The Rules of Engagement

As July turns into August, the thoughts of repressed white men turn to ... marriage?

In Israel, the Knesset hurriedly passed a law preventing Palestinians who marry Israelis from obtaining Israeli citizenship or residency. (Anyone else who marries an Israeli remains entitled to Israeli citizenship.) As reported by Justin Huggler of the Guardian, "Israeli Arabs who marry Palestinians from the West Bank or Gaza Strip will either have to move to the occupied territories, or live apart from their husband or wife. Their children will be affected too: from the age of 12 they will be denied citizenship or residency and forced to move out of Israel."

The ostensible reason for this legislation is this: The Israeli Arab community, already 20 percent of the population, is growing faster than the Jewish population ... and, over the past 10 years, more than 100,000 Palestinians have become Israeli citizens through marriage (mostly to Israeli Arabs).

Those in favor of the law cloaked their bigotry in the garb of anti-terrorism. "We are in a state of war -- not with the English, or the Americans, or the Dutch, or the Slovaks -- we are at war with our neighbors, the Palestinians," Gideon Sa'ar, of the Likud Party, said before the vote. "It's a tragic reality."

"This law comes to address a security issue," said Gideon Ezra, a cabinet minister. "Since September 2000 we have seen a significant connection, in terror attacks, between Arabs from the West Bank and Gaza and Israeli Arabs."

By "significant," Ezra apparently means the 20 (out of 100,000) Israeli Arabs who allegedly have been involved in "suicide bombings or other militant attacks."

Moving west to that other Holy Land, the Vatican issued a 12-page set of guidelines condemning same-sex marriage. The Vatican declared homosexual relationships to be "gravely immoral," equated the adoption of children by gay couples to "doing violence," and called on politicians to defend "the common good of society."

The ostensible reason for this document (released in seven languages) is this: "Only traditional marriage between men and women can fulfill God's plan for the reproduction of the human race." No mention was made of gravely immoral priests "doing violence" to the children they abuse and how that might impact upon "the common good of society."

Finally, crossing the pond to god's country, President Bush had this to say: "Marriage is between a man and a woman, and I think we ought to codify that one way or the other. We've got lawyers looking at the best way to do that."

Despite the fact that his predecessor, Bill Clinton, signed the Defense of Marriage in 1996, the apparent purpose of Bush's statement was to bring about "a definition of marriage."

Afterwards, White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan helped clarify things: "The president doesn't believe in casting stones. He believes we ought to treat one another with dignity and respect."

The holy trinity of Bush, the Pope and the Knesset surely have lawyers looking at the best way to do that, too.

Mickey Z. is the author of The Murdering of My Years: Artists and Activists Making Ends Meet, and an editor at Wide Angle. He can be reached at mzx2@earthlink.net.

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