More diplomats marrying Christians
Photo: AP

Trend: Israeli envoys marry non-Jews

At least 20 diplomats, security officers serving abroad end up marrying non-Jewish partners

A growing number of officials serving in Israeli consular delegations abroad have married non-Jews over the last few years, a trend raising ethical and legal concerns in Israel and among Jewish communities abroad, an investigation by Israel’s leading newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth revealed Wednesday.


At least 20 ambassadors, consul generals, and security officers are known to have married Christian women in the countries they serve in. One ambassador is known to have married a Muslim woman with whom he currently lives in Israel. The couple met in a country belonging to the former Soviet Union. The woman refused to convert to Judaism claiming she is an atheist.


The principal argument is that Israeli diplomats are supposed to strengthen the bond between Jewish communities abroad and the Jewish State.


Few complaints were filed to the Foreign Ministry lately by Jewish communities abroad that Israeli diplomats are married to non-Jews, claiming the phenomenon of inter-religious marriage affects their perception of Israel as a state for the Jewish people.


At least 6 ambassadors marry non-Jews


Israel’s ambassador to Georgia, Ehud Eitam, married a local Christian woman while on duty in that country.


The Christian wife of another ambassador insulted members of the local community by wearing a large crucifix during ceremonies at her husband’s official residence. Jewish community leaders in that country, which has not been named, complained: “It doesn’t look good. Which message is this sending out? If Israeli representatives are marrying Christians, how are we to convince our youths to marry Jews?”


Overall, at least six Israeli ambassadors fell in love with non-Jewish women and married them.


The Foreign Ministry does not have guideline on the issue and does not interfere in the personal lives of diplomats. However, diplomats are requested under government regulations to report to their embassy’s security officer on the identity of their romantic partners. Also in accordance with regulations, security authorities carry out an investigation to ensure the partner is not a “hostile element.”


Yet what if the security officers themselves fall in love with local women abroad? The figures point to the status of this trend: A security officer in a Scandinavian country married a local Christian woman of Chinese origins, and the couple is currently living in a Baltic country; a security guard serving in Asia married a Danish woman; another guard married an Indian Christian.


Most non-Jewish partners converted to Judaism with some preferring to keep their faith.


‘Israel can’t tell you who to fall in love with’


In the past, the Foreign Ministry was asked to formulate a code of ethics that would prevent Israeli diplomats from marrying non-Jews. The Ministry resisted the pressure, deciding not to intervene in the private lives of its employees.


The Ministry has the legal right to warn or dismiss employees who have relationships with foreigners abroad if it deems the relationship to present a conflict of interests.


A few years ago, a female diplomat serving in a South American country fell in love with a French diplomat and was asked to relinquish her post. Another female diplomat fell in love with a journalist and was asked to choose between her job and her relationship.


The Ministry has an interesting explanation for the rising trend: “It emanates from loneliness and the adventurous nature of being abroad. A single diplomat is invited to many ceremonies and events where not everyone is Jewish like in Israel. The State of Israel cannot tell you whom to fall in love with. The only concern is security and this is being dealt with appropriately.”


Nissim Ben-Sheetrit, CEO of the Management and Budget department at the Ministry told Yedioth that he has no authority to interfere in the private lives of diplomats unless their love affairs pose a conflict of interests or a security threat.


פרסום ראשון: 12.21.05, 13:17
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