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Ayelet Shaked

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Ayelet Shaked
Date of birth (1976-05-07) 7 May 1976 (age 42)
Place of birth Tel Aviv, Israel
Knessets 19, 20
Faction represented in Knesset
2013–present The Jewish Home
Ministerial roles
2015–present Minister of Justice

Ayelet Shaked (/ˈɑːjɛlɛt ʃɑːkɛd/; Hebrew: איילת שקד‎; born 7 May 1976) is an Israeli politician, activist, and computer engineer. She has served as a member of the Knesset for The Jewish Home since 2013, and as Minister of Justice since 2015. Although representing a religious party, Shaked identifies as a secular politician. She is the only secular woman in her party. She began her career in the Tel Aviv high-tech industry, working as an engineer at Texas Instruments.[1][2] In 2010 she established the My Israel extra-parliamentary movement with Naftali Bennett and led it until May 2012.

She is considered one of Israel's most active and influential legislators,[3] and initiated and drafted laws including Israel's 2016 NGO law, its comprehensive law against terrorism, a version of the basic law proposal on Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, as well as a law limiting the powers of the Israeli Supreme Court. Widely viewed as a potential future Prime Minister, in the opinion of Haaretz, "she is poised to be Israel’s most successful female Israeli politician since Golda Meir".[4]

Early life and career

Shaked was born Ayelet Ben Shaul in Tel Aviv to a well-educated upper-middle-class Israeli family. Her paternal grandmother immigrated to Israel from Iraq as a single mother in the 1950s as part of the Jewish exodus from Arab and Muslim countries, carefully investing her money in property and the education of her children.[5] Her father was an accountant and voted Likud.[6][7][8] Shaked describes herself as 'half-Iraqi and proud of it'.[5] Her mother, a Bible teacher, was from a center-left Ashkenazi family whose ancestors migrated to Palestine from the Russian Empire and Romania in the 1880s as part of the First Aliyah.

She grew up in the upper middle class Bavli neighbourhood of Tel Aviv. She identified her political awakening and right-wing orientation to when she was 8 years old, after watching a television debate between Yitzhak Shamir and Shimon Peres, where she supported the right-wing views of Shamir.[7][9] As a teenager, she was a main instructor in the Hebrew Scouts Movement in Israel. At high-school, she held right-wing views but was not highly political.[10]

She served in the IDF as an infantry instructor in the Golani Brigade,[7] serving in the 12th Barak (Lightning) battalion and Sayaret Golani (the special forces unit within the Golani Brigade).[10] It was while she was in the army, that her right-wing views were strengthened.[10] At Tel Aviv University, she obtained a BSc in electrical engineering and computer science. She began her career in the Tel Aviv high-tech industry,[1] working as a software engineer at Texas Instruments and later becoming manager of the company's marketing.

Ayelet Shaked with Reuven Rivlin, President of Israel in consultations after the elections, 23 March 2015

Public career

From 2006 to 2008, she was office director for the office of Benjamin Netanyahu. In 2010 she established My Israel with Naftali Bennett and led it until May 2012.

From the end of 2011, she campaigned against illegal immigration from Africa to Israel, saying that it poses a threat to the state and also involves severe economic damage.[11] She also campaigned against Galei Tzahal saying it had a "left leaning agenda".[12]

In January 2012 Shaked was elected to serve as a member of the Likud's Central Committee; however, in June 2012 she resigned and joined the Jewish Home. On 14 November 2012 she won third place in the party's primaries, and was placed in the fifth spot on the Jewish Home list for the 2013 elections. With the list winning 12 seats, Shaked became the only secular Jewish Home MK. She subsequently joined the Economic Affairs Committee, the House Committee, and the Committee on Foreign Workers, and served as an alternate member on the Finance Committee. She also chaired the Knesset committee for the Enforcement of the Security Service Law and the National-Civilian Service Law and the Special Committee for the Equal Sharing of the Burden Bill.

