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April 27, 2012

Where's the Coverage? Palestinian Authority Hands Down Death Penalty for Land Sale to Jews


In an article "celebrating" Israel’s 64th Independence Day, "Israel’s Big Day, Under Sun and Cloud" (April 26, 2012), the New York Times could not refrain from taking a number of jabs at Israel, including the obligatory swipe at "the settlements":

Israel's settlement building in the West Bank drew more international condemnation this week after the government retroactively legalized three Jewish outposts there. The Palestinians described the move as another example of why there is no peace.

This description is, at the least, simplistic. The communities had been authorized and approved by prior governments in the 1980s and 1990s but were missing some additional paperwork to formalize their status. The spokesman for the Prime Minister’s office, Mark Regev stated, "You can't tell me that the Israeli government has built new settlements, and you can't tell me that this is legalizing unauthorized outposts. These decisions are procedural or technical. They don't change anything whatever on the ground."

While this story was all over the media, another story about homes in the West Bank was completely ignored.

A Palestinian man, Muhammad Abu Shahala, reportedly confessed under torture to selling his home in Hebron to a Jewish man. He has been sentenced to death after a hurried trial. Caroline Glick writes on her blog:

The PA was established in May 1994. The first law it adopted defined selling land to Jews as a capital offense. Shortly thereafter scores of Arab land sellers began turning up dead in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria in both judicial and extrajudicial killings.

Leaders of the Jewish community of Hebron wrote a letter to international leaders this week asking them to intervene with PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and demand that he cancel Shahala's sentence. They addressed the letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy, the director-general of the International Red Cross, Yves Daccord, as well as Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres. In it they wrote, "It is appalling to think that property sales should be defined as a 'capital crime' punishable by death.

"The very fact that such a 'law' exists within the framework of the PA legal system points to a barbaric and perverse type of justice, reminiscent of practices implemented during the dark ages."

They went on to make the reasonable comparison between the PA's law prohibiting land sales to Jews to Nazi Germany's Nuremburg laws that constrained and finally outlawed trade between Jews and Germans. The letter concluded with the question, "Is the Palestinian Authority a reincarnation of the Third Reich?"

Certainly this is newsworthy. Yet a search of the New York Times Web site turn up zero matches for the search term "Muhammad Abu Shahala," only asking if you meant someone else.

Similarly, a search of the Washington Post Web site also turned up zero matches for "Muhammad Abu Shahala."

And a search on the Wall Street Journal Web site returned, "Sorry, there are no results for your search query, please try another search."

Maybe the fact that even the sale of property by a Palestinian to a Jew is a crime punishable by death under the Palestinian Authority is "another example of why there is no peace." And remember, this is the "moderate" regime to which Israel is supposed to make concessions.

Where's the good sense? Where's the tolerance? Where's the coverage?

Posted by SC at April 27, 2012 05:26 PM


The NYT did make a reference in passing to the real estate death penalty the day before the Independence Day article, though only in passing. The NYT wrote in an article discussing the 3 outposts ( "Complicating matters is that the Palestinian Authority considers selling land to Israelis a capital crime." But they gave no hint that Muhammad Abu Shahala was recently sentenced to death by the Palestinian Authority for selling land to Jews.

Posted by: Michael Segal at April 28, 2012 10:43 AM

Thank you so much Camera for telling people this story.
You ask, Where's the good sense? Where's the tolerance? Where's the coverage?
Do think the Israel haters in the media are going to tell people about Palestinian Fascism.
Ofcourse not.
Thats why Thomas Friedman, Peter Beinart and Bob Simon are silent.

Posted by: Barry Rosen at April 28, 2012 11:23 AM

There is no coverage because there is no reporting of Muhammad Abu Shahala’s trial or sentencing in any reputable news outlet. Additionally, not a single Palestinian news outlet has reported anything on his trial or sentencing. As someone who tracks Palestinian media daily, they would cover it.

The reports of his sentencing are SOLELY based upon a letter written by members of Hebron’s Jewish community. The letter itself states that “various news agencies�? have reported his death sentence.

I challenge those who wrote the letter and you to present a single reputable source that reported his death sentence prior to the release of the letter on April 15, 2012.

