March 19, 2019 / 2:53 PM / a month ago

Israeli campaign ad seeks to make political point with "Fascism" perfume

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - An election campaign video starring Israel’s far-right justice minister spoofs perfume ads to sell her political priorities, but has a strong whiff of muddled message given the fragrance is labelled “Fascism.”

The intended meaning of the ad - three weeks before Israel’s election - is largely lost on people who just see the word fascism in English but who do not speak Hebrew and so cannot understand the voice-over.

In the spot, Ayelet Shaked walks slowly down a staircase, her hair gently tossed by a breeze, as a female narrator whispers seductively in Hebrew: “Separation of powers”, “Restraining the Supreme Court”.

Shaked is frequently critical of Israel’s top court as being too liberal and interventionist, but these and other views of her New Right party have been roundly criticised by leftists.

Some, the commercial implies, may see her views as fiercely nationalistic: former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak once called some of her comments about reforming the Supreme Court “proto-fascist”.

But, Shaked says, holding the perfume bottle with its label: “To me, it smells like democracy”.

Reaction on social media to the ad, sponsored by the New Right, ranged from “great” to “strange”.

FILE PHOTO: Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked delivers a statement to members of the media, at the Knesset, Israel's parliament, in Jerusalem November 19, 2018. REUTERS/Amir Cohen/File Photo

“This is one of the most bizarre election ads you have ever seen ... Viktor Orban on steroids,” Barak Ravid, the diplomatic correspondent for Israel’s Channel 13 TV, tweeted, in a reference to Hungary’s far-right prime minister.

Under Orban, Hungary passed a law in December to set up courts overseen by the justice minister, a move critics said would allow political interference in judicial matters.

Shaked’s New Right party, which she leads along with Education Minister Naftali Bennett, is part of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition. It has been sliding in opinion polls and is forecast to win about six seats in the 120-member parliament in the April 9 election.

Writing by Jeffrey Heller; Editing by Frances Kerry

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