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

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/
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...

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. For that matter, a transcript wouldn't show the fervor of the singing -- by the congregation, not just the leader -- in the rented church basement on New York's Upper West Side. It wouldn't indicate that nearly everyone there was between 20 and 35 -- precisely the demographic that professional leaders of established denominations of American Judaism ritually complain they have trouble getting into synagogues. But this congregation, known as Kehilat Hadar ("community of splendor") doesn't...

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. From there, the reaction followed as if part of the playbill. Palestinian protests in Hebron turned into confrontations between demonstrators and troops that have grown larger each day. Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat described the heritage designation as a "unilateral decision to make Palestinian sites in Hebron...