Just saw this article, which really disturbs me as a human being and also as a resident of Tel Aviv. The Israelis who frightened these people so much that they had to move away from their jobs should be prosecuted in court—no doubt! It is too often in this country that we hear stories about racism, not only in institutional policies but on a personal social level as well.

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This is really horrible and should be condemned. 


I hope you will also join me in the condemnation of the PA policy of death sentence to any Arab who sells land to Jews.  this is official government policy.

Thanks Daniel K for posting this. What a tragedy there are those in the community who continue to fail to learn from history.

Dan S, I too disapprove of the PA policy on the death penalty. It does little to build confidence in a new state of Palestine. Just as Israel's credibility is weakened by Israel's continued practice of extra-judicial killings, settlement expansion, building of the separation barrier far beyond the Green Line, loyalty oath laws, insistence on Israel as a Jewish State, blockading Gaza etc etc

For further information on the PA and the death penalty see:
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, Position Paper: Death Penalty under the Palestinian National Authority, October 2010
"Since the creation of the PNA in 1994, different Palestinian courts (the Military Courts, the State Security Courts and the Civil Courts) have issued 105 death sentences. Eighteen of these sentences were implemented, including 16 ones implemented in the Gaza Strip and two ones in the West Bank.…Palestinian courts have issued more than one hundred death sentences for different charges, including 51 death sentences for willful killings, 47 sentences for collaboration with foreign parties in reference to the Israeli occupation forces, three sentences for raping and killing crimes and three sentences for raping."

Court rules selling land to Israel is capital offense
Published Sunday 19/09/2010

Palestinian laws

Stewart, I am not talking about the policy on the death penaltiy... I am talking about the policy of applying the death penalty to Arabs who sell home to Jews.... Even forbidding it or penalizing it should be condemned no less than the attached article ( actually more it is official government policy not a bunch a nuts).


As for " Just as Israel's credibility is weakened by Israel's continued practice of extra-judicial killings, settlement expansion, building of the
separation barrier far beyond the Green Line, loyalty oath laws,
insistence on Israel as a Jewish State, blockading Gaza etc etc" - you might not agree with them, I might not agree with some but this has nothing to do with racism.

For example - Israel as a Jewish state is perfectly legitimate.  In fact resolution 181 that most Palestinians  push as the basis for their state says "The mandatory Power shall use its best endeavours to ensure that an area situated in the territory of the Jewish State...".  The Jewish nation deserves a state as do all other nations of the world..... but once a again this is a different issue


Let me be clear the policy is if you sell an apartment to Jews you receive the death penaltyl.  Not to non-citizens, not to Bulgarians or JUST JEWS.  There are no laws in Israel that say that a person can not sell his land to any ethnic group or nationality. If an Arab refugee wants to buy land in Israel there is no law that prevents it. This is why the article presented above is so discusting.  These are racist individual who should be punished. But lets not compare that to offical government policy with the death penalty, lets put this in proportion. For the record my neighbor in the center of Tel Aviv is a nice Arab couple that recently purchased their place.


Let me be clear about something else.  I am against racism and discrimination in all aspects.  I do not believe that legally built home should be demolished or cleansed of their inhabatants, whether they be Jew or Arab, in the Settlements or in Israel proper.  I do believe that any home built illeaglly should be taken down in accordance with the law, Jew or Arab, in the settlements of in Israel proper.


Do you condemn that Israel does not let non-Jews and Arabs to buy land in Israel? Like I said no such law exists - but if I did I would condem it in every possible way.

You are seeking Israeli Jewish advantage and not seeing that Palestinians feel they are losing piece by piece of the homeland they want to build. I am sorry but I dont understand how Jews living in a piece of land can  help loose their homeland, that is an extremely racist comment and supports their racist policies. What happens to fighting for equal rights for all? We are talking about official government policy, do you understand that?





Ok, regarding the PA law, carried out or not it is a racist law the punishes by death anyone sells lands to Jews - sounds more Nazi like than anyhing else...I hope you condem it.

