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 Trump-Kim Show Should Teach Israel How Little Trump's Support Is Worth

Netanyahu’s relentless effort to cultivate Trump’s favor is a losing game. 

Likud cabinet minister Tzachi Hanegbi was quick on the send button. “Today was a historic day in #Singapore,” he tweeted elatedly as the Trump-Kim Jong Un summit wrapped up. “It was the latest signal that the @RealDonaldTrump Administration will not tolerate nuclear weapons in the hands of radical and dangerous regimes. Hopefully the mullahs in #Iran will get the message loud and clear.” This isn't an official statement of the government of Israel. But it fits very closely with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's reflex of extravagant praise for the man now occupying the Oval Office. The kindest reading: Hanegbi was tweeting out of cynical understanding of what it takes to stay on Trump's good side. The alternative—that he believed he what he said—would mean that he, his boss, and his party totally misread the implications of the summit for Israel and the Middle East. The rule is: When a foreign official or politician praises Trump, there's an...

The Border Is Always Ready to Blow Up

A brief guide to the last clash, and the next, on the Israel-Gaza line

The sirens screamed at 7 a.m. one morning last week in Israeli communities near the Gaza border. A few seconds later mortar shells started falling. One landed in a kindergarten playground, empty because of the early hour. All around Israel, through the day and into the night, cell phones flashed news of red alerts in the region around Gaza as shells and rockets came in. And into the night, Israeli Air Force jets bombed Hamas and Islamic Jihad arms stores in the coastal strip. Unusually, there were no reports of people killed. But bulletins pointed out, in case you weren't already thinking it, that this was the fiercest exchange of fire between Gaza and Israel since 2014. You knew the script, from 2014 and before that 2008: mortar shells or rockets, followed by air strikes, followed by mortars, and so on. Followed by war. The next morning, Wednesday, at 5:15, the last salvo came from Gaza. Then quiet. You woke up to the news of an unofficial ceasefire and felt knots in your shoulders...

Trump Kept His Promises to Netanyahu, and Showed They Were Worse than Worthless

Like his Republican friends, Netanyahu is stained by his embrace of Trump.

The lasting images for Israelis, the footage likely to feature in 100 future documentaries, appeared on the split screen of television news: On one side, Palestinian demonstrators at the Gaza border, enveloped in smoke or tear gas, hurling stones or carrying their wounded; on the other, dignitaries arriving at the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem to watch Ivanka Trump, dressed in white, reveal the new sign rebranding the building—with the words “Donald J. Trump” chiseled into stone in larger letters than “Embassy, United States of America.” Joined on the split screen, the pictures are icons for the hollowness of Benjamin Netanyahu's diplomatic offensive and of his reliance—like that of so many Republicans—on the promises of America's confidence-man-in-chief. These days the emailed press announcements from Netanyahu's office portray Israel's prime minister as always flying off to meet foreign leaders, or returning, or meeting leaders who have flown...

It Doesn’t Add Up

Israeli arguments about the precise number of Palestinians are a distraction. Occupation is undemocratic no matter how many or few there are.

Wissam Nassar/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images
How many Jews live between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean? How many Palestinians live in that same small strip of land? The question erupts irregularly, repeatedly, and inevitably in Israeli politics, like symptoms of a serious, misdiagnosed disease. The latest outbreak came when a meeting of a Knesset committee veered off-topic. The session was devoted to a labor dispute in Israel’s Civil Administration in the West Bank, which is responsible for all sorts of government services, both to Palestinians living under occupation and to Israeli settlers. The small size of the overworked, underpaid Civil Administration staff led a committee member to ask how many Palestinians live in the West Bank. “We estimate 2.5 to 2.7 million,” responded Colonel Uri Mendes, No. 2 in the military office, known as the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, responsible for civilian aspects of occupation. The Palestinian Authority, Mendes said, has three million...

Tell Old Netanyahu: Let These People Stay

Stopping Israel's expulsion of refugees would take a small miracle. This is the right time to make one.

Everything is on hold in Israel. The holiday of Passover begins Friday night and lasts a week. Until it's over the answer of every government office to every possible question is “after the holiday.” Normally this is cause from frustration, despair, and multilingual Middle Eastern cursing. This year it's reason for a small, flickering, uncertain but welcome hope. The exodus, it seems, has been postponed until after the holiday. By exodus, I do not mean the departure of the ancient Israelites from Pharaoh's Egypt. That will be celebrated as it is every year, on Passover. Rather, I'm referring to the exodus of some 38,000 Eritrean and Sudanese refugees who crossed the Sinai from Egypt to seek asylum in present-day Israel. Under a government policy government announced at the start of the year, most of them were to face a cruel choice as of April 1: Leave for an unnamed African country—Rwanda, and perhaps also Uganda—that had contracted with Israel to take them,...