Army Radio reported Tuesday that MK Rabbi Shai Piron of Yesh Atid issued an
opinion on Jewish law 10 years ago in which he said it was forbidden to sell
property to Arabs.
Piron, a national-religious rabbi, is considered to be
a modern and liberal figure within the Orthodox world and is Yesh Atid’s
candidate for education minister.
The new MK gave his ruling on the
national-religious news website and forum Kipa in 2002, in response to a question
posed about property in Haifa.
“One should not sell a house to an Arab,
principally because of the principle of ‘do not be gracious,’ and to sell to
Arabs, especially in light of the struggle which is being waged at the moment,
it is certainly forbidden,” Piron wrote.
At the time, the second intifada
was raging, with dozens of suicide bombings staged that year.
to the story, Piron’s office issued a statement saying that “he does not stand
by the halachic ruling” and that he has worked in recent years to build bridges
between Arabs and Jews.
Piron also pointed out that the Kipa forum was on
adherence to Jewish law and the ruling he gave at the time did not reflect his
personal opinion on the issue.
Writing on his Facebook page, Piron also
pointed out that he had opposed what was dubbed the “rabbis’s letter,” a missive
published two years ago and signed by 50 rabbis which ruled that according to
Jewish law it was forbidden to rent or sell property to a non-Jew.
also alluded to possible political motivations behind the story, referencing the
struggle currently being waged by Likud and Yesh Atid for the Education
“Does bullying promote choice?” he asked. “It hurts because
this attempt is unbecoming; it hurts because everyone knows what my positions
are on such issues,” he wrote.
It is unclear if the revelations will
affect the battle over the Education portfolio.
The MK added that he
would continue to work towards “improving life in Israel, to preserve the
dignity of all people, to fight racism and injury to the image of God in
Judy Shalom Nir-Mozes, a talk show host and wife of Likud MK Silvan
Shalom, wrote on Twitter that it was “unacceptable that a dark racist educate my
children.” She later retracted her criticism and the original tweet after Piron
wrote in response that “he never said it.”
The opinion Piron wrote on
Kipa, however, can still be seen at the forum’s website.