Published On: Mon, Oct 10th, 2016

Justice Minister Shaked’s ‘Jewish revolution’ raises MK uproar

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Bayit Yehudi)recently laid down her vision for a libertarian, hands-off government and judicial system over the weekend, arousing respect but also vehement opposition from her fellow Knesset members.

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Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked‘s “Jewish state manifesto, ” which she recently published, is causing a slew of responses and criticisms. Among those to come out against it was Yesh Atid Party Leader Yair Lapid, who responded over the weekend with a long manifesto of his own.

Shaked’s article, which details her libertarian point of view and minimum interference from the government and court, is the first time she has laid down her personal judicial outlook. In it, Shaked stated that in addition to highly conservative “Thatcheresque” comments, such as the need to deregulate and executing more oversight of the Knesset over the government, Shaked stated that not only does Israel need to be “more Jewish, ” but that becoming so will make it “more democratic.”

In his own post, Lapid responded to the piece published by Shaked. “(The debate over) Shaked’s op-ed has become, as is the norm here, an argument over a single sentence—is Minister Shaked suggesting that Israel become more Jewish and less democratic? The answer is ‘yes’ to more Jewish and ‘probably not’ to less democratic, but the question alone does the article a substantial injustice. For it is a fascinating, complex and unusual attempt by a key minister to present her world view, which doubles as an invitation for a public debate.”

Lapid agreed with Shaked’s claim that the Knesset is legislating itself to death. “Thousands of bills are submitted, and only a small fraction of them is feasible. If Shaked lead an initiative that would limit the number of bills that an MK could submit during a given session, I would support it.”

That said, Lapid rejected Shaked’s attempt to lay all the blame for this situation at the Opposition’s door. “Shaked is a member of a government that completely disparages not only the democratic idea of checks and balances, but the decisions themselves. While in the previous government, she and her friends voted with their hands held high for important laws such as Sharing the Burden and teaching math and English to all Israeli students; during the current government—less than a year later—they voted without a second thought for cancel those same laws.”

Regarding Shaked’s wariness of an “active” Supreme Court, Lapid feels she is fighting a battle that has already been won. “These days, the High Court of Justice is restrained, cautious and does everything it can not to enter into direct conflict with the government. Absurdly, it is the current government that Shaked is a part of that resurrected the idea of judicial activism.”

Lapid ended his response by complementing Shaked. “Despite all the arguments it’s spurred, this is a serious and meaningful document. In the age of tweeting, Snapchat and lolz, Shaked writes with the texts of Lincoln, de Tocqueville, Hamilton and Milton Friedman, Jefferson and Menny Mautner, Aharon Barak and Moshe Shamir on her desk.”

MK Shelly Yachimovich (Zionist Union) also came out against Shaked’s piece, taking umbrage with what she viewed as Shaked’s antipathy toward the state and legislative body. “It’s an unstately op-ed, in which she expresses a deep contempt for the state and its establishment and sees the moral, legislative and normative infrastructure of our lives here as a rotten, rusty and unnecessary path. She celebrates the freedoms of the powerful few that allow them to do whatever they wish, while the general public is abandoned and allowed to be exploited, robbed and used.”

Yachimovich added that “It’s important that a politician has outlined her agenda in such irrefutable terms. This is a tough and bitter ideology: The second-in-command at the most right-wing, nationalist party in Israel simply doesn’t like our state. According to Shaked, the state is impotent and unnecessary.”

Shaked did receive support from the right side of the aisle, from Speaker of the Knesset Yuli Edelstein (Likud). “The idea that we will become either a purely democratic or purely Jewish state is unconscionable, ” said Edelstein, before adding, “It’s all about balances. It’s great that the Knesset established its democratic basis. But it’s unclear whether it has sufficiently established the Jewish side, since it’s all being done with a wink and a smile, while claiming that that part ‘is obvious.’ And so I truly believe that we also need to invest some thought into establishing this as a Jewish state, not just through winks, but also through formal legislation.”

Itamar Eichner and Amihai Attali: Ayelet Shaked

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