Israel Denies Religious Motives in Protecting Child of Mixed Parentage
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Israel Denies Religious Motives in Protecting Child of Mixed Parentage

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A Ministry of Welfare official denied today that his Ministry had intervened in the case of an unwed Jewish mother and her Arab lover because of Israel’s religious marriage law. He made it clear that this was done only to protect the safety of the infant boy until the situation was untangled, and not for religious motivations.

Azriel Stern, director of Adult Probation Services of the Ministry, thus described to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency the position of the Ministry in the arrest of 19-year-old Yaffa Ajami, whose romance with an Arab Moslem brought her into conflict with both families and with the law; The father of the child is 22-year-old Abdul Rahim Majdaleh, whom she met and fell in love with when they were both living in Ramat Gan.

According to initial reports on the situation, the couple did not wed because under Israeli law they could not do so as long as each held to his or her faith. Two years ago, they tried to run away and the girl’s parents made her a ward of the Ministry of Welfare.

In defiance of a court order, they moved into a flat in Tel Aviv and the girl became pregnant in the fall of 1960. During the final month of pregnancy, the girl was visited by her parents, who are wealthy Iraqi Jews, and agreed to place the child in an institution for a month after its birth.

The boy was born four months ago and placed in a Ministry of Welfare institution in Ramat Gan. At the end of the month, the institution officials refused to yield the infant on grounds that since the parents were not married, they could not give the baby a proper home. On October 22 the mother went back to the home and took the child away. She was arrested three days later and the child was returned to the home.


Arraigned on a charge of Kidnapping in Magistrate’s Court, she denied the charge and subsequently brought suit to get a reversal of the court order committing her child to the home; During the time such cases are pending, according to Mr. Stern, the Ministry may ask the Juvenile Magistrate’s Court for an order to take a child from the parents if it is believed the child’s welfare requires it.

Mr. Stern’s report differed in several ways from earlier reports published in the New York Times. He said that the relationship between the unwed parents was not clear. He said that neither was prepared to adopt the other’s religion and thus pave the way for marriage. He even expressed doubt that the Moslem wants to marry the Jewish girl.

The probation officer also said that when the girl became pregnant, both at first wanted to arrange for an aborting of the birth. However, when the decision was made, the girl was too far advanced in pregnancy and any such action would have endangered her. Even then, the official said, the Moslem youth insisted that the girl go through with it but she refused.

Originally, he said, his Ministry had proposed to the court that the child be left with the parents on condition that the child was not to be removed from Tel Aviv without the Ministry’s permission; However, he said, after the court heard the facts, it decided that the infant should be placed in the home.

Mr. Stern, said that in the first month, the mother did not visit the home to see her baby and the Moslem forced her to make later visits. The probation official voiced the suspicion that the Moslem did not want to marry the girl at all and that he was trying to get payment from her parents for leaving her alone.

He also said that the problem was not the girl’s first brush with the law. A year and a half ago she was charged with burglary and placed on probation after a court hearing, he stated.

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