The tragic wedding this Sunday between a Jewish woman and an Arab from Jaffa continues to spark fierce debate among the Israeli public.
Yad L'Achim tried hard to get the wedding cancelled, appealing to the bride in a variety of ways. The organization introduced her to a young woman it had rescued from an Arab village, who shared details of how her husband had turned violent a short while after their marriage.
Yad L'Achim officials also met with the father of the bride and filmed a video of him pleading with her that she return home and cancel the wedding.
Unfortunately, all of the appeals fell on deaf ears and the intermarriage was held in Rishon Lezion, as scheduled.
The invitation to the wedding
|The "congratulatory" letter sent by the health minister to the intermarried couple.
In interviews with the Ynet and Wallah web sites, Mahmoud Mansour, the father of the Arab groom, said "it is clear that the couple's children will be raised as Muslims, in every way." His mother added: "If their first child is a son we'll call him Mahmoud. If it's a girl we'll call her Fatwah."
Finance Minister Yair Lapid said in an interview with the Galei Yisrael radio station: "If my son would come to me tomorrow and say 'Abba, I want to marry a protestant or catholic and my children won't be Jewish,' this would bother me very much. The Jewish nation is small; I think we have a heritage and need to protect it."
MK Shelly Yechimovich, of the Labor party, who was interviewed right after Lapid, said, "For a change, I agree with every word the finance minister said."
Despite Lapid's strong stand, a member of his Yesh Atid party, Health Minister Yael German, actually attended the wedding. Several hours earlier, she took the trouble to send a letter of congratulations, written on official government stationary with the state seal.
As expected, the health minister's behavior sparked outrage.
As a result of the wide media coverage on assimilation and intermarriage, Yad L'Achim's hotline was inundated with calls seeking help. The callers were mostly young women caught up in relationships with minority members who wanted help in getting out of them. Yad L'Achim staffers have already begun dealing with these requests.
In a special article that appeared this week in Yisrael Hayom, Israel's largest-circulation daily, headlined, "A Tunnel Under the Foundations of our Existence," Rav Shmuel Lifschitz, one of Yad L'Achim's leaders, warned that we are speaking of a phenomenon.
"Every year, many hundreds of Jewish girls are marrying members of the minority community. Every year thousands of children are born whose connection to the Jewish people is at best tenuous, and in most cases downright hostile."
Rav Lifschitz added that just as questions are being raised in the media as to why the Israeli defense establishment didn't do anything about the Hamas terror tunnels over the years, questions must be asked as to why nothing was done about these "tunnels" that undermine the existence of the Jewish people in Israel.
"Huge amounts have been spent in Jewish communities abroad in preventing assimilation, but in Israel not one shekel has been invested. This is an absurd situation."
Rav Lifschitz concluded his article with an appeal to the country's decision-makers that they come to their senses "so that we won't find ourselves exposed without a fitting 'Iron Dome.' The rockets have already been fired, the tunnels dug. It's in our hands."