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 Fresh Take on the Jewish Faith

A new community of American Judaism is embracing religious traditionalism and social liberalism.

Halfway through the Saturday morning service, it struck me: A transcript of the service would be no different from that of a standard Orthodox Jewish service. We were faithfully adhering to the unamended, centuries-old traditional Hebrew liturgy. A transcript, however, would not show that men and women were sitting together, without the physical divider that separates them at an Orthodox synagogue, or that women were leading parts of the service -- another blatant egalitarian break with Orthodoxy.

Imagined Israel

A new book makes sense of why Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu repeats his errors.

An Israeli man carries his daughter on his shoulders on their way to the Tomb of the Patriarchs, a shrine holy to Jews and Muslims, in the West Bank city of Hebron. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

By all accounts, Benjamin Netanyahu devoted very little thought to the two final sites added to a list of designated heritage sites set to benefit from a large government restoration budget. Never mind that the Tomb of the Patriarchs, known to Muslims as the Ibrahimi Mosque, is located in the West Bank town of Hebron. Likewise, Rachel's Tomb is in Bethlehem -- also occupied territory. Just before Sunday's Cabinet meeting, rightist ministers noticed that the two shrines, regarded as the burial places of the biblical ancestors of the Jewish people, were missing from the list. They leaned a bit on Netanyahu, he added the tombs, and the Cabinet unanimously approved the plan.

Free Speech and Funding in Israel

Attacks against a major left Israeli philanthropic organization are symptomatic of the complex role foreign money plays in political debates.

Jewish right-wing activists dressed as Arabs demonstrate against the New Israel Fund (NIF). "Thank you Naomi Chazan, the New Foundation, Friends from Gaza." (AP Photo/Dan Balilty)

Ronen Shoval caught me off-guard. I'd phoned the newly prominent rightist to listen to him repeat his allegations that the New Israel Fund, the major philanthropic backer of Israeli human-rights groups, was "aiding Hamas." But I wasn't expecting him to say that the NIF was "serving communist interests." He's not actually an Israeli neo-McCarthyist, I realized. He's an authentic, original McCarthyist -- cut loose in both time and space, in free fall, looking desperately for his mother ship. For a few seconds I felt sorry for him.

Willed Amnesia

Israel's new amnesty law only perpetuates the narrative that the only people hurt by settlement in Gaza were the settlers, whose ideal communities have been lost forever.

Israeli security forces attempt to reach the rooftop of the Kfar Darom synagogue, where settlers barricaded themselves to resist forced evacuation on Aug. 18, 2005. (AP Photo/Yossi Zamir, GPO)

The amnesty law is impressive in its brevity, in its focus, and most of all in its terrible audacity. Passed by Israel's Parliament this week, it is barely two pages long. It wipes clean the criminal records of one very specific group of political protesters: those arrested while trying to block Ariel Sharon's unilateral evacuation of Israel's Gaza Strip settlements in the summer of 2005. The legal system will forgive and forget the young ultra-nationalists who insisted that the divine imperative to settle the Whole Land of Israel trumped other law, and who in some places turned the pullout into a mob confrontation with Israeli police and soldiers, televised globally.

To the Victor Go the Street Names

The real legacy of regional conflict can be found in the smallest details -- street names, curriculum choices -- that painfully enshrine some of the worst violence.

Akko, Israel.(Flickr/Chris Yunker)

Walking along the beachfront street in Akko recently with a social activist from the town's Arab community, I looked up at a sign and saw I was at the corner of Shlomo Ben-Yosef Street. Then I looked again just to make sure. Really, I'm embarrassed I was surprised. Naming the street after Ben-Yosef showed an entirely predictable blend of bad taste and flagrant educational incompetence.

Pages