In June 2014, Shaked posted an article by the late Israeli writer Uri Elitzur on Facebook.[13][14][15][16] The Facebook post was variously described in the media as calling Palestinian children "little snakes" and appearing to justify mass punishment of Palestinians.[14][15][16][17][18] Based upon the Facebook post, the then Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said that Shaked's mindset was no different from Adolf Hitler's.[16][19] Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned Erdoğan’s comments, stating "Erdogan's anti-Semitic comments profaned the memory of the Holocaust." The leader of Israeli leftist Meretz party, Zehava Gal-On, suggested that "because of the presidential election Erdoğan has lost control."[20] Shaked stated that her post was portrayed falsely in the media, especially in that the article was presented as her own words rather than Elitzur's. She said, "I refer specifically to 'Daily Beast' writer Gideon Resnick, who so misrepresented the facts in one of my recent Facebook posts, one has to wonder if his hatred for my country hasn’t rendered him outright useless to his website and his readers."[13]

In 2015, Shaked won the primary election for the Jewish Home Party, which was considered an achievement as a secular female politician within a religious party.[21]

Minister of Justice

Shaked was placed third on the Jewish Home list for the 2015 elections,[22] and was re-elected to the Knesset. On 6 May 2015, it was reported that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had agreed to appoint Shaked as Minister of Justice as part of a plan to form a new coalition government.[23][24][25] Shaked took office as Justice Minister on 14 May 2015.[7]

In July 2015, Shaked announced that she was forming a committee to create a stable legal structure for the Israeli settlements in the West Bank.[26] The formation of the committee was agreed upon in the coalition agreement between Bayit Yehudi and Likud.[26] She has stated: "There are many areas in Judea and Samaria, whose legal status has not been organized. Its time to remove the legal ambiguity, and allow the residents of Judea and Samaria, many of whom live in settlements that were built by the Israeli government, to live without the persistent fear of challenges to their property ownership".[26] The legal status of the West Bank is disputed; the Palestinians, the UN, human rights organisations and most of the international community consider it to be occupied Palestinian territory.

In January 2016, Shaked sponsored a bill in the Knesset that would require non-governmental organizations ("NGOs") that receive a majority of their funding from "foreign government entities" to be so labeled. In an interview in The Washington Post she stated that the law would foster transparency by giving the public the right "to know which NGOs are receiving most of their support from foreign governments and therefore representing foreign government interests."[27]

In June 2016 the Israeli Knesset passed a comprehensive law against terrorism, forbidding any kind of terrorism and support of terrorism, and setting severe punishments for terrorists. The law also regulates legal efforts against terrorism and counter-terrorism measures. The law was sponsored and promoted by Justice minister Shaked.[28]

Views on Jewish identity and democracy

Referencing the Knesset's basic law that Israel will be a Jewish and democratic state, Shaked opposes the view that the two values are in any way incompatible, arguing that "alongside the view that there is a constant struggle and a clash of civilizations between “Jewish” and “democratic,” I believe we can propose another model."[29]

Shaked argues that the key of concepts of property rights, the rejection of the divine right of kings, the importance of the separation of powers, and civil liberty are a byproduct of the Jewish philosophical tradition.[29] She states: "On what did Locke base the right to property if not the chapters on creation? After all, Locke’s Second Treatise of Government is inspired by a close textual reading of The Book of Genesis."[29] She concludes that, it was "not primarily Roman law or the democratic tradition of the Athenian polis that shaped and forged the modern democratic tradition in Europe or the United States, but Jewish tradition—joined, of course, by other traditions."[29]

She proposes that "it is precisely when we wish to promote advanced processes of democratization in Israel that we must deepen its Jewish identity. These identities clearly do not contradict each other; on the contrary, I believe that they strengthen each other."[29]


In a controversial 2017 speech to the Israel Bar Association, Shaked stated that the Israeli judicial branch operates as if in a "dream," adopting a "utopian and universal worldview... Only a moral and political revolution of the magnitude of the revolution we saw in the 90s, but one reaffirming the accomplishments of Zionism and its unchanging positions, may turn this problematic tide." She argued that the Basic Law proposal: Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People, of which she is an advocate and architect, will lead to a "moral and political revolution in Israel... It's a call to rouse from this dream. It's an overall perception bringing back the principles of our founding fathers to the forefront of law. It moves Zionism and the deepest and most basic components of our identity from the blind spot it currently occupies in the judicial realm to its rightful place: under the spotlight."[30] Shaked states that "Individual rights are almost sacred to me, but not devoid of context, not when cut off from our Israeli uniqueness, our national missions, our history, and our Zionist challenges.".[31]

