Source: The New York Times
LARNAKA, Cyprus — They eat falafel, live on the Mediterranean and worry that a new war could erupt across the hostile border that separates them. But many Israelis and Lebanese share something else: a desire to circumvent their respective religious authorities when getting married.
In both Lebanon and Israel, only religious leaders can perform marriages, so lovers who wish to keep the rabbis, sheikhs, priests and pastors out of their love life have to tie the knot elsewhere.
That has been a boon for this sun-drenched beach town on the southern coast of Cyprus, where the municipal authorities provide fast civil marriages to anyone who shows up, provides the right paperwork and pays the fee.
And since most of those taking advantage of the local civil marriage industry are from Israel and Lebanon, the marriage bureau — in a modest, accidental way — bridges one of the Middle East’s deep divides.