Hundreds of angry Jewish protesters have hurled abuse outside the wedding of a Palestinian man and a Jewish woman who converted to Islam after Israeli courts refused to stop them picketing the event.
More than 200 protesters from Lehava, a Jewish group campaigning against assimilation between Jews and Arabs, were branded “racists” by the bride and groom, who also attracted a sizeable support from more secular Israelis.
“We’ve been together for five years and have never encountered such racism,” said 23-year old Morel Malka, who wed 26-year old Mohammad Mansour from Jaffa.
“Why do they care?” she asked. “Why are they getting involved? If they think they’ll get us to give up on each other, it won’t happen.”
The confrontation, which led to four arrests, occurred in Rishon Letzion after Israeli courts refused the couple’s request for a ban on the protest, deciding instead to allow the organised picket, but only at a distance of 200m.
The couple had to spend thousands of pounds on additional security for the guests, as Lehava urged supporters to “bring loudspeakers and horns to ask our sister to return home with us to the Jewish people who are waiting for her”.
Yad L’Achim, another Jewish group campaigning against intermarriage, waded in to the debate, posting photos of the couple online with Moral’s face blurred out and calling on supporters to bombard the bride with messages.
The protests made the couple’s big day into a national issue, with Israel’s President Rivlin describing the demonstrators as “rodents gnawing under the shared democratic and Jewish foundation of Israel”.