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

Welfare State Now!

As the U.S. and European governments turn toward austerity, Israel's economic uprising against "piggish capitalism" keeps growing.

Gershom Gorenberg
The crowd surged uphill, a torrent filling a main street in the center of Jerusalem on Saturday night, coursing toward the square next to Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu's official residence -- one of his three homes. The marchers were overwhelmingly in their twenties and early thirties -- the generation of Israelis who have been written off for years as being terminally apathetic. They were jumping, swaying, pounding on pots and water-cooler bottles as drums, blowing whistles, shouting themselves hoarse in the giddy joy of being angry together. They sang the old Hebrew kindergarten song, "My hat has three corners," rewritten as "My Bibi has three homes ... and if my Bibi didn't have three homes, maybe I'd have a home of my own." They roared: "The people demand social justice!" Someone shouted through a megaphone, "What's the answer to privatization?" and the crowd yelled back, again and again, "Revolution!" The economic protests shaking Israel began three weeks ago with demands for...

Tent City Revival

Israelis protest a dearth of affordable housing.

(AP Photo/Bernat Armangue) A 13 year old Israeli boy rests inside a tent in a protest tent encampment in central Jerusalem.
"Even Adam Smith is turning over in his grave," reads a handwritten sign pinned to one of the small, square tents. Next to the sign, sewn to the tent, is a piece of cloth with the address printed on it: "51 Tent Boulevard." On maps of Tel Aviv, the street is listed as Rothschild Boulevard, but over the past two weeks, the new name has become more appropriate. On the wide, tree-shaded center island, hundreds of nearly identical tents have been pitched in neat rows: a city of protest against the robber-baron economic policies of Israel's current and recent governments, particularly a drastic housing shortage that is hurting not only the poor but the daughters and sons of the country's middle class. At the north end of the boulevard, facing Israel's Habima national theater, a cloth awning hangs over the tables that serve as the protest headquarters, with an Israeli flag standing on either side -- as if the ranks of gray tents were about to march northward, toward the wealthy end of the...

Warning: This Article Is Illegal

In defense of settlements, Israel's ruling coalition has launched an offensive against free speech.

(AP Photo/Oded Balilty) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a parliament session at the Knesset in Jerusalem July 13, 2011, where he defended a controversial new law banning boycotts of West Bank settlements.
This article is against the law. To be more precise: It includes a call for boycotting the products of West Bank settlements, a call that will be illegal in Israel as soon as legislation just approved by the Knesset is published in the official gazette and takes effect. That's normally a matter of a couple of days, perhaps a week. The Prohibition on Instituting a Boycott Act was submitted by Zeev Elkin -- a West Bank settler and Likud politician who chairs the ruling coalition in Israel's parliament. On Monday night, the Knesset passed the Boycott Act on a straight party-line vote, with the 47 members of the coalition and a far-right opposition party voting in favor, and the 38 members of center and left-wing opposition parties voting against. Under the law, publicly calling for an "economic, academic or cultural" boycott of "the State of Israel, one of its institutions or an area under its control" is a "civil tort." That is, publicly organizing or even supporting a boycott is...

Israel's Lost Cause

The history of an Israeli rebellion is rewritten by today's government.

(Flickr/Whistling in the Dark)
The plan is to comb the floor of the Mediterranean for the remains of the ship. The Israeli government will reportedly allocate $60,000 for the search. The next stage, much more costly, will be to salvage the Altalena and turn it into a memorial for the men of the right-wing Irgun underground, which sparked the momentary Israeli civil war in June 1948. Judging by what the country's leading politicians have said in recent days, the salvaged ship will commemorate the "crime" committed by the Israeli government against the rebels of the Altalena -- and, bizarrely, the supposed saintliness of Irgun commander Menachem Begin for preventing fratricide. It's as if the U.S. government officially endorsed Confederate History Month as a celebration of the South's role in preserving the Union. History is about the past, but the way it's told speaks terabytes about the present. The effort by the ruling Likud Party to drag the Altalena from the depths of the Mediterranean and of memory shows that...

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...