Regarding Samaria - they are not Jews, they come from a diffrent background but do have similar customs and the reason you can sell them land is - exactly that - THEY ARE NOT JEWS.  I did not really get your point here.


Other than the the Keren Kayemet Leyisrael which is organization funded by private Jewish donations to purchase land for Jews, as you mentioned.  You cannot deny selling land to Arabs for being Arabs, no such law. .  But no such law as not allowed to sell to Arabs in fact as you mention, it is nit even a justifiable reason to discriminate according to the courts.

The fact that there is some discrimination from individuals might be wrong but there are  communities that can deny entry to non- religous Jews, or Kibbutzim that can choose who can be a member or not.


You realize that the law is not against forgieners right? not against non-citizens?  JUST JEWS.. Please stop blowing smoke and condem the racist law for what it is!

I have no idea what you are basing this on... many homes in Israel are sold to foreign nationals, they use them as vacation home. Yes, Spaniards can buy land in Haifa...why would you think not.  Yes Arabs can by Land in Tel Aviv my neighbors are an Arab couple who recently bought a place....

There are no laws the prevent Arabs from buying land in Israel.  Unless you can show me such a law that I am unaware of.  I am not sure why you keep saying things like "Dan, I am a Palestinian.  I cannot buy land in Tel Aviv." - why not?

First of all Jews are not allowed to buy land, all Jews, that is the law - anti semitic, racist, discriminatory.... you choose the word,  

 Currently over 90% of Palestinians live in PA areas.  They have land, and authority that Israel does not control.  Part of this authority is selling land."Since the West Bank is not considered part of Israel to the world, it's not viewed as racist to not want to sell to people who are considered not proprietors of the land." - how does this statement make any sense?  You can find a million reasons to justify discrimination, I am just not sure why you are looking. 


It really bothers me that the application of human and civil rights get confused with politics.  It is wrong to discriminate Arab or Jew.  Why do you keep defending this law? Just because it is against Jews therefore it is ok?


Lawful vs unlawful discrimination

Dan, often there is confusion over the term 'discrimination'.  What needs to be remembered is there is lawful discrimination within human rights law and unlawful discrimination. Unlawful discrimination occurs where the discrimination is based solely on the grounds of race, gender, colour etc.  Lawful discrimination permits gender, race, colour etc to be considered in deciding an outcome but it is unlawful for these to be the only discriminating features.  Affirmative action is one such form of lawful discrimination, where a person's ethnicity may be taken into account when selecting someone for a job in addition to other criteria based on merit.


In the case of the PA law on sale of land - it is permitted to sell land to Samaritan Jews.  Therefore, the distinction made is not merely on the basis of ethno-religious identity but on the intention and the relationship of the purchaser and the seller.  In the situation of an occupied people it seems reasonable to prohibit the sale of land to an occupier (although I would condemn laws permiting the death penalty for a commission of such an offence).


To avoid creating an unlawful discriminatory law the onus could be placed on an occupying nation individual to establish their strong commitment to building a State for Palestinians just as Israel had a strong state. Persons like Uri Davis etc would establish such acts of solidarity.  He also meets the criteria as a Palestinian Jew as used by the PLO which welcomed those Jews who were registered as Palestinian prior to 1948.




Thanks for your reply Dan S.  My response is as follows.


1. What is the veracity of the allegation that the sale of land to Jewish-Zionist settlers is a capital crime under Palestinian law? If so what is a moral response to this


This allegation at face value would seem to be current Palestinian law as reported by Haaretz and Maan, given such a case was only decided in November last year.  However, although
punishable by death the sentence has (not as far as I have read) ever been carried
out (not that this in any way excuses that death could be used as the ultimate
sanction for selling land to settlers).


