Israeli wedding of Jew, Muslim draws rightwing protest

Rishon Lezion - Israeli police on Sunday blocked more than 200 far-right Israeli protesters from rushing guests at a wedding of a Jewish woman and Muslim man as they shouted "death to the Arabs" in a sign of tensions stoked by the Gaza war.

Several dozen police, including members of the force's most elite units, formed human chains to keep the protesters from the wedding hall's gates and chased after many who defied them. Four protesters were arrested, and there were no injuries.

A lawyer for the couple, Maral Malka, aged 23, and Mahmoud Mansour, aged 26, both from the Jaffa section of Tel Aviv, had unsuccessfully sought a court order to bar the protest. He obtained backing for police to keep protesters 200m from the wedding hall in the Tel Aviv suburb of Rishon Lezion.

The protest highlighted a rise in tensions between Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel in the past two months amid a month long Gaza war, the kidnap and slaying of three Israeli teens in June followed by a revenge choking and torching to death of a Palestinian teen in the Jerusalem area.

A group called Lehava, which organised the wedding demonstration, has harassed Jewish-Arab couples in the past, often citing religious grounds for their objections to intermarriage. But they have rarely protested at the site of a wedding.

The groom told Israel's Channel 2 TV the protesters failed to derail the wedding or dampen its spirit. "We will dance and be merry until the sun comes up. We favour coexistence," he said.

'Death to the Arabs' threats chanted

Protesters, many of them young men wearing black shirts, denounced Malka, who was born Jewish and converted to Islam before the wedding, as a "traitor against the Jewish state," and shouted epithets of hatred towards Arabs including "death to the Arabs." They sang a song that urges, "May your village burn down."

A few dozen left-wing Israelis held a counter-protest nearby holding flowers, balloons and a sign that read: "Love conquers all."

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, sworn in last month to succeed Shimon Peres, criticised the protest as a "cause for outrage and concern" in a message on his Facebook page.

"Such expressions undermine the basis of our coexistence here, in Israel, a country that is both Jewish and democratic," Rivlin, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's right-wing Likud bloc, said.

Lehava spokesperson and former lawmaker Michael Ben-Ari denounced Jews intermarrying with non-Jews of any denomination as "worse than what Hitler did," alluding to the murder of 6 million Jews across Europe in World War Two.

A surprise wedding guest was Israel's health minister, Yael German, a centrist in Netanyahu's government. She told reporters as she headed inside that she saw the wedding and the protest against it as "an expression of democracy".

Arab citizens make up about 20% of Israel's majority Jewish population, and the overwhelming majority of Arabs are Muslims. Rabbinical authorities who oversee most Jewish nuptials in Israel object to intermarriage fearing it will diminish the ranks of the Jewish people.

Many Israeli couples who marry out of their faith do so abroad.

Malka's father, Yoram Malka, said on Israeli television he objected to the wedding, calling it "a very sad event". He said he was angry that his daughter had converted to Islam. Of his now son-in-law, he said, "My problem with him is that he is an Arab."

Kirsty Prinsloo 2014/08/18 05:48:45 AM
The only thing wrong with mixed marriages is the fools that have an issue with it.
Anthoula Joshua 2014/08/18 06:28:42 AM
All this article proves is that the Israeli government is not racist and that they are a democracy. That Jews and Muslims can love each other. The protesters are the minority in Israel. So is Hamas. The majority of Israeli's and Palestinians want to live in peace. As they did long ago.
Voltaire Gee 2014/08/18 06:31:35 AM
The human species will never be at peace as long as we still have Religion, culture, ethic pride and nationalism. All of the above have done nothing but create false "them vs us" dichotomies and the sooner we realise that we are all earthlings, the better for our species.
Michael Ndalama Mwale 2014/08/18 06:34:37 AM
If my daughter marries a Muslim, I would disown her.
Mohammed Salajee 2014/08/18 06:53:54 AM
Wish her all the happiness !!!!butttt wait & see hope she's not a target being bombed.In war always two sides to the story.peace for all.have a nice day inThe sun fellow S African's but the Palestinians every minute living in fear.plz God send another Mandela to the region.Amen
Stephen AndKathy Whiteley 2014/08/18 06:58:15 AM
It is the way of the world. Whether our descendants will all be Chinese or English speaking coloureds I do not know, but we are made for love. S
Arthur Salvado 2014/08/18 07:02:14 AM
Death to Arabs ? Damn, I thought that the Arabs were the discriminating ones. I thought it was Arab injustices that chanted "death to Jews" . I wonder who learnt from whom. It's really not that complicated. They just hate each other . Is that close enough to the truth ??
Bob Mearly 2014/08/18 07:08:04 AM
Oh and where are all those that claim Israel is an apartheid state?
Abner Mophethe 2014/08/18 07:11:39 AM
If this doesnt prove that israelis are bad-asses,then nothing ever will
Alan Robertson 2014/08/18 07:42:35 AM
The jewish biblevand the koran both teach respect for human life and God's love and mercy for everyone. ..don't these people read their own scriptures?!?!