With your support we continue to ensure media accuracy

The Guardian Turns ‘Zionism’ Into a Dirty Word in One-Sided Hit Piece

How do you turn 2,000 years of Jewish longing for a return to Zion into an insult and a slur? By mainstreaming extreme voices, distorting history, and placing the entire onus for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict…

Reading time: 4 minutes

How do you turn 2,000 years of Jewish longing for a return to Zion into an insult and a slur?

By mainstreaming extreme voices, distorting history, and placing the entire onus for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict solely on the shoulders of the Jewish state.

This is exactly what The Guardian did in its recently published piece, “How ‘Zionist’ became a slur on the US left.”

While this piece aims to analyze the use of the term “Zionist” as a slur by those on the far left of the political spectrum in general, and those taking part in the anti-Israel encampments at universities in particular, it is not a balanced and nuanced take on the subject, simply uncritically echoing the distortions and manipulations of those opposed to the movement for Jewish sovereignty in the Jewish peoples’ historical homeland.

Amplifying Anti-Zionists, Shunning Zionist Voices

For a piece aiming to answer such a thorny question, one would expect The Guardian to interview people with various viewpoints, including those who subscribe to traditional Zionism and those who oppose the Zionist movement.

However, aside from two brief references to a recent statement by Zionists at Columbia University and a quote by Bret Stephens on why he is a Zionist, this entire piece is filled with analyses and observations by those who are fully entrenched in the anti-Zionist camp.

While it is understandable that The Guardian quotes at length a representative for Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) and Simone Zimmerman, one of the founders of IfNotNow, in a piece about anti-Zionist student activists, the only two individuals interviewed are Peter Beinart and UCLA professor Saree Makdisi.

In typical Guardian fashion, Beinart’s fringe views are held up as evidence of supposed contradiction at the heart of liberal Zionism while Makdisi is used to add context to the ongoing debates about Zionism on university campuses.

Aside from the fact that Saree Makdisi’s academic background is in literature and not Zionist philosophy, he is known for extreme anti-Israel views. As HonestReporting noted in 2016, he has a long history of questioning the Jewish state’s right to exist, spreading libels about Israel and the IDF, and demeaning those who express concerns about the extremes of anti-Israel activism.

Therefore, instead of offering readers what could have been a nuanced conversation about Zionism — that is, the movement for Jewish self-determination — has been weaponized into a slur, The Guardian offers nothing more than an anti-Zionist screed.

The Missing Context on Zionism and Zionist History

If The Guardian had included the opinions of Zionist academics or commentators, it is likely the piece would’ve taken a different tone. For one, readers might have been informed of the many distortions and manipulations expressed by both the writer and those interviewed.

First, this piece presents Zionism as a late-19th-century European ideology, ignoring the fact that one of the core precepts of Zionism (the return of the Jewish people to their historical homeland) has been a key element of Judaism for thousands of years.

By ignoring this historic continuation between Judaism and Zionism, this piece gives undue weight to the minority camp of anti-Zionist Jews who want to “reclaim Judaism from its association with Israel.”

It also means the sheer absurdity of Saree Makdisi’s observation that he has no issue with a Jewish state in principle, just the issue of “where [the Jewish people] have this state.” This completely disregards the fact that the only just location for a Jewish state is in the land they have inhabited for thousands of years, which is the current location of the State of Israel.

In addition, the claim that Zionism “underpins the policies that drove their [the Palestinians’] mass displacement from what became Israel in 1948” and that the term “Zionist” is “emblematic of the violent state policies driving the war on Gaza” are ludicrous assertions that are unworthy of a serious piece of journalism.

Both claims are based on a superficial understanding of Israeli history which apportions all blame for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to Israel and Zionism, ignoring the fact that Palestinian dispossession in 1948 was the result of both the Arab refusal to accept the UN Partition Plan and the choice to engage in war against the budding Jewish state, while the current war in Gaza is the direct result of Hamas’s atrocities on October 7.

Whether it’s references to failed peace negotiations or the disappearance of the Jewish movement for a binational state before the creation of Israel, The Guardian seems intent on absolving the Palestinians of any responsibility for the violence that has wracked the region.

Related Reading: Celebrating Rejectionism: Amnesty, Abbas, El-Kurd Revel in UN’s ‘International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People’

For a piece filled with one-sided bias and distorted facts, why did The Guardian present it as an objective news report instead of an opinion piece?

Liked this article? Follow HonestReporting on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok to see even more posts and videos debunking news bias and smears, as well as other content explaining what’s really going on in Israel and the region.

Photo Credit: JASON REDMOND/AFP via Getty Images

Red Alert
Send us your tips
By clicking the submit button, I grant permission for changes to and editing of the text, links or other information I have provided. I recognize that I have no copyright claims related to the information I have provided.
Skip to content