2. On what grounds can Jews buy land in Palestine?


This apparent crime of sale of land to settlers must not be confused with
(i) the right of Palestinian Jews to buy land in Palestine. 
Take the example of Samaritan Jews. 
Samaritan Jews are considered as Jews in Palestine. 
It is ironic the mainstream Jewish community disassociates itself from
Samaritan Jews when Samaritan Jews in fact live out the very practices that
ancient Hebrew people did especially evident by the animal sacrifices; 

(ii) the actual or potential right of certain Israelis to buy land in Palestine
– take the example of Uri Davis or the late Rabbi Moshe Hirsch.  Rabbi Moshe Hirsch (1923-2010) served in
Yasser Arafat’s cabinet as Minister for Jewish Affairs.  Uri Davis (1943- present) is a member of the
Fatah Revolutionary Council (2009 – present)). 
The Palestinian National Charter and the Palestinian Basic Law would
certainly include Jews like Uri Davis and Rabbi Hirsch as both Palestinian and


Further reading:

Rabbi Moshe Hirsch,7340,L-3884459,00.html


Uri Davis


Palestinian Jews


Samaritan Jews



3. How do other states deal with the sale of land to foreign residents?


Basil – gave the example where non-Bulgarians were prohibited form buying land in Bulgaria.  I know that in Fiji the same principle exists.


In Australia we have a Foreign Investment Review Board that reviews residential sale of land to foreign individuals or corporations.


Foreign Investors – Buying property as a foreigner or temporary resident in Australia



4. What is wrong with Israel’s present system of land ownership?


Instead of a formal constitution Israel has a series of 11 basic laws which have been enacted by the Knesset. The first of these was enacted in 1958 and the last one was 2001.   Two
fundamental constitutional principles developed in the jurisprudence of the
Supreme   Court are Israel as a Jewish State and Israel as a democracy.
The importance of Israel as a Jewish state is found in Israel’s land laws such as the Basic Law: The Basic Law: Israel Lands enacted in 1960. As a result of this Basic Law almost 95 per cent of Israel’s territory is owned by, or belongs to the state. This Basic Land Law ensured that land owned by the Jewish National Fund-KKL cannot be sold “land owned by the Jewish People and
maintained by JNF-KKL cannot be sold, but only leased for periods of 49 years at a time”.


Israel’s first State Report on its progress on the ICCPR to the Human Rights Committee

summarized Israel’s land ownership laws in this way:


“Over the course of Israel's history, serious disparities between the Jewish and Arab

populations in the availability of housing and of land for development have become

entrenched. A significant part of the problem derives from expropriations of land in the

aftermath of the War of Independence. Only 7 per cent of all land in Israel is privately owned, 4 per cent by Arabs and 3 per cent by Jews. The remaining 93 per cent is managed by the Israel Lands Administration (ILA) on behalf of the owners of the land: the Keren Kayemet Leyisrael, an organization funded by private Jewish donations (10 per cent of ILA-managed land); the Development Authority (10 per cent), and the State (80 per cent). The ILA has, over the
years, leasedor transferred significant land holdings for development of Jewish towns and settlements, while for the most part new Arab localities have not been established through similar arrangements, except for the eight Bedouin towns established in the southern Negev region”.


The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in their 2003 Concluding Observations stated they were:


“deeply concerned about the continuing difference in treatment between Jews and non-Jews, in particular Arab and Bedouin communities, with regard to their enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights in the State party’s territory. The Committee reiterates its concern
that the “excessive emphasis upon the State as a ‘Jewish State’ encourages
discrimination and accords a second-class status to its non-Jewish citizens”.


At one level, for Palestinian-Israelis, there was cause for optimism with the passing of the Basic Law: Human Dignity and Freedom in 1992. This optimism came to a head with the decision of H.C.J. 6698/95 Ka’adan v. The Israel Lands Administration. Here the question posed to the Supreme Court of Israel was what if an Arab family (or for that matter, a Jewish family) would
like to live in a community whose members want it to maintain a certain character?  It involved the Jewish members of the Kazir community in the north of Israel who denied an Arab family
the right to dwell amongst them. The court position was that the Arab family should not be denied access to the land even if the land legally belongs to the Jewish people.  Sounds like a great
outcome for fundamental human rights?


