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Israel: Prison for Marriage with Non-Jews
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Israel: Prison for Marriage with Non-Jews


Israeli marriage law makes it a two-year prison offence for any Jew marrying outside of the rabbinical authorities in that country, it has emerged after a failed attempt to overturn the rabbinate’s authority in the Israeli parliament.

While it has long been known that the Jews forbid marriage between non-Jews and Jews in Israel, the existence of the prison term as punishment for breaking this law has effectively been kept under wraps until now.

The existence of the prison term punishment was revealed after the Israeli parliament voted down an amendment to Israel’s marriage laws this past week, according to an article in the Times of Israel.

According to that paper, the proposed law amendment sought to decriminalize marriages performed outside the auspices of the Israeli chief rabbinate, was defeated in a 32–25 vote in the Knesset.

All marriages in Israel are, in terms of the Jewish state’s constitution, under the control of the rabbinate, which only performs unions under Jewish law.

This has the practical effect of making it impossible for anyone but a Jew to marry another Jew in Israel.

However, the defeat of the amendment pushed the Jewish lawmakers who proposed it, into making the prison sentence punishment aspect of the law public.

Critically, the Jewish lawmakers who tried to amend the existing law were not seeking to repudiate the ban on Jews marrying non-Jews. Instead, all they were seeking to do was to amend the rules under which rabbis carried out marriages.

In other words, the amendment was not aimed at allowing Jews to marry non-Jews. One Knesset member, Yesh Atid MK Aliza Lavie, who proposed the amendment, explained it this way to the Times of Israel: “[The amendment] opens a door so that tomorrow the state can jail anyone who won’t go to the mikveh [ritual bath], or who won’t have their sons undergo a brit milah [circumcision].”

Lavie’s proposed law would maintain the criminal aspect of weddings performed without registering the marriage. However, instead of a jail term, the couples—and those who perform their weddings—would face a fine, the Times of Israel added.

In conversation with that newspaper, Lavie said that ahead of her new attempt to pass the proposal Wednesday she asked former Religious Affairs deputy minister Eli Ben-Dahan for an appropriate amount for a fine. According to Lavie, he named NIS 500,000 (about $130,000).

The Times of Israel went on to reveal that the prohibition on marriages performed outside of the rabbinate stems from Ottoman law, but that the criminalization of the act was only introduced two years ago as a last-minute addition to the Tzohar Law.

This “Tzohar Law,” which came into effect in January 2014, allows Jews to choose in which town’s rabbinate to register for marriage, mainly as a means of avoiding potential waiting times in their home towns.

In a 2013 global freedom of marriage project, Hiddush ranked Israel on a par with Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, and the rest of the fundamentalist Islamic states, in terms of its marriage laws, which have always forbidden marriages between Jews and non-Jews.

The hypocrisy is clear: Jews and Jewish pressure groups are the first to scream “anti-Semitism” at any suggestion that any other group might have the right to protect its identity, but they all fanatically support Israel, which has laws making it a criminal and prison offence for a Gentile to even marry a Jew.


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