Judicial views

Shaked seeks to limit the power of the Israeli judiciary. She argues that role of the judiciary needs to be delineated and restricted. "Is it still correct to say of the judiciary in Israel what Alexander Hamilton said about the court that he knew, that it “has no influence over either the sword or the purse”? Is it really true that the judiciary in Israel has “no direction either of the strength or of the wealth of the society”? To my mind, this is very doubtful. In fact, it is inconceivable to me that a judicial body that bears no responsibility for filling the purse permits itself to empty it, but unfortunately, this is the situation in Israel today... The new tracks that I seek to lay—carefully, while protecting the independence and dignity of the court—are meant to define more precisely the routes of each of the branches, legislative, executive, and judicial, and thus to enable regular traffic and prevent future collisions."[29]

She writes, referencing the arguments of Alexis de Tocqueville, that the long-term damage of normalizing judicial intervention has to be distinguished from the justness of any particular legal decision. "[O]nly a person with real patience who knows that the advantage of democratic government lies not in its immunity from errors, but in the fact that its errors can be corrected in the long term... only a person like this could understand the enormous benefits of long-term governance power and what de Tocqueville meant when he spoke of the healthy influence of the government’s ability to govern effectively. Tocqueville’s words must be borne in mind as we lay the new tracks regulating the relations between the Supreme Court and the other branches of government. The healthy influence of governance emerges in ways that are not obvious, and certainly not in a brief focused glance, which misses the aggregate damages caused when the court repeatedly strikes down the products of the government and the Knesset."[29]

Shaked concludes that the judicial system must "give enough power and leeway to elected officials while minimizing the harm to the individual and giving maximum consideration to the individual’s freedom to shape his life as he wishes".[29]

Sometimes nicknamed the "Iron Lady" because of her intransigence in repressing crimes committed by Palestinians as well as for her nationalist positions[32], she supports the death penalty for individuals who have committed terrorist acts[33], including for Jewish who allegedly killed Palestinian children[34][35]. However, she considers that the death penalty should only apply in the most extreme cases[36].

Economic views

Shaked argues that the Israeli economy is insufficiently capitalistic. As part of a 20 page treatise she wrote in an academic law journal in 2016 on the structure of the Israeli legal system, she argues that the Israeli economy is suffering from massive over-regulation, and that the fight to de-regulate the economy is a constant uphill battle.

Opposition to executive pay limits

Shaked opposes the imposition of limits on executive pay. She argues that limiting executive pay means that "banks and pension funds... are having trouble finding talented managers interested in being company officers. Good senior managers are looking for new directions, and are seeking to join other sectors to which the law does not apply, they are having trouble finding talented managers interested in being company officers. Good senior managers are looking for new directions, and are seeking to join other sectors to which the law does not apply... I'm asking you to refrain from enacting legislation where it is not needed. Unnecessary legislation is harmful legislation. It harms the economy on a macro scale and the individual on a micro scale."[37]

Kurdish Independence

Shaked has repeatedly stressed her support for Kurdish independence.[38] In an unusual intervention in foreign policy, Shaked called for an independent Kurdistan. Shaked says as the Sykes-Picot Agreement breaks apart, "the greatest opportunity that stands before us could come from strengthening the connections with the Kurdish nation." Shaked says, “the Jewish and Kurdish nations share a history... of mutual respect, mutual interests,” including fighting Islamic State.[39] Shaked has additionally cited the high number of women serving in Kurdish armed forces.[40]

Cannabis decriminalization

Shaked supports and has legislated for the decriminalization of cannabis consumption. In 2017, as Minister of Justice, Shaked submitted legislation to decriminalize the recreational use of cannabis.[41] On successfully passing the legislation, Shaked said "Whether one supports use of cannabis or is opposed, it is wrong to judge cannabis users per criminal law and its derivatives."[42]

Personal life

Shaked is married and has two children and lives in Bavli, Tel Aviv. Her husband is a fighter-pilot in the Israeli Air Force.[6] She is an admirer of Steve Jobs. She was influenced by Ayn Rand, in particular The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged.[1] She describes her personality as 'intellectual' and 'systematic'.[5]

