Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Sad Story

Sad story about the consequences of the denial of the right to civil marriage in Israel.

"I want to stand under the huppa, I want to be married by a rabbi and I want to hear the seven blessings. I want a Jewish ceremony."

The problem is, the only wedding that is legally recognised for Jews in Israel is the Orthodox ceremony and this is a wedding service [the couple will not] accept.

Like many other secular Israelis, they find the ceremony archaic and humiliating

Only 20% of Israel's population are Orthodox Jews, yet the Rabbinate, the chief council of Orthodox rabbis, has ultimate authority over Jewish weddings, funerals and all other areas where religion and daily life come together.

[...]

Irit must declare she is a virgin, she must not talk during the ceremony and she cannot sign her own wedding contract.

"I respect Irit as my equal," says Eli. "I will not start our married life with a ritual that demeans her."

But Israel is one of only a handful of countries which still has no civil marriage, so there is no easy alternative.


Should the US put pressure on Israel to show more respect the rights of women? It would probably be easy to find some neocon to agree to that, if it was a Muslim nation and Muslim law was the source of the offending policy.

No Civil Wedding

UPDATE:

This post on Robert Lindsay's blog notes that the widely condemed Nazi Nuremberg Laws of 1935 also prohibited intermarriage (and sexual intercourse) between Jews and Gentiles.

There certainly was something breathtaking in the naïveté with which the prosecution (during the trial of Adolf Eichmann, famous Nazi war criminal, in Israel in 1961) denounced the infamous Nazi Nuremberg Laws of 1935, which had prohibited intermarriage and sexual intercourse between Jews and Germans.

The better informed among the correspondents were well aware of the irony [with Israeli law], but they did not mention it in their reports.

18 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

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9/14/2005 05:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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9/14/2005 05:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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9/14/2005 05:03:00 PM  
Blogger Robert Lindsay said...

Thx for the link, Brian! It's an HONOR to be linked by the Gorilla. The Gorilla is da man! Now you need a linkbank, oh boy, do you. You'll be in the blogroll soon. I had no idea that the Gorilla frequented by humble lil blog. I am starstruck, Gorilla, really. By the way, how much traffic does this blog get?

9/15/2005 03:22:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree that Israel should have civil marriage.

But the claim that there is "no alternative" is incorrect.

Israel recognizes foreign marriages, so interfaith couples or ones that don't want an orthodox ceremony can simply get a marriage certificate from another country. People regularly make the quick trip to Cyprus, or just get a "marriage by mail" from Paraguay.

They can then have whatever ceremony they want from whatever rabbi they want. It is just that the Israeli government will not recognize the marriage FROM THAT CEREMONY, but will technically recognize the foreign marriage.

It is anachronistic, but in practice not really limiting.

9/15/2005 06:18:00 AM  
Blogger Brian said...

The fact that so few other countries lack the right to civil marraige speaks volumes as to just how extreme a position this is.

How would the Jewish community in another country react if similar laws were passed in that country. I can only imagine the howls.

I actually have to laguh thinking about all the apoplectic faces I would see on TV if such a law were proposed. I can only imagine Alan Dershowitz' eyes poping even further out of his head on CNN.

They would compare such law with the Nuremburg laws, or course.

Do you think they would accept the option to go to another country to get married? Yeah, right.

9/15/2005 06:54:00 AM  
Blogger Brian said...

Robert, traffic varies.

After I post a fair amount it bumps up to 1000 hits a day or more. If I only post a little bit it can go as low as 200/day.

Yes, I read your blog, it is very interesting.

Remember, however, this is GIR II.

Not as impressive as GIR I.

9/15/2005 06:59:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anachronistic, but not really extreme. As I pointed out, in effect, anyone can get a foreign marriage registered. With "marriages by mail" from countries like Paraguay, it can be done easily, even if not so romantically. But again, you can hold whatever service you want.

Lebanon, which has always been considered the most cosmopolitan and pluralistic of the neighboring countries, also doesn't have civil marriage.

