Gershom Gorenberg

  • New Heroes for Old

    In the mid-1980s, Birzeit University instructor Lucy Nusseibeh did something highly unconventional: She invited Mubarak Awad, a proponent of nonviolent struggle against the Israeli occupation, to speak at her West Bank institution. The invitation roiled both students and faculty, as Nusseibeh’s husband, Palestinian philosopher-aristocrat Sari Nusseibeh, told me years later: “At the time, to put forward the image of yourself as a nonviolent person was not kosher . . . in the Palestinian community. You had to put yourself forward as a guy with a gun, with ten guns hanging around your waist and


    Human testimony is basic to the courtroom pursuit of justice. But if one follows the news, one must feel queasy about what people remember and say under oath. Using DNA, the Innocence Project has so far exonerated more than two hundred people wrongfully convicted of crimes in the United States. In nearly four-fifths of the cases, according to one study, the convictions were based at least in part on eyewitness identification. Besides that, informants mistestified, sometimes to clear themselves. Defendants confessed to crimes they didn’t commit.

    Memory is fluid, uncertain, susceptible to

  • Will to Power

    One day in June 1974, a novice Israeli politician named Ariel Sharon drove into the northern West Bank. In a field of thistles south of the Palestinian city of Nablus, the short, bulky ex-general joined a hundred young activists from a radical right-wing protest movement who were busily setting up a new settlement. The activists' aim was to ensure that Israel retained permanent rule of the entire West Bank, in defiance of the policy of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who'd taken office just two days before. Sharon, known for his obsession with maps and topography, had personally chosen the spot