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

Will the Candidate Be Indicted? Voters Must Know.

With just three months to elections in Israel, the country needs to know if Benjamin Netanyahu will be charged. 

Israel's top prosecutor was already facing the most consequential decision of his career: whether to indict the prime minister. Then the suspect, Benjamin Netanyahu, called new elections. So now Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit has a doubly consequential choice to make: Should he announce whether he'll indict Netanyahu—and on what charges—before the nation votes in April? In his handling of the drawn-out investigation of Netanyahu in three separate bribery cases, Mandelblit has made his name a synonym for dithering. So he sought advice, or at least moral support. In a side room during a legal conference, the AG met with an ad hoc council of sages of criminal justice—his retired predecessors, several of whom were also retired Supreme Court justices, all the way back to 93-year-old Meir Shamgar, who was chief justice for 13 years. Someone, it seems, leaked the verdict of the closed-door proceedings: Mandelblit said, “Publicizing the decision before the...

Why They Don't Like Tzipi Livni

It might just have to do with her pronoun.

“Why do you hate us?” a West Bank settler leader shouted at Tzipi Livni, leader of the opposition in Israel's parliament. The outburst came during a meeting between settler leaders and the Israeli parliament's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. The committee, chaired by a member of the ruling Likud Party, convened at the settlement of Ofrah, following a terror attack there last week in which seven people, including a pregnant woman, were wounded. (Her child, prematurely delivered after the shooting, died.) Before the outburst, Livni had objected to the settler representatives' demand to expand settlements, supposedly as a way to provide greater security. “I don't hate [you], but I'm angry,” Livni answered. Her voice did not sound angry. She sounded definite, calm, and completely unperturbed as she told people what they don't like to hear. In the same meeting she told them, We're all here together, hurting. The pain of terror attacks tears all of us up. .....

The Allegation: Netanyahu Wanted the Best Image Power Could Buy

By allegedly subverting the free press, he showed why it is so essential.

After Benjamin Netanyahu returned to Israel from the United States as a young man, he worked for a time as a marketing executive for a furniture company. Around the time he came back to Israel, he also changed his name back to Netanyahu. In the States, he'd rebranded himself as Benjamin Nitay. It was easier for Americans to pronounce. Marketing and branding were the specialties that Netanyahu brought to his next career, in politics. He treated image-massaging not as a tool, but as a political philosophy. This week he came a step closer to a possible prison term for that philosophy. Early on, Netanyahu developed a doctrine that Israel's poor standing internationally wasn't caused by its policies. Rather, the problem was a strategic failure to sell itself well to foreign audiences. Most of all, though, Netanyahu marketed Benjamin Netanyahu. He worked hard on his speaking style, especially in front of television cameras. He learned to insert jokes, to toss in a line about American sports...

Airbnb Quit the Settlement Business. If Only Israel Would.

The Netanyahu government response to the company pulling out of the West Bank is insane, incompetent, or both. 

An old friend from America who's a tour operator came to Jerusalem and I went to meet him. His tour group was staying in a hotel in the center of town that I'd never noticed because, in the past, it was probably a down-on-its-luck apartment building or home to small offices of lawyers, accountants, and companies of indistinct purposes. Converting it to a hotel made sense, my friend said, because even in the November off-season, every hotel room in Jerusalem is full. Tourism is roaring. So are short-term rentals of apartments and of rooms in them. A 2017 survey of tourists in Tel Aviv found that half were staying in Airbnb or similar accommodations. Young friends tell me of Jerusalem university students making the rent by going home to mom and dad on weekends and renting their apartments to tourists. Then again, the rent is likely higher because some landlords are moving their properties from yearly leases to nightly rentals. Now Airbnb is in the middle of a political ruckus in Israel...

Netanyahu's Saudi Fantasy

Like Likud leaders before him, the Israeli prime minister thinks he can redesign the Middle East.

Perhaps because he was at a conference in Bulgaria, just a few hundred miles up the Black Sea coast from Istanbul, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu got around to publicly commenting last Friday on the murder of Saudi dissident and Washington Post columnist Jamil Khashoggi a month earlier in the Turkish capital. “What happened in the Istanbul consulate was horrendous, and it should be duly dealt with,” Netanyahu said. The first part of that sounds fine. The second part sounds like he was talking about someone being pulled over for DUI, rather than about a brutal murder carried out by agents of the government of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Both parts belonged to the lip-service clause, after which Netanyahu got to his point. “Yet ... it is very important for the stability of the world, for the region and for the world, that Saudi Arabia remain stable.” Read that in light of the report the day before in The Washington Post that Netanyahu (...