We occasionally get indignant over the way traditional Jewish leaders and organizations respond to intermarriage in their midst, but a recent headline put the civility of the debate in perspective: “Interfaith love sparks 23 deaths.”

The recent attack in Iraq where Islamist fundamentalists stopped a bus, separated out members of a tiny religious sect called Yazidi and shot 23 of them was part of a cycle of revenge stemming from an interfaith marriage between a Muslim and a Yazidi. Four months ago, a Muslim woman eloped with a Yazidi man; Islamic fundamentalists responded by torching homes in the Yazidi man’s village. Last week, a Yazidi woman eloped with a Muslim man and converted to Islam. In response, the woman’s family stoned her to death.

We and other parts of the Jewish community may have vigorous disagreements, but our debates are ultimately conducted in an atmosphere of baseline respect and decency. As bad as it can occasionally seem for the intermarried in the Jewish community, if we lived in another place, in another time, things could be much, much worse.

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