Posted by: Challah Hu Akbar at April 28, 2012 08:44 PM

If Israel gave a death penalty to a Jew for selling a house to an Arab, do you think Thomas Friedman, Peter Beinart and Bob Simon would be silent?
I dont think so. You know this would be on the front page of the Times? You know Beinart would be on every cable channel telling how bad Israel is.

Posted by: Barry Rosen at April 29, 2012 01:29 AM

There is no question there is a pro Arab and anti Israel bias in the mainstream media. All you have to do is know the name of a program and it will tell you how the story will be reported. Unfortunately, Israel has become a political issue instead of one that is based on morality and ethics. I myself have often wonder why there is this double standard. When the "Fogal family massacre" happened there there was virtually no coverage. The media was conspicuously quiet about a recent story in which an Israeli family was murdered by Arab terrorist in France. There is countless stories that have the same outcome. There is an unholy alliance between the media, the U.N., and the European Union to do whatever they can to slander and demonize Israel and it's a disgrace. This pro Arab agenda of lies and deceit has infiltrated college campuses , universities themselves, and governments. When the Arabs donate a hefty sum of money to an entity they aren't doing it because their nice. Money is power, they do it so they can set the agenda that will benefit them. This is something the Arabs have been doing for a relatively short time but this tactic has achieved great success for them. However, I believe the public should also share some responsibility for this problem. Remember, the Arabs can only pull this off if the public doesn't research and educate themselves on what is going on in the world. For example, their was a report that Princeton University was getting infusions of money from the Arabs this gives them power to influence crricullum. An entire program was shut down simply because they didn't like how the class portrayed them. Classes that are focused on the middle east use textbooks that are favorable to the Arabs. Most students don't question the valititly of the information being presented in a course, they assume it's accurate and leave it at that. You now have another generation indoctrinated in the pro Arab bigotry. But, the reality is weather it's the media, institutions, or government, it boils down to antisemitism. If people don't have enough foresight to recognize that it's this same mindset that spawned the Holocaust, than the future of mankind is grim.

Posted by: Lawrence at April 29, 2012 12:48 PM

In response to Challah Hu Akbar, the reports are not "SOLELY based upon a letter written by members of Hebron’s Jewish community". A news report ( from the same day as the letter ( cites "Palestinian sources" for the information about the death sentence.

The existence of the death penalty for selling land has been covered in the past ( and and

In the past, others accused of selling land to Jews have been killed in irregular ways, and it would not be surprising for that to occur here as well so as to make it possible for the Palestinian Authority to duck the issue of whether it is applying its law. However, rather than this being a ray of hope for justice in the Palestinian Authority, it is more likely to be an indication of lack of transparency.

Posted by: Michael Segal at May 1, 2012 09:11 AM

Michael, thanks for link. I am still highly skeptical, Pal media would cover this. Also, it's a bit odd that Pal sources went to Makor Rishon for this story and not elsewhere. While possible that they did, I doubt other Israeli outlets would pass it up. Also, I never denied law exists. I was merely pointing out that there was little evidence it was being applied in this specific case.

Posted by: Challah Hu Akbar at May 2, 2012 10:02 AM

The Hebron letter ( referred to coverage in "various news agencies"; I didn't interpret that as a claim of coverage in Palestinian Arab news outlets. I too would have been surprised if Palestinian Arab news outlets dared to touch this issue.

One of the creepier aspects of this whole issue is the murkiness of the legal climate under the Palestinian Authority. In the past, when people accused of selling land to Jews were killed it was often left ambiguous as to whether this was application of the law. If Muhammad Abu Shahala is killed by the Palestinian Authority it would not be surprising if the killing is attributed to some other reason, such as additional charges or breakdown of authority.

Such ambiguity may make people in the West feel better, but the message is not lost on the Palestinian Arabs. This episode gives quite a flavor of what it must be like to live under such a climate, in which one never knows if a draconian law will be applied. It is tragic to see so many smart people living under a government that has created a climate that keeps people intimidated and impoverished.

Posted by: Michael Segal at May 3, 2012 08:43 PM

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