Former Education Minister and Yesh Atid MK Rabbi Shai Piron will take legal action against the Religious Zionist NGO 'Chotam' for featuring him in an ad campaign targeting liberal Orthodox organizations.
In an animated video this week titled "Religious Zionism in the Crosshairs", Chotam had highlighted a slew of progressive Orthodox organizations it said received funding from the left-wing New Israel Fund and alleged that the groups were being used as pawns by the fund to target Religious Zionism.
Rabbi Shai Piron was featured in the campaign due to his support of the same-sex marriage and for pushing for Israeli schools to teach the Arab 'Naqba' narrative about Israel's struggle for independence. In the clip, Piron can be telling a Bar Mitzva kid that "you can have it all -you can learn about both the Nakba and the Israeli narrative, you can support same-sex marriage and say it’s not a family".
The campaign received heavy press coverage and was controversial both within and without the Religious Zionist community. On Thursday, Piron announced that he would bring Chotam to a 'Din Torah', or court run according to Jewish law, and blasted the video saying it was "full of lies and inaccuracies".
"There is no truth in these publications and there is damage, slander, and the causing a bad reputation," Piron told Basheva magazine. Piron said that he also spoke to Chotam spiritual director Rabbi Yaakov Ariel, a widely respected halachic authority, and claimed that Rabbi Ariel was unaware of the campaign.
Piron was Education Minister in the previous government of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, and was seen as seeking to ameliorate the anti-religious rhetoric that many in the religious community accused his boss, Lapid, of expressing.
The clip had highlighted an internal split within the Religious Zionist community over the past few years between the liberal and conservative wings over issues such as feminism, treatment of African migrants and religious women drafting to the IDF.