At the same time, Israel is one of the most progressive countries in terms of same sex partnerships. Although they have not reached true marriage equality like Spain or Canada, Israel recognizes common law marriages, including same sex partnerships

Simply put, it's not nearly the simple question you make it out to be, which you do because you have turned gorilla's blog into a "bash Israel at all cost, regardless of the truth" blog. Suffice it to say that this is not going to put a dent in the affinity most Americans have for Israel, another democratic and pluralistic country in an outpost of ethnocentric tyrannies.

9/15/2005 07:43:00 AM  
Blogger Brian said...

The excuse making and rationalizing is absolutely astounding.

The point is that an extra threshold is put in place to discourage out-of-kind marriage.

No matter that there are ways around this barrier, the barrier (and therefore stigma) still remains. It works to keep the diffenet elements of Israeli society separate under the color of law.

It would be unacceptable for a similar law to be passed in a Western society without complete outrage, particularly from Jewish organizations.

Imagine if people of different races had to go outside the country to get married. Would anyone accept the "anachronism" argument?

And the fact that Israel might accept same sex marriages says more about how little they think of marriages performed outside Israel than how open they are.

"Jews marrying non-jews, mem marrying men - hey if that how these godless countries want to behave so be it. But we won't allow it to happen in our own country".

Finally, your over extrapolation of everything, like claiming this blog is nothing but an Israel bashing blog, makes you look like a paranoid caricature of a real person.

Can someone criticize Israel without you worrying that the next kristallnacht is around the corner?

9/15/2005 09:13:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But you must be corrected once again. The law does not prohibit interfaith or interethnic marriages. More accurately, the law allows religious authorities to determine matters of "personal status." This is actually a holdover from the Ottoman era, and not particularly unique to Zionism.

I'm not sure how you can categorize my response as excuse making, since I've said all along that the law is an anachronism and needs to be changed. What is inappropriate is for you to take it grossly out of context and compare it to Nazi Nuremburg laws.

What's funny is that you and so many others complain that Jews improperly invoke the memory of the Holocaust, when no one supporting Israel here has done such a thing. The only person who has played the Holocaust card is yourself.

Brian, trust me. I do not think you are attempting the next kristallnacht. And you wouldn't be competant to even if you tried.

9/15/2005 09:23:00 AM  
Anonymous David said...

So, after repeated attempts at diversion, anonymous is finally recognizing that the issue is the motivation behind the restriction. (Not whether someone has found loopholes in the law. Not whether homosexuals are allowed to get married.) But not to worry, he assures us. Israel's restriction on out-of-kind marriages is not evidence of "ethnocentric tyranny" (which only exists among it's neighbors); instead it's just "actually a holdover from the Ottoman era, and not particularly unique to Zionism."

I am quite surprised to learn this, because I don't remember the Zionists being particularly sentimental about preserving the original institutions of the land they conquered. They were, after all, European colonists.

Well, he may be right, but it's worth remembering that Hannah Arendt certainly didn't think so--

"Israeli citizens, religious and nonreligious, seem agreed upon the desirability of having a law which prohibits intermarriage. They are also agreed upon the undesirability of a written constitution in which such a law would embarrassingly have to be spelled out." (Eichmann, 1965)

9/15/2005 10:13:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I am quite surprised to learn this, because I don't remember the Zionists being particularly sentimental about preserving the original institutions of the land they conquered. They were, after all, European colonists."

Well, then be surprised, because the relevant laws include the 1917 Ottoman Law on Family Rights. Israeli legal jurisprudence is a hodge podge of Ottoman, British Mandate, and "home grown" Israeli law. I'm sorry if this shatters any preconceptions.

As for motivation, regardless of what Arendt perceived in 1950s, today the attitude is more or less that of apathy because a) it doesn't affect most people and b) because it really isn't that hard to get around. Most Israelis would support civil marriage, or at least not object to it. But there is a small but vocal opposition which wants to retain its control over the institutions of marriage. When opinion is largely divided between "I'm against it" and "I don't really care" is when inertia sets in.

