Ayelet Shaked in the Free Market

The justice minister refuses to accept the fact that in the business sector, as in the public sector, it is human beings who are working there

Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, at an economics conference sponsored by TheMarker at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Be'er Sheva, Nov. 29, 2017.

The justice minister likes to talk about the free market. In her opinion, any government intervention in the economy is unacceptable, and any attempt to restrain market forces is comparable to a Bolshevik attack. Ayelet Shaked, who is always ready to exercise government power for the benefit of the settlements or against the left, refuses to accept the fact that in the business sector, just as in the public sector, it is human beings who are working there. And there’s no escaping the fact that the behavior of human beings must be examined by ethical and legal criteria, and those who deviate from these criteria must be punished.

Sometimes it seems as though Shaked suffers from a kind of split personality: On one hand, she has many complaints against the bloated and inefficient civil service. On the other, she demonstrates an enthusiastic willingness to add more and more salaried workers to that same civil service, in “positions of trust” – without supervision, a bidding process or prerequisites other than being close to the plate.

The same is true of her attempt at transparency: In recent years Shaked has pushed with all her might to restrict left-wing NGOs, by means of an obsessive examination of the donations sent to them – although all those NGOs openly publish their financial sources. And after she succeeded in undermining the funding of these NGOs and, mainly, besmirching all of them as abettors of terror and as traitors, what is Shaked doing now? She is promoting a new policy whereby it would not be necessary to publicize the names of people donating up to 150,000 shekels (about $43,000) a year, instead of the current minimum of 20,000 shekels.

Have we mentioned transparency?

Shaked knows how to block the left and to leave the right free to do as it pleases: The contributions to left-wing NGOS come from foreign countries or international organizations – so clearly, that’s prohibited. The contributions to the right come from Jews who would be happy to heat things up by remote control from abroad, and from evangelists who want to speed up the advent of Armageddon, after which Jesus will be able to return. That, of course, is both legal and fantastic. Besides, Jesus was a Jew too. So let him return, we’ll make him regret that he was born.

Shaked’s latest invention, which was just approved by the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, is charging a fee of 16,000 shekels for a request to file a class action. Although Shaked agreed to compromise on 5,000 shekels at the time the request is submitted, with the rest to come after the ruling is handed down – who has 5,000 shekels on hand? A class action, contrary to its image, is the weapon of the weak.

The defendants are corporations like Bezeq, which were sold to tycoons in ways that are now being examined in the court, and concerns like Tnuva, which was purchased by an international investment fund and then by a Chinese corporation, and on the way also managed to raise prices and fire employees. These entities, according to Shaked, are the weak party that should be protected from the Big Bad Wolf – the citizen.

With amazing timing, coalition MKs last week proposed raising the fee for petitioning the High Court of Justice from 1,786 shekels to 5,400 shekels – only for Palestinians or for Israeli organizations that petition on their behalf. In both cases, increasing the fee will be more effective than any separation barrier. The injustices won’t end, but the victims simply won’t have enough money to sue.

That’s the right: It whines that the legal system is a “closed club,” and at the same time forbids the weak to enter, and even reprimands them for preventing the strong from dancing there.