Ask the Rabbi

  • Family and Society
  • Attitude Towards Other Nations

Arabs in Israel


Rabbi Jonathan Blass

30 Nisan 5763
What are our obligations towards the Arabs of Judea and Samaria? Are Arabs considered "Strangers" in our land or are they considered Canaanites? Please cite relevant authority.
None of the above. The term "stranger"- or in Hebrew- "ger", generally refers to a convert to Judaism. He is treated as a Jew in all respects and hence the verses that require us to apply the same law to the "ger" that we apply to the resident of the land- "ezrach haaretz" (see Exodus 12 49 and Numbers 9 14). As opposed to the "ezrach" who has an inheritance in the Land, the "ger", although he is Jewish, has no inherited land and therefore there is an additional commandment to especially love the ger (Deuteronomy 10 19) so as to offset the disadvantage he begins with. The Canaanites are only the Canaanites and their decendants. Rambam teaches (Hilchot Melachim 5 4) that we no longer know who the Cannanites are. The Palestinian Arabs are simply gentiles living in the Land of Israel. Our problems with them are not the result of their Torah status but rather of the vicious war of more than 100 years that they and the Arab states are waging against Jewish sovereignty in the Land. There are other gentiles in the Land of Israel- the Druse- who serve in the Israeli army and while they are not "gerim", they are universally accepted as a contributing part of Israeli society.
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