It's Time to Put One-Dimensional Thinking Aside

Like you, I dislike mixing relationships and politics. Unfortunately, you have wrapped your ostensible relationship issue entirely in politics, so a political response is appropriate.

Your issue isn’t about interfaith dating. You aren’t struggling with any cultural or religious differences, whether or not they exist, and you’re not sure if this relationship will be long-term. Your real issue is your relationship with your parents, and what you perceive to be their narrow values that conflict with your own. By your own admission, the only reason to tell them now is to score political points.

Debating politics with your parents with a Muslim girlfriend as the backdrop is unlikely to change minds. However, you might consider whether not only your parents’, but your own views, are one-dimensional.

I live in what you would call an illegal West Bank settlement. I interact daily with Palestinians, shop and share the roads with them, and have had them in my home. When a child from a neighboring Palestinian village falls sick, our doctors treat them for free. Some of my neighbors employ Palestinians, offering them better wages then they could obtain from Palestinian employers. Palestinian families tend their olive groves deep inside my settlement – those families chose not to sell that land and no one is kicking them out. Our settlement even includes a Lebanese woman who is today an observant Jew.

My point is that, as anyone who has broadly studied the situation knows, the issues are far more complex, nuanced and multi-faceted than you believe them to be. Just as Muslims can be diverse, Israel and the settlements are hardly as black and white as you think.

I invite you to visit us and see for yourself. In the meantime, please put one-dimensional thinking aside so that when you are ready, you can engage in constructive conversation with your parents rather than a debate.

Harold Berman is a veteran Jewish communal professional, and the Director of, which provides mentoring and support for intermarried families exploring the possibilities of observant Jewish life. Harold is also, with his wife Gayle, the co-author of “Doublelife: One Family, Two Faiths and a Journey of Hope,” about their “intermarriage gone Jewish.”

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It's Time to Put One-Dimensional Thinking Aside

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