INTERVIEW: Diane Weber Bederman with Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked

“We must fight without fear and without mercy against our enemies”

By Diane Weber Bederman

I met Israel’s newly elected Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked at the offices of the Minister of Justice, a rather nondescript building, located in East Jerusalem. Her office is spacious but simply furnished. The wall behind her desk is filled with books. Her desk was clear except for some platters of vegetables and carafes of water for the many people she sees each day.

Minister Shaked is a secular member of a religious political party. She is both Ashkenazi and Iraqi. She has degrees in electrical engineering and computer science and worked at Texas instruments before entering politics in 2006. She is tall and Photo GPO/MK Ayelet Shakedslender and yes, beautiful. She has been attacked for her looks as if a woman blessed genetically with beauty cannot be intelligent. Photo-shopped images of Shaked as a Nazi have been posted on social media. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan once compared her to Adolf Hitler. Minister Shaked is bright, beautiful and full of brawn. Borrowing a metaphor from football-she is a triple threat.

The Minister speaks English very well. My conversational Hebrew is at best, sad. I think we too often take for granted that government officials whose first language is not English, should be able to speak English fluently. That attitude opens the door to misunderstanding. Dr. Mordechai Kedar of the Begin Sadat Center at Bar-Ilan University Israel accompanied me to the interview as I expected there to be some problems in understanding each other. Idioms, similies and metaphors differ from one language and culture to another. Mrs. Shaked showed great respect by turning to Dr. Kedar to ensure that we understood each other.

I came to the interview with concerns about the mood of the people of Israel. I’d just spent time with some grandmothers who’d expressed exhaustion over the non-stop wars. They’d watched their husbands go off to war, their sons and now their grandsons. I spoke to young people in Tel Aviv just out of the IDF who no longer concerned themselves with war but felt despair over the fact that the cost of living was too high. They spend up to 60% of their income on rent.

“We must fight without fear and without mercy against our enemies”
I asked Mrs. Shaked, a wife and mother of two, what hope she could offer to these people She said “It is not despair. Israel needs to accept that there will be no peace in the near future. The reality is that the Middle East is on fire. It has collapsed. Radical Islam surrounds Israel. But Israel remains a light-house of democracy, humanity and the economy in the darkness. In the meantime, Israel must manage the conflict because that is the only option available for now. In the foreseeable future the status quo is going to remain”

And then she added, “We must fight without fear and without mercy against our enemies.”

Mrs. Shaked has grown up in a country at war. There hasn’t been one day of peace, be it war or violent acts of terror on civilians, random rocket fire and now BDS. While I was in Israel, rockets were fired in Ashkelon and a number of terrorist attacks were Shaked 2thwarted; others were not. Friday June 19 a young man was shot dead by a terrorist near the Dolev community in Judea/Samaria. On Sunday June 21 at the Damascus Gate outside Jerusalem’s Old City an Israeli Border Police officer in his 20s was stabbed in the neck by an 18-year-old Palestinian terrorist.

Mrs. Shaked then responded to the concerns I had expressed about the cost of living by young Israelis. I had read that Prime Minister Netanyahu had already made this issue a priority by appointing Finance Minister Moshe Kachlon.

The Minister explained: The rent issue is the most important economic issue. Finance Minister Kachlon has been put in charge. We are in good hands. He will be co-ordinating with all the authorities dealing with the planning and building. Former Knesset Minister, Uri Ariel from the Bayit Yehuda Party had started work on building many more residential units in order to the problems. If requested I will assist.”


Author Diane Weber Bederman

Diane Weber Bederman


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