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

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...

The Distress of a Salesman

Netanyahu's new public-relations effort is a desperate push to sell his same old policies.

Before he went into government service, Benjamin Netanyahu was a furniture marketing executive. His first public-sector job was as an Israeli diplomat posted in the United States, for which he spent much of his time promoting Israel's image. His approach to politics was shaped by his experience as a salesman: You can sell people the product that you want to sell as long as the packaging is what the customer wants to buy. And when sales slip, boost advertising. Judging from the Israeli prime minister's sudden burst of marketing in recent days, Netanyahu believes his political product is deeply in trouble, both at home and overseas. He has launched a drive to rebrand himself as a successful -- if underappreciated -- moderate. To that, he has added a negative campaign against the Palestinian Authority leadership. The effort testifies that Netanyahu sees a recent drop in his polling figures as an omen, not a momentary dip, and that he is scared about deteriorating relations with Western...

Tahrir Square in Palestine

Uprisings throughout the Arabic world suggest a possible way forward for Palestinians.

Masked Palestinian militants of a group affiliated with the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades called for protests against Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas Jan. 27, 2011. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
You don't actually need Mahatma Gandhi's spiritual values, or even a Gandhi, to pull off a mostly nonviolent revolution. That's one lesson from the Egyptian and Tunisian revolutions for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and for those Israelis and Westerners who have long asked, "Where is the Palestinian Gandhi?" Whether that implication will be applied in the West Bank -- and against whom -- remains an open question. I examined the question of why the Palestinians had not produced a Gandhi in a long article published two years ago, originally written at the request of Atlantic Monthly editor James Bennett, whose curiosity grew out of his years as The New York Times correspondent in Jerusalem. The question was logical: The successes of Gandhi against the British in India and of Martin Luther King in the American civil-rights struggle suggest that nonviolence can be particularly effective against a regime that claims to be committed to liberal values but is actually behaving in a deeply...

Be Quiet, Bibi

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is speaking about the situation in Egypt out of fear. He shouldn't.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a joint press conference with Gordon Brown. (Flickr/Downing Street's photostream)
Avoiding comment is a basic skill that every diplomat and politician should master. Unfortunately, it's one that Benjamin Netanyahu has yet to learn. Nothing requires the prime minister of Israel to comment publicly on the uprising against President Hosni Mubark's regime in Egypt. But Netanyahu simply can't resist the urge, especially when meeting with naive Europeans who don't understand the Middle East. "Our concern is that when there are rapid changes, without all aspects of a modern democracy in place, what will happen -- and it has happened already in Iran -- will be the rise of an oppressive regime of radical Islam," Netanyahu said at a press conference with visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel soon after the uprising began. This week, when meeting with European diplomats, he repeated his warning: Islamic radicals, he explained, could "exploit the situation to seize power in the country and lead it backward." Netanyahu -- son of a renowned historian whose magnum opus was on...

The Vengeance of the Occupation

There's a limit to how long a fragile democracy like Israel can maintain an undemocratic regime next door.

I know that the Yiddish writer Sholem Asch didn't intend his classic play, God of Vengeance , as an allegory about Israel and the impact of the occupation. The play was first staged 60 years before Israel conquered the West Bank. All the same, what's happening in the Jewish state keeps tempting me to read Asch's drama as an allegory. In "God of Vengeance," a character named Yankel Chapchovich in an unnamed Eastern European town runs a brothel in his basement while trying to bring up his daughter as a chaste Jewish girl on the floor above. To protect her purity, he installs a Torah scroll in his home. His plan naturally fails: There's a limit to how much tribute vice can pay to virtue before the line between them vanishes. Likewise, there's a limit to how long a fragile democracy can maintain an undemocratic regime next door, in occupied territory, before democracy at home is corrupted. A border, especially one not even shown on maps, cannot seal off the rot. Take, for example, the...

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