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

Such a Bad Deal: Trump and Jerusalem

In his declaration on Jerusalem, Trump showed yet again that business is no training for diplomacy.

AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean, File
Donald Trump did accomplish one thing in his speech recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital: He put to rest the strange idea that real-estate tycoons were the best-qualified people to bring peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Since the rise of the Trump regime in January, I've detected strange spasms of optimism on this point among experts and journalists covering the conflict. Maybe, just maybe Trump would be the president to broker a peace agreement. One reason for these fits of hope was a standard phenomenon in judging Trump: He exceeded very low expectations. In his first week in office, he did not move the U.S. Embassy from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv. Rather than give Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu absolute carte blanche to build madly in West Bank settlements, Trump gently chided Netanyahu on the subject, sort of. Although he had depended politically on donors like Sheldon Adelson and a base heavy on white evangelicals—supporters of intransigent Israeli...

The Strange Case of the Insistent Suspect

To stifle criticism of the occupation, the Israeli right uses the classic diversion of “stand by our troops.” But what happens when the criticism comes from the troops?

Max Zalevsky/Shutterstock
The suspect describes his act publicly. The police investigate. The prosecution concludes that the incident never happened. The suspect, adamant, responds that the police botched the investigation. As a criminal case, this is bizarre. You can excuse the Israeli public for being confused by the drama that has played out in recent days on front pages and TV studios. But the case of Dean Issacharoff is only superficially a legal one. It's political, and the political story line is this: Dean Issacharoff is a former army officer, the kind of all-Israeli guy whom Norman Rockwell would have painted if he'd lived in Tel Aviv. He's also the spokesperson of Breaking the Silence, an organization of Israeli military veterans that publishes testimony from soldiers about what they experienced while serving in occupied territory. The underlying theme, if I can sum it up, is that even if each individual soldier behaved as he or she needed to in an individual situation, the task that the country gave...

In the Saudi Game of Thrones, a Prince Knocks Over the House of Cards

The young crown prince wants to end decades of power-sharing. His gambles could shake up the kingdom and the Middle East.

AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin, pool, File
In very recent memory, the true god of Saudi Arabia was stability. The kingdom was very conservative, not just in religion and politics, but in the way it did things: slowly, cautiously, close to fossilized, with payoffs in power and money to buy calm. That was then. Last weekend was the shock-and-awe moment that showed how much everything has changed. Consider: On Saturday, a Saudi Who's Who including 11 princes of the royal line were rounded up. The Riyadh Ritz-Carlton was converted into the world's most well-appointed detention facility. The most powerful shark caught in the net was Prince Mutaib bin Abdullah, son of the late King Abdullah and deposed head of the National Guard, the kingdom's largest military force. Officially, it was a crackdown on corruption. Unofficially, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is eliminating competition. The same day, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced his resignation—from Riyadh, on Saudi television. The style of the wording wasn't...

The Moves of a Desperate Man

Netanyahu is fighting the law. Who will win?

Ronen Zvulun/Pool Photo via AP
There are two ways to read the way Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud Party are acting. The first is that they are doing all they can to keep Netanyahu in office as prime minister of Israel, despite the corruption allegations against him. The second is that they are doing all they can to show that Netanyahu is guilty and politically doomed. Both readings are correct. Not that Netanyahu is intentionally pleading guilty in the court of domestic public opinion. It just seems that way when you try to intimidate the national police chief, even as your party tries to legislate the end of the investigations against you. Or, failing that, tries to legislate a long enough postponement of an indictment for you to run for reelection before you're charged. None of this tells us how the Netanyahu drama will play out, or when it will end. It does show that he's very afraid. For those just tuning in now, a recap of previous episodes: For many months, Netanyahu has been under investigation in at least...

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,...