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

Road Nap

Here's the conventional wisdom, stated at a sadly conventional Israeli news event: "With respect to Israel, [George W.] Bush has been one of the best presidents we have ever had." The speaker was James Tisch, chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. The venue was Jerusalem's Keren Hayesod Street on the blustering morning of February 22, moments after a suicide bomb shredded a bus and its riders. When the bomb went off, Tisch and other establishment Jewish American leaders were inside a luxury hotel a few hundred yards away, in a briefing with Israel's military chief of staff. They headed out to see the grisly scene and were buttonholed by a reporter for commentary. And here's a more expert analysis of the American president's performance. "There is a major gap between the perception that Bush has been good for Israel and the reality of Israel's terrible circumstances," says Martin Indyk, former U.S. ambassador to Israel and veteran of Middle...

The Terror Trap

The four men, veterans of a grim business, had only grim words. Former heads of the Shin Bet, the Israeli security service entrusted with fighting terrorism, they gathered to tell Israel's largest newspaper that the Sharon government was failing completely in its war on terrorism. The problem, said Ami Ayalon, who headed the elite, secretive agency in the late 1990s, is, "We have built a strategy of immediate prevention"—of stopping the next attack—while ignoring causes. His colleagues echoed that evaluation in a mid-November joint interview. "We must, once and for all, admit that there is an other side, that it has feelings and that it is suffering," said Avraham Shalom, who held the agency's top post in the early '80s. Insisting that Israel needs to end the occupation, the four seized attention at home and abroad. Yet for all the headlines, their message deserves a closer reading than it got, as it contains a lesson for the U.S. war on terrorism as well. In effect, they argued that...

Road Map to Grand Apartheid?

Jerusalem -- The best way to understand just how Ariel Sharon plans to crumple and fold the road map to Israeli-Palestinian peace is to get out on the roads of the West Bank. Drive east from Jerusalem. Pass the stone-faced apartment buildings of Ma'aleh Adumim, a suburb of 25,000 that is the largest single Israeli settlement in the territories. Before Jericho, turn left onto a two-lane strip of asphalt that rises and plunges, in a tangle of stomach-wrenching switchbacks, through the desolate hills of the Judean Desert. To the side of the road is the settlement of Alon, a cluster of stone houses and mobile homes where several hundred Israelis live. Keep going north. A sign points to Ein Prat -- an "outpost" where a single family of settlers lives in a house built in the time of British rule. A short distance beyond is another outpost. The place is called Ma'aleh Hagit -- a handful of mobile homes, a water tank, a power line that loops around the hilltop to feed the perimeter lights. An...

Lebanon Redux?

JERUSALEM -- It was Sunday night, four days into the war, the night that everyone but Americans first saw footage of U.S. prisoners of war in Iraqi hands. "Bush's war is getting tangled up," said the TV anchor on the country's most popular prime-time news show. "America is sinking deeper in the Iraqi quagmire." That wasn't Egyptian TV, or French, referring to "Bush's war." It was Israel's Channel Two. And the Hebrew word translated here as "quagmire" has a very specific connotation: It conjures up Israel's disastrous war of choice in Lebanon in 1982. Those who'd like proof that Israelis support the war in Iraq could find it on page one of Israel's tabloids, which in the offensive's first few days competed at Americaphilia. But those front pages have been thin wrapping for doubts expressed by Israeli journalists and experts since the first day of the war. Looking at the situation from close up -- close to Iraq, close to the bitter experience of war -- they've criticized the United...

More Years in the Desert

JERUSALEM -- I ran into the Labor party politician at a bar mitzvah celebration, a few days after the election in which the Israeli left suffered its worst-ever defeat. "Celebration" is a euphemism. The bar mitzvah boy was the son of a left-wing activist; most of the guests belonged to the same political camp, and the happier ones looked merely morose. A circle of activists, think tankers and journalists formed around the pol, who held forth with enthusiastic glumness. Labor wouldn't join victorious Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's government as junior partner-cum-lap dog this time, he predicted. Surprising everyone, it would actually keep party leader Amram Mitzna's campaign promise to stay in the opposition and determinedly present policy alternatives to Sharon. But the Labor man said he hoped Shinui -- the centrist party that stole much of Labor's secular, middle-class constituency -- would join Sharon's coalition. "If they do, they won't win a single seat next time," he postulated...

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