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

Terrorists Want You to Be Very Afraid. So Don't Be.

Panic, wild hyperbole, and hatred of Muslims are victories for the Islamic State. So please, chill out.

AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews
AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews Shoppers approach an NYPD anti-terror patrol unit in Herald Square, New York City, on November 27, 2015. T he original meaning of words is washed away by overuse. So a reminder: Terrorism is intended to make you feel terror, to make fear flood your mind and keep you from thinking straight. That's true whether it takes place in Paris, San Bernardino, or Jerusalem. The first step in defeating terrorism, therefore, is to chill out. Take a long slow breath. Then we can talk calmly about things to do next. Here's a small example to start with. In October, when the current wave of terror attacks began in Israel and the occupied territories, a major Israeli supermarket chain removed knives from its kitchenware shelves. It was done without fanfare. The owner of the chain explained that it didn't make much sense to have a guard at the entrance checking handbags for weapons—a standard precaution in Israel—if someone could walk in, grab a knife off at Aisle 3, and start...

The Spy Who Couldn't Keep His Mouth Shut

With Jonathan Pollard out on parole after serving 30 years for spying for Israel, the public deserves a reprieve from the bilateral hypocrisy his case inspired.

(Photo: AP/Bryan R. Smith)
(Photo: AP/Bryan R. Smith) Jonathan Pollard, who served 30 years for selling intelligence to Israel, leaves the federal courthouse in New York on November 20. I n the fall of 1985, I was a night news editor at The Jerusalem Post. The stress of the job was greater than usual, because the FBI had arrested an Israeli spy named Jonathan Pollard. Every evening we'd design the next day’s front page, with a big rectangle at the top of Page 1 reserved for the spy affair, and then we'd wait. Because it was seven hours earlier in Washington than in Jerusalem, the last possible moment for our Washington correspondent to file his story was 5 p.m. on his wristwatch, midnight our time, and the last minute was usually when it came. Then it was my job to phone the military censor's office, read the story aloud to the duty officer, and listen to him bar publication of all the important parts. It would be another few years before the Israeli Supreme Court drastically curtailed the censor’s powers. One...

How Far-Right Nationalism Fuels Jerusalem's Temple Mount Controversy

Netanyahu's awful choice of PR chief reveals how nationalism feeds the conflict at Jerusalem's holiest spot. 

AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner, File
AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner, File Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men stand in front of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem's Old City on October 12, 2015. J ust before Benjamin Netanyahu took off for Washington, he flew straight into a political storm at home. Israel's prime minister announced his choice of Ran Baratz for the post of public diplomacy director—the government's spin czar, responsible for Israeli PR globally. Netanyahu and Baratz, a right-wing Internet pundit and ex-philosophy professor, had hit it off personally and politically. No one at the Prime Minister's Office bothered with an obscure vetting tool called Google. Reporters did use that tool, however, and immediately turned up provocative pronouncements on Baratz's Facebook page and in op-eds in the mainstream media. Netanyahu canceled plans to bring Baratz with him to Washington, dissociated himself from the statements, and said he'd deal with the mess when he got home. None of this erased the impression that Baratz writes the...

Not Yet an Intifada

Recent attacks in Israel do not represent an uprising, but despair expressed with knives. 

AP Photo/Ariel Schalit
AP Photo/Ariel Schalit Israeli border police officer search a Palestinian youth at Damascus Gate of the Jerusalem's Old City in Jerusalem's ahead of Friday prayers, Friday, October 23, 2015. T he day passes quietly, which only seems like a deception. At 7:55 in the evening, the phones in the house start beeping news alerts. Sanity would require turning off the news notifications. Anxiety requires keeping them on. The first bulletin on that particular evening says there is a shooting attack in the central bus station in Beersheba, in southern Israel. (I choose which attack to tell you about nearly randomly; the beeping news feels the same each time.) At least five people have been wounded. The number will go up; it always does. The next alert, nine minutes later, says there are two terrorists in the station. By 8:17 p.m. a two-sentence bulletin says one attacker has been shot dead, and the other wounded, but an angry crowd won't let the ambulance crew get to him. At 8:36, one of the...

Orthodox, Progressive, Invisible

There’s a price for treating religious groups as homogenous political blocs.

(Photo: AP/Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)
(Photo: AP/Al Drago/CQ Roll Call) Orthodox Jews gather on Capitol Hill on September 9 to protest the Iran nuclear agreement. While a more than half of Orthodox Jews (and evangelical Christians) might identify with the GOP, according to a recent Pew study, it's important to remember that there's a nearly one-in-two chance that an Orthodox Jew is an Independent or Democrat. M y family was once asked to host a pair of Southern Baptists for Friday night dinner. That, in any case, was how they were described in the email from our synagogue. Our South Jerusalem synagogue often hosts non-Jewish groups from abroad who want to meet religious Israeli Jews. My wife and I decided beforehand to keep the conversation off politics, American or Israeli. Word had reached our far side of the globe that Southern Baptists were seriously conservative and supported the Israeli right. We didn’t want to give offense or ruin the Sabbath atmosphere with a conversation that started at pianissimo and ended at...