Jewish-Arab TV star marriage in Israel draws hardliners' ire

Jewish-Arab TV star marriage in Israel draws hardliners' ire

An Israeli cabinet minister and a hardline lawmaker on Thursday attacked the marriage of an Arab TV presenter and a Jewish actor from the hit Netflix series "Fauda".

But their reactions were slapped down online by others praising the mixed marriage, which had initially been kept secret -- reportedly to avoid provoking hostility.

Israeli Arab Lucy Aharish, 37, married actor Tzachi Halevi, 47, on Wednesday.

Aharish, born in the southern Israeli town of Dimona to Muslim parents, speaks flawless Hebrew and was the first Arab to anchor a Hebrew-language programme on Israeli television.

She currently hosts a morning current affairs show on Israeli commercial TV channel Reshet.

Halevi plays the role of Israeli undercover agent Naor in "Fauda", the gritty Netflix drama that explores the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Hawkish MP Oren Hazen said in a Twitter post that such marriages dilute the Jewish gene pool and that Aharish should convert to Judaism.

"I don't blame Lucy Aharish, who seduced a Jewish soul with the aim of harming our country and preventing another Jewish generation from continuing the Jewish dynasty," Hazan wrote in Hebrew.

"On the contrary, she is invited to convert to Judaism."

In Judaism, only the children of a Jewish mother or those who choose to convert according to ultra-Orthodox rules are recognised as Jewish.

"It's not the right thing to do," Interior Minister Arye Deri, an ultra-Orthodox Jew, said of the marriage.

"I'm against such things because we have to preserve the Jewish people," he told Israeli army radio.

Members of the Israeli left were supportive of the union, as were others on social media.

"Congratulations and happiness to this wonderful couple," Labour MP Shelly Yachimovich tweeted.

"Lucy Aharish understands better what it means to be Jewish than he who sends a nauseating, racist Twitter message," wrote Stav Shafir, another Labour legislator.

According to her Hebrew-language Facebook site, Aharish was "schooled in a Jewish environment and celebrated Jewish holidays as well as Muslim festivals".

She is a graduate of Jerusalem's Hebrew University.

Halevi previously played an agent of the Israeli Shin Bet internal security service in the Israeli film "Bethlehem", which also deals with the conflict.

"Fauda" has aired two seasons.