Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid criticized on Sunday the “disgraceful” response by several right-wing politicians to the recent wedding of a well-known Israeli Arab news anchor and an Israeli Jewish actor, while saying he personally opposes interfaith marriage.
Last week, Interior Minister Aryeh Deri was joined by two Knesset members in publicly berating Israeli Arab news anchor Lucy Aharish and Jewish actor Tsahi Halevi, star of international TV hit “Fauda,” for getting married in an interfaith wedding a day earlier.
“What a disgrace,” Lapid said of the responses, which included personal insults about the couple and a call for Aharish to convert to Judaism.
“Say someone is not happy with this wedding, can you not wait a week? You have to use the happiest day of two young people who love each other to offend them?” Lapid said in an interview with Army Radio.
Deri had told the same station on Thursday that the celebrity union was “not the right thing to do,” saying that “assimilation is consuming the Jewish people.” He said that with a Muslim mother and Jewish father, the couple’s children would face “serious problems” in Israel, and urged Aharish to convert to Judaism.
Likud MK Oren Hazan suggested Aharish had “seduced a Jewish soul in order to hurt our nation and prevent more Jewish offspring,” and Jewish Home MK Bezalel Smotrich said that Halevi would become “one of the lost Jews who had given in to assimilation.”
But while Lapid chided his fellow lawmakers for their comments, the self-styled leader of Israel’s secular mainstream made a point of stressing his own opposition to interfaith marriages.
“I have a problem with intermarriage. We have not recovered yet from the Holocaust — there are fewer Jews in the world than there was during the Holocaust — and there is something right in trying to grow,” Lapid said.
“I would rather the Jewish people grow and not decrease,” he added.
Culture Minister Miri Regev echoed Lapid in a separate interview with Hadashot News on Sunday, saying that she wishes the couple “best wishes and a strong partnership,” but adding “it’s no secret that I oppose mixed marriages.”
Aharish, 37, is Israel’s first Arab presenter on prime-time television (currently on Reshet 13). In 2015, she was awarded the honor of lighting a torch at the national Independence Day ceremony on Mount Herzl for her work as a “trailblazing Muslim journalist.”
Halevi, 43, is a singer and actor from Petah Tikva best known for his work on hit Israeli political-thriller show “Fauda.” This year, Halevi is playing late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi in the Netflix movie “The Angel.”
According to reports, Aharish and Halevi have been in a relationship for years, but had kept it under wraps until their civil wedding Wednesday night. The location of the beachfront event was also kept secret to avoid drawing protesters from Muslim and Jewish extremist groups, Hadashot news reported.