The bride is beautiful but she is married to another man

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"The bride is beautiful, but she is married to another man" is a phrase of uncertain origin that has been cited by scholars and in publications as the text of a cable sent by a Jewish fact-finding mission to Palestine in the 1890s.[1] It is generally portrayed as an early but ignored implication that a Jewish homeland would not be reestablished in Palestine without interfering with the existing population.[2]

Historian Anthony Pagden quoted the phrase in his 2008 book Worlds at War: The 2,500-Year Struggle Between East and West, explaining that its implication was "that the Zionists should attempt to marry someone else".[3] The phrase has also been cited as an 1890s fact-finding message in the 2008 BBC Two documentary The Birth of Israel, produced by Middle East Editor Jeremy Bowen,[4] and in books written by P. J. O'Rourke[5] and Adam LeBor,[6] and provided the titles of the books Married to Another Man (2007) by Ghada Karmi[7] and (in Swedish) Bruden är vacker men har redan en man by Ingmar Karlsson (2012).[8]

In 2012 an article by Shai Afsai was published in the academic journal Shofar asserting that the stories in which the phrase appears are unsubstantiated. Afsai contacted several scholars who repeated the stories but none were able to provide a primary source for them.[9] Afsai argued that "post-1996 English-language uses of the 'married to another man' story can be traced back to Mohamed Hassanein Heikal's Secret Channels (1996), often by way of Avi Shlaim's The Iron Wall (2000); that all those who tell the story never provide a primary source for it and often provide no source at all; and that there has been no basis for recounting the story as a historical event that occurred during the early years of the Zionist movement. In short, the story is unsubstantiated and writers should not treat it as historical fact."

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Shai Afsai, "The 'Married to another Man' Story," Jewish Ideas Daily, October 12, 2012.
  2. ^ Eric Silver, "Decade of Disillusion," The Guardian, June 4, 1977, p.7.
  3. ^ Anthony Pagden, Worlds at War (Oxford University Press, 2008), p. 419.
  4. ^ Hadar Sela, "Where did Jeremy Bowen learn the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict?", December 27, 2012.
  5. ^ P. J. O'Rourke, Peace Kills: America's Fun New Imperialism, 2005, p. 55.
  6. ^ Adam LeBor, City of Oranges: An Intimate History of Arabs and Jews in Jaffa, 2011.
  7. ^ Martin Woollacott, "Joined-up Solution," The Guardian, Sept. 14, 2007.
  8. ^ Lisa Abramowicz, "Getting away with anti-Semitism," ynetnews, August 19, 2012.
  9. ^ Shai Afsai, “The bride is beautiful, but she is married to another man”: Historical Fabrication and an Anti-Zionist Myth," Shofar, Vol. 30, No. 3 (2012), pp. 35-61.