Opinion |

Israeli Minister Shaked Takes After Mussolini

Don't call the justice minister a fascist metaphorically, as hyperbole or a provocation – call her that because it's literally what she is

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Fascism is a worldview that worships revolutionism, so it is not surprising that Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked openly calls herself revolutionary. Speaking at the end of August, Shaked announced a “moral and political revolution” aimed at strengthening national principles at the expense of universal individual rights.

Zionism,” Shaked said, “should not continue and will not continue to bow down to the system of individual rights interpreted in a universal way.” She called for grounding individual rights within a nationalist context in which national tasks, identity and history take preference over universal individual rights.

Shaked is leading a national revolution against what she terms the “rights revolution” of the 1990s, as a result of which, she argued, “we stopped seeing ourselves as a community.”

In his book “The Myth of the Nation and the Vision of Revolution,” historian Jacob Talmon notes that Benito Mussolini wrote his “Doctrine of Fascism” in 1932 “as the ripe fruit of Fascist self-knowledge.” Mussolini’s fascism, like that of Shaked, was the “revolutionary negation” of individualism and liberalism. “The nation was the primary datum ... all-determining,” Talmon wrote.

In the spirit of Mussolini, Shaked seeks to place nationality above the individual and above liberalism, which grants the individual universal rights without reference to national identity. Or as Talmon wrote in regard to Mussolini: The nation “was a superior, super-personal reality ... a moral law, a tradition, a mission binding together generations past, present and future, and all the individuals.”

To Mussolini, the nation is “moral law” and “tradition.” It is in this spirit that Shaked aspires to a moral revolution that will turn the Zionist-Jewish nation into a sort of moral law that will bind its members into a “community” and give national tasks preference over universal individual rights.

Her goal is a national identity in which the individual is a partner to a Zionist mission that gives the individual the sense of belonging to a “community.” According to Talmon, Mussolini said about such a mission that “the individual was supposed to make himself into an instrument. ... His life was duty, dedication, service, sacrifice. This view of nationhood and of the individual in relation to it was an ethical conception which covered the whole of reality.”

And it is in light of this perspective that Shaked declares decisively that Zionism “will not continue to bow down to the system of individual rights interpreted in a universal way.”

The individual must serve the nation and be willing to sacrifice himself for it. The nation, and not the individual, is “the primary datum ... all-determining.” The nation shall not bow to the rights of the individual. The individual is an instrument by which the nation shall realize its mission. The rights of the nation come before the rights of the individual.

Shaked should not be called a fascist metaphorically, as hyperbole or a provocation. The justice minister, who champions a moral revolution based on giving national missions preference over universal individual rights, is literally a fascist.

Her goal is not equality between citizens, regardless of race, religion or history, but rather, as Talmon wrote of Mussolini, the purpose is to raise up the nation that is now thirsty for a place in the sun. Shaked’s statements are the ripe fruit of her own fascist self-knowledge.