Incoming justice minister Ayelet Shaked has been placed under special protection by the Knesset Guard after receiving multiple threats to her life.
“We were amazed to see the explicit threats against MK Ayelet Shaked,” Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein said Monday morning in an interview with Army Radio.
Shaked remains a simple Knesset member, not a minister, until the new government is formally sworn in next week. Until her induction, her protection falls under the purview of the Knesset Guard rather than the Shin Bet.
Shaked has faced a torrent of online attacks after it was announced last week she would be appointed justice minister, especially from the extreme left and anti-Israel activists, who circulated doctored images on social media sites showing her in a Nazi SS uniform and accusing her of advocating genocide.
But Shaked has also faced a maelstrom of criticism from mainstream Israeli voices who noted the 39-year-old lawmaker has no formal legal training and has been in the Knesset for barely two years.
The criticism of her lack of experience has occasionally been accompanied by comments, including in mainstream media, about Shaked’s appearance, sparking support for the right-wing lawmaker from unexpected quarters.
Yesh Atid Knesset faction chair MK Ofer Shelah, an influential opposition lawmaker, told the Galey Israel radio station on Monday that while he disagreed with Shaked’s proposed reforms to weaken the Israeli judiciary, he was equally worried at the “chauvinistic and inappropriate comments about her inexperience and age.”
Shaked’s appointment carries with it, he said, “the danger that the balance between the judiciary and the political system will be violated in favor of the political system. I’m worried not about Ayelet Shaked personally but about the fact that Jewish Home is getting the justice portfolio.”
But “having said that, the attacks on Shaked herself, not just over her becoming justice minister, but also over her membership in the [security] cabinet, there were undertones that I didn’t like at all…. There is no connection between those [criticisms] and the way she will carry out her duties.”
Shelah isn’t the first defender of Shaked from across the political aisle. Meretz leader Zahava Gal-on lashed out Sunday at the Yedioth Ahronoth daily for publishing an article on Shaked’s weekend trip to a resort with her family. The article related that the family visited the resort’s swimming pool, revealing to readers that, “to the disappointment of the other vacationers, [Shaked] kept her clothes on.”
The incident marks the latest in a string of mainstream media references to Shaked’s appearance, Gal-on noted.
“Whoever approved that sickening paragraph that appeared this morning in Yedioth Ahronoth should be ashamed. It’s not merely bad taste,” Gal-on wrote. “Whoever writes in a newspaper that the ‘vacationers were disappointed that she kept her clothes on,’ whoever says that it’s better to use her beauty to improve foreign ties or that she could be on a calendar, sends women and girls the message that it doesn’t matter how much they succeed — even if they are appointed senior ministers in the government, they will first and foremost be judged by their external appearance.”
Shaked and Gal-on come from opposite sides of the Israeli political map, Gal-on was quick to note. Shaked is “smart and diligent with anti-democratic and nationalistic positions,” Gal-on wrote. “I plan to oppose Ayelet Shaked on every initiative she’ll advance to weaken the High Court of Justice and harm Israeli democracy. With regard to everything she receives as a woman, or related to the belittling comments she is forced to absorb, I stand by her.”