We are moving forward with Ellie’s Israel-themed birthday party, which is next weekend, something I blogged about when she first came up with the idea.

I’ve hired the amazing Dafna Israel-Kotok to teach the kids some Israeli songs and dances. And we’ll serve borekas, hummus, candy and other Israeli treats, procured from Main Street in Kew Gardens Hills, an area Ellie and I refer to as “the Israeli neighborhood.”

The whole endeavor is a bit of a balancing act, of me trying to avoid alienating some pro-Palestinian friends and not wanting to seem like a propagandist, while also keeping true to my ideals: wanting to teach Ellie (and others) the many positive things about the Jewish state and not wanting it to be unfairly delegitimized.

That said, I’m feeling rather discouraged about the place right now, what with the seemingly intractable conflict, the conversion bill in the Knesset and now this horrifying case in which, if news reports are accurate, an Arab man has actually been convicted and jailed for “rape by deception” because before having a consensual one-night stand with a Jewish woman, he led her to believe he was Jewish.

Lying in order to get someone in bed is unethical, for sure, but it happens all the time. How many men claim to have different careers or promise to call afterwards? To put this in the same category as violent sexual assault is offensive to the many victims of forcible, coerced and violent sexual acts. It’s hard for me to understand how a judge could even accept such a case, let alone rule in favor of a woman who admitted to having consensual sex with someone she’d just met, but said she wouldn’t have done it if she’d known he wasn’t Jewish. Ick.

I could see, maybe, her being upset if he married her under false pretenses, but this was a tryst! While I do not agree with them, I understand and respect many of the reasons Jews object to intermarriage. But Judaism doesn’t condone premarital sex anyway (certainly not between two people who barely know each other); if you are OK with one-night stands, then the only reason you could be against having a one-night stand with an Arab (to whom you are apparently attracted) is racism.

Talk about bad PR for an Israel struggling to prove it is not racist and that its Arab minority has full equal rights. Can you imagine a black man in the U.S. (or any country) imprisoned for trying to pass as white? Sounds like something out of 1950s Mississippi.

I really hope the decision is reversed, the judge fired, the man released and that Israeli society (and the government) explicitly denounce this crazy law.

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