“The bride is beautiful, but she is married to another man.”

Articles by Shai Afsai

According to a frequently repeated story, during the early years of the Zionist movement a number of Jews from Europe were sent to the Land of Israel/Palestine to investigate its suitability as a location for reestablishing a Jewish state. They reported back, the story concludes, that “the bride is beautiful, but she is married to another man“ — the land is excellent, but it belongs to others.

Though there are no known primary sources for any of the several variations of this story, they have continued to be recounted as historical fact by scholars, journalists, filmmakers, and artists — including Rawan Damen, Rula Halawani, Ilan Pappé, Yasmeen Abu-Laban, and Abigail B. Bakan — usually as part of deliberate efforts to delegitimize the state of Israel and, by now, often with full awareness that the stories are baseless.

Bride is beautiful: An irresistible anti-Zionist story

Atlanta Jewish Connector, November 8, 2021

Though stories incorporating the phrase “The bride is beautiful, but she is married to another man” lack a primary source, and though there has been no basis for recounting them as historical events that occurred during the early years of the Zionist movement, different versions appear in many articles, books, and films.

(A follow-up to 2020’s “The bride is beautiful, but she is married to another man.” The tenacity of an anti-Zionist fable.)

“The bride is beautiful, but she is married to another man.” The tenacity of an anti-Zionist fable

Fathom Journal, Autumn/December 2020

Some authors are unwilling to dispense with unsubstantiated stories, opting instead to put scholarly standards aside in their attempts to advance anti-Zionist arguments. One case in point is the “married to another man” fable.

(A follow-up to 2012’s “The bride is beautiful, but she is married to another man”: Historical Fabrication and an Anti-Zionist Myth.)

“The bride is beautiful, but she is married to another man”: Historical Fabrication and an Anti-Zionist Myth

Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies 30:3, Spring 2012, pp. 35-61

While its details vary with the telling, the story’s central point is often the same: already in the early years of the Zionist movement, Jews recognized that it would be unjust and immoral for them to try to claim Palestine; despite this awareness, the Zionists proceeded with their plans for Jewish statehood there; from the outset, therefore, the establishment of the state of Israel was an act of severe and willful injustice.

Cover of Ghada Karmi’s 2007 Married to Another Man: Israel’s Dilemma in Palestine

Cover of Ingmar Karlsson’s 2012 Bruden är vacker men har redan en man: Sionisme – en ideologi vid vägs ände? (The bride is beautiful but there is already a husband: Zionism – an ideology at the end of the road?)