Image 01 Image 03

Palestinian man refused Muslim burial on suspicion he sold land to Jews, to be buried in Jerusalem Jewish cemetery

Palestinian man refused Muslim burial on suspicion he sold land to Jews, to be buried in Jerusalem Jewish cemetery

Ashkenazi chief rabbi of Israel allows family of Ala’a Qarash (aka Alah Kirsh) to bury him at Jewish cemetery as an “exception” because the “Muslims themselves are unwilling to bury him” and he was a “righteous gentile” who “showed good will” to Jews.,7340,L-5408040,00.html

In a highly unusual ruling, one of Israel’s chief rabbis has allowed a Palestinian Arab man to be buried in a special plot, reserved for those without religious faith, in the Jewish Har HaMenuchot cemetery in Jerusalem.

At issue is the decision of Aryeh Stern, the Ashkenazi chief rabbi of Israel, to enable the West Bank-based family of Ala’a Qarash (also spelled Alah Kirsh) to bury him at the Jewish cemetery as an “exception” because the “Muslims themselves are unwilling to bury him” and he was a “righteous gentile” who “showed good will” to Jews.

Along with five others, Qarash had been killed back on November 4th in a horrible car accident on Israel’s Highway 90 when a truck collided with a minibus. But Jerusalem’s grand mufti—Ekrima Sa’id Sabri—determined that Qarash didn’t deserve a proper burial at a Muslim site, including in the Muslim cemetery in the east Jerusalem where Qarash’s other family members are buried, because he had been suspected of allegedly selling real estate in that part of Israel’s capital city to Jews a few years ago.

For this supposed “traitorous crime” of selling property in Jerusalem to Jews, the family also wasn’t allowed by the Wakf, the Islamic trust that oversees day-to-day management of the Temple Mount, to bring Qarash’s body to the Al Aqsa mosque for a special prayer and they were reportedly “forbidden” by imams to pitch the customary mourner’s tent to receive guests and well-wishers.

For the same reason, other mosques in east Jerusalem refused to hold Qarash’s funeral service (his body has been temporarily interred outside the cemetery in Nabi Salih, a village near Ramallah in the West Bank).

It’s awful that a Palestinian family deep in grief would face these kinds of humiliations and obstacles from their own faith-based community, and its good to know that Israel’s rabbinate is willing and able to intervene and provide support on such occasions.

But this largely under-reported story actually tells us a lot about why the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is so intractable. Most if not all conflict resolution experts agree that peace and reconciliation requires the development of trust among conflicting societies, which can only happen with frequent and sustained people-to-people interactions. Yet, its precisely these kinds of economic, cultural and social engagements that the Palestinian and BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) anti-normalization campaigns reject.

The reality is that the situation of the unfortunate Ala’a Qarash, who was disgraced and shunned by his people even in death for engaging in a routine real estate transaction with Jews in Jerusalem, is just the most extreme manifestation of a general taboo against interacting in any way, shape, or form with Israelis or Zionists.

Palestinians who sell property to Jews pay the price for this “treason”

According to several media reports of the incident regarding Ala’a Qarash (see here and here), the Jerusalem mufti based his ruling on a 1935 fatwa, or religious Muslim edict, by one of his predecessors—Jerusalem grand mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini, who guided the Palestinian Arab national movement and shaped its political and religious ideology in the 1920s and 1930s.

Husseini was a notorious anti-Semite who repeatedly instigated Arab violence against Jews and spent the WWII years in Berlin producing pro-Nazi propaganda and helping to recruit Muslims for several SS divisions. Less known is the fact that he also ruled that “anyone who sells a house or land to Jews will not receive Muslim burial.”

[Hitler hosts Grand Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini in 1941 | Germany | Credit: Times of Israel]

In his own ruling last week, Sabri reportedly noted too that “anyone who sells [property] to Jews in Jerusalem’s Old City is no longer part of the Islamic faith, we will not accept his repentance, and he will not be buried in a Muslim cemetery.”

Selling homes in east Jerusalem and the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) has long been a risky business for Palestinians and a punishable offense.

Writing for Gatestone Institute, the award-winning Israeli-Arab journalist Khaled Abu Toameh published a helpful primer of the history of this shameful history a few years ago. In his article, Toameh describes how the belief that “selling a house to a Jew is a betrayal of Allah” became ingrained within Palestinian Arab society and the basis of numerous legal rulings and punitive measures.

