As usual in the weeks before a national election, colorful campaign ads are proliferating in Israel. One that has managed to generate some attention, even outside the Jewish state, was produced by the campaign of the current justice minister Ayelet Shaked. Spoofing an advertisement for high-end perfume, the short video mocks those who have branded as fascist both her and her platform, which focuses mainly on reforms of the judiciary. Vivian Bercovici notes that many have failed to get the joke, and are now wringing their hands over an Israeli politician’s supposed disregard for democracy:
Timed to coincide with the Jewish holiday of Purim, on which it is customary to get all silly (as Jews celebrate their triumph over the ancient Persian attempt to destroy them), Shaked presented the ad spot as a wickedly funny and ironic jab at her critics. The problem was that people outside Israel who do not understand Hebrew, or Jewish culture, used it as proof of the wicked ways of the right—and Israel in general. . . .
What Shaked disparages as excessive judicial activism her nemeses see as evidence that the judiciary is doing its job; ensuring that elected officials do not run amok. Democracy needs tending, and the role of the judiciary is to pen in overly-zealous legislators. It is an evergreen debate that persists in most democracies, but it has been particularly sharp in Israel in recent years. . . .
In response to the hue and cry Shaked’s political ad inspired in Israel and abroad, she says that the left can’t take a joke. “It is a nice clip aimed at the liberal left that has for years called me a fascist but keeps losing the elections.” . . .
If nothing else, Israeli election campaigns are endlessly entertaining. A pox on the sourpusses who can’t take a joke.