An Israeli man, a former fighter pilot, met a Filipina woman and eventually married her, first in a civil ceremony in the Philippines and then – after underwent a Conservative conversion – in a Jewish ceremony in the United States.
But Israel will not recognize the woman's conversion, even though Israeli law states that conversions done outside of Israel by non-Orthodox clergy are recognized.
But the implementation of that law falls to the Interior Ministry, and the Interior Ministry is controlled by Shas, the Sefardic haredi political party headed by Eli Yishai.
…When Interior Minister Eli Yishai appears onscreen, she looks pained: "I feel bad when I see him. He expresses himself in an ignorant manner. The things he says about foreign workers epitomize ignorance and racism and, if I may say so, remind me of the way the Jews were talked about before the Holocaust. I can't understand how a government minister can speak this way."
Asked how she explains the treatment she has undergone at the ministry, Robbie says: "There are two reasons for it. The first is my Philippine origins. They're not comfortable with that. The connection between an Israeli man and a Filipina woman creates problems. After a few years of repeated visits to the Interior Ministry, I can tell you that there is an anti-Filipino attitude there. The second reason, which is just as essential, is the conversion. They don't accept it. Instead of seeing the beauty in the choice that I made, in the change I made, in giving up the religion you were born with for the sake of the man you love, you're faced with a whole unpleasant array of suspicions. What did I want to achieve? Just to live as a Jewish woman with my husband. But they're trying to figure out what ulterior motive I had for getting married."
Her husband is torn between his love for the country and his deep aversion to the government's policy. So much so that he is talking about leaving for good.
"It's a terrible feeling," he says. "I don't want to leave Israel. I want to live here. I love the atmosphere in this country. This is my home, this is where I was born. And Robbie loves living here, too. She is accepted warmly by my friends, at folk dancing and at the Hebrew University. But I don't intend to extend her tourist visa again. As far as I'm concerned, let it expire and if they deport her, then I'm leaving for good."