The concept of “killing a man for doing business with a Jew” was put into force by Jordan in the 1950s when it illegally occupied and annexed the West Bank (Judea and Samaria). Later, the PLO incorporated the legal code, which enforced a penalty of execution of any “traitor” caught selling or even just renting property to “the enemy.”

You’d think that such injunctions would weaken or get watered down over time, but the reverse has been true. The Palestinian Authority (PA) has reaffirmed the law on a number of occasions. And in the mid-1990s the PA’s U.S.-trained security forces were accused of “kidnapping and killing” suspected land dealers.

Toameh notes that the PA has only executed those convicted of selling property to Jews a few times. But back in 2014, PA President Mahmoud Abbas said that doing so was still a “clear-cut capital crime” and that those engaged in real estate dealings with Jews would be punished with “life imprisonment—with hard labor.”

[Credit: Gatestone Institute]

It’s clear that even if the penalty usually isn’t death, the risks and dangers associated with selling land to Jews are very real. Over the years at least a dozen Palestinians, and maybe more, have been abducted and killed by Palestinian activists on the suspicion that they sold property to Jews or served as middlemen for such transactions. Last month, a Palestinian-American was apprehended by PA police for allegedly helping to finalize the sale of a home in east Jerusalem to a Jewish buyer.

The “high treason” of selling property to Jews as part of the anti-normalization campaign

As journalist Khaled Abu Toameh rightly notes, the ongoing campaigns against Palestinians suspected of selling or renting real estate to Jews is also part of the belief that the “entire land is Muslim-owned” and, as such, no Palestinian person much less a governing authority is entitled to give up even one inch of it to a non-Muslim.

The problem isn’t just the bigoted nature of this injunction. It also pretty much precludes any kind of land-for-peace deal that has been the basis of negotiations going back for decades. Toameh puts it well:

“This would be the nail in the coffin of any Palestinian leader who attempts to make any territorial compromise as a part of a peace agreement with Israel….The stakes are very, very high: betrayal of Allah and Prophet Mohammed are at issue.”

It’s important to understand that these anti-peace efforts to prevent real estate transactions with Jews is actually part of a much larger anti-normalization campaign that’s been pushed by years by Palestinian officials and by the BDS movement. In Israel and the West Bank/Judea and Samaria, we can see anti-normalization in efforts to shut down Israeli-Palestinian meetings and coexistence groups and to intimidate Arabs who participate in them, BDS Leaders Slam Leftist U.S. Peace Groups. In the U.S. and other countries, anti-normalization is a central stance of the anti-Israel BDS movement, resulting in the ostracism of Jews from campus life and the shunning of Zionists from progressive political spaces.

Bottom line: threatening Palestinians with what is effectively excommunication for engaging in financial transactions with Jews or Israelis is just an extreme manifestation of the problems that Palestinians who try to engage with their Israeli counterparts routinely run up against. Even if a total shunning—as is happening to the Qarash family—isn’t the punishment, the costs of crossing these concocted ‘picket lines’ can be effective deterrents to the kind of people-to-people interactions necessary for peace.

[Featured Image via Ynet]

Miriam F. Elman is an Associate Professor of Political Science and the Inaugural Robert D. McClure Professor of Teaching Excellence at the Maxwell School of Citizenship & Public Affairs, Syracuse University. She is the editor of five books and the author of over 65 journal articles, book chapters, and government reports on topics related to international and national security, religion and politics, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. She also frequently speaks and writes on the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) anti-Israel movement. Recently, Elman was included on the Algemeiner newspaper’s 2018 list of the top 100 people worldwide who are “positively influencing Jewish life.” Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @MiriamElman


Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.


This lifted my spirit. As do all the articles you post. Bless you Miriam. Bless Jerusalem. Psalm 137.

JusticeDelivered | November 18, 2018 at 10:04 pm

Haj Amin al-Husseini remains should be exhumed, and drenched in pig’s blood. Maybe doing the same to all dead Muslims in leadership positions should be a new policy?

    Hush yourself.

    “You must not exploit or oppress a foreign resident, for you yourselves were foreigners in the land of Egypt. You must not mistreat any widow or orphan.…”

    So speaks the Lord your God. And it doesn’t matter if you are an atheist.

I’ve already been exposed to Psalm 113. Lovely. Is there any Psalm that isn’t beautiful?

