Last year The Electronic Intifada re-published a Facebook post by a 39-year old Israeli lawmaker named Ayelet Shaked who was first elected to parliament in 2012, in which she said that the entire Palestinian population was the enemy and Israel was at war with the “entire [Palestinian] people, including its elderly and its women, its cities and its villages, its property and its infrastructure”, and made the case that their destruction was justified. She even referred to Palestinian children as “little snakes”.
Her Facebook post generated thousands of likes before she took it down (but of course archived copies exist) and it appeared the day before a Palestinian was kidnapped and burned alive, allegedly by six Israeli Jewish youths.
Why is this newsworthy? Because reports say that Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has agreed to name her as his justice minister in his new government, an incredibly rapid rise within government for someone so new to parliament.
Ben Norton notes that the reaction from saner elements in Israeli society has been dismay.
In response to Netanyahu’s appointment of Shaked, head of the Peace Now organization Yariv Oppenheimer commented, “Shaked as Justice Minister is like placing an idol in the Temple. No less.” MK Nachman Shai, of the Zionist Union, remarked “the demand to give Ayelet Shaked the Justice portfolio is like giving the Fire and Rescue Services to a pyromaniac.”
But Palestinians are not the only people she despises. She has also been “very vocal about her contempt for the liberal-leaning supreme court”. So a person who despises the Israeli Supreme Court and calls for the genocide of Palestinians is judged to have just the kinds of qualities one looks for in a justice minister.
Although she is reportedly secular, she is now in a coalition government that is led by the likes of Netanyahu and contains a gaggle of hard line and religious parties such as the United Torah Judaism, Shas, Kulanu, and The Jewish Home party, the first two of which are allied with ultra-Orthodox groups that have appalling views about the role of women, to the extent of defacing and eliminating the images of women that appear anywhere in public. I wonder how they will work with a woman who does not conform to the strict standards of female modesty demanded by the ultra-Orthodox who are increasingly powerful forces in Israel.
The Israel lobby in the US has its work cut out to make this new Israeli government and its policies palatable to US public opinion, although the US Congress can be relied upon to ignore its awful features.