Awards and recognition

  • In 2012, Shaked won the Abramowitz Israeli Prize for Media Criticism.[43]
  • In 2012, Shaked was included in the Globes list of the 50 most influential women.[44]
  • In 2013, Shaked ranked 1st (with Shelly Yachimovich) as outstanding Knesset Member for the summer session by the Knesset Channel.[45]
  • In 2014, Shaked ranked 2nd as outstanding Knesset Member for the winter session by the Knesset Channel.[46]
  • In 2015 The Jerusalem Post ranked Shaked as the 33rd most prominent Jewish person in the world.[47]
  • In 2015 the magazine Forbes Israel ranked Shaked as the 5th most prominent woman in Israel.[48]
  • In 2015 Shaked was elected as "Woman of the Year" in Israel by Lady Globes magazine.[49]
  • In 2016, Shaked was ranked as the sixth most influential person in Israel, by Maariv.
  • In 2017, Shaked was chosen as 'Woman of the year', by Forbes Israel.
  • In 2017, Shaked was chosen as 'Israel's most influential woman', by Globes.[50]


  1. ^ a b c Talks with a Tel Aviv Settler Haaretz, 22.06.2012
  2. ^ Meet the most surprising candidate of "Jewish Home" NRG 11/26/2012
  3. ^ Parliamentary Affairs: Not-so-new politics, By Lahav Harkov, 08/01/2013
  4. ^ Who’s Afraid of Ayelet Shaked? Meet the Secular Jewish Nationalist Who Could Be Israel’s Prime Minister Haaretz, Allison Kaplan Sommer, 8 September 2017.
  5. ^ a b c השקד פורחת
  6. ^ a b Julie Wiener, Who is Ayelet Shaked, Israel's new justice minister?, Jewish Telegraphic Agency, May 7, 2015
  7. ^ a b c d Rudoren, Jodi (15 May 2015). "Ayelet Shaked, Israel's New Justice Minister, Shrugs Off Critics in Her Path". The New York Times. Retrieved 16 May 2015. Ms. Shaked still lives in the Bavli neighborhood of Tel Aviv where she grew up. Her mother, a Bible teacher, voted for center-left parties, and her father, an accountant of Iraqi descent who was born in Iran, for the right-leaning Likud. Ms. Shaked dates her own political awakening to age 8, when she admired the hawkish Yitzhak Shamir in a televised debate. 
  8. ^ Naomi Zeveloff, Can Ayelet Shaked Sell (Secular) Israel on the Far Right?, The Forward, 26 January 2015
  9. ^ ראיון אישי עם איילת שקד: משהו חדש מתחיל בפוליטיקה הישראלית. [Interview with Ayelet Shaked: something new begins in Israeli politics.] (in Hebrew). North Star. 18 January 2013. 
  10. ^ a b c Meet the most surprising candidate of the "Jewish Home" NRG, 26/11/2012
  11. ^ Ayelet Shaked (16 November 2011). "בקרוב: מאה אלף מסתננים בישראל]" [Soon: a hundred thousand infiltrators in Israel] (in Hebrew). Mako. 
  12. ^ "An interview with Ayelet Shaked - Israel". Jewish Journal. 
  13. ^ a b Shaked, Ayelet (16 July 2014). "Exposing militant leftist propaganda". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 18 July 2014. 
  14. ^ a b Tharoor, Ishaan (7 May 2014). "Israel's new justice minister considers all Palestinians to be 'the enemy'". The Washington Post. Retrieved 12 May 2015. 
  15. ^ a b Wiener, Julie (7 May 2014). "Who is Ayelet Shaked, Israel's new justice minister?". Jewish Telegraph Agency. 
  16. ^ a b c O'Grady, Siobhan (7 May 2014). "The New Face of Israel's Hard Right". Foreign Policy. Retrieved 12 May 2015. 
  17. ^ "'Mothers of all Palestinians should also be killed,' says Israeli politician". Daily Sabah. 14 July 2014. Retrieved 13 October 2015. 
  18. ^ Hillel, Mira Bar (11 July 2014). "Why I'm on the brink of burning my Israeli passport". The Independent. Retrieved 13 October 2015. 
  19. ^ "Israeli Politician Declares 'War' on 'the Palestinian People'". Haaretz. 
  20. ^ Keinon, Herb (20 July 2014). "Netanyahu finally calls out Erdogan for anti-Semitic statements". The Jerusalem Post. 
  21. ^ Shaked is top vote-getter in Jewish Home primaries The Times of Israel, 15 January 2015
  22. ^ The Jewish Home CEC
