This phenomenon doesn’t happen only with the radical Islam, but with any radical voices or movements which operate in democratic territories, they can freely grow thanks to basic human rights such as freedom of speech, civil, political, social and cultural rights and freedoms. But what happens when radical ideology hurt other human’s freedom and rights? Where does the line cross? Can the local or governmental authorities control and restrict the amount of freedom one can use?

This summer in Israel, among many other issues, an interesting and infuriating story made headlines. It all started with two normal people, like you or me, who felt in love and decided to get married. Unfortunately this couple couldn’t arrange their wedding peacefully like most do, since some people think that this wedding is not an appropriate one, strange right?

So what was so different about this couple that made a group of people very angry to a point that they went to demonstrate outside the wedding and even tried to stop the celebrations? The answer is simple, according to some people this is not a “normal couple”. They are a Jewish woman who converted to Islam and an Israeli Arab man. Meet: Morel and Mahmoud,  the only “sin” they committed was falling in love.

Why do strangers care about who are people getting married with? How come a private manner becomes so public to a point that the court of law has to intervene? Apparently to the members of “Lehava” it does matter and a lot. Lehava whose Hebrew initials stand for: “Preventing Assimilation in the Holy Land”, is an Israeli organization whose primary objective is opposing marriages between Jewish women and non-Jewish, particularly Arab, men. The organization has been described as “far-right-wing” in the Israeli media, and its actions have been denounced by the Israeli President Reuven Rivlin who said they are “rodents gnawing under the shared democratic and Jewish foundation of Israel.”

In the last few years we hear from time to time statements and expressions from the organization’s leader Benzi Gupstein and the rest of the organization members, but there is a big gap between saying and doing, and this time a line was crossed. Even though Gupstein defends his right for free speech, this time it was much more than that.

The anti-assimilation activists published the wedding invitation online, and issued a public call for activists to join a rally outside the place of the celebrations. After a court order barred the protesters from coming within 200 meters of the wedding hall, the demonstration went on as planned with a heavy police presence. The group who opposed the Morel and Mahmoud wedding was reported saying: “”Please come with positive energy and bring loudspeakers and horns. We will ask our sister to return home with us to the Jewish people who are waiting for her” (by Israeli news site Arutz Sheva).

This strange and bizarre situation in my opinion is not acceptable. Not only that this organization Lehava has made racist remarks against Arabs and non Jewish people in general, they are a very sexist and chauvinist group of people since one of their main goals is to “save the daughters of Israel” from assimilating with non Jewish men. What gives the permission to those people to control and interfere with other people’s lives? Why do they see women as human beings who can’t make rational decisions by themselves and need to be saved??

The way I see it, it’s quit ironic that Lehava defends its actions by saying that they have a free right to express their ideology, but at the same time they hurt other civilian’s basic freedom of choice and act. This is a sad situation and this story shouldn’t have happened during 2014- by now I thought people have already realized that every person is free to choose the way he or she wants to live his or her lives. Unfortunately, recently we hear about many radical voices such as Lehava and Isis and other organizations in different cultures, who wish to control people and force them to live their lives in one specific way. I hope that the light will defeat the darkness soon.

Ronie Barel verhuisde van Israel naar Nederland en is blogger bij Lees ook deel één, twee, drie, vier, vijf, zes, zeven en acht van  ‘A diary of an Israeli woman in the Netherlands’.


Ronie Barel

verhuisde van Israël naar Nederland, activist, blogger

Nog geen reactie — begin het gesprek.