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Fascism N°5: Israeli minister stars in bizarre fragrance campaign ad

The fascism fragrance, according to far-right candidate Ayelet Shaked, 'smells like democracy'
Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, 42, featured in a "Fascism" fragrance campaign ad (Screengrab)

Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked is starring in a satirical election ad for her far-right party that features a perfume labelled “Fascism” which, she says, “smells like democracy”.

Shaked, who is running for the 9 April general elections representing the New Right party, seemed to be mocking leftist fears that her party is seeking to undermine Israel’s judiciary in favour of the right-wing dominated legislature.

In a black-and-white clip with soaring piano music, Shaked puts on jewellery, stands besides a painting, and walks down stairs in slow motion before spraying herself with the Fascism perfume, while a narrator whispers the phrases “judicial reform”, “separation of powers”, “governance”, and “restraining the Supreme Court”.

Shaked then tells the viewers: “It smells like democracy to me.” As she walks away from the camera at the end of the 44-second clip, the ad declares: “The next revolution is coming.”

The ad, delivered in Hebrew, could be seen as explicit support for fascism - but it struck an eerie resemblance to a 2017 Saturday Night Live sketch featuring Scarlett Johansson playing Ivanka Trump in an ad for a perfume called “Complicit”, as the satirical American programme sought to call Trump out for her perceived responsibility in her father’s government.

The co-founder of the New Right party and education minister, Naftali Bennett, shared Shaked's video on Monday with the caption: “The perfume the leftists aren’t going to like very much.”

Shaked and Bennett’s campaign promises to stand against the Palestinian movement Hamas and the Israeli Supreme Court, with the campaign motto: “Shaked will defeat the High Court of Justice, Bennett will defeat Hamas.”

Members of the party have accused the 15-member Supreme Court of restricting the ability of Israeli soldiers to “defeat terror”.   

Shaked successfully lobbied for the appointment of three right-wing judges, including a settler, to the court in 2017.  

On Sunday, the court disqualified a far-right Jewish candidate from next month’s elections and approved the candidacy of an Arab party, a decision which Shaked dismissed as “misguided interference in the heart of Israeli democracy".

Shaked, the self-described secular politician, co-founded the New Right party in December. The party now has three seats in the Israeli Knesset.  

Polls predict a maximum of seven seats for the New Right party in the forthcoming elections.

Shaked has been regularly criticised for her virulent far-right stance by rights organisations. In 2015, she was quoted as saying that Palestinian mothers raise “little snakes” and calling for their mothers to be killed.

But amid a very right-wing political atmosphere in Israel, many politicians compete for who can demonstrate the most intransigent stance vis-a-vis Palestinians.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has interchangeably called his major opponent in the upcoming election, Benny Gantz, "weak" and "leftist" for his allegedly compromising attitude towards Palestinians.