Psalm 115
Not to us, Lord, not to us
but to your name be the glory,
because of your love and faithfulness.
Why do the nations say,
“Where is their God?”
Our God is in heaven;
he does whatever pleases him.
But their idols are silver and gold,
made by human hands.
They have mouths, but cannot speak,
eyes, but cannot see.
They have ears, but cannot hear,
noses, but cannot smell.
They have hands, but cannot feel,
feet, but cannot walk,
nor can they utter a sound with their throats.
Those who make them will be like them,
and so will all who trust in them.
All you Israelites, trust in the Lord—
he is their help and shield.
House of Aaron, trust in the Lord—
he is their help and shield.
You who fear him, trust in the Lord—
he is their help and shield.
The Lord remembers us and will bless us:
He will bless his people Israel,
he will bless the house of Aaron,
he will bless those who fear the Lord—
small and great alike.
May the Lord cause you to flourish,
both you and your children.
May you be blessed by the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
The highest heavens belong to the Lord,
but the earth he has given to mankind.
It is not the dead who praise the Lord,
those who go down to the place of silence;
it is we who extol the Lord,
both now and forevermore.
Praise the Lord.[b]

Pam Geller estimates as many as 40% of “muslims” are in fact atheist. Another sum are crypto-Christians. In Iran, she feels that muslims may be in fact near a minority, with atheists, Christians,and neo-Zoroastrians coming on strong…all hiding their religious/non-religious beliefs from the madmen planning for the 12th imam’s destruction of the world.

Pam Geller us about right. Nearly half of all Muslims wake up with no use for the creed. But it’s a gang code.

    While the followers of Islam make it easy to criticize, do you think the region would be any less barbaric if they called themselves Christians? For centuries they have been awful to one another. Calling oneself a Christian and ceasing the awfulness are not the same. The awful ones would simply be doing awful things in the name of Christ.

      Arminius in reply to Andy. | November 19, 2018 at 7:48 am

      Christians have committed the unforgiveable sins taking the Lord’s name in vain. But Islam gives them divine license while Christianity does not.

      Arminius in reply to Andy. | November 19, 2018 at 7:53 am

      Surah 2:216

      Fighting has been enjoined upon you while it is hateful to you. But perhaps you hate a thing and it is good for you; and perhaps you love a thing and it is bad for you. And Allah Knows, while you know not.

      I’ve got a million of them. Or, more accurately, I have 149 of them. The Quran isn’t a lengthy book. Want me to keep going?

I had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Geller. And it was a pleasure. I don’t know how to otherwise explain it. It was as if she looked into my heart. She looked at me and it was like she knew me all my life.

How come I’m aware of it? Just in case someone is enthralled in the idea I’m an idiot.

The chief Rabbi is an Ashkenazi Jew? I’ve already laid out why he’s probably more “native American” than Liz Warren.

So shouldn’t the headline be, Cherokee chief allows Palestinian man to be buried in Israel?

No, that’s cruel. I am at a certain level ashamed my sense of humor runs that way. You find ###h$#%E in all kinds of people. I’m one of them. It doesn’t indict an entire category.

Psalm 31:4

“Keep me free from the trap that is set for me, for you are my refuge.”

I keep randomly generating numbers and I keep coming up with gold. It turns out there isn’t a Psalm 314.

Admittedly I am having a lot of trouble keeping my Sadducees and my Pharisees straight.

    Milhouse in reply to Arminius. | November 19, 2018 at 3:09 pm

    The Pharisees are what are today known as Orthodox Jews. The Saducees were basically the elite left-wing of their day, few in number but rich, politically powerful, and culturally Hellenist. Once the Temple and political institutions were gone they disappeared, leaving the future of Judaism to the Pharisees. Josephus was a Saducee. (He reports rumors of another tiny group whom he calls Essenes, but there’s little if any evidence that they actually existed.)

This is a clear reminder that from the beginning the “peace prosses” was doomed to failure. Not because of Isreals actions but because of the intractable nature of the “Palestinian Leadership.” I mourn the day that the United Nations recognized the PLO as the voice of the Palestinian State.

    mrzee in reply to Shadow5. | November 19, 2018 at 11:44 am

    As long as arabs are occupying Judea and Samaria, there’s no chance for peace.

      Edward in reply to mrzee. | November 20, 2018 at 10:36 am

      “We will only have peace with [the Arabs] when they love their children more than they hate us…”

      Golda Meir

      More fully:

      “We can forgive [the Arabs] for killing our children. We cannot forgive them for forcing us to kill their children. We will only have peace with [the Arabs] when they love their children more than they hate us…”

Such amazing benevolence. Even after 3,000+ years of brutally horrific pursuit and genocidal treatment.

God Bless and Protect Israel!

Thank you, Aryeh Stern, for this ray of Goodness. With so much of the world spinning out of control, righting this wrong brings us back to Faith and Hope.