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

New Testimony From Gaza

A newly published account by an organization of Israeli soldiers suggests that policy set by top commanders led to unnecessary civilian deaths and massive physical damage.

An Israeli soldier stands on top of an armored vehicle, near the Israel-Gaza border, in southern Israel, Monday Jan. 19, 2009. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
"We didn't see a single house that was not hit. The entire infrastructure, tracks, fields, roads -- was in total ruin," an anonymous soldier says, describing his days in the Gaza Strip during Operation Cast Lead, the Israeli incursion last winter. "Nothing much was left in our designated area … A totally destroyed city ... The few houses that were still inhabitable were taken by the army … there were lots of abandoned, miserable animals." The destruction continued daily, he testifies, though Palestinians -- fighters and civilians -- had fled the area. So much lay in ruins, says another Israeli soldier, that it was hard to navigate. "I entered Al Atatra [in the northern Gaza Strip] after seeing aerial photos and didn't identify anything … I remembered that 200 meters further on down the track there should be a junction, with two large houses at the corners, and there wasn't. I remembered there was supposed to be a square with a Hamas memorial … and there wasn't. There was rubble,...

Two States, Still One Exit

Is the two-state solution an obsolete strategy?

Let's face it: When Barack Obama said in Cairo that "the only resolution" of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is two separate states, he was courageously insisting -- well, on what's become conventional wisdom. But not the unanimous wisdom. The hardliners on each side aren't alone in questioning the two-state idea. On the street in Jerusalem, I've run into old friends, veterans of Israeli peace and human-rights activism who say we've passed the tipping point: There are too many settlements; Israeli withdrawal is impossible; negotiations on two states have repeatedly failed; the only solution is a single, shared Jewish-Palestinian state. I've heard Palestinian intellectuals, former supporters of a two-state solution, who say the same. Among writers outside the conflict zone, British Jewish historian Tony Judt may be best known for suggesting -- back in 2003 -- that as a nation-state, Israel is "an anachronism" and should be replaced by a binational state. Ironically, Obama himself may...


As I discuss in my column today, Obama 's foreign policy strategy has had a qualifiable effect on Middle East dynamics. But the aftermath of Iran's election is also sure to have a spillover effect elsewhere in the region. What effect, of course, depends on the final act of the drama in Iran. In the worst case, of a violent crackdown with hundreds or thousands of protesters killed, says Amatzia Baram , a historian of the Middle East at Haifa University, the Iranian regime would follow up by trying to present "an impeccable radical record … an Islamist record" to its public. That would mean more involvement in Iraq, more agitation among the Shi'ite minorities in the Gulf states, more support for Hezbollah and Hamas. On the other hand, Baram says, any compromise to end the protest would bring "a slow mellowing of the regime, power-sharing with liberals and so forth"-- but only in a slow process taking years. The relationship with Hezbollah, says Lebanese political scientist Amal Saad-...

Did Obama's Cairo Speech Change Everything?

Whether Obama has had a small influence or a large one, the Middle East has already changed significantly.

Barack Obama spoke in Cairo two weeks ago. The Middle East has been roiling since. The street scenes in Iran have pushed the surprise pro-Western victory in Lebanon's elections out of the headlines, along with Benjamin Netanyahu's pained, precondition-crippled acceptance of a two-state solution and the enraged Palestinian response. Two top Israeli intelligence figures scaling down the Iranian nuclear threat from looming Holocaust to mid-range risk -- a major story for a calm week -- has gone almost unnoticed. So did Obama set this off, or was he like the king in The Little Prince who ordered the sun to rise at the precise moment when it would have done so anyway? With that come two more questions: Will the crisis in Iran shake up the region even more? And what should Obama do in response? Let's go a step at a time. And assume that the requisite qualifier -- everything could change in an hour -- is present in every sentence. First, the Obama Effect: The standard, and well-founded, view...

House Hunting in the West Bank

Our Jerusalem correspondent finds that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's argument for allowing continued construction in settlements contains layers of deception.

It's Benjamin Netanyahu's fault. Because of his insistence on allowing for "natural growth" of West Bank settlements, I decided to go real-estate shopping. I called Amana , the settlement-building organization, and said I was interested in homes in Binyamin, the name used by settlers and Israeli officialdom for the piece of the West Bank directly north of Jerusalem. The sales rep was so helpful I could hear her smile. At Shilo, a 30-year-old settlement north of Ramallah, construction has recently begun on a new development. For about $160,000, she said, I could get a 1,200-square-foot house. To American ears, that sounds small, but for a Jerusalem apartment-dweller, it would be a step up. Besides, that's a starter home; I could add a second floor now or later, she said. At Eli, just up the road from Shilo, she offered homes in the center of the settlement and in outlying "neighborhoods." In Hayovel, for instance, she had a house for $115,000, with a completed first floor and the outer...