Opinion

Shaked, a Secular Woman, Heading a Political Party? Oh, the Joys of Liberal Fascism

Ayelet Shaked during a press conference, Tel Aviv, February 7, 2019.
Moti Milrod

Ayelet Shaked brought a great light to all those who had lost hope of breathing life into Israel’s wilting liberalism. Suddenly the scent of the “liberal right” is in the air, like some miraculous new potion that will exterminate the extreme, messianic, Zionist ultra-Orthodox right of Rafi Peretz and Bezalel Smotrich.

The joy is even greater given the fact that Shaked is a woman heading a political party. Since she is also secular, the enthusiasm knows no bounds. Really, we don’t deserve all this bounty. All that remains is for us to learn that Shaked was once a lesbian and that she has Arab ancestry to complete the sweet liberal dream.

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Shaked’s liberalism comes with a little gift, that includes Naftali Bennett’s great love of gays and lesbians. Until a moment ago, Shaked and Bennett were responsible for two of this country’s most anti-liberal disasters: the struggle to crush the High Court of Justice, and the religionization of the educational system. On his Facebook page, Bennett wrote that Hayamin Hehadash would be “a party that believes in a free economy, aggressive security, the integrity of the people and the land and Judaism that brings people closer ... a party that isn’t sectoral, but is concerned about all parts of this good nation.”

The jaw drops, and the magnifying glass begins searching for the differences between Hayamin Hehadash and Kahol Lavan. Kahol Lavan head Benny Gantz also told us about how he was in favor of the wholeness of the people and of annexing part of the territory beyond the Green Line; he too supports an aggressive defense policy and is also very connected to the Bible and a “unifying” Judaism.

Like Kahol Lavan, Shaked and Bennett’s Hayamin Hehadash seeks to take care of “our good nation,” but not necessarily the bad Arab nation and Israel’s non-Jewish citizens. Gantz has already explained that he can’t hold a political dialogue with the Arabs because “their political leadership speaks out against the State of Israel.”

We could almost make the mistake of thinking that there is no difference whatsoever between the two parties. Gantz, Shaked, Bennett – they’re all the same. But then one remembers Bennett and Shaked’s fascist-flavored liberalism. “The Land of Israel belongs to the people of Israel, period,” Shaked said four years ago. “Zionism will no longer subordinate itself to individual rights,” she announced two years later. But who cares about Arabs and individual rights when we have lived to see a secular woman head a right-wing party. You can’t get more liberal than that.

“When the party was established, many of my nonreligious friends told me they finally had someone to vote for. They were looking for a right-wing liberal party that wasn’t afraid to tackle a clear economic and political agenda,” attorney Gil Bringer told TheMarker. One of the main mistakes made by Hayamin Hehadash, he said, was that “They demonstrated moderation on issues of religion and state. I think the attempt to avoid an extreme message is what messed them up in the last election.”

The appointment of conservative judges, alleged deals with the judicial appointments committee, intimidating the Supreme Court – all these are apparently “moderate messages.” Perhaps now the symbol of right-wing liberalism will get into the cab of the bulldozer parked in Moti Yogev’s yard and demolish the Supreme Court building herself. That’s the real, determined and clear agenda.

Liberalism is not a relative concept. Its values are universal, clear and defined. It is possible to compare the interpretations given to this concept, to examine the degree of desire to implement these values and the quantity and quality of the legislative action that is aimed at shaping the country’s liberal face.

But in the case of Bennett and Shaked, there’s no room for confusion. The only comparison possible is the degree of fascism, racism, xenophobia and the depth of the occupation that distinguishes them from the “nonliberal” right. The liberalism that peeked out the window briefly will have to flee back to the shelter.