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FRANTZMAN Originally published in The Jerusalem Post Magazine, August 28 The war in Gaza has been hard for Hala K., a Muslim from Nazareth, and her Jewish boyfriend Shai. “My relationship survived it, at a certain point there was a lot of anger, we were arguing but we decided to calm down,” she explains.

“We accept we have different opinions.” But in mid-August, Hala, a slender spunky 25-year-old MA student in English literature, saw some interesting news online.

A Jewish woman was marrying an Arab man from Jaffa. How can you protest, it is nothing to protest, it is their personal life.” THE ISSUE of intermarriage or mixed marriage in Israel stirs controversy from time to time and this was especially the case 12 days ago with Morel Malka and Mahmud Mansour.

“The trend took a drastic turn,” claimed the article, up from an average of 40, with most being cases of “women marrying Muslim men.” A 2012 Knesset report said that the number of Jews converting to Islam in Israel had grown to around 100 a year.Israelis who want to intermarry must do so abroad, although most of these cases are not Arabs marrying Jews.In 2011, according to the Central Bureau of Statistics, 8,994 weddings were performed abroad and there were thought to be a total of 92,000 mixed-marriage couples in Israel.Data show that only 27 of these couples were Arab- Jewish, but nonetheless provoked biting emotions among the Israeli public. Camil Fuchs revealed that 75% of the Jewish public and 65% of the Arab public – with Muslims reaching 70% and Christians only 50% – do not want to marry people from other faiths.As for protesting, 72% of Jews surveyed said they would try to prevent a relative from marrying an Arab (Muslim or Christian), whereas only 53% said they would do so if the relative were marrying a non-Arab Christian.Fifty-two percent of Muslims would object to a relative marrying a non-Muslim.ONE OF the issues that some commentators think would reduce the controversy over marriage is to have civil marriage, as in most Western countries.Joel Alan Katz, editor of the Religion and State website, argues, “If there was civil marriage there would be less media attention.” Conservative Rabbi Menachem Creditor of Congregation Netivot Shalom in Berkeley, California, argues that it is understandable that Jews care about maintaining their tradition in family.“The best way to look at it is that love is bigger than organized religion.It feels like loss from a view of peoplehood and tribal tradition, but two people finding each other and getting married is not a political issue.” While he acknowledges the hurt that accompanies a family when a child chooses another religion, Creditor says that “anger, violence and political protest has no place in personal choice.” Reform Rabbi Philip Nadel, an educator from central Israel, thinks the love story should be seen for what it is: “Two people fell in love, and let them live their lives.” As for the debate, it reveals how “isolated” communities are.“How many joint [Arab-Jewish] businesses, how many areas are there people working together?

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