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

Hamas: A Silent Partner for Peace?

Faced with internal political pressures and the hard fact of Israel's strength, Hamas has moderated its political positions significantly. The moment may be ripe for pushing Hamas further toward the center.

What would happen if Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal gave an interview and nearly no one in the West listened? Well then, it would be possible for the Israeli government and the Bush administration to continue with dead-end policies for dealing with the Islamic movement that rules Gaza, without anyone asking questions about failed strategic assumptions. Meshaal is the Damascus-based head of Hamas' political bureau, its main leadership body. While his precise relationship with the head of the Hamas government in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, is unclear, Meshaal is normally described as Hamas' leader. Last week he gave an interview to Al-Ayyam , a pro-Fatah Palestinian daily. In it, he stressed that he's still committed to the Palestinian unity agreements of 2006, the basis for last year's short-lived Hamas-Fatah power-sharing deal in the Palestinian Authority. He reiterated that he would accept a Palestinian state based on the pre-1967 boundaries -- that is, alongside Israel, not in place of it...

ROAD TO SEGREGATION.

The Israeli Supreme Court has given its stamp of approval, at least temporarily, to an army policy of keeping a key West Bank highway off-limits to Palestinian drivers, as New York Times correspondent Ethan Bronner reports today . The irony: The Israeli government originally told the Court that the road was being built to serve local Palestinians. Bronner notes that I've found the paper trail in Israeli archives proving that the road was actually as part of the Israeli settlement effort in the West Bank. The explanation (and the documents) are up at South Jerusalem , my new blog. --Gershom Gorenberg

The Strange Case of Robert Malley

The recent hounding of Barack Obama for the supposed anti-Israel stance of his informal adviser Robert Malley is an instructive point in the controversies surrounding who gets to tell the narrative of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Of all the recent efforts to smear Barack Obama, none strikes me as stranger than the claims that one of his informal advisers on foreign affairs, Robert Malley, is anti-Israel. This, in turn, is supposed to prove that as president, Obama is liable to institute dangerous changes in U.S. policy toward Israel. As a campaign trope, the calumny may have begun with Ed Lasky, news editor of the right-wing Web site The American Thinker, who posted a fervid attack on Malley in January. The Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America has taken time off from its hawkish media-bashing to post a blast at Malley on its Web site. Journalists regularly speculate on whether the Malley connection will hurt Obama among Jewish voters, though there's no evidence of that. Meanwhile, Malley's diplomatic colleagues -- including Sandy Berger, Dennis Ross, and Martin Indyk -- have issued an open letter defending him. There's more at work here than the usual, nearly boring, attempts to slime a...

Burden of Proof

Increasingly, the rabbis in the Israeli state bureaucracy demand proof that people registering to marry are really Jewish. The proof they seek is unavailable to most American-born Jews.

Am I a Jew? This is a remarkably strange question for me to ask. No aspect of my identity is more obvious to me. I've been aware of being Jewish since before I can remember. We missed school on Rosh Hashanah; everyone else had Christmas trees. My grandparents' native language was Yiddish. This is besides the fact that I chose 30 years ago to move to the Jewish state. Nonetheless, while writing " How to Prove You're a Jew " for The New York Times Magazine , I ran the personal experiment of seeing whether I could come up with evidence of Jewishness that might satisfy the Israeli rabbinate. My detective work yielded meager results. No official U.S. document lists me as a Jew. No Jewish marriage contract, or ketuba , for my parents lay hidden in an attic. No Orthodox rabbi alive knew my late mother as a child. With a cousin's help, I found what's probably a record of my grandmother's arrival at Ellis Island in 1910, with her ethnicity listed as "Hebrew" -- but her name is spelled "Sure"...

THE GAZAN CONUNDRUM.

The NY Times has an analysis today on Israel's dilemma in negotiating peace with Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas when Hamas, not Abbas, controls Gaza. As the last few days' events showed, military confrontations between Israel and Hamas make it impossible for Abbas to keep negotiating. And even if he reached a deal, how much would it mean when he doesn't speak for Gaza? An alternative is negotiating directly with Hamas. But that's a a painful choice -- it legitimizes the Islamic movement's takeover of Gaza, and mean Israel would be negotiating with two separate representatives of the Palestinians. The Times doesn't mention the logical third way, described here last week just as the fighting in and around Gaza was escalating: Israel should encourage reestablishment of a Palestinian unity government -- possibly by releasing jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti. -- Gershom Gorenberg

Pages