  23. ^ Azulay, Moran (6 May 2015). "Netanyahu gives Bayit Yehudi's Shaked the Justice Ministry, but with limited powers". Tel Aviv, Israel: Ynetnews. Retrieved 6 May 2015. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed Wednesday to appoint Bayit Yehudi MK Ayelet Shaked as justice minister, but insisted that her powers be curtailed. 
  24. ^ "In the 11th hour, Netanyahu finalizes 61-strong coalition". The Times of Israel. Jerusalem. 6 May 2015. Retrieved 6 May 2015. Prime minister reaches deal with Jewish home's Bennett, finalizing a right-wing government; two men set to deliver a statement; Ayelet Shaked will be named justice minister. 
  25. ^ Heller, Jeffrey (6 May 2015). "Netanyahu clinches deal to form new Israeli government". London: Reuters. Retrieved 6 May 2015. 
  26. ^ a b c Tova Tzimoki (21 July 2015). "Justice Minister: Remove legal ambiguity from settlements". Ynetnews. 
  27. ^ Booth, William (31 January 2016). "Israel doesn't trust NGOs that get money from U.S. and Europe. Here's why". The Washington Post. Retrieved 31 January 2016. 
  28. ^ "Terror bill passes into law". The Jerusalem Post. 16 June 2016. Retrieved 16 June 2016. 
  29. ^ a b c d e f g h i Pathways to Governability by Ayelet Shaked, Hashiloach, October 2016, Issue 1
  30. ^ Shaked denounces HCJ illegal aliens ruling, calls for new constitutional revolution Gilad Morag and Tova Tzimuki, Published: 29.08.17, Ynet
  31. ^ Shaked: Zionism will not bend its head Offer Haddad, Channel 2, Posted 29/08/17
  32. ^ "Ayelet Shaked, la «Dame de fer» d'Israël". Libération (in French). 28 July 2015. Retrieved 10 April 2018. 
  33. ^ "Israeli ministers call for death penalty for Halamish terrorist". Jerusalem Post. 23 July 2017. Retrieved 10 April 2018. 
  34. ^ "Justice Minister: Jewish Extremists Who Killed Palestinian Infant Should Face Death Penalty". Haaretz. 9 August 2015. Retrieved 10 April 2018. 
  35. ^ "Justice minister backs death penalty for terrorists who killed Palestinian baby". The Times of Israel. 8 August 2015. Retrieved 10 April 2018. 
  36. ^ "Shaked: No need for new death penalty legislation". Ynetnews. 1 April 2018. Retrieved 10 April 2018. 
  37. ^ Shaked denounces exec pay limits 4 May 2017 18:32, Chen Ma'anit, Globes Israel
  38. ^ Israeli minister calls for Kurdish statehood Kurdistan 24 Wednesday, 20 January 2016
  39. ^ Shaked dives into foreign policy, pushes for alliance with Kurds Jerusalem Post, By YONAH JEREMY BOB, 06/09/2015
  40. ^ Ayelet Shaked (2015). Israel's Law & Justice (Video). Herzliya: IDC Herzliya. Retrieved 18 October 2016. I don't know if you noticed this, but the commander of the forces in Kobani is actually a woman commander. And you can see this through the percentages of women in the army. 
  41. ^ Israel’s Cabinet votes to decriminalize recreational marijuana use March 5, 2017, JTA
  42. ^ Israel makes it official: Cannabis is not a crime By Oren Liebermann and Kara Fox, CNN
  43. ^ Meltzer, Yoel (15 August 2012). "An Interview with Ayelet Shaked, Secular Candidate for HaBayit HaYehudi". The Jewish Press. 
  44. ^ "Victory stems from the ability to break stigmas". Globes. 5 December 2012. Archived from the original on 4 September 2014. 
  45. ^ "כבוד לבית היהודי: איילת שקד - הח"כית המצטיינת במושב האחרון" [Jewish respect to: Ayelet Shaked - outstanding MK last session] (in Hebrew). 29 August 2013. 
  46. ^ "ירוג השרים והח"כים: בנט ושקד בשלישייה הפותחת" [Rating ministers and MKs: Bennett and Shaked trio opens] (in Hebrew). 27 March 2014. 
  47. ^ Maariv Weekend, 22 May 2015
  48. ^ מעריב השבוע, 19 August 2015.
  49. ^ Vered Ramon Rivlin (8 September 2015). "אשת השנה של "ליידי גלובס": שרת המשפטים איילת שקד" ["Lady Globes" Woman of the Year: Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked]. Lady Globes (in Hebrew). Archived from the original on 14 August 2016. 
  50. ^ Ayelet Shaked chosen as Israel's 'most influential woman' Tzvi Lev, 14/09/17

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