MK Rabbi Shai Piron, who is number two on the Yesh Atid list, and has been mentioned as a possible candidate for education minister, was put on the defensive today for advising someone on a religious internet forum in 2002 during the second intifada not to sell his house to an Arab, Army Radio reported Tuesday.
On the forum, called Kipa, an individual from Haifa asked Piron what he should do about selling his apartment because he wished to move away from an area of the city with many Arab residents and no Jew would purchase his apartment.
Piron replied, "You should not sell the house to an Arab, and in particular when there is the prohibition of Lo Tehunam and selling a house to Arabs, especially in light of the current struggle is absolutely prohibited."
The religious concept of Lo Tehunam is interpreted by some rabbis to mean that Jews are prevented from selling their land to gentiles who reside in Israel.
In response to the report, Piron's spokesperson said, "The forum Kipa deals with questions of halacha [Jewish law] and halachik answers on various topics. The answer that Rabbi Piron gave is the halachik reply and does not represent his personal positions. On the subject of selling apartments to Arabs, Rabbi Piron does not stand behind the halachik ruling on the matter, and his activism in recent years on dialogue between Arabs and Jews is evidence of this."
Piron added to this sentiment on a long post on his Facebook page saying, "Three years ago I came out against rabbis who interpreted the law in this way," adding "a little effort would reveal the true picture."
In October 2010, a halachic edict against renting or selling land to non-Jews in Safed, signed by a group of local rabbis, stirred controversy in Israel. Later that year in December, a petition signed by rabbis across the country said that Jews should not rent homes in Israel to gentiles.