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

A Note to Hillary on Jerusalem Disunited

An open letter to Hillary Clinton, telling her what life is really like in Jerusalem and informing her that her stand on uniting the city isn't half the plan her husband proposed in 2001.

Dear Hillary, A colleague alerted me to your recent position paper on Israel , with your promise of support for an "undivided Jerusalem." I appreciate the warm feelings, but I admit I was confused by your description of my city. Since you are a careful, wonky candidate, I figured you must have details at your disposal. So this morning I called a Palestinian cabby friend, and together we went looking for the "undivided Jerusalem." I live in Talpiot, an area that hugs the vanished DMZ that ran through part of the city between 1948 and 1967. The next neighborhood over, East Talpiot, was built after Israel annexed East Jerusalem and a swath of land around it in 1967. East Talpiot fills much of the vanished DMZ. It was part of the massive government effort to move Israeli Jews into the new areas and to erase the armistice line between Israel and Jordan. The apartment blocks sit on wide, tree-lined streets with brick-paved sidewalks. There are municipal playgrounds, and green park benches...

Judging Israel's Alleged Strike in Syria

Israeli officials won't confirm that they were behind a military raid in northern Syria, so information about it has come from the usual unreliable sources.

JERUSALEM -- It's an Entebbe moment, or at least an Entebbe remake, expected to conjure up a warm memory of the original euphoria inspired by Israel's legendary 1976 rescue of hostages in Uganda. The Israeli air force and commandos have struck, ridiculously far from home, dealing a blow precisely where it was needed, so that in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem we know that our boys are still the most daring ones around, and so that the bad guys know we can still get them whenever we want, right through their back window. Ergo, we are safer. True, we don't know exactly why the blow was needed at that place, somewhere on the northern edge of Syria. The bad guys are angry, they say they will strike back, but are so embarrassed about what we allegedly hit they won't say what it was. Our Cabinet, which normally leaks like a water tank used for machine-gun target practice, is saying nothing. The little lopsided enigmatic smile perennially worn by Defense Minister Ehud Barak may be a bit larger than...

The Israeli Government's Genocide Politics

How Israel's top officials are turning a blind eye to both the decades-old genocide in Armenia and the present-day plight of refugees from Darfur.

A Sudanese refugee family sit on the ground in front of an Israeli soldier after they crossed illegally from Egypt into Israel. Israel said in August it would turn away refugees from Darfur. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
The Armenian museum in Jerusalem consists of three rooms tucked away off an Old City courtyard. In the room describing all of Armenian history, one end is dedicated to the Armenian genocide of 1915. A dozen blurry photos show horrors: the corpse of a naked, starved child; Ottoman soldiers posing behind on a pedestal on which rest bearded heads; more human heads lined up on shelves. A couple of brief texts tell the entire story of how a doomed empire sought to slaughter a minority. The photos are curling at the edges; the plaster on the walls is peeling. In the hour I spent at the museum recently, I was mostly alone. On the other side of the city, Yad Vashem, the official Israeli memorial to the Holocaust, spreads across a 45-acre campus. It includes a research institute, archives, a library and the recently expanded museum. Photos, maps, texts and video displays line the jagged route through the main exhibition. There's a room set up like a German Jewish living room; later there's...

And the Land Was Troubled for 40 Years

As the Six Day War ended, Israeli leaders said that the occupation of Palestine was colonial and dangerous.

An Israeli border guard proclaims a curfew in East Jerusalem to take a census of the Arab population, June 1967. Photo by the Associated Press.
The hillside below us is a terraced vineyard, or was until the bulldozers came. There's a sharp smell of sage and recent rain, and the steady grind of heavy machinery. It is a cold day; a Palestinian man with a black stocking cap pulled over his headscarf stands in the stiff breeze, his face blank, watching as the two big shovels push aside greenery and the stone walls that support the terraces and leave a wound of red clay. Behind us stand the white stone-faced houses of suburban Efrat alongside the shopping centers and real-estate signs announcing new developments in the largest Israeli settlement in the area known as the Etzion Bloc, between Bethlehem and Hebron in the West Bank. In front of us, on the other side of a valley, are the minaret and low square houses of Umm Salamuna, a Palestinian village. The red gash in the ancient terraces is the route of the security barrier Israel is cutting through the West Bank. When completed, it will be a highway-wide swath of coiled...

Settlement Creep

At first glance, it seemed like good news: In January, Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz froze plans for a new settlement in the West Bank, partly in response to U.S. objections. Just a few weeks before, Peretz had given the go-ahead for the establishment of Maskiot, the first new settlement to win Israeli government approval in more than a decade. It was intended for 30 Israeli families evacuated from the Gaza Strip in August 2005, and it was to be built in the barren hills above the Jordan River. Announcement of the plan brought a sharp protest from Washington. "The U.S. calls on Israel to meet its road-map obligations and avoid taking steps that could be viewed as predetermining the outcome of final-status negotiations," a State Department spokesman said, referring to George W. Bush's 2003 "road map" for peace, which required Israel to stop settlement growth. Reports credited U.S. opposition as a key reason for the proposal's demise. Skimming news Web sites, you might construct...

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