Again, I don't like it myself, but it simply is not something I, or virtually anyone else (including interfaith couples) lose sleep over.

For what it's worth, I say this as a participant in an interfaith marriage, as well as a product of one.

9/15/2005 10:43:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's even more bizarre is that the article doesn't even show the problem that Brian purports to show, that the couple wanted to marry but couldn't because of the lack of civil weddings.

The couple was willing to have a reform service. Whether they would have legally registered the marriage or not is not clear. The problem was between the families, in particular the groom's family, who insisted that their son have a traditional religious marriage. That was the real source of strife and conflict, not Israeli law.

In fact, as the article shows, nearly one third of all Israelis get married and choose not to have a traditional Orthodox marriage. This includes interfaith couples, but more often couples who are both Jewish and just don't want a traditional Orthodox wedding.

It may be inconvenient to leave the country, or rather unromantic to go to the Paraguyan consulate to get a marriage certificate. But it is pretty clear that Israel law is not stopping people from marrying whom they chose, or forcing them to have an orthodox wedding. Viewed in this context, the comparison to the Nuremburg Laws is even more grotesque.

9/15/2005 12:46:00 PM  
Blogger Robert Lindsay said...

After I post a fair amount it bumps up to 1000 hits a day or more. If I only post a little bit it can go as low as 200/day.


That's actually extremely good. You should put some ads up with that kind of traffic. Lot of bloggers would kill for those #'s.

Remember, however, this is GIR II.

Not as impressive as GIR I.


Aw heck I know. Looks like the original Gorilla got the willies and hightailed it out of here. You're probably not at liberty to talk about that, though you obviously know Gor I or you couldn't have taken over his blog. ;) The original Gor was a tough act to beat, Brian. I certainly couldn't, and you're doing a commendable job. Gor I was focussed on the Israeli/Jewish Lobby in the US, and he seemed to have a lot of inside info on the Lobby that ordinary folks, like you and me, just don't have.

9/15/2005 09:07:00 PM  
Blogger Robert Lindsay said...

They can then have whatever ceremony they want from whatever rabbi they want. It is just that the Israeli government will not recognize the marriage FROM THAT CEREMONY, but will technically recognize the foreign marriage.

Great Anon. Straight out of Kafka or Alice in Wonderland. Really makes a lot of sense (sarcasm).

Lebanon, which has always been considered the most cosmopolitan and pluralistic of the neighboring countries, also doesn't have civil marriage.

Ahh but for completely different reasons, little one! Lebanon does this to reduce the possibility of tribalism, ethnocentrism, and ethnic strife, while Israel's choice serves to reinforce ethnic chauvinism, not to oppose it. And thx for noting that Israel is a great place because in some ways it resembles the backwards Arabs. Some recommendation!

The bit about gays is laudable, but also outside the bounds of this discussion. That's called "changing the subject", Anon. It's a diversion and a logical fallacy.

And whether or not Gor II is a bash Israel blog is not really relevant. Gor I was a bash Israel Lobby blog and it received massive abuse for that. If Israel doesn't want to be bashed, she shouldn't be so "bashable".

Suffice it to say that this is not going to put a dent in the affinity most Americans have for Israel,

The notion that most Americans feel affinity of Israel is interesting but perhaps not so true. When asked whom they support, Israel or the Palestinians, Israel gets 45% support and the Pallies get 14%. 45% sound like majority support to you, Anon?

another democratic and pluralistic country in an outpost of ethnocentric tyrannies.

In one sense, Israel is a pretty democratic place. Freedom of speech is great. But in some ways, it is one of the most wildly undemocratic states on Earth. What's so democratic about official state campaigns like "Judaization of the Galilee"? What if the US had a policy called "Whitening of the Deep South", which involved surrounding Black communities with White ones so as to isolate the Black towns, and then starving the Black towns of resources? Israel may not be a tyranny in some respects, but it is surely one of the most ethnocentric nations on Earth.

