Muhammad Abu al-Hawa was a 42-year-old father of eight when he died last Wednesday night. As Israeli Jews were beginning our Pessah Seders and retelling the story of our exodus from Egypt and our rebirth as a free nation, Abu al-Hawa was being tortured by Fatah terrorists. As we ate our Seder meal, he was shot seven times. As we called out "Next year in Jerusalem," Abu al-Hawa's body and car were torched.
Abu al-Hawa was tortured and murdered because he stood accused of committing what the Palestinians consider a capital crime. Eight young children were orphaned last Wednesday night because their father allegedly sold an apartment building in Israel's capital city to Jews. The building in question is located in Jerusalem's A-Tur neighborhood, just above the Temple Mount on the Mount of Olives.
Muhammad Abu al-Hawa was buried in a makeshift cemetery on the road between Jerusalem where he lived, and Jericho where he was murdered. His body was buried there because the Palestinian Authority's mufti in Jerusalem, Ikremah Sabri, has barred all Muslims accused of selling land to Jews from being buried in a Muslim cemetery.
When the PA was established in 1994, the first legal step its chairman Yasser Arafat and its justice minister Freih Abu Medein took was to declare null and void all laws that had been in force until that date. After plunging Palestinian society into legal chaos, Arafat and Medein reinstated one law. That law was a Jordanian law which Israel had revoked in 1967. It made selling land to Jews a capital offense.
SINCE 1994, dozens of Arab Israelis and PA residents have been murdered on suspicion of selling land to Jews. Abu al-Hawa's murder - like those that preceded it - tells us several important things about Palestinian society. It tells us that like the PA today, any successor Palestinian state will be a racist, apartheid state where laws will be promulgated based solely on race and religious origin. Jews will be denied all basic human rights and Arabs who peacefully coexist with Jews will be accused of treason and made targets for murder.
On Saturday night Sheikh Raed Salah, the former mayor of Umm el-Fahm and the head of the northern branch of the Israeli Islamic Movement, spoke to an audience of some 30,000 Israeli Arabs in Kafr Kana. There he placed Abu al-Hawa's murder in the context of the Arab-Islamic strategy for conquering Jerusalem. His address, which was broadcast live by al-Jazeera, was devoted to calling for the expulsion of all Jews from Jerusalem. He called on his Arab brethren to "save Jerusalem from the hands of the Jews," promising that "Jerusalem will soon be the capital of the world Islamic nation, and it will be governed by a caliphate."
Salah's speech placed him in the company of Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi, the Qatar-based Sunni cleric who acts as a religious authority for both Hamas and al-Qaida. Speaking in Sanaa, Yemen, last December, Qaradawi, who chairs the Al-Quds Foundation, referred to the goal of Islamizing Jerusalem by ending coexistence with Israel as "a civilian jihad that should go side by side with armed resistance."
Today, there is no figure of authority in the Arab and Islamic world in general and in the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority particularly who would have stood up for Abu al-Hawa. For today's Arab and Islamic leaders, murders like Abu al-Hawa's serve an "educational" goal of terrorizing Palestinians into ending any ongoing relationships they may have with Israelis.
Neither Abu al-Hawa nor countless other victims before him had an opportunity to answer the charges leveled against them. According to Palestinians and to Jews involved in purchasing lands from Palestinians, in the majority of cases, the Arabs murdered for the "crime" of selling land to Jews never sold land to Jews. At most they were "guilty" of having ties of friendship or commerce with Israelis. The fact that merely having relations with Jews can expose an Arab to allegations of collaboration is enough to convince most Palestinians that they shouldn't have anything to do with Israel or Israelis. So by murdering people like Abu al-Hawa, the Palestinian leadership ensures that Palestinians will be too afraid of being killed to risk peaceful coexistence with Israel.
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