Christianity Today Divorced From Facts in Story on Marriage Law

One month after Christianity Today first received word from CAMERA that an Aug. 4 on-line column by Gary Burge contains multiple factual errors, the editors have made no move to correct the record.

In “Speaking Out: Israel’s Anti-Family Values,” Burge erroneously reports: “Modern Israel has about 6.5 million Jewish citizens and about 1 million Arab citizens.” In fact, according to Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics, the country’s Jewish population is 5.4 million, and the Arab population is 1.2 million.

Burge also clearly misunderstands the basics of the new marriage law passed by the Israeli Parliament, which he erroneously believes applies only to Israeli Arabs who marry Palestinians from the territories. He writes: “No such ethnic marriage laws apply to Jewish choices in marriage partners.” In fact, the law applies equally to Israeli Jews and Israeli Arabs, though Arabs are more likely to marry Palestinians than are Jews. In other words, if a Jewish Israeli man wants to marry a Palestinian woman, she too will be prohibited from moving to Israel. (See for a translation of the law.) The new “temporary order” states that “the Minister of the Interior shall not grant citizenship to a resident of the region pursuant to the Citizenship Law . . . ” The original Citizenship Law stipulates: “The spouse of a person who is an Israeli citizen or has applied for Israel citizenship and meets or is exempt from the requirements of Section 5(a) may obtain Israel citizenship by naturalization even if he or she does not meet the requirements of Section 5(a).” Notice that the law states the “The spouse of a person who is an Israeli citizen.” It does not specify “Israeli Arab citizen.”

He then goes on to mislead readers: “And up till now, they [Arab citizens of Israel] have been free to marry anyone they wish.” Arab citizens of Israel are still free to marry anyone they wish. Israel’s new law prohibits Arabs from the Palestinian territories who marry Israelis–Jewish and Arab Israelis, not just Arabs, as Burge misstates–from moving to Israel. This is not tantamount to prohibiting Arab citizens from choosing marital partners.

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