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

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...

Wrong Turns

Blocked by failed negotiations with Israel and an ambivalent Obama administration, Palestinians look to the international stage.

(Gershom Gorenberg)Nadim Khoury
Nadim Khoury watches as brown bottles march single file along the conveyor belt from the machines that sterilize them to those that fill them, cap them, and glue on labels reading, "Taybeh Beer. The Finest In The Middle East." Under his large graying moustache, Khoury has a small smile of entrepreneurial pride. Patriotism brought Khoury and his brother David home to the West Bank village of Taybeh in 1994. They'd lived for years in America, where Khoury earned a business degree from a Greek Orthodox college, then studied brewing at the University of California, Davis. In the euphoria that followed the September 1993 Oslo Accord, they wanted to help develop the economy of what they thought would soon be an independent Palestine. Next to the palatial house their father built to help attract them home, downhill from Taybeh's single traffic circle, they set up their microbrewery, with shining steel tanks for boiling malt barley with hops, fermenting the brew, and aging it. "I made history...

Hiding in Plain Sight

The Israeli public is shielded from the realities of West Bank life.

(Flickr/Chris Yunker)
The settlement's security man did not like us. He did not like the cameraman with his bulky gear, or the two documentary film producers who'd brought Dror Etkes and me to the outpost of Derekh Ha'avot south of Bethlehem, and he certainly didn't like Etkes, an Israeli activist known for expertise on land ownership and for his legal challenges to West Bank settlement. The security coordinator wore civvies but bounced a bit on the balls of his feet in the spring-coiled posture of junior combat officers, or recently discharged officers. "You can't film in the neighborhood," he told us. Neighborhood is a euphemism for an outpost, a mini-setttlement ostensibly established in defiance of the Israeli government but actually enjoying state support. Derekh Ha'avot -- the name means "Forefathers' Road" -- is next to the veteran settlement of Elazar but outside its municipal boundaries. The security man worked for Elazar. Filming would be "a security risk. I don't know a lot about security, but I...