We have been talking about interfaith relationships in Israel for a long time. We know many in the country are strongly opposed to intermarriage, but a recent story in the newspaper Ha’aretz showcases the surprising depth of that hostility. According to the paper, an Israeli man and a Filipino woman wanted to get married. Their request was denied by the Interior Ministry because of “doubts about the sincerity of the relationship.” But the story doesn’t end there. Ha’aretz reports that a document from the Interior Ministry clearly indicates that their request was doomed from the start.
A leaked memo from the ministry reads, “Too many Filipinas are going this road. It must stop and they must be removed from the country.” Whether this is a reaction to intermarriage (as some have speculated on the Ha’aretz website) or an effort to curb illegal Filipino immigration, it’s a remarkably cynical and narrow-minded position to take. With such a broad generalization, the Interior Ministry seems to have already decided that Israelis who fall in love with Filipinos simply don’t deserve to live their lives together. What’s stopping this philosophy from being applied to Israelis who falls in love with any foreigner? It’s also important to note that many Filipinos come to Israel to support older adults. They are good enough to care for our aging parents, but not good enough to marry.
Regardless of the Interior Ministry’s justification for its point of view, we believe this is another example of just how far some will go to prevent interfaith relationships. Will the fear of repercussions stop Israelis from dating Filipinos? Probably not. Fear has never worked when it comes to curbing “taboo” relationships. It hasn’t stopped the growing number of relationships between Israelis and Arabs, and it hasn’t stopped intermarriage here in North America. Jewish and Israeli history is filled with intermarriage and diversity. There is no justifiable reason to deny two people – no matter their backgrounds – the right to fall in love and live happily ever after.
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