Hundreds of demonstrators gathered in front of a reception hall in Israel to protest the marriage of a Muslim man and a woman who converted from Judaism to Islam.
The protest was led by the Jewish right-wing Lehava group, which is explicit in its opposition of inter-faith marriages.
“It’s time the Muslims leave Israel,” said one of the protesters. “This is a Jewish country. They don’t belong here, they don’t need to be here.”
“They tell us that we’re racist – let’s see one Arab woman come marry a Jew at this hall…then we’ll see who’s racist,” said another protester, Michael Ben-Ari.
Some protesters at the demonstration reportedly carried placards with anti-Arab slogans on them, including “death to Arabs”, “Jewish women for Jewish men”, and “dump that donkey”.
National public figure Baruch Marzel voiced his opposition to the wedding, saying, “Two months ago we sent thousands of soldiers to prevent the danger of Hamas in the south. But the danger assimilation poses to the Jewish nation is a danger a thousand times worse.”
Right-wing demonstrators gather to protest the inter-faith marriage (photo: Reuters)
Some of the protesters, however, were there to show their solidarity for the inter-faith couple. Police set up a barrier between the two groups of protesters to avoid any conflict.
Israeli Minister of Finance Yair Lapid weighed in on the controversial issue, saying he would be upset if his son were to marry a non-Jewish woman.
“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,” he said.
“I think the Jewish people are small, I think we have a heritage, I think we need to preserve it, and this bothers me.”
Lapid did, however, made clear that he does not support the Lehava organisation, the members of which had gathered to protest the wedding.
“When I look at the people who protested outside this wedding, they didn’t bring great honour to the Jewish people. This is an ugly group and it was an ugly protest and a people who 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,” Lapid said.
Protesters show their support for the inter-faith couple (photo: Reuters)