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

Is This the Road to Israeli-Palestinian Peace?

Middle East peace talks resume in Washington on Thursday, but conditions on the ground belie optimism.

Palestinian cars with waving Palestinian flags approach an Israeli army roadblock near Ramallah, on Tuesday, June 22, 2010. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)
Update : At nightfall, Israel time, Hamas terrorists killed four Israelis on a highway near Hebron in the West Bank. The attack was clearly aimed at discrediting the Palestinian Authority's efforts to stop terror, and at thwarting the resumption of peace talks. Read more here . "Watch out for the yahud ," for the Jews, said the young Palestinian man outside Ramallah whom we asked for directions. My colleague asked what he meant; we certainly weren't going to run into crowds of Israeli Jews, civilians, or soldiers if we took the wrong turn in Ramallah. Besides, our accents made it obvious that we were Jews ourselves. Yahud , said the man working on the truck, was now the slang for the Palestinian police -- the ubiquitous forces that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad have deployed to impose order in Palestinian cities and prevent terror attacks against Israelis. Israeli regulations from the beginning of the Second Intifada bar Israelis from the main...

Fresh Battles Over Overseas Donations in Israel

When the right's reaction is craziest, it may be evidence that something significant has happened.

Rabbi Michael Melchior. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
During a decade in Israel's Parliament, Michael Melchior made his name as an effective legislator. The rabbi and social democrat chaired the Knesset Education Committee, pushing the government to provide hot lunches for poor schoolchildren and to mainstream special-needs pupils. As an environmentalist, he was willing to partner with Omri Sharon -- son of the rightist former prime minister -- and Dov Khenin of the Communist Party. Melchior flunked flamboyance, though. He was nearly invisible to the general public. He owed his seat to an alliance between the Labor Party and his dovish religious party, Meimad. In the 2009 election the alliance was dissolved, and Melchior's party failed to get the 2 percent of the national vote needed to win seats in the Knesset. This month, though, Melchior is in the news. That's partly due to his own efforts. A group he founded, the Civil Action Forum , is pressing the government to take royalties from a new natural-gas field off Israel's coast and to...

The Rebirth of the Israeli Peace Movement

After being comatose for a decade, the Israeli left may be regaining consciousness -- woken by the injustice of Sheikh Jarrah.

A demonstration against the evictions of Palestinians at Sheikh Jarrah. (Flickr/dan_halutz)
I spotted Haim Gouri standing in the East Jerusalem park among several hundred other demonstrators on a recent Friday afternoon. The wind swept the poet's silver hair over a face scarred by nearly 87 years of history. Paramilitary border police stood next to an impromptu roadblock across the street, barring the protesters from Sheikh Jarrah -- an Arab neighborhood of East Jerusalem where several Palestinian families have been evicted from their homes so Israeli settlers can claim real estate owned by Jews before 1948. To remove any doubts: No one is letting the evicted Palestinians reclaim the homes their families owned before 1948 in what is now Israel. It was Gouri's first appearance at the weekly demonstration, which has grown since last autumn. Back in 1948, Gouri was a soldier in the new Israeli army. His mournful ballads are the most famous songs of Israel's War of Independence. As a poet and journalist, he became the articulate voice of Israel's determinedly inarticulate...

The House at the End of the Road

In the culture of Israeli settlements, stealing land has become invisible, unnoticed.

A Palestinian boy from the village of Beit Ijza in front of the security barrier that surrounds Sabri Gharib's house. (Gershom Gorenberg)
Dror Etkes picked me up in front of the bank, next to the convenience store, on a normal Jerusalem street where nothing slows the morning commuters except normal traffic jams. I wanted to visit the Palestinian village of Silwad. To that, Etkes added a couple of other stops on our tangled route through the West Bank. The day's task was to examine how to take someone's land for settlement -- via stealth, strong-arm tactics, or legal maneuvers. Only at the day's end would I understand what my real goal had been: to remind myself that the main street, the bank, the apartment buildings, the buses taking kids to summer day camps -- the whole normal city day flowing according to sensible rules -- is an enclave of illusory sanity. Once upon a time you could get from Jerusalem to Silwad easily. You drove north on the main mountain-ridge highway. After Ramallah you turned right. On the other side of the country road from Silwad stood the wooden sign marking the entrance to the Israeli...

Publicity Over Peace?

Let's hope the private discussion between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu moved policy closer to peace than their public display showed.

President Barack Obama, right, walks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Benjamin Netanyahu is smiling. Barack Obama is smiling. Forgive me; I'm not smiling. Either the news photos from this week's White House meeting are hiding something, or the odds of an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement have just dropped again. The smiles were expected. The Israeli prime minister's Washington visit was billed in countless Israeli media reports as a sulha -- the Arabic and thus the vernacular Hebrew for a ceremonial reconciliation. For Obama, the most obvious goal was a short-term domestic political win. Four months before the U.S.' midterm elections, the president seems to have accepted the conventional wisdom that tension with Israel over settlements and peace negotiations alienates pro-Israel donors and voters from Democratic congressional candidates (as if all pro-Israel voters were pro-Netanyahu hawks). Meeting with the press , both Obama and Netanyahu pointedly avoided answering questions about extending the Israeli freeze on settlement building, imposed last...