Here’s a new canard leveled against Israel: Many Christians living in the Holy Land have to convert to Islam or to a different Christian denomination in order to obtain a divorce.
So claims Jill Hamilton in a shocking commentary published in The Guardian‘s print edition:
In Israel, Christians come under 10 personal status codes: Latin Catholic, Melkite, Maronite, Syrian Catholic, Armenian Catholic, Chaldean, Anglican, Greek Orthodox, Syrian Orthodox and Armenian. Some can divorce; others cannot. Some codes give equality; others do not.
In the Holy Land, Catholics, Anglicans and Lutherans can only separate; to remarry they first have to convert to Greek Orthodox or Islam to obtain a divorce. Annulment is possible, but there are only about five cases finalised in the region annually . . . .
But if Arab Christians had the same legal rights as their Muslim neighbours and fellow Christians in the west, there would be no need for conversions.
If Hamilton did her homework, she would discover that Israel gives autonomy to each of these communities, respecting their rules and authorities on matters of personal status. (Israel only steps in to enforce human rights or civil rights such as in cases of wife-beating, child marriage, etc.)
Denominations have varying outlooks and rules on divorce; couples choosing to fast-track a divorce by converting aren’t Israel’s concern. If Hamilton wants to take issue with denominational differences over divorce, that’s a discussion for the clergy, not the Israeli government.
Hamilton is misleading, and scandalously so.
She’s also divorced from reality.