However, sadly, Ka’adan has not proved to offer a panacea to Palestinian-Israelis. Israel’s Second Periodic Report to the ESC noted that the Court in Ka’adan “did not take
a position with regard to other types of settlements (such as commune-based
kibbutz or moshav)”. This cautionary note is supported by Haider who found that
Palestinian-Israelis can still be “excluded from state lands in an ostensibly
legal manner in most parts of the country.


Ironically ten years after the decision Ka’adan, who by then was aged 50, had still not been able to move to Katzir with his family due to “bureaucratic foot-dragging”. Circumstances may have changed according to one report that says Ka’adan started building a home in Katzir; despite continued resistance from the neighbourhood, and despite twelve years after the Supreme
Court decision. The point is, regardless of the decision in Ka’adan Israel
still has a long way to go to improve equality and non-discrimination in land



Further reading

The above response is extracted from the following piece I wrote:

Forced evictions and forced urbanization: International human rights law and the situation of the Bedouin of Israel,Google Docs, 22 October 2010


  I found this article online , its a bit old but somethings never change:


BACKGROUNDER: Land, the Palestinian Authority, and Israel 

Following statements by PA Justice Minister Freih Abu Meddein and by Chairman Yasir Arafat that Palestinians found to have sold land to Jews will face the death penalty, at least 4 Palestinian land dealers said to have been involved in such sales were murdered. Another was rescued by Israeli forces as he was being spirited to Ramallah by Palestinian agents. In addition, there are reports that the PA has formed a secret force called "The Long Arm" to execute Palestinians living abroad who sold land in "Palestine" to Jews.

The PA policy and the subsequent executions have been condemned by Israeli and US leaders, and by many newspaper editorialists. However, Palestinian leaders and spokesmen, and many journalists and commentators, have asserted that Israel's complaints are hypocritical because of that country's own biased land policies, which are variously said to bar non-Jews from leasing, or buying, or even accessing most, or all, of the land in Israel.

Examples of such statements faulting Israeli policy include:

  • Israel has always confiscated land from Arabs and dispossessed them of their property. The land always goes from Arabs to the Jews. Can a Palestinian resident of Nablus or Hebron buy land in Israel? Therefore, what should we call those from our nation who serve Israel's policy of stripping property? We are talking about a few traitors and we will apply what has been determined by law against them. (Yasir Arafat in Yediot Ahranot, 21 May 1997)
  • ... it is virtually impossible for a non-Israeli Palestinian to buy land in Israel proper. (David Ensor, ABC World News Tonight, 21 May 1997)
  • In Israel, Palestinians cannot buy state land, which is 91 percent of the country's territory, and state land held by the Jewish National Fund cannot even be leased to Israeli Arabs. (Joel Greenberg, New York Times, 16 May 1997)
  • Arabs who live outside Israel cannot own land anywhere in the Jewish state -- even if it was once their property. (Hilary Appelman, AP 21 May 1997)(Corrected by AP on 5 June after CAMERA intervention.)

Such assertions are based on misconception, error and outright invention. In Israel most of the land is government-owned, this land is leased rather than sold, and it is available to all Israelis, whether Jewish or Arab.

Indeed, half the land used by Israeli Arab farmers is directly leased to them by the Israel Land Administration (ILA). In addition, the ILA has sometimes leased land to Israeli Arabs under terms so favorable that Israeli Jews have sued (unsuccessfully) to receive the same deal.

A Factual Look at the Land Policies of Israel and its Neighbors

1. Land Ownership in Israel

In order to purchase land for the resettlement of Jews in their ancient homeland, the Fifth Zionist Congress (1901) created a private charitable organization called the Jewish National Fund (JNF). Before statehood land purchased by the JNF was not resold but was instead leased out on a long-term basis to create kibbutzim and other forms of Jewish settlement.

After 1948 state-owned lands formerly in the possession of British Mandatory Authorities, together with property abandoned by Arab refugees, passed into the control of the new Israeli government. Some of this land was sold by the government to the JNF, which had developed expertise in reclaiming and developing waste and barren lands and making them productive.

