Israelis voted Member of Knesset (MK) Ayelet Shaked as the “best looking” female politician in a 9 March poll.
Shaked is a member of the far-right, ultranationalist HaBayit HaYehudi party. She has called for the destruction of the Palestinian people, “including its elderly and its women, its cities and its villages, its property and its infrastructure.” According to Shaked, “the entire Palestinian people is the enemy.”
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has been criticized for exploiting women—creating calendars in which they sensually pose, sexualizing war, and more—in order to recruit new soldiers. Similarly, critics have noted how Shaked’s looks are often used in order to sell what Israeli journalist Gideon Levy and Israel Prize laureate and renowned scholar Zeev Sternhell warn are the signs of a new fascism in Israel.
The media and lay people constantly speak of how “beautiful,” “pretty,” and “attractive” Shaked is. Aside from the misogyny inherent in this frequent objectification of the female politician (when male politicians are attractive, it is not ceaselessly mentioned), this emphasis on the far-right MK’s beauty often comes at the expense of adequate emphasis on her extreme views.
Susan Sontag coined the term “fascism with a human face” to refer to authoritarian Stalinist regimes that claimed to be socialist, but in fact repressed the working class, in a manner that she said paralleled the crimes of their own fascist enemies.
In regard to Shaked, one might speak of “fascism with a pretty face.” Fascism is hard to swallow when it is being force-fed with the assistance of guns and dungeons. Fascism is much easier to swallow when it it has the face of a model.