In campaign ad, Israeli Justice Minister rebuts criticisms of fascism by saying her policies ‘smell like democracy’

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Last night, Israeli journalist Barak Ravid tweeted:

Bizarre indeed. Here’s a more detailed translation of her parody-video, including its subtitles:

“Fascism – By Ayelet Shaked. A judiciary revolution. Reducing activism. Appointment of judges. Governance. Separation of authorities. Reigning in the Supreme Court. FASCISM. To me it smells like democracy”.

Shaked is mocking her leftist detractors, who are pointing to her fascist traits. Indeed, it has been argued that Shaked is literally, not just metaphorically, a fascist. An example is Rogel Alpher in Haaretz, who in 2017 was referring to a speech where Shaked said: “Zionism should not continue, and I say here, it will not continue to bow down to the system of individual rights interpreted in a universal way.” The minister’s announcement of a “moral and political revolution” aimed at strengthening national principles at the expense of universal individual rights was comparable to Mussolini’s “doctrine of fascism,” the columnist said. He cited Mussolini’s “revolutionary negation” of individualism and liberalism, wherein the nation ‘was a superior, super-personal reality … a moral law, a tradition, a mission binding together generations past, present and future, and all the individuals'” (quoting from Jacob Talmon’s “The Myth of the Nation and the Vision of Revolution”).

Shaked has become known to many as the politician who advocated for the genocide of “little snakes” (Palestinian children) during the Gaza 2014 onslaught. Since her appointment to Justice Minister in 2015, her focus seemed to be an ice-cold attack on what she perceived to be representations of liberal activism. Shaked’s reference to “activism” in the parody ad can be traced to her war against left-wing NGO’s. In 2016, Shaked passed her flagship “Transparency bill”, which forced organizations who receive more than half their funding from institutions abroad (including from European governments), to disclose it prominently in official reports. The law does not specifically refer to leftwing organizations, but applies to about 25 NGOs. Rightwing NGOs, such as those supporting Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, tend to rely on private donations, which the law does not cover. A clause in the original bill suggested requiring these organizational representatives wear a badge in the Knesset, but this was dropped. The value of this law is regarded to be highly symbolic, as Israeli NGO’s are anyway required to report their public funding – now this funding would be listed as a supposed mark of shame, on all NGO public documentations. This was a populist law meant as part of a campaign of incitement against the ‘left-wing NGO’s’, which Israel’s right has been conducting heavily these past years. The incitement against liberal NGO’s also has a less official, more populist aspect to it, as with the campaigns of organizations such as ‘Im Tirzu‘, positing that left-wing organizations and activists are ‘foreign agents’. 

Ironically, the Justice Ministry has itself been very obscure, and not “transparent” at all, when it comes to its direct involvement in international activities to combat the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign taking Israel to task for its violations.

Most of Shaked’s references in the parody video are directly addressed at the judiciary and the supreme court: “A judiciary revolution”, “appointment of judges, “reigning in the Supreme Court”.

Shaked was furious two days ago, when the High Court ruled in favor of Palestinian-Israeli parties Balad-UAL, as well as Ofer Cassif of the Hadash-Ta’al, allowing them to run despite ban from Elections Committee, while barring Jewish Power leader Michael Ben Ari from running due to racism. Shaked responded:

“The judges of the High Court have turned themselves into a political factor. Their decision to disqualify Ben Ari and authorize parties that support terror is a blatant and erroneous intervention in Israeli democracy. Tomorrow I will publish my plan for the completion of a judicial revolution in my next term.”

This was a light version of the Kahanist Michael Ben Ari himself, who said that “there is a legal junta that seeks to take over our lives. It’s not a democracy.” 

Well, I don’t know about you, but it smells like fascism to me. And I’m not an expert on perfume. But for Shaked, it’s all just a joke.

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A term commonly used by political scientists for this sort of philosophy is ‘organic nationalism’. The nation is perceived as a sort of living being whose rights supersede those of individual human beings. In itself it does not suffice to label someone a fascist, but it comes uncomfortably close.

Ayelet Shaked is the pretty face of an ugly ideology.

What a horror all wrapped up in a supposedly pretty package. Smells like death to me.

RE: “Fascism – By Ayelet Shaked. A judiciary revolution. Reducing activism. Appointment of judges. Governance. Separation of authorities. Reigning in the Supreme Court. FASCISM.”

“Ooooh that smell
Can’t you smell that smell
Ooooh that smell
The smell of death surrounds you”

■ Lynyrd Skynyrd “That Smell” (Original Extended Version) Music Video -Rare Footage –

(“judicial junta” instead of “legal junta”)