Daily Israel Report

Rabbis: No Land Sales to Arabs

Rabbis meet in Jerusalem to discuss the phenomenon of land sales to Arabs. Ben-Ari: Our land will be sold from under our feet.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 9/1/2009, 1:20 AM / Last Update: 9/1/2009, 8:23 AM

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Several rabbis from both the hareidi-religious and religious-Zionist communities met in Jerusalem on Monday night to discuss the growing phenomenon of Jews selling property and land to Arabs. In Jerusalem, some Jewish neighborhoods are already 20 percent Arab, said organizer Aryeh King, and in the Galilee, foreign Arab investors have been buying valuable farmland.

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Others who spoke noted that the problem of Arab influx into Jewish cities is present throughout the country, from towns near the Lebanon border to Israel's south.

Who is Wiser than G-d?
Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, the Chief Rabbi of Tzfat, said that the Torah clearly prohibits selling property in the land of Israel to non-Jews. “What will happen if I sell? Hashem said it's forbidden to sell!” Rabbi Eliyahu said. “Who is wiser than G-d?”

Those who criticize the refusal to sell to Arabs are hypocrites, he continued. They profess liberal values, but select neighborhoods without residents born in Ethiopia or Russia, and without religious neighbors, he said. Kibbutzim (cooperative communities) do not allow Arab members, he noted.

The State of Israel itself recognizes that it is dangerous for Jews and Arabs to live together, and therefore built the Judea and Samaria separation barrier, he added.

Rabbi Eliyahu told those present not to be afraid to voice their beliefs openly. He himself was investigated by Attorney General Menachem Mazuz for telling residents of Tzfat not to sell or rent property to Arabs, he said. However, after questioning, Mazuz determined that he had the legal right to give rulings according to Jewish law.

"It is permissible to give rulings in Jewish law... Ladies and gentleman, we have a verdict from the Attorney General, we are allowed to rule according to Jewish law,” Rabbi Eliyahu joked.

There is no need to break the law or to cause upset in order to keep Jewish law, he said. There are ways to convince Jews not to sell to Arabs, and to convince Arabs who come to Jewish towns to make trouble to leave, all in “an intelligent and legal manner,” he said.

Arabs who have already purchased Jewish property must be told politely that they should leave, he said. The Koran explains that the land of Israel is meant for the Jews, and Arab Muslims in Israel should be told to respect that, he said.

Not a Question of Desperation
Organizer Aryeh King shared examples of Jews who sold property to Arabs. The sellers did not act out of desperation, but rather, wanted to make more money in order to become rich, he said.

In one case, he said, a Jewish family in Pisgat Zeev in northern Jerusalem was one of the first in that neighborhood to sell to Arabs. A short time later, they lost all of the money they had earned from the sale in the collapse of the Heftzibah construction company.

Another seller sold his Jerusalem apartment to an Arab before leaving for a different Jewish neighborhood, King said. The man in question sells property in religious communities, he added.

Arab buyers are able to give better offers than their Jewish counterparts due to foreign backing, King explained. He named specific Saudi organizations involved in buying Jewish land in Israel, and said that such organizations make no attempt to conceal their activities.

A Critical Hour
Rabbi/Knesset Member Michael Ben-Ari (National Union) warned that the Jewish people is facing “a critical hour for our presence in the land of Israel.” Israelis are not the only ones facing a coordinated attempt to buy land, he said. “It's a worldwide problem.”

Arab Muslims are not buying Jewish properties at random due to their own need for housing, he said. “Let's not delude ourselves,” he told the audience. The buyers are part of an organized campaign to buy the land of Israel for Islam.

Jews have no right to sell the land of Israel to foreigners, he said, as the land of Israel is public property, shared by the Jewish nation.