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 Road to Injustice

How Palestinians lost access to a main West Bank highway.

A Palestinian protester at Highway 443 near the West Bank village of Beit Urr, Friday, Jan. 11, 2008. (AP Photo/Kevin Frayer)
Arriving home in Israel after a semester teaching in New York, I got in a taxi at Ben-Gurion Airport and asked the cabbie to drive me to Jerusalem. "Take the main road, not Route 443," I said. Route 443 runs through the West Bank. When it was transformed from a country road to a highway in the 1980s, Palestinian land was expropriated under the legal fiction that the project's main purpose was to serve Palestinian residents of the area. Since 2002, however, the Israeli army has barred Palestinians from using it. I take 443 only when I must to cover a story. "I don't like 443 either," the cabbie said. "It's dangerous now that the Supreme Court made them let Arabs use it. " He pronounced "Supreme Court" like a curse. Such antipathy is common among Israeli right-wingers, who regard the Court as a club of bleeding hearts. I prefer a calm driver, especially on a road into the mountains, so I didn't argue politics with him. Nor did I point out his factual errors: The army hadn't yet opened...

After 43 Years, a Divided City

Most Israelis now ignore Jerusalem Day. It is time for some truth-telling.

An Ultra-Orthodox Jewish man looks at the Dome of the Rock Mosque in Jerusalem's old city. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)
Lest it be said that I never agree with anything that Benjamin Netanyahu says, I actually concur with one clause -- not a whole sentence -- in the speech he gave Tuesday evening. "The struggle for Jerusalem is a struggle for the truth," the prime minister of my country said. The rest of his speech consisted of the usual quarter-truths and myths that make up most statements about "eternally united" Jerusalem -- by Netanyahu himself, by other Israeli officials, and by often-naive American supporters. Nobel Peace Prize Winner Elie Wiesel's open letter , published as a full-page ad last month in The New York Times and other U.S. papers, is a good example of the art form. Netanyahu was speaking at the start of the celebrations for Jerusalem Day, the sundown-to-sundown national holiday marking Israel's conquest of East Jerusalem in the Six-Day War of 1967. (The anniversary is set according to the Hebrew date, rather than the civil date of June 7.) The venue was Merkaz Harav yeshivah, the...

Brokering With Bibi

The administration aims to change what Netanyahu does, rather than what he says. Is that enough?

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
A worldly colleague of mine once complained that with the demise of the Soviet-era Pravda , the intellectual joy went out of newspaper reading -- the satisfaction of examining photos for who wasn't on the dais, of studying statements for what wasn't said, in order to reason out the real news. He was too quick to mourn. Reading the text of the State Department's daily press briefing provides nearly the same pleasure and even sheds some light on what Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu is up to. At both Monday 's and Wednesday 's sessions, Assistant Secretary of State Philip Crowley emphatically refused to comment on reports that Netanyahu has imposed a de facto freeze on building in annexed East Jerusalem. "I'll refer to the Israeli government to enunciate its own policy," Crowley said. Of course, the policy that Netanyahu has publicly enunciated is that Israel will continue to build anywhere it wants in Jerusalem. And Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat denies there's a freeze. Crowley...

The Whistleblower's Story

A young Israeli soldier leaked documents alleging that generals broke the law. The whistleblower will pay. The brass probably won't.

Anat Kam (Flickr/The7eye.org)
Now that the Tel Aviv District Court has lifted its gag order on the Anat Kam affair, Israelis don't need foreign news sites to learn about the ex-soldier who allegedly leaked digitalized reams of classified documents to a reporter. That makes life easier for those whose English is weak, but the difference in public awareness probably isn't significant. The gag order had already insured intense curiosity. What the increased access should do is stir a serious debate about balancing freedom of the press and whistleblowing with secrecy and security -- a debate every democracy needs regularly. What's reliably known is this: Kam is 23. (In news photos, she looks 15 and terribly innocent -- possibly an image designed by her lawyers.) During her required army service, she worked as a clerk in the office of Gen. Yair Naveh, then-head of the Israel Defense Force's Central Command. When she completed her service, she took home CDs to which she had copied many classified documents. Later she...

Prime Minister Non Grata

Benjamin Netanyahu's meeting with Obama was a disaster, and Israel's other allies are growing increasingly weary of the prime minister.

And your friends, Bibi, they treat you like a pest. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen, File)
Mr. Netanyahu wanted badly to go to Washington. He wanted to warm himself in the worship of thousands of delegates at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's annual convention, far from the cacophony of his unruly ruling coalition. He knew that if he didn't get White House time during his visit, the media back home would report, chorally, that he'd caused a rift in relations with Israel's essential ally. To end the spat with the administration over Israeli construction in East Jerusalem, he made some half-publicized promises to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and got his invite to meet President Barack Obama. And perhaps during this meeting he learned (if Benjamin Netanyahu ever learns) that you should be terribly careful what you wish for. For the Washington visit has only made it more obvious that he has managed to estrange himself from Israel's friends. Support for Israel, the nation's allies are telling him, does not mean even begrudging acceptance of continued...

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