Shay Piron. November 24, 2013
Piron in November 2013, before surgery. Photo by Ofer Vaknin
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The nationalist word laundry never stops working. It seems that every minister feels obliged to practice collective brainwashing, aimed at removing the two-state solution as far as possible. After the usual “occupation stars” – Naftali Bennett, Uri Ariel, Moshe Ya’alon, Gideon Sa’ar – now it’s the turn of Education Minister Shay Piron.

Unlike the official extremists, who aren’t ashamed of their nationalist positions – and even enjoy ramping up the violent rhetoric occasionally for political purposes – Piron presents the “educational version” of occupation.

As befits an education minister, Piron isn’t interested in occupying any old territories that don’t belong to Israel. All he wants is to “connect different parts” of the people. He’s not interested in causing the Palestinians harm, but wants to create “a meeting of cultures of Jews from east and west.” He doesn’t want to do injustice to another, but yearns to return to “another discourse” – because he’s concerned over the “either-or” culture that “emphasizes the contradictions.” He doesn’t want to turn Israel into an apartheid state, of course, but believes that “only a complete culture, which has some of both, will lead to consolidating a rooted Jewish world.”

The trouble is that all these lovely words have one role – to prevent, as Piron says, “restricting the Greater Israel vision.” Because, he adds, “the Land of Israel without Hebron and Nablus, without Tel Aviv and Deganya, without Ofakim and Kiryat Shmona, is not whole.”

Of course he doesn’t “know a peace without withdrawals,” but the education minister – who is supposed to ensure that hundreds of thousands of students develop a democratic, egalitarian, humane awareness – believes his job obliges him “to educate, tour the country, occupy and study the land to its length and breadth.”

Piron said these things on Thursday in a speech at Ariel University, which symbolizes, by its very existence beyond the Green Line, the dangerous process of normalizing the occupation. Four days after his Yesh Atid leader, Yair Lapid, threatened to topple the government if it annexes settlements, the education minister proved how flimsy his party’s ideology is. His statements show what stuff a party that takes part in a radical rightist government, which acts regularly to sabotage a peace agreement, is made of.