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

Political Memory in the Mideast

Obama's Middle East speech comes at a time when both sides are sure the other is misreading history.

Ismail Haniyeh, prime minister of the Hamas regime in Gaza, may be Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's favorite Palestinian leader -- a true ally, a blood brother. What they share is an all-or-nothing approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: either complete Palestinian rule over the land between the Mediterranean and the Jordan or complete Jewish hegemony. Neither man is a totally immovable object -- roped and dragged by an irresistible political force, either might agree to less than the whole land, but only in violation of his life's central conviction. Haniyeh reiterated his views on Sunday at a Gaza rally, expressing "great hope of bringing an end to the Zionist project in Palestine." Netanyahu seized that comment as a gift from an ally and quoted it the next day in his own speech to the Knesset, using it as proof that "this is not a conflict over 1967; this is a conflict over 1948, over the very existence of the state of Israel." Let me add several bits of context:...

The Strange Alchemy of the Settlements

Daniella Weiss has a soft smile and a round face that is remarkably unwrinkled for a woman of 66 known for most of her adult life as an incendiary activist. A cloth cap covers her hair, in keeping with a strict reading of Orthodox Jewish rules for married women. In her living room in the West Bank settlement of Kedumim, west of Nablus, religious texts fill the bookshelves. Glass cases display a silver crown for a Torah scroll, filigreed spice boxes, and other Jewish ritual objets d'art . Weiss dates her career on Israeli's religious right to the mid-1970s, when she helped organize the efforts of Gush Emunim -- the Believers Bloc -- to settle in this part of the West Bank in defiance of Yitzhak Rabin's government. Until 2007, she was mayor of Kedumim. Since then, she has been organizing youth of the radical right to establish illegal settlement outposts. She introduces herself as a devoted disciple of Rabbi Moshe Levinger, founder of the Jewish settlement inside Hebron. I visited her...

Boehner and Netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will travel halfway across the world to address Congress, but he won't come very far.

House Speaker John Boehner (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
When I heard that John Boehner was inviting Benjamin Netanyahu to address Congress next month, a faded, sharply contrasting memory of another solemn speech, another leader before a foreign assembly, flashed through my mind. I recalled watching the live broadcast of Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat's speech to the Knesset in 1977, an event that set the standard of courage by which all Middle East peace efforts have been measured ever since. Repeatedly, Sadat stressed that he had decided to go to the "farthest point on Earth," to Jerusalem, to make peace. That's a strange comment, I thought at the time. Jerusalem isn't so far from Cairo. But Sadat's description was correct: Emotionally, he had journeyed to a very distant place, at the formal invitation of an enemy, then-Prime Minister Menachem Begin, to end years of bloodshed. Bibi Netanyahu is the un-Sadat. He will fly much farther to get to Washington but will cross no emotional barriers. At the invitation of a sycophant, he'll speak...

A Possible Path to Peace

The Israeli Peace Initiative isn't perfect, but it's a true start.

In a better world, the Israeli Peace Initiative, launched yesterday, would have been written not by a group of ex-generals and other public figures but by the Israeli government itself. In an even better world, Israel would have issued the proposal nine years ago, immediately after the Arab League ratified its own Arab Peace Initiative. If that better world had included a U.S. administration able to mediate muscularly in 2002, the narrow gaps between the two outlines for peace might have been quickly closed and an agreement signed. Back then, the number of Israeli settlers in the West Bank and Gaza -- not counting East Jerusalem -- was 216,000, compared with more than 300,000 today. The Palestinian Authority had not yet split into separate West Bank and Gaza governments. The barriers to implementing an accord were considerably lower. Many graves had yet to be dug for the Israelis and Palestinians who have since died at each others' hands. Alas, we do not live in that alternative...

The Fever Returns

After three years of lying dormant, violence returns to Jerusalem.

Israeli police officers inspect the site of an explosion March 23, 2011. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)
The counterman at the snack-food shack called A Blast of a Kiosk spotted the ownerless valise next to the busy bus stop and called the police to report a suspicious object. While he was talking on the phone and simultaneously trying to shoo people away from the bag, the bomb went off, spraying the metal pellets that had been packed with the explosives. The kiosk got its name after it was destroyed in an-early 1990s suicide bombing at the same spot, in front of the Jerusalem Convention Center, and then was rebuilt and defiantly reopened. That time, the owner was luckily late for work. This time, his brother-in-law, the vigilant counterman, sustained shrapnel wounds. The blast on the grimy street was heard clearly more than two miles away by pedestrians in the gentrified German Colony. It took a moment to register what the sound meant. A Border Police jeep racing past the cafés helped jog memories. The bad old days were back, like malaria resurfacing after years of dormancy. For a...

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