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 Testimony from Gaza

Israeli soldiers' accounts of the fighting last winter further undermine the official rationale of the war.

The soldier had served as a squad commander during the Israeli army's invasion of the Gaza Strip last winter. His unit was assigned to advance into Gaza City. His initial orders, he recalled, were that after an armored vehicle broke down the door of a building, his men were to enter, spraying fire: "I call it murdering ... going up one floor after another, and anyone we spot, shoot him." The word from his higher-ups was that anyone who hadn't fled the neighborhood could be assumed to be a terrorist. The orders fit a pattern: In Gaza, "as you know, they used lots and lots of force and killed lots and lots of people on the way so that we wouldn't be hurt," he said. Before the operation began, he recounted, the orders were softened. The building's occupants would be given five minutes to leave and be searched on their way out. When he told his squad, some soldiers objected. "Anyone there is a terrorist; that's a fact," one said. The squad commander was upset. "It's pretty frustrating...

His Uniform, My Responsibility

My son's induction into the Israeli army makes politics even more personal than before.

A friend has volunteered to drive. He'll drop us off in a suburb outside Tel Aviv, near the entrance of the Israel Defense Forces induction center. My son and I will talk, with our eyes on our watches, and I'll hug him, and he will swing his duffel bag over his shoulder and walk in. I'm writing beforehand. You are reading this after the event. For my son, as he has described his feelings, that gate marks the precise physical location of the end of childhood. For me, it marks the end of the countdown that began with his birth. It is the line between one type of anxiety and another, shaded in a deeper gray. Let me add quickly: I'm not writing about physical danger. After enduring all the army tests that Israelis his age undergo instead of filling out college applications, he has received an assignment that isn't likely to include being shot at. But it's militarily important and imposes that small, weighty fragment of responsibility -- like a speck of an ultra-heavy radioactive element...

Netanyahu, Cornered

Benjamin Netanyahu is politically trapped. Israel's new leader is tasked with balancing the interests of his right-wing coalition, appeasing his rivals, and maintaining a healthy relationship with America.

Benjamin Netanyahu, head of the Likud Party, was named prime minister-designate last week. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
Related: Read Gershom Gorenberg's dispatch on the outcome of Israel's election. The map of Knesset seating arrangements published by the daily Haaretz on Tuesday showed Benjamin Netanyahu in a corner -- in the front row, on the very right edge. The drawing was merely a mock-up; members of Israel's parliament were sworn in for the new term later that day and had not yet been assigned seats. Yet it expressed what has become Netanyahu's nightmare: being stuck, for all the world to see, in the far-right corner of Israeli politics. Netanyahu, it would seem, should be feeling confident and victorious. Last week, President Shimon Peres officially named him to form the next Israeli government. The murkiness of the Feb. 10 election results had been dispelled. He got the nod after all six parties of the Israeli right, which together have 65 seats in the 120-member Knesset, told Peres they preferred Netanyahu as prime minister. Bibi Netanyahu is a nervous man, known for sweating heavily. What's...

Why Are the Israeli PM Candidates Fighting for the Support of This Man?

Forget about the struggle between Tzipi Livni and Benjamin Netanyahu. The man who has really won is Avigdor Lieberman.

Avigdor Lieberman, Israel's most divisive politician and the man who could soon become the kingmaker of Israeli politics.(AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov, File)
Winter arrived in Israel, literally and politically, on Tuesday. After months of a warm and rainless false spring, the tempests finally arrived on Election Day, as if an overly romantic cinematographer had waited for wild gusts and thunder before lining up the extras at the polling places and letting the cameras roll. The results are grim and uncertain, and they portend a lasting political storm. It's true that centrist candidate Tzipi Livni apparently edged out rightist Benjamin Netanyahu: According to near final results, her Kadima party received 28 Knesset seats, one more than his Likud party. By custom, the leader of the party that wins the most Knesset seats normally forms the coalition and becomes prime minister. But this time there's a rub: Together, the parties of the right received 65 seats in the 120-member Knesset. If Netanyahu can line up the support of the rest of the right, he will have a solid majority in parliament and become prime minister. In the hours after the...

An Open Letter to George Mitchell

As President Obama's Middle East envoy, Mitchell will need to challenge the belief that nothing can be done to achieve peace in the region.

(AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)
Dear Mr. Mitchell, Welcome. Arriving here today as President Obama's Middle East envoy, you're likely to be greeted with tired indifference or polite hostility by leaders on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. So I'd like to let you know that I'm glad you're here. The president's choice of you as his diplomatic alter ego was a pleasant surprise: The agreement you brought in Northern Ireland, in a conflict that looked as bitter and irrational as our own, means that you come carrying evidence that it's possible to negotiate peace. Though you were part of the Clinton team, you aren't associated with the failure of the Camp David summit in 2000. The choice of a former Senate majority leader also shows that Mr. Obama wants someone with prestige and seniority -- and someone who can go to Capitol Hill to explain the need for aggressive, even impatient, peace-making. When AIPAC tries to line up votes for knee-jerk resolutions to undercut your work, this will matter. Most of all,...