The term “Zionist” is increasingly used in a pejorative manner by Israel’s detractors. Drawing an association between Israel’s founding ideology and other negative terms such as “racism”, “colonialism” and “apartheid” is part of the movement to delegitimize Israel. After all, at its most basic definition, Zionism is simply the national movement for the return of the Jewish people to their homeland and the resumption of Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel and if you make this illegitimate then the entire concept of Israel also becomes illegitimate.
Equally, those with little understanding of the historical and ideological complexities of Zionism are only too happy to brand it as “right-wing”, ignoring the fact that there are left-wing, centrist and right-wing strands of Zionism.
So why then does The Independent publish a headline like this?
Yes, Naftali Bennett of the Habayit Hayehudi (Jewish Home) party is a Zionist. But then many of the parties taking part in Israel’s election also define themselves as Zionist, including Meretz, Labor, Kadima, Yesh Atid and Hatnua on the left and center-left and Likud Beiteinu, Shas and Otzma on the right.
So why is Naftali Bennett any more of a Zionist than Bibi Netanyahu, Yair Lapid or Tzipi Livni? If anyone could be described as a “pin-up” in this election it would be the handsome former TV news anchor Lapid. But you can bet that The Independent wouldn’t refer to him as a “Zionist pin-up”.
Perhaps because The Independent wishes to portray Zionism in as narrow a way as possible – pro-settlements and avowedly right-wing – an ideology that the paper’s typical readership would relate to in a negative way.
Note: HonestReporting is non-partisan and expresses no preference when it comes to the parties contesting this or any other Israeli election.