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

36 Hours In Israel (With Barack Obama)

When John McCain visited Israel last March hardly anyone noticed. When Barack Obama did the same this week he caused a sensation.

It was the most choreographed of visits: Two nights and one day in Israel, seemingly designed by the kind of tour guide interested only in providing his charges with the ultimate number of snapshot opportunities at clichéd places -- from Obama wearing a white skullcap at Yad Vashem,to Obama at the Western Wall, in a white skullcap. There were no leaks while Barack Obama was in Israel, no drama, no gaffes -- to the disappointment of a vast media contingent intent only on bringing home gaffes as souvenirs -- and precious little sleep. At his press conference in the rocket-scarred southern Israeli town of Sderot, Obama's syntax meandered; in a conversation with Benjamin Netanyahu, Obama said , "I could fall asleep standing up." Nonetheless, he did not refer to the Iran-Israel border. At first glance, the Israel stop in the Obama world tour was also carefully devoid of content. Yet besides the stash of photos for Florida campaign ads and the carefully banal comments about Israeli security...

Five Questions Israel Should Ask Before Bombing Iran

After Iran's missile tests last week, the question of whether Israel will strike Iran preemptively is on everyone's mind. Here are five questions Israel should ponder before striking.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, right, talks with Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz during the weekly Cabinet meeting in Jerusalem. Mofaz has said that an Israeli attack was "unavoidable." (AP Photo/David Silverman)
Friends in Washington send me e-mails: They want to know if Israel is getting ready to bomb Iran's nuclear installations. This is the Bush Era: If you will it, no Middle East war is impossible. And in the last few weeks, there has been a gale of hints, threats, and leaks. U.S. officials, none named, told The New York Times that an Israeli military exercise last month was "a rehearsal" for striking Iran. Shaul Mofaz, the remarkably mediocre ex-military chief of staff campaigning to succeed Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, said that an Israeli attack was "unavoidable." A notoriously unreliable reporter for the Sunday Times of London wrote that President Bush has given Israel an "amber light" -- to translate, that would be the light between green and red -- for hitting Iran. Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, warned that if Israel opened a "third front" against Iran, it would hurt the U.S. in Iraq and Afghanistan. That's a clear U.S. no -- with the implication that there...

Barack's Pilgrimage

The trip that future president Obama needs to take to Israel is not the one that candidate Obama can risk.

Sometime in the weeks ahead, Jerusalem will receive the latest in a long line of American political pilgrims -- Barack Obama. Obama's entire overseas swing will be a tightrope act -- necessary, but unforgiving of a single stumble. Nowhere will the contradictory purposes of the trip be more constricting than in Israel. The visit he should actually make to prepare for the presidency is impossible. But it's worth imagining, if only as a yardstick to measure what politics allows him to do. By the strange rules of the current campaign, the candidate who got it right on Iraq must defend his understanding of the world against the one who got it wrong. So in Europe and the Middle East Obama will meet national leaders. He'll seek to inspire enthusiastic comments from them, demonstrating he can improve relations frazzled by George W. Bush. At press conferences, he'll need to speak professorially -- showing he arrived knowledgeable and quickly gained new insights. An Obama gaffe will echo for...

A New Legal Challenge to Israeli Settlements

In a pioneering court case, Israeli human rights activists are asking the Supreme Court to grant an order to demolish homes being built on Palestinian land in the West Bank.

The photo, taken from the air, shows the red roofs of the houses of Ofrah, one of the best-known Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Between the existing houses one can make out the shells of nine new homes under construction. Computer-overlaid thin green lines show the division of the land on which the settlement sits -- parcels owned by Palestinian residents of the nearby village of Ein Yabrud. The photo is Exhibit A in a lawsuit filed earlier this month by five residents of Ein Yabrud, with the backing of two Israeli human-rights groups. The residents are asking Israel's Supreme Court for an order to demolish the homes being built on their land. The aerial shot is from February. A new picture of the homes, taken from the ground, appeared this week in the right-wing Israeli newspaper Makor Rishon . Red tiles are piled on the as-yet unfinished roofs of the spacious two-story houses. The photo does not show the bloodied face of the photographer, who was punched in the nose by a...

Tough Like Tzipi

As Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni prepares her run for prime minister while Hillary Clinton ends her run for president, the question becomes: How tough must a female candidate be?

One line of Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni's resume has always been an enigma. From 1980 to 1984, it says, Livni served in the Mossad. This week, some details of her work in the ultra-secretive espionage agency emerged in the Sunday Times of London . While based in Paris, an acquaintance told the paper, "Tzipi was not an office girl. … She blended in well in European capitals, working with male agents, most of them ex-commandos, taking out Arab terrorists." Her closest female partner was Mira Gal, who is now Livni's bureau chief at the Foreign Ministry, the Times said, hinting at a sisterhood of old spooks. You don't need a conspiratorial mind-set to assume that Livni, or an ex-spook close to her, planned the placement and timing of that report. Because it was published abroad, there was no risk of the Israeli military censor blue-penciling it, but it was quickly picked up by the Hebrew media. It came just as Livni was preparing for a political battle to replace scandal-tainted...

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