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When they were dating, their Arab boyfriends could not shower them with enough gifts, could not stop telling them how much they loved them.

Once married, they found themselves imprisoned, cut off from their families, watched constantly by their husbands and his family members, who threatened them – quite credibly – that they would kill them if they tried to escape.

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Often they were treated as little more than chattels.

They are viewed as slatterns by the women of the village, and their children are never allowed to forget their Jewish origins.

Some of the Arab spokesmen who denounced the rebbetzins’ letter as proof of the endemic racism of Israeli society would kill their own daughters if they were dating a Jew.

The rebbetzins were not addressing themselves to women working in hi-tech and suggesting that they refuse to work on projects with an Arab graduate of the Technion or avoid normal collegial relations with Arab co-workers.

The issue has come to the fore once more with allegations that at least one store in a national chain forced Arab workers to sign an agreement not to fraternize with female Jewish employees.