Fascism … the scent of Israel

Ayelet Shaked, Israel’s justice minister, posted this video for her New Right party in which she boasts of its fascism.

The ad is ostensibly ironic, mocking left-wing concerns about Shaked’s attack on whatever independence Israel’s judiciary still has.

The 44-second video presents Shaked as an elegant model in an ad for a fancy perfume called “Fascism.”

A voice intones, “A judicial revolution, reducing judicial activism, appointment of judges, governance, separation of powers, restraining the high court” – all policies supposedly championed by Shaked.

The voiceover then says, “Fascism….” and Shaked adds, “To me it smells like democracy,” as she sprays the perfume on herself.

Attack on judges

In reality, Shaked has been waging a systematic attack on Israel’s judiciary, especially the high court, habitually and falsely claiming that judges restrain the Israeli occupation army’s ability to kill Palestinians with impunity.

Following a shooting in the West Bank that left an Israeli soldier and settler dead on Sunday, Shaked claimed that “the legal constraints imposed on the Israel Defense Forces preclude effective deterrence,” and that soldiers are afraid to shoot Palestinians in Gaza launching incendiary balloons over the boundary fence.

In fact, Israeli forces operate with near total impunity, having killed nearly 200 unarmed protesters in Gaza over the last year and injured thousands more.

Israel has launched investigations into just 11 incidents over the last year, under a military investigation process the rights group B’Tselem has called an “organized whitewash.”

While Israel’s high court is often presented abroad as a standard-bearer of democratic values and liberalism, it has totally failed to check decades of Israeli occupation, regularly paving the way for human rights abuses and war crimes against Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, and it has given its blessing to dozens of racist laws and openly racist policies against Palestinian citizens of Israel.

Now Shaked is moving to clamp down even further on the supposed independence of the judiciary, promising a “revolution” against the judges.

In what The Times of Israel termed a “comprehensive and deep-cutting plan,” Shaked is now vowing to dismantle the high court’s judicial oversight over the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, and give lawmakers in the legislature – dominated by the far-right – full power to appoint judges.

One of her party’s election slogans is “Shaked will defeat the High Court of Justice.”

In 2014, Shaked gained international notoriety for posting on Facebook a genocidal call to slaughter Palestinians, including women who her post described as giving birth to “little snakes.”

Such language, comparing people to animals, is a hallmark of fascists and genocide practitioners everywhere.

Fig leaf for fascism

Shaked’s “fascism” ad comes on the heels of a ruling by the high court to uphold a decision by the Knesset elections committee to bar Michael Ben-Ari from running in the 9 April general election.

The court also reversed the election committee’s decision to ban the Balad-United Arab List party.

Israel’s attorney general had briefed the court that he was in favor of upholding the ban on Ben-Ari due, as the newspaper Haaretz put it, to his “incessant incitement against Arabs.”

Dispossession of Palestinians and racism against them has always been foundational to the Israeli state – with the court’s blessing.

The ban on Ben-Ari is a mere fig leaf as the court further legitimizes the ongoing far-right and openly racist – indeed fascist – drift in Israeli politics.

While barring Ben-Ari as an individual, the court allowed his ultra-racist Otzma Yehudit, or Jewish Power, party to remain on the ballot.

Now the Kahanist party is demanding top posts in a future government.

Among its candidates – and possible future ministers in coalition with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – are Baruch Marzel, a Hebron settler notorious for his violence against Palestinians. Marzel openly advocates the ethnic cleansing of millions of Palestinians.

“The only way to have peace is to get them out of Israel,” he claims.

Another candidate is Itamar Ben Gvir, a lawyer who openly celebrates Baruch Goldstein, the American settler who 25 years ago massacred 29 Palestinian men and boys while they were praying in Hebron’s Ibrahimi mosque.

That Israel’s high court gave its blessing to candidates like Marzel and Ben Gvir, and that Ayelet Shaked considers the court to be too liberal, sums up everything one needs to know about Israel’s current political scene and the health of its supposed democracy.

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Comments

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So Ben-Ari becomes the sin eater- of whom it can be said, "That one, he went too far." Thus the nation's conscience has been awakened and assuaged, while the outcast's collaborators are certified as decent, worthy candidates.

With regard to Shaked's charming video, her attempt to make light of persistent and well documented accusations of fascism illuminates one of the darkest urges in Israeli politics. She's called for genocide and she's pledged to complete the Judaization of historic Palestine with no regard for international law or humanitarian restraints. When a fascist tries to mock her opponents by embracing the label in an "ironic" manner, there's no irony involved. She's just offering other fascists a jokey way to embrace barbarism.

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The Court should not be in a position to remove any candidate for public office unless they somehow legally fail to qualify. An easy example of that would be they are not old enough or are not a qualified elector. The Court certainly should not be able to remove a candidate based on something they said no matter how awful the comment. That is the voters job. The voters and only the voters should decide that issue. That is why we have elections. The candidates ideas are put out in public and the voters then decide who they want. The Courts should never act as an interloper in deciding an election. Doing so is undemocratic.

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Ali Abunimah

Co-founder of The Electronic Intifada and author of The Battle for Justice in Palestine, now out from Haymarket Books.

Also wrote One Country: A Bold-Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse. Opinions are mine alone.