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

Anti-Dissent Disorder

The U.S. Jewish community needs to be open to criticism of Israel.

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) Jeremy Ben-Ami, executive director of J Street
The film shows emails scrolling across a computer screen. Addressed to Peter Stein, director of the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, they carry more venom than it seems mere pixels of text could contain. They accuse him of being an anti-Semite and of running an "anti-Israel hate-fest." They include words like "Hitler" and ask if next year he will present a retrospective of Nazi film director Leni Riefenstahl's work. This sequence comes early in the documentary Between Two Worlds , which premieres later this month in New York. Stein's offense during the 2009 film festival was showing another documentary: Rachel , about Rachel Corrie, an American activist killed several years earlier in Gaza by an Israeli army bulldozer as she tried to stop it from razing a Palestinian house. At the same festival, Stein also showed 36 Israeli movies as part of his effort to catalyze intelligent conversation of Jewish issues. That didn't save him from the hate letters or from the protests outside the...

Wrong Turns

Blocked by failed negotiations with Israel and an ambivalent Obama administration, Palestinians look to the international stage.

(Gershom Gorenberg)Nadim Khoury
Nadim Khoury watches as brown bottles march single file along the conveyor belt from the machines that sterilize them to those that fill them, cap them, and glue on labels reading, "Taybeh Beer. The Finest In The Middle East." Under his large graying moustache, Khoury has a small smile of entrepreneurial pride. Patriotism brought Khoury and his brother David home to the West Bank village of Taybeh in 1994. They'd lived for years in America, where Khoury earned a business degree from a Greek Orthodox college, then studied brewing at the University of California, Davis. In the euphoria that followed the September 1993 Oslo Accord, they wanted to help develop the economy of what they thought would soon be an independent Palestine. Next to the palatial house their father built to help attract them home, downhill from Taybeh's single traffic circle, they set up their microbrewery, with shining steel tanks for boiling malt barley with hops, fermenting the brew, and aging it. "I made history...

Hiding in Plain Sight

The Israeli public is shielded from the realities of West Bank life.

(Flickr/Chris Yunker)
The settlement's security man did not like us. He did not like the cameraman with his bulky gear, or the two documentary film producers who'd brought Dror Etkes and me to the outpost of Derekh Ha'avot south of Bethlehem, and he certainly didn't like Etkes, an Israeli activist known for expertise on land ownership and for his legal challenges to West Bank settlement. The security coordinator wore civvies but bounced a bit on the balls of his feet in the spring-coiled posture of junior combat officers, or recently discharged officers. "You can't film in the neighborhood," he told us. Neighborhood is a euphemism for an outpost, a mini-setttlement ostensibly established in defiance of the Israeli government but actually enjoying state support. Derekh Ha'avot -- the name means "Forefathers' Road" -- is next to the veteran settlement of Elazar but outside its municipal boundaries. The security man worked for Elazar. Filming would be "a security risk. I don't know a lot about security, but I...

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...

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