Meet Israel’s new justice minister: Ayelet Shaked.
I wrote a lengthy profile of Shaked in January ahead of Israel’s March elections.
For those of you who need a refresher, Shaked is perhaps best known for her incendiary Facebook post last summer that justified bombing Palestinian civilians because they give shelter to “evil.” She made international headlines for that post, which was actually an essay written by a former speechwriter for Benjamin Netanyahu.
“Now this includes also the mothers of the shahids who send them off to hell with flowers and kisses,” the essay read. “They need to go and so does the physical house in which they raised the snake, or else they will raise there more little snakes.”
Beyond her social media conflagration, Shaked has had a short but impactful career as a legislator.
She has been at the forefront of the effort to weaken Israel’s high court, which she views as an activist organ that seeks to undercut the country’s elected leaders. In 2014, she proposed a bill that would allow the Knesset to implement laws overturned by the high court for a period of four years. If the law had passed, critics predicted, it would have allowed the Knesset to ride roughshod over Israel’s functional bill of rights, eroding minority rights in Israel.
Now, Shaked can influence the court from her new perch as the head of the Judicial Selections Committee, which controls the makeup of the court. She will also head a committee that assesses upcoming bills and decides whether the coalition should support them or not. That means she’ll have a major hand in engineering Israel’s legislative priorities.
Once dubbed the “settler in Tel Aviv” by Haaretz, Shaked is the secular face of the ultranationalist Jewish Home party. A 39-year-old software engineer from north Tel Aviv, she underwent her right wing political awakening in the Israeli Defense Forces, where she served alongside religious settlers.
A Jewish Home lawmaker since 2013, Shaked has championed some of Israel’s most controversial bills in recent memory, including a version of the nation-state bill that critics say will bolster Israel’s Jewish character at the expense of its democracy. An outspoken opponent of a Palestinian state, she also attempted to extend Israeli law to the settlements — a step shy of annexing them.
“Around us in the Middle East there is total chaos,” she told Haaretz in an interview explaining her objection to a two-state solution. “I’m not willing to give up on my land for this chaos.”
We’ll be watching Shaked as the new Israeli government gets to work.
Naomi Zeveloff is the former Middle East correspondent of the Forward, primarily covering Israel and the Palestinian Territories.
Meet Ayelet Shaked, Israel's New Justice Minister