The notion that this law is some kind of a holdover from the Ottomans is pretty comical! So the Israelis just blindly "held over" most laws and customs from the Ottomans? How about Ottoman laws that mandated dhimmitude for the Jews of Palestine? How come Israel didn't leave that nice custom in place, as long as they were just keeping Ottoman stuff going anyway? Answer: the Ottoman law in question served the purposes of Zionism, so it was left in place.

The comparison between the Nuremberg Laws and Israel's de facto ban on Jews marrrying non-Jews is apt. Sure the Nuremberg Laws were bad in other ways, but on this score, Israel and Nuremberg line right up. And Israel's laws do a darn good job of keeping Israeli Jews from marrying non-Jews, despite this bullshitting spree of yours to try to deny that.

9/15/2005 09:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Ahh but for completely different reasons, little one! Lebanon does this to reduce the possibility of tribalism, ethnocentrism, and ethnic strife, while Israel's choice serves to reinforce ethnic chauvinism, not to oppose it."

A more idiotic statement could not be made. As noted above, the countries had such laws because traditionally, matters of marriage were considered to be "personal status" and therefore subject to religious jurisdiction. Both countries have essentially the same reasons for continuing, that there is a vocal group that wants to continue, and that most other people just don't care. Every couple of years, a civil marriage bill comes up, has lukewarm support, and then sits around because it just isn't a priority. It has nothing to do with chauvanism in either country.

"The bit about gays is laudable, but also outside the bounds of this discussion."

Not at all, because Brian's point in posting this article (with a misleading description) was to portray Israel as some sort of close minded intolerant society. It is perfectly legit to point out that, in fact, Israeli is significantly more tolerant than most other countries, including "enlightened" western ones.

"Ottoman law in question served the purposes of Zionism, so it was left in place."

And this is bad because?

"The comparison between the Nuremberg Laws and Israel's de facto ban on Jews marrrying non-Jews is apt."

Except that the two laws are completely different. Israeli law doesn't criminalize relations between two people. It simply leaves marriage to the religious authorities, while allowing loopholes that nearly a third of all Israelis who marry take advantage of (whether interfaith or just not interested in an Orthodoc marriage).

9/16/2005 07:47:00 AM  
Blogger Robert Lindsay said...

More dissembling. Lebanon's civil code laws are intended to allow each religious group rights over such matters, so one group does not dominate another in a racist, fascist, Nazi-like fashion, like the Jews in Israel next door, for instance. It's intended to give each group a stake in the game and keep them from getting angry.

Despite your NOLA flood of lies on this page, Isreal's marriage law serves one purpose only: to strongly discourage Jews from marrying non-Jews. The fact that few Isreali Jews marry non-Jews shows the law works quite well. The law is not intended to give non-Jews a stake in the game, as for the most part, they are treated like garbage in the Jewish state anyway.

Brian was not intending to show Israel was an "intolerant" state, IMHO, he was trying to show it was a RACIST state, which it is, in spades. As gays have nothing to do with the Jewish racist character of the state, the state doesn't worry much about them, and feels free to be tolerant in this area. Giving gays rights in Israel does not threaten the Jews - intermarriage does! Simple.

Looks to me like both Nuremberg and Israel made it illegal for Jews to marry nonJews inside the state. Israel has some weird loophole, but the law works still is very effective. Both laws were intended to keep Jews and non-Jews from marrying; and both laws were extremely effective at that.

These discussions with you are starting to take on the familiar dissembling sophistry of 1000's of similar discussions I've had with Jews about this stuff.

9/16/2005 08:29:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"More dissembling. Lebanon's civil code laws are intended to allow each religious group rights over such matters,"

As is Israel's laws. Each religion has authority over such matters. You seem to think that the only problem is when Jews are a large part of that equation.

The rest of your post is just the recycled charges of "racism" even though Israel is a remarkably pluralistic, tolerant and diverse state.

9/16/2005 08:42:00 AM  

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