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 Mysterious Case of the Ex-Prime Minister's Memoir

A police raid on a publisher may be another sign of shrinking freedom of expression in Israel.

Debbie Hill/Pool File Photo via AP
It's a textbook mystery. I'd enjoy watching it as a film. I enjoy watching it less as fact, not fiction, when it takes place in the country where I live, especially when the victim may be freedom of the press. Last Thursday, cops raided the office of the Yediot Ahronot publishing house in Rishon Letzion, near Tel Aviv. They had a warrant to seize all documents and disks “connected to the autobiographical book of prisoner Ehud Olmert.” According to the publishing company, they took a lot more. They copied thousands of the CEO's emails. Either at the office or at the home of the editor working on Olmert's memoir, they also reportedly left with material from a book by former defense minister Moshe Yaalon, and one by journalist Ben Caspit about Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The publisher is part of the media empire of the daily Yediot Ahronot , one of Israel's two largest newspapers. Freedom of the press is not quite as broad a constitutional right in Israel as in the...

A Dance in Riyadh, a Blackout in Gaza

Trump's unreserved support for his Saudi sycophants could make life even more miserable in the Hamas-ruled enclave on the sea.

AP Photo/Khalil Hamra, File
Viewed from close up, it makes little sense for Israel to cut the supply of electricity to the Gaza Strip—which is just what the Israeli government decided to do at the start of this week. The cut will make the humanitarian crisis in the besieged Strip even worse. In the worst case, it might also lead to yet another war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. Viewed from a slightly wider perspective, the move does fit into a regional pattern—a pattern that includes the crisis over Qatar, and Donald Trump happily bopping along with a sword dance in Riyadh last month. Gaza is an anomaly. It's a rebel province of the Palestinian Authority, which itself is an autonomous entity subject to Israel. Israel removed its army and its settlements in 2005, but still tightly controls access to Gaza—partly to try to limit Hamas's ability to make war, partly to put pressure on the Hamas government. Gaza also has a border with Egypt. But since the 2013 counterrevolution in Egypt, when the...

The D.J. Trump Medicine Show Comes to Israel

A sculptor works with stone. A confidence artist works with people's desire to believe.

Debbie Hill, Pool via AP
In the American legend of the confidence man, he arrives in a small town by train or riverboat. He claims to be a professor who can teach children to play expensive musical instruments without effort, or a minister and the heir of the richest man in town. He talks quickly, thinks of lies even faster. He is everything to all people. The legend dates from an era before radio or television. So the confidence man succeeds in fooling the yokels just as long as no one shows up from the last town he took in. When word does catch up with him, as in Mark Twain's version, he's likely to be tarred and feathered , and run out of town on a rail. In the 2017 remake, the American confidence artist arrives in a small country in the Middle East aboard Air Force One. In a plot twist that defies credibility, he actually is the president of the United States. In Jerusalem and Bethlehem, he aims at convincing Palestinian and the left-leaning half of the Israeli public that he will lead them to the peace...

Fifty Years Later: The Six-Day War Teaches Where Brinkmanship Leads

As history shows, an unflinching approach to foreign policy is rarely a good idea. 

YAACOV AGOR/Creative Commons
The word “brinkmanship” is popular on news pages in these days of Donald Trump. Sometimes it's half-figurative, as when Trump threatens a shutdown of the U.S. government over his budget demands. But often it's used in the original sense: willingness to go to the brink of war—as when North Korea's Kim Jong Un shows off his missiles and Trump threatens a “major, major conflict with North Korea” while moving his missiles around. Merriam-Webster reports a rise in searches for “brinkmanship” since about April 8—matching the since-debunked news that a U.S. flotilla was sailing toward Korea. Seeing Trump and Kim Jong Un go to the brink is like watching two high school guys with large muscles and small brains prepare to race their pickups at each other—except that the whole world is riding in the back of the trucks. And yet, brinkmanship still enjoys a JFK-esque cachet rooted in the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. The popularly accepted story...

The Trump Effect on Israeli Politics

Israel has enacted its very own travel ban, on supporters of boycotts. The timing is no coincidence.

Abir Sultan, pool via AP, File
Rabbi Arthur Green wants to know if he can still come to Israel. Green asked the question in a letter originally published in Hebrew in Haaretz , the Israeli daily. He said he's scheduled to be here in Israel for academic conferences in June and October, and that during his last trip he gave 15 lectures. Green is modest; he doesn't explain how prominent he is in the American Jewish community as a rabbinic educator, theologian, and scholar of Jewish mysticism. He does, however, say that he will not use wine from the West Bank settlement of Kiryat Arba for kiddush , the blessing over wine on the Sabbath and Jewish holidays. There are grounds to believe that products of settlements are tainted by theft, he writes with careful understatement. In his letter, he encourages others to follow his practice. That is, he openly encourages boycotting the products of a settlement. So, he asks, is he now barred from entering Israel? That's the implication of the law recently enacted by the Knesset,...