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

No Justice at the Settlement Celebration

Israel's chief justice boycotted a state ceremony feting 50 years of settlement. But the court has been a silent partner in settlement.

AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov
Here's a new definition of chutzpah: You hold an Israeli state ceremony celebrating 50 years of West Bank settlement. Then, when the chief justice of the Supreme Court refuses to send a justice to participate, you accuse her of turning it into a divisive political event. To add a bit more nerve, you can invite the ambassador of the European Union. When he declines, you accuse the EU—an essential Israeli ally—of maintaining a “legacy of hatred.” See! The whole world hates us! They wouldn't come celebrate settlements with us. I wish I were making this up. But the ceremony was real. It took place on Wednesday, near Kfar Etzion, the first Israeli settlement in the West Bank, on the 50th anniversary of its founding. The psychology is also familiar. The Israeli right has a historic love affair with bombast. It thrills to show public defiance, even when doing so undermines its political goals. Backlash confirms an essential part of its identity: The left despises us,...

Netanyahu Is Not Israel's Trump. He's Awful in His Own Way.

The Israeli prime minister is committed to dangerous policies. Trump is committed only to Trump, which is more dangerous.

Debbie Hill, Pool via AP
If Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hadn't been photographed together in one room, you'd be seeing a rash of articles, posts and tweets arguing that they are actually the very same person. As it is, a current fashion in political commentary asserts that “Netanyahu is Israel's Donald Trump”—as a recent headline in The Washington Post put it. One elegant formula for making this claim is to open with a string of sentences that your readers instantly know are about Trump, along the lines of: “He's under investigation. He has no respect for democracy. He stokes hatred. He has brought his underwhelming family into matters of state. He is driven entirely by his own ego.” Then say—surprise!—that you're talking Netanyahu. In another approach, pundits assert that Netanyahu is learning tricks from Trump, such as blaming duplicitous media for his troubles in general and for the criminal investigations against him in particular...

Are Jews White? It's a Mistake Even to Ask

Trump has revived American anti-Semitism. It's not about color or race.

Sipa via AP AP Photo/Steve Helber
“Are Jews white?” is a question that began fading from my mind 40 years ago, when I left America. In my neighborhood of Jerusalem, as in the rest of Israel, Jews comes in all shades—from blonde to black. The conflict between Jews and Palestinians isn't about race. Nor are the tensions between Jews from Europe and those from the Muslim world—though activists and academics sometimes import the terms “black” and “white,” in defiance of their lying eyes. Since Donald Trump's ascent, though, the issue of Jews and whiteness pops up increasingly in the links shared by friends in the United States. Since Charlottesville, the question of Jews' color has become a near-daily side dish on my news platter. This bothers me. With the humility of an emigre—someone both outside and inside American culture—I suggest that discussing reborn American anti-Semitism in terms of color and race is mistaken, misleading, and pernicious. I understand...

What a Difference a Witness Makes

Netanyahu's multiple scandals are closing in on him. Let us hope.

Gali Tibbon, Pool via AP
Yes, I know that schadenfreude is an unworthy feeling. And I know that Benjamin Netanyahu hasn't yet been indicted for corruption, and if indicted he might not necessarily be convicted, and that his coalition is, for the moment, holding together. I know that the prime minister and his hangers-on are already throwing disrepute on the entire Israeli judicial system to defend him, at least until the hangers-on turn against him, as his allies usually do—including his ex-chief of staff, who just turned state witness. And yes, I know that even if Netanyahu is forced to resign, early elections might merely bring a different right-wing politician to power. I think this covers most of the reasons I'm not supposed to be excited that the corruption cases against Netanyahu just became much, much more solid. Having listed them, I admit: I am still happy that the day seems closer when “Netanyahu” will be nothing more than a name that will stump desperate Israeli high school...

Jammed Reception

Everyone looked at Hedy Lamarr; no one saw a tech genius. After all, she was beautiful. A new film tells her story.

AP Photo
Had she been a man, she might have been remembered as a folk-hero inventor, the genius without formal schooling who transformed an era, a mid-20th century Thomas Edison. Instead, she spent her life in a very public form of solitary confinement: prisoner of the role of Hollywood goddess, sentenced for her beauty. The woman was Hedy Lamarr. A new documentary about her, Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story, is making the world round of film festivals. Wanting a release both from ever-fiercer summer heat and from politics, I went to the Jerusalem screening. The air conditioner coped with climate change. The escape from politics was less successful—unless you leave gender, immigration, and identity out of politics. Here's the side of her life that was publicly visible. She grew up as Hedwig Kiesler, daughter of a wealthy Viennese couple. In her teens, her startling beauty gave her entree to the Central European film world. Her biggest role was in a 1933 Czech movie, Extase (Ecstasy), in...

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