(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Finance Minister Yair Lapid said on Monday that he would be very upset if his son married a non-Jew, against the background of a mixed Arab-Jewish wedding that has ignited debate on the issue.
Lapid spoke on Radio Galei Yisrael about the storm surrounding the wedding of an Arab man, Mahmoud Mansour, to Moral Malka, who converted from Judaism to Islam, and the protest that was staged outside the events hall where the wedding party was held Sunday night.
Asked on the radio show whether or not the conversion of a Jewish woman in order to marry bothered him, he replied in the affirmative.
“If my son would come to me tomorrow and say ‘Dad, I want you to meet not Rina but Rona and she’s [Christian] Orthodox, or Catholic and I’m marrying her and the children won’t be Jewish,’ would this bother me? It would really bother me,” said Lapid.
“I think the Jewish people is small, I think we have a heritage, I think we need to preserve it, and this bothers me.”
The Finance Minister did, however, express his opposition to the Lehava organization that brought public attention to the mixed marriage and protested at the wedding party Sunday night.
“When I look at the people who protested outside this wedding, they didn’t bring great honor to the Jewish people. This is an ugly group and it was an ugly protest and a people which has suffered racism more than any other people needs to demonstrate a great deal more tolerance towards the other, even if the way the ‘other’ acts upsets it.”
The wedding and the protestations of the Lehava anti-assimilation organization sparked a fierce debate regarding intermarriage and personal freedom in Israel, with rabbis, politicians and other public figures all weighing in on the controversy.
Speaking on Army Radio, Shas chairman MK Arye Deri said that Morel had betrayed her people and criticized Health Minister Yael German (Yesh Atid) for congratulating them on their wedding and attending the event last night.
“In my opinion, a young man or woman who change their faith betray their people. She [Morel] doesn’t deserve a commendation for having converted to Islam,” Deri said.
“Rabbanit Yael German goes there to say ‘Mazal Tov?’ What is that supposed to be? With all due respect, this young woman betrayed her people.”
Rabbi David Stav, chairman of the Tzohar national religious association of rabbis, emphasized the importance of fighting intermarriage while at the same time conducting the task in an appropriate manner, and strongly criticized Lehava.
“We must not fight assimilation by besmirching people or hostility towards someone who isn’t Jewish because it’s not just and it won’t work,” he said.
“To create a people which does not assimilate we need to educate towards values that will enhance the importance of us as a nation, the meaning of our existence as a people and the essence of the relationship between personal happiness and our obligations to the people. Only through positive action will we succeed in reducing the rate of assimilation.”
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