Education Minister Shai Piron (Yesh Atid) set the Knesset’s benches rolling Monday night when his attempt to address the plenum was frustrated — and ultimately doomed — by a sophomoric, uncontrollable fit of giggles, sparked by a double entendre.
In a video posted on the Knesset’s YouTube channel, Piron can be seen taking the lectern to introduce to the Knesset a bill relating to smuggling in prisons. However, when Piron, who is also an ordained rabbi, reaches the words “insertion of forbidden items,” he immediately begins to snicker.
The Hebrew word for insertion — hahdara — connotes both penetration and smuggling.
“What’s so funny, minister?” asks a deadpan MK Moshe Feiglin (Likud), who chairs the debate.
Piron, apologetic, responds “No, no, no,” and tries to calm himself.
MK Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism), seated in the opposition’s back benches, is more direct than Feiglin.
“How is inserting objects in prisons a concern of the education minister?” he chortles.
“I’m beginning to think, what can you insert?” quips Piron, and then finds himself unable to continue amid rising gales of laughter from the benches. “Enough Gafni, stop,” the minister pleads.
Soon afterward, Feiglin’s hand can be seen entering the frame as he offers the helpless Piron a glass of water. Feiglin then addresses the MKs and asks them to calm down, noting that “despite the hour,” some people may still be watching the Knesset TV Channel at home.
“Please, this is Israel’s Knesset,” Feiglin implores as other back-benchers attempt various attempts at further humor, and another legislator whips out her cellphone to capture an image of the chortling minister for posterity.
For more than a minute, the minister — a portly, bespectacled figure — stands helpless at the microphone, his speech in his left hand, giggling, squealing, pushing his glasses up to his forehead and rubbing his eyes.
“You want to wait a little?” asks Feiglin kindly, as Piron makes further failed efforts to resume reading his text. The minister takes a glass of water, but that doesn’t help either.
In the end, Piron gives up trying to keep a straight face, and instead of making his speech, takes his glass of water and returns to his seat.
A grinning but under-control Minister of Social Affairs Meir Cohen (Yesh Atid) takes Piron’s place and reads the bill, which proposes stricter punishment for those caught smuggling illicit items, and in particular mobile phones, into prisons.
Just another late night in the Knesset.