutional principle. Coincidence? Yes, and no. Orban's visit wasn't orchestrated to celebrate Netanyahu's victory. The law passed in a rush before the Knesset recessed for the summer. The visit was planned separately That said, the timing was scarily perfect. The Nation State Law is a historic turning point in transforming Israel into an illiberal democracy. Netanyahu's embrace of Orban—and of other Central European leaders of his ilk, and of Donald Trump—shows his conscious identification with the new Illiberal International. The new measure was enacted as a “basic law.”...

Is #NeverBibi Enough?

You can't help wondering if Netanyahu's right-wing critics understand their role in creating him. 

Moshe Yaalon is neither left-wing nor glib. Or so anyone who knows him would have said until this week. Yaalon served as Israel's defense minister, among other posts, under Benjamin Netanyahu. At one time Yaalon was the go-to person if you wanted Netanyahu's views on permanent Israeli control of the West Bank, but in plain, very direct words , without Netanyahu's sleight of tongue. True, Yaalon left parliament, the government, and the Likud a couple of years ago over Netanyahu's mob-pleasing support for a soldier who had shot and killed a captured terrorist. And he has decried the stink of corruption wafting from the prime minister's residence. But that was at a rally of right-wing dissidents. In a radio interview this week, though, Yaalon asserted it was time to redefine terms. Once upon a time, he said, “right” and “left” in Israel referred to economics. The right was capitalist; the left, socialist. Then the words switched meaning: The right was against the...

Sara Netanyahu's Takeout Dinners May Not Be a Game-Changer

It takes more than corruption to change voters' minds. But you knew that. 

How in the world do you order $100,000 worth of takeout in Jerusalem? Such was my reflexive reaction when Sara Netanyahu, wife of Israel's prime minister, was indicted last week for fraudulently charging meals worth that much to the government. I mean, you have to work at overspending on dining in this town. At one of the classier restaurants from which she ordered, the most expensive main course on the menu, an entrecote steak, costs under $45. But the question was silly. If anyone could be so extravagant on someone else's tab, it's the Netanyahus. Reports of their determined disregard for paying the bills, their sense of royal entitlement even when Benjamin Netanyahu was out of office, go back to the beginning of his national career. The indictment does raise a couple of legal questions, like how it took this long for one Netanyahu or the other to face criminal charges. More important is a political question, one hardly restricted to Israel: How does a politician maintain electoral...

The Trump-Kim Show Should Teach Israel How Little Trump's Support Is Worth

Netanyahu’s relentless effort to cultivate Trump’s favor is a losing game. 

Likud cabinet minister Tzachi Hanegbi was quick on the send button. “Today was a historic day in #Singapore,” he tweeted elatedly as the Trump-Kim Jong Un summit wrapped up. “It was the latest signal that the @RealDonaldTrump Administration will not tolerate nuclear weapons in the hands of radical and dangerous regimes. Hopefully the mullahs in #Iran will get the message loud and clear.” This isn't an official statement of the government of Israel. But it fits very closely with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's reflex of extravagant praise for the man now occupying the Oval Office. The kindest reading: Hanegbi was tweeting out of cynical understanding of what it takes to stay on Trump's good side. The alternative—that he believed he what he said—would mean that he, his boss, and his party totally misread the implications of the summit for Israel and the Middle East. The rule is: When a foreign official or politician praises Trump, there's an...

The Border Is Always Ready to Blow Up

A brief guide to the last clash, and the next, on the Israel-Gaza line

The sirens screamed at 7 a.m. one morning last week in Israeli communities near the Gaza border. A few seconds later mortar shells started falling. One landed in a kindergarten playground, empty because of the early hour. All around Israel, through the day and into the night, cell phones flashed news of red alerts in the region around Gaza as shells and rockets came in. And into the night, Israeli Air Force jets bombed Hamas and Islamic Jihad arms stores in the coastal strip. Unusually, there were no reports of people killed. But bulletins pointed out, in case you weren't already thinking it, that this was the fiercest exchange of fire between Gaza and Israel since 2014. You knew the script, from 2014 and before that 2008: mortar shells or rockets, followed by air strikes, followed by mortars, and so on. Followed by war. The next morning, Wednesday, at 5:15, the last salvo came from Gaza. Then quiet. You woke up to the news of an unofficial ceasefire and felt knots in your shoulders...