Land merchants in Judea and Samaria – and human rights organizations' silence

This week, Ahmad Salama Badawi, 58, a Palestinian land merchant, from Jaljulya, was murdered. Badawi was one of the most recognizable land merchants.

A general view shows the Jewish settlement of Kiryat Arba in Hebron, in the West Bank September 11, 2018. Picture taken September 11, 2018 (photo credit: MUSSA QAWASMA / REUTERS)
A general view shows the Jewish settlement of Kiryat Arba in Hebron, in the West Bank September 11, 2018. Picture taken September 11, 2018
(photo credit: MUSSA QAWASMA / REUTERS)
Last month we became aware of a number of events that shed some light on the whole issue of land trade between Jews and Arabs in Judea and Samaria.
The first case is the accident on Route 90, which killed Ala Qirsch, an Arab from east Jerusalem. After his death, the Mufti of Jerusalem ruled that Qirsch won’t be buried in a Muslim cemetery because he was suspected of selling property to Jews around Jerusalem. After he was not allowed to be buried in any Muslim cemetery, the Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem, Rabbi Aryeh Stern, had mercy on Qirsch, and permitted his burial in a Jewish cemetery.
The second case, Isam Aaqel, 53, a resident of east Jerusalem, with an Israeli ID card, as well as an American citizenship, was arrested by the PA. Until this very moment, Aqel remains in custody, and according to some sources, he is also being tortured. The PA launched an all-out battle against residents of east Jerusalem who sell land to Jews.
This week, Ahmad Salama Badawi, 58, a Palestinian land merchant, from Jaljulya, was murdered. Badawi was one of the most recognizable land merchants. Although opinions are still divided about the reason for his murder, many speculate that it was initiated by the PA.
Curiously (or not), the voices of the human rights organizations are not heard regarding these cases. An Arab Israeli citizen is being detained and tortured, but the human rights organizations have yet to campaign against his detention, or even to call for his freedom. This fact is very disturbing, especially given the behavior of these organizations, when 52 Arabs from Judea and Samaria filed a lawsuit against the PA because of the torture that they went through in the basements of the PA, after they were suspected of collaborating with Israel, when it prevented terrorist attacks in Israel. Our firm has the privilege of representing the plaintiffs, and no human rights organizations that were approached bothered to help or have a voice in the matter. If the situation were reversed, I guess we would see them working hard, as in the case Ahed Tamimi, which a long list of organizations came to her aid, such as B’Tselem, Breaking the Silence, Rabbis for Human Rights and more.
Many Arabs in Judea and Samaria are interested in selling their land. Some of them are afraid to do so because of the risk involved, and whoever does sell their land, is sometimes forced to emigrate after the sale. Paradoxically, investigations have proven that members of the “human rights organizations” are those who give the names of those who sold land to Jews and plan to escape.
In one investigation, Ezra Nawi, from the Ta’ayush organization and Nasser Nawaja from B’Tselem, were recorded when they work together to provide the names of Arabs who wish to sell land to Jews in Hebron to the Palestinian Intelligence, which tries to prevent these sales, with the clear awareness that the Palestinian intelligence would execute them after torture.
Stories such as these attest that these organizations are not supporters of human rights, but rather organizations with an antisemitic motive, doing everything – including the encouragement and cooperation with the murderers and torturers of Arabs – to harm the State of Israel and Jewish settlements. Those who really care for human rights need to fight against these organizations’ lies and protect the population that really needs our protection and help. Our job as citizens and Jews who seek tikkun olam is to also protect them.
I deal a lot with the subject of redeeming the land. Investors from around the world approach me with a request to purchase land and to take part in its redemption. I meet with Arab land sellers who only want to live their lives and do not understand why they have to fear for their lives and be under the rule of intimidation. Will those organizations, which allegedly care for Arabs of Judea and Samaria, be ready to listen to their real will? I don’t expect them to.
However, I do expect that millions of people around the world who support Israel, help us really worry about human rights in Judea and Samaria, to take part in the redemption its Jewish settlement, and to assist in these processes, which promote economic freedom and the right for everyone to do with his assets as he wishes to, and not allow another Isam Aqal case to repeat.
The writer is a lawyer, pro-Israeli and anti-BDS activist, deals with land redemption, and is an activist for Jewish sovereignty in Judea and Samaria.