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


The Israeli Supreme Court has given its stamp of approval, at least temporarily, to an army policy of keeping a key West Bank highway off-limits to Palestinian drivers, as New York Times correspondent Ethan Bronner reports today . The irony: The Israeli government originally told the Court that the road was being built to serve local Palestinians. Bronner notes that I've found the paper trail in Israeli archives proving that the road was actually as part of the Israeli settlement effort in the West Bank. The explanation (and the documents) are up at South Jerusalem , my new blog. --Gershom Gorenberg

The Strange Case of Robert Malley

The recent hounding of Barack Obama for the supposed anti-Israel stance of his informal adviser Robert Malley is an instructive point in the controversies surrounding who gets to tell the narrative of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Of all the recent efforts to smear Barack Obama, none strikes me as stranger than the claims that one of his informal advisers on foreign affairs, Robert Malley, is anti-Israel. This, in turn, is supposed to prove that as president, Obama is liable to institute dangerous changes in U.S. policy toward Israel. As a campaign trope, the calumny may have begun with Ed Lasky, news editor of the right-wing Web site The American Thinker, who posted a fervid attack on Malley in January. The Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America has taken time off from its hawkish media-bashing to post a blast at Malley on its Web site. Journalists regularly speculate on whether the Malley connection will hurt Obama among Jewish voters, though there's no evidence of that. Meanwhile, Malley's diplomatic colleagues -- including Sandy Berger, Dennis Ross, and Martin Indyk -- have issued an open letter defending him. There's more at work here than the usual, nearly boring, attempts to slime a...

Burden of Proof

Increasingly, the rabbis in the Israeli state bureaucracy demand proof that people registering to marry are really Jewish. The proof they seek is unavailable to most American-born Jews.

Am I a Jew? This is a remarkably strange question for me to ask. No aspect of my identity is more obvious to me. I've been aware of being Jewish since before I can remember. We missed school on Rosh Hashanah; everyone else had Christmas trees. My grandparents' native language was Yiddish. This is besides the fact that I chose 30 years ago to move to the Jewish state. Nonetheless, while writing " How to Prove You're a Jew " for The New York Times Magazine , I ran the personal experiment of seeing whether I could come up with evidence of Jewishness that might satisfy the Israeli rabbinate. My detective work yielded meager results. No official U.S. document lists me as a Jew. No Jewish marriage contract, or ketuba , for my parents lay hidden in an attic. No Orthodox rabbi alive knew my late mother as a child. With a cousin's help, I found what's probably a record of my grandmother's arrival at Ellis Island in 1910, with her ethnicity listed as "Hebrew" -- but her name is spelled "Sure"...


The NY Times has an analysis today on Israel's dilemma in negotiating peace with Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas when Hamas, not Abbas, controls Gaza. As the last few days' events showed, military confrontations between Israel and Hamas make it impossible for Abbas to keep negotiating. And even if he reached a deal, how much would it mean when he doesn't speak for Gaza? An alternative is negotiating directly with Hamas. But that's a a painful choice -- it legitimizes the Islamic movement's takeover of Gaza, and mean Israel would be negotiating with two separate representatives of the Palestinians. The Times doesn't mention the logical third way, described here last week just as the fighting in and around Gaza was escalating: Israel should encourage reestablishment of a Palestinian unity government -- possibly by releasing jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti. -- Gershom Gorenberg


As Sarah Posner has noted , one reason that that Texas pastor and popularizer-of-the-apocalypse John Hagee gave for endorsing John McCain was the latter's "support of the state of Israel." Hagee also claimed that he personally backs Israel because it is a democracy, not because of its place in apocalyptic scenarios. To believe this, you have to avoid reading anything Hagee has ever written about Israel -- particularly his 1996 giga-seller, Beginning of the End: The Assassination of Yitzhak Rabin and the Coming Antichrist. In most ways, Beginning is a standard popularization of the fundamentalist theology known as dispensational premillennialism : To prove that the final seven years of history are about to begin, Hagee presented a list of verses and a collection of headlines that supposedly fulfill scriptural predictions. Hagee's innovation was to fit the murder of Yitzhak Rabin into his scheme. But before getting to the End, Hagee expressed uncommon sympathy for Rabin's assassin,...