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

Netanyahu Wakes Up Middle Israel

The Israeli prime minister’s Nation-State Law and its attack on a “model minority” has created a storm of protest, even among moderates.

(AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)
(AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner) Druze Spiritual Leader Sheik Mowafaq Tafik, center, participates in a rally against the Nation-State Law on August 4, 2018 in Tel Aviv. A bunch of protesters held up signs in the visitors’ gallery of Israel’s parliament on Wednesday, and Speaker Yuri Edelstein of the ruling Likud Party ordered the ushers to eject them. He said their behavior was “shameful and disgusting.” The signs were large copies of Israel's Declaration of Independence. You’d think that would be an uncontroversial patriotic gesture. Not in Benjamin Netanyahu’s Israel. The debate was a special session, called during the summer recess by the opposition to discuss the recently passed Nation-State Law. Opposition leader Tzipi Livni was at the podium, saying , “The government is tearing up the Declaration of Independence and with it, the entire nation.” The declaration has ceased being something high school students learn for tests and then semi-forget. Since the Nation-State Law passed...

Netanyahu Cements His Place in the Illiberal International

His new Nation State Law fits his friendship with the new autocrats.

Debbie Hill/Pool Photo via AP Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu listens to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban during a joint press conference at the prime minister's office in Jerusalem T hese two things happened within a few hours of each other‫: Hungary's authoritarian leader, Victor Orban, landed in Israel as the warmly welcomed guest of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. On a party-line vote, Israel's parliament passed Netanyahu's flagship piece of legislation, the Nation State Law—which enshrines second-class status for the country's Arab citizens as a constitutional principle. Coincidence? Yes, and no. Orban's visit wasn't orchestrated to celebrate Netanyahu's victory. The law passed in a rush before the Knesset recessed for the summer. The visit was planned separately That said, the timing was scarily perfect. The Nation State Law is a historic turning point in transforming Israel into an illiberal democracy. Netanyahu's embrace of Orban—and of other Central European...

Is #NeverBibi Enough?

You can't help wondering if Netanyahu's right-wing critics understand their role in creating him. 

AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner, File Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, speaks with former Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon at the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem M oshe Yaalon is neither left-wing nor glib. Or so anyone who knows him would have said until this week. Yaalon served as Israel's defense minister, among other posts, under Benjamin Netanyahu. At one time Yaalon was the go-to person if you wanted Netanyahu's views on permanent Israeli control of the West Bank, but in plain, very direct words , without Netanyahu's sleight of tongue. True, Yaalon left parliament, the government, and the Likud a couple of years ago over Netanyahu's mob-pleasing support for a soldier who had shot and killed a captured terrorist. And he has decried the stink of corruption wafting from the prime minister's residence. But that was at a rally of right-wing dissidents. In a radio interview this week, though, Yaalon asserted it was time to redefine terms. Once upon a time, he said, “...

Sara Netanyahu's Takeout Dinners May Not Be a Game-Changer

It takes more than corruption to change voters' minds. But you knew that. 

Heidi Levine/Pool photo via AP Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sarah as they enter the Tel Aviv Magistrate Court H ow in the world do you order $100,000 worth of takeout in Jerusalem? Such was my reflexive reaction when Sara Netanyahu, wife of Israel's prime minister, was indicted last week for fraudulently charging meals worth that much to the government. I mean, you have to work at overspending on dining in this town. At one of the classier restaurants from which she ordered, the most expensive main course on the menu, an entrecote steak, costs under $45. But the question was silly. If anyone could be so extravagant on someone else's tab, it's the Netanyahus. Reports of their determined disregard for paying the bills, their sense of royal entitlement even when Benjamin Netanyahu was out of office, go back to the beginning of his national career. The indictment does raise a couple of legal questions, like how it took this long for one Netanyahu or the other to...

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. 

AP Photo/Evan Vucci President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara Netanyahu at the White House L ikud 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...

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