Bennett, the hipster
Photo: Ido Erez
Mirroring Bennett in the Likud?
Photo: Gur Dotan

Bennett pegged as Right's 'international star'

International media takes unusual interest in Habayit Hayehudi chairman's rapid rise to political stardom; ventures he may destabilize US-Israel ties by pulling coalition to the Right

The international media has dubbed Naftali Bennett, chairman of Habayit Hayehudi party, as Israeli politics' new raising star.


Bennett is expected to lead the party to substantial political gains on Tuesday's general election, with polls predicting it will be the third largest party. The international media has not failed to notice the "right-wing hipster" from "The Jewish Home."


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Nick Meo of the British newspaper The Telegraph, accompanied Bennett on his visit to Jerusalem's Great Synagogue. According to him, Bennett was "flashing smiles at adoring supporters, as shutters clicked and excited whispers rippled through the audience."


מפזר חיוכים למעריצים. בנט בפעולה (צילום: גיל יוחנן)

Bennett's smile's in action (Photo: Gil Yohanan)


Moreover, he predicts that Bennett "will be either a formidable opposition leader, committed to blocking any attempt to give up land for peace, or more likely a partner in a coalition government, pushing a set of far Right policies that enrage Palestinians and risk a breakdown in Israel's already strained alliance with America."


Social networks instead of rabbis' sermons

According to Meo, Bennett will be "the first Right-wing hipster in Israeli politics, campaigning in jeans and joking in Hebrew slang, and in an otherwise lackluster general election campaign, he gets an excited reaction that rivals can only dream of."


Meo attributed Bennett's success to the fact that he and the "Jewish Home" – the literal translation of Habayit Hayeudi's name – enjoy the support of young and secular Jews as well as their classic religious voters. The secret to gaining their support is attributed to Bennett's savvy use of social media instead of rabbis' sermons.


"I love him," said Sammy Magid, 19, a student who is quoted in the story. "He stands up for Israel and will stand up to the West – like Menachem Begin did."


"He is the kind of guy his young supporters would like to be," a Likud rival is quoted as saying. "He's an army hero, a business success, a patriot who says what people think about the peace process. But he's also an opportunist and if he wants to be prime minister one day he will have to tack to the centre.


The French news agency, AFP, has also taken notice of Bennett, publishing a profile of the Right's "rising star."


The story reminds the public that Bennett sold his high-tech company in 2005 for $145 million, only then to enter political life, describing him as: "The son of American immigrants to Israel, the 40-year-old has been the driving force behind the revival of a party whose heyday was in the 1960s."


Similarly to the other profiles and stories, AFP does not fail to mention the fact that Bennett is a stanch opponent of a Palestinian state, nor that he is promoting the idea of annexing 60% of the West Bank and granting autonomy to the rest of the Palestinians – a position vehemently opposed by both Palestinians and the international community.


"A savvy communicator who uses social networks to connect with voters in Hebrew, English and French, Bennett has won plenty of media attention," the story reads, while not failing to note the secular women in party's higher echelon:


"Another newcomer on the list is Ayelet Shaked, a young secular Israeli from cosmopolitan Tel Aviv who worked with Bennett during his tenure as Netanyahu's chief of staff."


מתל-אביב הקוסמופוליטית. איילת שקד

From cosmopolitan Tel Aviv. Ayelet Shaked 


The French network France 24, also aired an extensive piece about Bennett. The story begins with the question of how much more can Benjamin Netanyahu veer to the Right, but quickly goes onto explaining that Netanyahu is having a hard time because of the election's twist – a young, charismatic and pro-settlement Bennett.


The network further explains how at the time Bennett started garnering international attention extreme right wing factors managed to gain important influence in the Likud.  


The story specifically named Moshe Feiglin – who managed to get voted into a realistic spot in the Likud's primary election – as well as an interview he gave to the New Yorker, in which Feiglin is quoted saying: “You can’t teach a monkey to speak and you can’t teach an Arab to be democratic.


"You’re dealing with a culture of thieves and robbers. Muhammad, their prophet, was a robber and a killer and a liar. The Arab destroys everything he touches."



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פרסום ראשון: 01.20.13, 14:31
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