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

Dear Mr. Obama ...

Please be clever at the U.N.

(AP Photo/Osama Faisal) Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas during the opening of the Arab League Monitoring Committee to put the finishing touches on the Palestinian bid for U.N. membership in Doha, on Tuesday August 23, 2011.
Dear Mr. Obama, A clever person succeeds in climbing out of the hole that a wise one avoids falling into. So says a Hebrew adage often applied to national leaders. To my great sorrow, you have already missed the chance to respond wisely to the upcoming Palestinian bid for U.N. recognition. You still have a few days left to be clever. I desperately hope you use them. You strode into a foreign-policy hole during your Middle East speech last May when you dismissed Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas's plan to ask for U.N. membership an attempt "to isolate Israel at the United Nations." If anyone missed your implied threat, a State Department spokesperson made it explicit last week, explaining that if "something comes to a vote in the U.N. Security Council, the U.S. will veto." This is a mistake several times over. Despite the habitually panicked tones from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian statehood is a gain for Israel. By promising a Security Council veto, you've tied...

Quiet, Fragile, and Unexpected

In a side effect of the Arab revolutions, Egypt pushed Israel and Hamas to stop before war.

(APAimages/Rex Features) Palestinian children's shadows on a wall with a mural depicting a Palestinian fight and an Israeli flag in the Jabaliya Refugee Camp in the northern Gaza Strip.
Once again, war approached. The radio announced funerals of terror victims, including two sisters and their husbands. Politicians competed at bellicosity. Rumors drifted through quiet weekend conversations in Jerusalem synagogues that soldiers in combat units were packing their gear to go south, to Gaza. Again. The impulse to loose the brigades was poorly considered but not insane. Terror makes people of otherwise measured moods want to attack, to break things and people. The band of terrorists, allegedly from Gaza's Popular Resistance Committees (PRC), that came out of the Sinai desert last Thursday opened fire on cars and buses that were passing by chance on the highway to the beach town of Eilat. They killed six Israeli civilians and two soldiers and left dozens wounded. From there, the cycle built with its seemingly invincible inevitability: An Israeli jet fired a missile at precisely the building in the Gaza Strip where five leaders of the PRC were meeting and killed them. The...

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...