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

And the Land Was Troubled for 40 Years

As the Six Day War ended, Israeli leaders said that the occupation of Palestine was colonial and dangerous.

An Israeli border guard proclaims a curfew in East Jerusalem to take a census of the Arab population, June 1967. Photo by the Associated Press.
The hillside below us is a terraced vineyard, or was until the bulldozers came. There's a sharp smell of sage and recent rain, and the steady grind of heavy machinery. It is a cold day; a Palestinian man with a black stocking cap pulled over his headscarf stands in the stiff breeze, his face blank, watching as the two big shovels push aside greenery and the stone walls that support the terraces and leave a wound of red clay. Behind us stand the white stone-faced houses of suburban Efrat alongside the shopping centers and real-estate signs announcing new developments in the largest Israeli settlement in the area known as the Etzion Bloc, between Bethlehem and Hebron in the West Bank. In front of us, on the other side of a valley, are the minaret and low square houses of Umm Salamuna, a Palestinian village. The red gash in the ancient terraces is the route of the security barrier Israel is cutting through the West Bank. When completed, it will be a highway-wide swath of coiled...

Settlement Creep

At first glance, it seemed like good news: In January, Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz froze plans for a new settlement in the West Bank, partly in response to U.S. objections. Just a few weeks before, Peretz had given the go-ahead for the establishment of Maskiot, the first new settlement to win Israeli government approval in more than a decade. It was intended for 30 Israeli families evacuated from the Gaza Strip in August 2005, and it was to be built in the barren hills above the Jordan River. Announcement of the plan brought a sharp protest from Washington. "The U.S. calls on Israel to meet its road-map obligations and avoid taking steps that could be viewed as predetermining the outcome of final-status negotiations," a State Department spokesman said, referring to George W. Bush's 2003 "road map" for peace, which required Israel to stop settlement growth. Reports credited U.S. opposition as a key reason for the proposal's demise. Skimming news Web sites, you might construct...

Shotgun Blast

"Gawd," I said, with my morning mix of disgust and voyeurism at a news item I wish I'd never seen and would surely read. Thus compelled, I clicked on the New York Times headline, " Essay Linking Liberal Jews and Anti-Semitism Sparks a Furor ." Here we go, I thought: Another right-wing American Jew with fantasies of his alternative life as an Israeli paratrooper is trashing liberal Jews for voicing criticisms milder than what an Israeli ex-paratroop officer might express over lunch with old army friends. This expectation, I discovered, was unfair to Alvin H. Rosenfeld, author of the essay in question. In part, Rosenfeld was the victim of sloppy reporting. In her lead paragraph, Times reporter Patricia Cohen called the American Jewish Committee, which published Rosenfeld's essay, a "conservative advocacy group." Actually, the hard-to-pigeonhole AJC has endorsed creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel. It recently voted against ejecting a left-wing Zionist group from a campus...

Border Patrol

The diplomat had big maps on the walls of his airy office at the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem. As mid-level envoys do, he was providing some off-the-record talk. I confess that I don't remember what he said. I do remember how my wife and I gaped at his maps: They showed the Green Line, the pre-1967 border between Israel and the West Bank. That was in the late 1980s. Maps showing the Green Line were impossible to find in Israel. (The diplomat said his maps came from the CIA.) The Israeli government's cartography service had a monopoly on the map market. You could get topo maps showing the location of every picnic table and archeological site in the country, but not the boundary between Israel and occupied territory. Maps showed only the post-1967 lines dividing Israeli-controlled land from neighboring Arab countries. In official cartography, occupied Hebron and Nablus looked like part of Israel. The practice tended to obscure political developments. As a journalist, I often covered...

Uncle Sam Will Pay

The white houses of Shilo stand on narrow streets on hilltops north of Ramallah in the West Bank. The homes have red tile roofs and wide lawns, and on weekday mornings almost the only sound is a dog barking. The Israeli settlement has the standard gate at the entrance, and a swimming pool, an outdoor sports center with tennis and handball courts, and five synagogues -- one built to look like the ancient Tabernacle that the Bible says the Children of Israel erected here -- and a view of the Palestinian village of Turmus ‘Ayya. A new 1,100-square-foot starter house at Shilo costs about $120,000, an Israeli bargain-basement price, especially because it can be expanded later and because the government provides a well-subsidized mortgage of $50,000 or more. Shilo's nearly 2,000 settlers came to this spot out of intense nationalist belief that the West Bank must belong permanently to Israel, regardless of the cost -- and in the process have done quite well for themselves. No one knows how...

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