In 1960 under Basic Law: Israel Lands, JNF-owned land and government-owned land were together defined as "Israel lands," and the principle was laid down that such land would be leased rather than sold. The JNF retained ownership of its land, but administrative responsibility for the JNF land, and also for government-owned land, passed to a newly created agency called the Israel Land Administration or ILA. (Encyclopaedia Judaica, V 10, p. 77)

Today, of the total land in Israel, 79.5% is owned by the government, 14% is privately owned by the JNF, and the rest, around 6.5%, is evenly divided between private Arab and Jewish owners. Thus, the ILA administers 93.5% of the land in Israel (Government Press Office, Israel, 22 May 1997).

2. Jewish and Arab Access to Government-Owned Land in Israel

Statements that Israel refuses to sell state-owned land to Israeli Arabs are extremely misleading, since, as stated above, such land is not sold to Israeli Jews either, but is instead leased out by the ILA and is equally available to all citizens of Israel.

The availability of state-owned land to Israeli Arabs is true not just in theory, but also in practice. For example, about half of the land farmed by Israeli-Arabs is leased from the ILA. (Legal Status of the Arabs in Israel, Westview Press, p. 66, 1990)

Moreover, sometimes Israeli Arabs receive more favorable terms from the ILA than do Israeli Jews. Thus, for example, in new Jewish communities near Beersheva the ILA charged $24,000 for a capital lease on a quarter of an acre, while at the same time Bedouin families in the nearby community of Rahat paid only $150 for the same amount of land. (Israel's Dilemma, Shapolsky Publications, p. 97, 1989)

In another case a Jewish citizen applied to the ILA to lease land in a new Bedouin community under the same favorable, highly subsidized terms available to the Bedouins.

When the ILA refused to lease him land in the community under any circumstances, he sued. In Avitan v. Israel Land Administration (HC 528/88) the High Court ruled that ILA discrimination against the Jewish citizen Avitan was justified as affirmative action for Bedouin citizens. (Legal Status of the Arabs in Israel, p. 81)


Yes, some things don't change

When you say some things never change Dan.  What do you mean?  I can take an educated guess.  But I would prefer to give you the benefit of the doubt.  From my perspective I would agree some things don't change, i.e. those with power in society be they Jewish-Israelis, European Americans, European Australians (at a group level at the worst) tend to minimise the pain or suffering occurring to marginalised groups within their society eg the social prejudice towards of Palestinian-Israelis, African and Native Americans, Aboriginal Australians, asylum seekers etc..  That is not to ignore the marginalisation within certain dominant groups (ie the poverty found within the Jewish-Isralei community, European American or European Australia community), but it is to remember the broader spread of discrimination between communities. 


Forgetting the context - the problem with Alex Safian's 1997 article

You will note in the Alex's piece my research identified similar figures in terms of land distribution by the ILA. However, what is missing in Safian's article is the context.  A fifth of the population in Israel is Arab [Palestinian-Israeli].  Do we see a fifth of leases in Israel being made out to Arabs?  If not why not?  What percentage of arable land in Israel is leased to Arab-Israelis?  What percentage of residential land is leased out to Arab-Israelis?


The real reason for cheap land in Rahat

Safian gives the example of cheap land for Bedouin in Rahat.  Now why is that?  Affirmative action? Generosity of the state?  Or how about the state's desire to lure in Bedouin off their traditional lands?  Or a desire to lure Bedouin-Israelis from lands where they have been living since they were forced to move after 1948?  When this does not work then forcible evictions occur as in the case of al-Arakib


The fundamental problem with writers like Alex Safian is they just don't get the history of Palestinian people.  Instead of trying to acknowledge the trauma of both communities - Jewish and Palestinian alike - he and others of his ilk just try and minimise or demonise the other.  Safian's writing on CAMERA continues to miss the harm that occupation does towards Palestinians and Israelis alike.  Until he gets that we will get the same myopic view presented above.


Alex Safian's original 1997 article

"A fifth of the population in Israel is Arab [Palestinian-Israeli].  Do we see a fifth of leases in Israel being made out to Arabs?


