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

Democracy Can Also Die in the Bright Glow of the Screen

Corruption allegations against Benjamin Netanyahu fit an autocratic pattern of trying to create media that serve the national leader.

AP Photo/Ariel Schalit
When the Israeli police recommended this week that Benjamin Netanyahu be tried for bribery, it was like a long-delayed train pulling into the station. We knew it was coming; we were only wondering how long we'd have to wait. True, the police added some details to make you shake your head in disbelief, like the nice round figure of one million shekels (over a quarter million dollars) worth of champagne, cigars, and jewelry that Netanyahu and family allegedly received from a pair of businessmen. How, you have to wonder, does someone actually consume that many cigars, that many bottles of bubbly? How do you survive that much cigar smoke? Still, the wholesale supply of luxuries gives an impression of conventional corruption: A powerful official does favors for a rich person—a tax break here, help getting a foreign visa there—so that the politician can live nearly as well as the zillionaires he hangs out with. This impression of garden-variety corruption is mistaken, though...

Requiem for a Storm

The Israeli poet Haim Gouri, who died last week, made conflicted idealism into a 94-year-long work of art.

He was our national poet, Israel's poet laureate, so everyone said the day that he surprised us by dying, because by age 94 it seemed that Haim Gouri had decided to outlive not only his own generation but the ones after, to yellow and dry and live forever like a manuscript surviving from a lost era. The president eulogized him, voice cracking, quoting lines Gouri wrote 70 years ago about fallen soldiers. Even the adolescently cynical TV critic who wanted to mock the mourning decried Gouri for founding “the national religion of grief,” citing the same poem. Gouri was indeed the unofficial national poet. But not in the very narrow way that people have described him since he died last week, mostly quoting the same canonical poems and lyrics he wrote as a very young man about Israel's war of independence in 1948—about legendary battles, the camaraderie of the living with the dead, and the corpses strewn in the fields who would return in spring as cyclamens and anemones...

In Two-State, One-State, No-State, Two Is Still the Magic Number

Trump is helping Netanyahu in making a two-state agreement harder to achieve. Neither despair nor a one-state fantasy is a reasonable liberal response.

Rafael Yaghobzadeh/Abaca/Sipa via AP Images
You know that moment: when you notice that the chatter in a crowded room full of people has risen to a roar. Right now the crowded hall is the virtual space containing everyone even vaguely concerned with Israel and Palestine. The roar is many of them saying loudly, emphatically, that this two-state business is past tense. Israel under Netanyahu has gone much too far in absorbing the occupied territories, they say; the United States of Trump has lost its license as the couples therapist for nations. The time has come, or will be here in a moment, when the only solution—if you care about democracy—is for Palestinians to become full voting citizens of Israel, which will in that case no longer be Israel. The clamor is justified. The conclusions don't hold up. Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital did in fact mean abdication of America's role as the sponsor of peacemaking—the facilitator, the endless listener and the not-often-enough nudger. The...

The End of the Line in Jerusalem

Gali Tibbon/Pool Photo via AP
In a moment, we'll bring you the latest news from Jerusalem. First, though, a thought experiment. If Israel had a responsible government, how would it have responded to Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital? Ahead of the decision, responsible Israeli leaders would have found the most off-the-record possible way to explain that this was not the Hanukkah present that Israel needed. A dovish government would have warned of damage to peace efforts. A right-wing government would have seen that U.S. recognition would only thrust Israel's rule of annexed East Jerusalem back on the international agenda. Trump, presumably, would have ignored this warning, as he did others. After the fact, any sensible Israeli government—even a right-wing but pragmatic one—would have done its best to lay low and let the fuss blow over. It would have seen the sporadic rocket fire from Gaza, the Palestinian demonstrations in the West Bank, the reported refusal of the Egyptian...

The Clip That Could Convince Centrist Israelis: Occupation Duty Is Hell

A video of soldiers refusing to respond to a Palestinian girl's taunts may succeed where harsher images have failed.

The video clip is low resolution, blurry. Two soldiers stand with their backs to the cellphone camera in the landscape of a Palestinian village—concrete fences dividing yards with low fruit trees. Two teenage girls, kefiyyehs around their necks, approach. The one with a mane of light curly hair grabs at one soldier's arm, shouts in Arabic, “Get out of here! C'mon, go! Get out!” She turns to the other soldier and gives him a hard push, then returns to the first, shouting louder. He waves his hand in the air, not touching her, as if about to flick away an irritation and then changing his mind. The hand deliberately drops back to his side. He tries to keep his head turned from her, his eyes focused elsewhere. She shouts louder, slaps him, kicks him. An older woman, hair covered in a black scarf, enters the frame, joins in pushing the two men in olive drab. The soldiers don't speak, in Arabic or Hebrew. They don't grab the girl, struggle with her, arrest her. A step or...