MK Rabbi Shai Piron, who’s second on Yesh Atid’s Knesset list and is a leading candidate to become minister of education in the next government, ruled over 10 years ago on an Internet forum against the sale of real estate to Arabs.
On Tuesday, Piron said he no longer stood by his statements and has in recent years worked on Jewish-Arab issues.
Piron, who has a background in education and is largely seen as a progressive rabbi within the religious Zionist community, used to answer religious questions on Kipa, a website geared toward religious youth. In 2002, in response to a question concerning real estate in the city of Haifa, he wrote that it is “forbidden to sell a house to an Arab” and cited the religious precedent of “lo tehonem” — a phrase from Deuteronomy which can be interpreted as a prohibition on non-Jews permanently settling in the Land of Israel.
The Second Intifada was raging at full strength in 2002, and Piron wrote that “to sell a house to an Arab, especially in light of these days of ongoing struggle, is really presumed to be forbidden.”
In response to a report on Army Radio, Piron’s office said Tuesday that the forum “dealt with questions of Jewish law and halachic responsa on various matters. The answers given by Rabbi Piron were the answers provided by halacha, and do not represent his personal views. Regarding the sale of apartments to Arabs, Rabbi Piron does not support the halachic ruling on this issue, and his work in recent years on Arab and Jewish relations stands as proof of that.”
During the current coalition negotiations between Likud and Yesh Atid, one of the many sticking points has been the post of education minister, with Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid championing Piron for the role, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu favoring keeping the ministry in the hands of current minister, Gideon Sa’ar.