Identity, Religion

Calling all Jewish-Arab couples

Jewschool recently received a request for those living in couples where one of the partners is Jewish (of whatever background) and the other is Arab and Non-Jewish to contribute their personal stories. The call is below:

There’s an old Creole proverb: “Show me who you love, and I’ll show you who you are.” While this phrase
carries with it much wisdom, the complexity of Jewish-Arab relationships defies such a reductive understanding of identity. Despite all of the politics and cultural pressure and suspicion, Jews and Arabs have been finding one another and falling in (and out) of love for decades. A nationally distributed magazine wishes to talk to you and hear your stories of LOVE and heartbreak across the Jewish-Arab divide.
Primarily, we are seeking to understand, in an almost generalizing self-help way, the ways in which such couples navigate through such complicated relationships. We are looking for personal stories that touch upon both the challenges and the rewards of falling in love with “the enemy”. How did the reactions of family and friends, or the intrusions of politics and media bring you closer together or push you closer apart? Secondarily, we would like to speak with these couples about the tragic events of this summer’s war between Israel and Hezbollah, and how violence occurring thousands of miles away has shaped, strengthened or harmed your union
Search for books on Jewish-Arab relationships and you will be disheartened to find almost nothing of any use; perhaps your stories of love and courage will provide guidance to others seeking a way to move forward.

If you are interested in participating, please contact Joshua at [email protected]

12 thoughts on “Calling all Jewish-Arab couples

  1. As someone in an interacial relationship now, something like this, that puts deeply personal relationships on display in a socio-political context, is a little greasy. There’s something disturbing to me about having something as intense as ‘love’ vivisected for the masses… if my relationship with my wife was turned into a Political Statement About Black/Jewish American Relations, I’d be a little nervous about the whole thing. Modern marriages aren’t usually based on political platforms – at least not explicitly or in a vacuum. And using cosmopolitan marriages as an example of ‘how we can all get along’ is sort of vulgar and unappetizing.

  2. This is an excellent idea. These jewish/arab relationships only work because of mutual ignorance/indifference on the part of the couples for their own heritage. Reminding them of this will serve to prevent them in the future and maybe cause a couple to break up.

  3. Monk,
    I think you miss the point. The goal is not to make a political statement out of love, but to recreate a conversation and a resource for people who have grappled with some of the issues involved. This project will also provide some insight into these complexities for folks who do not experience them firsthand. Like all intersections of the personal and the political, this one is complicated, and shedding some light onto that complexity is beneficial for all.

  4. Miriam:”FM — Can you try, just a little, to study Torah? Really, it is a book of love, not hate.”
    So love supersedes a commandment not to marry a gentile. Or am I now reading too much in to your comment?

  5. Uh, remember when Aaron and Miriam were complaining to God that Tzipporah was not Jewish? And God got so pissed that he turned Miriam into a leper for a week?
    PS You never know who you’re going to fall in love with. As long as the great-grandchildren are Jewish, what difference does it make?

  6. miriam”Uh, remember when Aaron and Miriam were complaining to God that Tzipporah was not Jewish? And God got so pissed that he turned Miriam into a leper for a week?”
    So nobody gets to marry gentiles except moses? Sounds a bit like the privileges my former prophet mohammed gave himself with regards to his 8 wives.
    “PS You never know who you’re going to fall in love with.”
    I can come up with 613 different excuses for not following Torah. One for every mitzvah.
    “As long as the great-grandchildren are Jewish, what difference does it make? ”
    Wasn’t the commandment not to marry a gentile given exactly to make sure that happens? In fact that commandment is followed immediately by this reason.

  7. Perhaps I’m missing something, but I’ve never seen anything in Torah forbidding the marriage between Jew and gentile, which is why I used the example of Moishe and Tzipporah, and what happened when their relationship was attacked.
    FM, would you be so kind as to point me in the direction of the prohibition?

  8. 2. and when the Lord thy God shall deliver them [the Hittites, Girgashites, and Cannanites] up before thee, and thou shall smite them: then thou shalt utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor show mercy unto them; 3. neither shalt thou make marriages with them: thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son. 4. For he will turn away thy son from following Me.”4

  9. Good citation from Formermuslim. And consistent with the literalism that is hallmark and most cherished attribute of the religious Right, I will immediately strike the names of all Hittites, Girgashites, and Cannanites from the list of women whom I’d consider as prospective mates.

  10. David Smith has confused the Christian and Jewish faiths, it seems. “Literalism” is foreign to the Jewish tradition.
    Miriam’s romantic view of love is appealing, especially in our Western context, but it is not that of the Torah.
    Monk Eastman seems to characterize Jewish-Arab relationships as “interracial”. I find that strange, and a little bit disturbing.
    I was in a close relationship with a Palestinian woman for some time. Eventually it did not work, because of our religions and traditions — we got along fine and shared lots of the same values, but knew we both came from communities where marriage is not the individualistic Western romantic gesture which characterizes post-Enlightenment European thinking, but a communal gesture involving the coming together of families. And so it was not our decision alone to make. We eventually broke up for that reason. It was difficult.
    I will not contact this Joshua because, to be honest, I don’t see the point. It is difficult. It should be difficult. End of story.

  11. “Former Muslim,” you are vastly misinformed about both the Torah and the Qur’aan alike. The Tanakh is rife with examples of non-Jewish, non-12-Tribes, marriages, the most notable being between Moshe and Tzipporah (as example has been given). Of course there is also the notion that Moshe married an Ethiopian woman; a view generally maintained until the Medieval period (12th Century if i remember correctly).
    The prohibition or general tendency against marrying non-Jews is not rooted in the Torah but in response to Diaspora Anti-Semitism and a desire for cultural preservation. Still, it is invented and cannot be religiously justified by any critically thinking person.

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