Arabs Living in Israel

Arabs Living in Israel

When the State of Israel was established, the foremost Rabbis of the time discussed the status of the Arabs and the question of whether we are commanded to actively work towards their expulsion from our Land.

According to many distinguished halakhic authorities, it is forbidden for any non-Jew who is not considered a ger toshav (resident alien) to live in our Land. This is the opinion of the Rambam (Laws of Idol Worship 10:6). In accord with this opinion, it follows that we must expel the Arabs from the Land of Israel, for presently an Arab cannot become a ger toshav, because, when the Jubilee year does not apply, it is impossible to accept a ger toshav. However, some authorities, including former Chief Rabbi Yitzchak Herzog, clarified that today, the prohibition is not to allow non-Jews who come from chutz l’aretz to enter Eretz Yisrael, for, since it is presently impossible to accept a ger toshav, we are commanded not to let them enter the Land. Concerning the Arabs already living here, since they presumably follow the seven Noahide commandments, and recognize the sovereignty of the Nation of Israel over its Land, we are not commanded to expel them.

However, over the decades that have passed since the establishment of the State, it has become clear that, in actuality, many of the Arabs living in Israel do not accept our sovereignty over the Land. Additionally, many of them do not fulfill the seven Noahide commandments – whether through the assistance they give to terrorists, thereby transgressing the prohibition of “You shall not murder,” or in the fact that they generally do nothing to bring terrorists to trial, as they are instructed to do in the seventh commandment of the sons of Noach – to establish a righteous judicial system (see, Rambam, Laws of Kings and Their Wars 9:14). Therefore, many of them are not considered ger toshav, and we are commanded to expel them from the Land.

Presently, it is impossible to know what percentage of the Arab population is entitled to be called ger toshav, for, unfortunately, the government of Israel has abandoned the Arab population to the rule of murderous gangs – which it itself helped to establish and arm. Therefore, only after we expel all those who are openly in favor of our destruction, whether they reside within the “Green Line,” or in the “West Bank,” or Gaza, can we then offer the population that remains the choice: to live here as a ger toshav according to the just and ethical principles of the Torah – or to emigrate to another country.

Indeed, when we have the ability to do so, we are obligated to expel non-Jews who don’t accept upon themselves the seven Noahide commandments. However, when the strength of the nations is stronger than ours (yad ha’goyim tikyfa aleinu), whether through military prowess, or international pressure against us, we are prevented from fulfilling this mitzvah (Rambam, Laws of Idol Worship 10:6). Possibly today, in the wake of antagonistic world pressure against us, we fall under this category. Nevertheless, we are not exempt from trying to find ways to fulfill the commandments of God. And even when we are not able to expel our enemies, we are obligated to encourage their emigration through universally accepted methods.

About the Author
Rabbi Eliezer Melamed; The writer is Head of Yeshivat Har Bracha and a prolific author on Jewish Law, whose works include the series on Jewish law "Pininei Halacha" and a popular weekly column "Revivim" in the Besheva newspaper; His books "The Laws of Prayer" "The Laws of Passover" and "Nation, Land, Army" are presently being translated into English; Other articles by Rabbi Melamed can be viewed at: