Sunday, December 19, 2010

Selling Land to Arabs: A Pre-Post

About two weeks ago, a group of rabbis from across Israel, prompted by Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, publicized a ban on anyone selling or renting land to Arabs.
The reaction was swift and severe. Commentators from the Prime Minister of Israel on down to a group of rabbis in the United States rushed to condemn the statement.
Loyal readers of this blog must surely have been wondering: "Where's your post?" After all, isn't this a topic that speaks directly to the essence of this blog: Torah, Israel, Zionism, etc? In truth, yes, it is.
And yet I hesitated, not because I don't have what to write. I do. Problem is, I have too much to write. It's not a blog post - it's a mini-essay.
The issue raises a number of critical questions including:
1. Is there halachic basis for Rav Eliyahu's call?
1b. If his claim is halachically valid, does that mean that halachah is in some sense racist?
2. Even if Rav Eliyahu was right, should he have publicized his opinion as he did?
3. What is the nature of a Jewish State that claims to give full rights to its Arab citizens?
4. If the Jewish State does give such rights to its minority citizens, how does it ensure that it in fact remains a Jewish State?
5. What do we do about the little-discussed fact that many Jewish towns and neighborhoods are slowly becoming Arab enclaves? (While we fight over the settlements, we may very well be losing our cities.)

All of these are, to my mind, good and important questions. And yet, I haven't written because (a) I haven't had the time to write an article of that length and (b) I'm not sure blog readers really want to slog through a long, serious article.
In any case, even thinking about these questions is to my mind, important - even without my personal spin on the issue.
I recently gave a shiur at Orot (where I teach a weekly class on Hilchot Shabbat) on this very topic, and prepared a source book that deals with many of the questions I raise here.
For interested parties, you can access the source book here. (Note to all - the sources are entirely in Hebrew. If I had time to translate them, I'd be halfway towards writing the real post.)
In the meantime, if these types of sources are your cup of tea, have at them!