We also do not see 1/5 of the workforce in Israel being Arab, they make up less then 1/5 of the Kenesset, We don't see 1/5 of the army Arab, way more then 1/5 of children born in Israel are Arab, they do not pay 1/5 of the property taxes.


Whats you point.  Israeli Arabs who have decided to embrace the Israeli culture, Israeli society have been quite successful, trust me I have many Arab friend who have nice big homes in the center of teh country with high paying jobs.  Many Israeli Arabs segregate themselves from Israeli society, do not vote, live in villages they grew up in have many children and dont go for higher education.  similar to teh ultra orthodox community in Israel.  This separation has its price.  and yes, I believe there is still discrimination against Arabs by individuals.  But on a whole Israeli Arabs have more rights earn a better living than a large majority of the arabs in the Mideast, something usually not mentioned.


The fact this population for example does not have to do any form of national service, whether it be in teh army or just working in a hospital or education, like all Israelis are required is a pity.  The fact that in most Arab villages there is almost no property tax, is a shame (thats why their communities look like they do). The fact that there is no Arab part who fights for the rights of Arab citizen independent of politics is just sad.


I believe better equality is needed but, I compare teh situation to that of the blacks in the US.  Those who get out of the inner city, make an effort can go very far, even be president.  And in teh US there is also racism but there is no such laws in US or Israel.  Israeli law give equal righst to all it citizens...


How many Arab countries can say that?  Are the Israeli Arabs as a whole really worse of than any other group of Arabs in teh mideast.  i would contend that they have it much, much better.... While Palestinians lie in refugee camps in Jordan and Lebanon, do they have rights? what percent of land leased there belongs to them?  Why are they teh only people in refugee camps in over 60 years (at the time 10's of millions were in such camps, all other have been settled since.


These attacks of racism are honestly a bit of a joke relative to the surrounding countries, which no one here really has anything bad to say about.  The rights of Suni's Iran or  Syria.  The Christians in Gaza or Egypt.  women and gays throughout the arab world.  what percent of leased land do they have?

I am all for equal rights in Israel for all its citizens and thank god the law supports that, now its just up for Jewish and Arab societies to get rid of their own discrimination from within.

Comparing 'apples with apples' as a means to understand the plight of Palestinian-Israelis and Palestinians under Occupation



It is good that we agree that discrimination: 

  • exists in Israel towards Palestinian-Israelis;
  • occurs towards Palestinians living in neighbouring Arab countries;
  • exists towards African Americans in the US.

It is good we agree that Arab countries are most definitely part of the problem because of the corruption, anti-semitism and anti-democratic practices and human rights abuses (just as Israel is a part of the problem, as is Hamas and Fatah).  


However, in terms of disagreement, one area relates to our line of reasoning. The argument that 'Palestinian-Israelis have it better off than in other Arab lands...therefore what's the problem?' may present some shaky conclusions.  If this same line of reasoning was used in the US or Australian context we would get the following callous result: "African Americans have it better off than in Nigeria or the Congo or Sudan , so what are they complaining about?"  Or "Aboriginal Australians have it better off than slum children in Mumbai so what have they to worry about?" 


In the 80s a pro-apartheid South African would have used the same reasoning - "the blacks have it better off in South Africa than in Zimbabwe, so what is the problem?  And further...mind your own business.  You've got problems with Aboriginals you fix that before you comment on 'our' blacks."


What is missing in the above line of reasoning is that they are not comparing like with like (apples with apples).  The difference is Israel, the US and Australia are supposedly both first world countries reputedly based on the liberal democratic ideal.  So trying to excuse the human deprivation and discrimination of marginalised communities within these wealthy countries by comparing it to regions that do not have the same economic resources or liberal ideal is not just pointless; it is misleading and potentially a form of disinformation (or propaganda).


When you do compare apples with apples you realise Palestinian-Israelis are getting a raw deal; and Palestinians living in the Occupied territories have put up with too much for too long and continue to be killed regardless if nonviolent protests are used.






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