The supreme court case in Israel of Stamka v Minister of the Interior (1999) (English, Hebrew) decided the immigration process for non-Jewish spouses of Israeli Citizens. The conclusion was that there should be a higher level of investigation for these spouses attempting to immigrate to Israel in order to legitimize the marriage. This appears in Section 7 of the Israel citizenship law, but this supreme court case interprets its meaning in practice. Navigating the process can take from 5-7 years, but do not let that stop you from being with your loved one in Israel.
What does intermarriages mean? And who does this apply to?
In this case, intermarriages means marriage between any Israeli citizen and someone who is both not a citizen, and is not Jewish. If you are not an Israeli citizen and you are marrying someone who is also not an Israeli citizen, this does not apply to you. If you are an Israeli citizen and you are marrying a Jewish person, this does not apply to you. If you are an Israeli citizen (Jewish or not Jewish), and you are marrying someone who is not Jewish and is not an Israeli citizen, this applies to you.
Where it all began …
The Jewish people are a people – a nation. When the founders of Israel signed the Declaration of Independence they agreed that the “re-establishing in Eretz-Israel the Jewish State … would open the gates of the homeland wide to every Jew and confer upon the Jewish people the status of a fully privileged member of the comity of nations.” (Knesset) This is not exclusive to people that practice within the Jewish faith, rather anyone that has Jewish ancestry (parent, grandparent) and is therefore part of the Jewish community.
The Rights of Jewish Israelis with Non-Jewish Spouses
The argument for quick immigration for a marriage between Jewish Israeli and Non-Jewish and Non Israeli is based in history. For example, the Holocaust demonstrates how anyone who affiliated with Jews would face the same persecution as Jewish individuals. Regardless of the purpose of the marriage, if someone was married to a Jew, they were considered just as dirty. The Nuremberg Laws specifically prohibited such a marriage. The Jewish community stands to protect all people that are part of the community – all people that would be persecuted as part of the community. The Jewish community must band together to protect all those who are in danger because of Judaism.
Moreover, one of the purposes of Israel is to safeguard the culture of Judaism across the diaspora. Many early Zionist thinkers argued that the greatest danger to Judaism is assimilation. Without Israel protecting all Jewish people and allowing them to come, Israel invites assimilation to those who are only looking for love. Your marriage is valid, and you shouldn’t allow a misguided court decision to dampen your enthusiasm for immigrating to your homeland with your spouse.
What about other Israelis and their non-Israeli and non-Jewish spouses?
Israeli Law entitles Israeli citizens to marry whomever they please. The Basic Law of Human Dignity and Liberty of Israel specifically states that “every person has a right to privacy and to intimacy in his life,” and therefore can marry whomever they like, regardless of nationality, sex, or any other common barriers to marriage. While the Israeli government agrees, it does involve some bureaucratic processes that may consume some of your time. Do not worry though, although there is a process, with the right knowledge of rules and procedures you and your spouse can live in Israel together in the quickest time possible.
Read more about applying for Israeli citizenship here.
Why are people in favor of further scrutiny wrong?
While some argue for regulating non-Jewish spousal immigration based on religious laws prohibiting inter-marriage, this argument falls short because Judaism encompasses more than just a religious belief. Judaism is a community that accepts everyone that is part of the family. Religious laws that dictate individuals’ lives within their own households contradict the existence of secular Jews. Secular Jews exist, and they are persecuted the same as religious Jews. Therefore, religious laws that govern individuals – laws that only affect individuals, like a law affecting who people marry – have no place in the state of Israel.
Are you interested in learning more?
For a more in depth understanding of the Israeli citizenship law, read this. Immigrating to any country can be complex. Don’t allow bureaucratic processes to hinder your reunion with loved ones in Israel.