Opinion

Israeli Justice Minister's Three Lies

Have no illusions. The abundance that is showered on the settlements is only made possible by cutting funding in Israel

Noa Osterreicher
Noa Osterreicher
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File photo: Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked.
File photo: Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked.Credit: Ofer Vaknin
Noa Osterreicher
Noa Osterreicher

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked stands against three things: regulation, legislation and judicial activism. Shaked genuinely does not believe in these three things, except as weapons to subdue political rivals. When it comes to her real buddies, Shaked is the first to regulate, to legislate and to take action through the court system.

Nonreligious and non-rich Israelis within the Green Line can only expect the minimum from Shaked and company, and barely that. If it were up to her, the minimum would also fall by the wayside. Why should there be a minimum when it’s always possible to go lower, it’s just a matter of supply and demand, or of “the will of the people.” The people don’t want Arabs to have rights? Fine. The people want to shut up the left? No problem. The people want a functioning public health system? The people want the Finance Ministry to stop raiding the coffers of the National Insurance Institute? Whoa, hold on, are you out of your mind? How can you even think of asking for such things?

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And yet, there is one place where Shaked’s toughness dissipates, where her heart softens and her soul fills with solidarity and affection: the settler right. Yes, there all the impossibilities evaporate, the threats disappear. The settler right is permitted to want everything — and to get it. Limitless funding, for any cause, no questions asked? You got it. Councils, committees, salaried deputies and deputy deputies at taxpayer expense? Why certainly! Extensively subsidized public transportation, new infrastructure, security, reduced tuition, free land — Anything you want! With the possible exception of free foot massages (though somewhere in the desk drawers of the Samaria Settlers’ Council there’s probably a draft of a tender for that too).

If anything goes wrong, Justice Ministry representatives will appear before the despised High Court of Justice and defend the rights of the settlers to receive from the government all that it doesn’t give the rest of the country’s citizens, and at the expense of those citizens. And what about someone who’s not part of the club? If he’s poor, we’ll charge a fee that will prevent him from suing, and if he’s Palestinian, we’ll pass a law prohibiting him from suing. No sweat.

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Shaked was appointed as Israel’s justice minister, but she works for the state of the settlements that is fed by us and by the fruits of our labors — and gives nothing in return. And if you thought it ended there, you are mistaken: A 2017 state comptroller report found that several “task forces” from organizations close to Habayit Hayehudi have been established in Tel Aviv to recruit support for the settlement cause and spread the gospel of Jewish superiority. These individuals and families — all of them religious Zionist — receive a monthly stipend and live in Israel’s most expensive city: all at state expense, via the support it gives to nonprofit organizations. In other words, all that Daphni Leef, the founder of the 2011 social protests, had to do was join the right political party and become religious and no one would have called her spoiled or shouted at her to “go to the periphery.”

Have no illusions. The abundance that is showered on the settlements is only made possible by cutting funding here. There is no money for people with disabilities, for Holocaust survivors, for supervised day care centers, for eldercare, for mental health, for victims of sexual assault. The blanket’s too short? Only on this side of the bed. Only here are the needy made to fight each other over every crumb as the fat and happy right looks on contentedly from the stands. The government brandishes false explanations about the “free market” so it can continue to maintain an incredible welfare state, a real socialist miracle — in the settlements.

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