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At that time, 24 states across the country had laws strictly prohibiting marriage between people of different races.

Five weeks earlier, the longtime couple had learned Mildred was pregnant and decided to wed in defiance of the law. Upon their return to Virginia, they were arrested and found guilty, with the judge informing Mildred that “as long as you live you will be known as a felon.” The Lovings moved to the relative safety of Washington, but longed to return to their home state.

It was formally declared legal in the United States in 1967 when the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in the case Loving v.

Virginia that race-based restrictions on the set of individuals whom an individual is eligible to marry violate the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution.

The move by the municipality of Petah Tikva, a city close to Tel Aviv, is the latest in a series of separate and little discussed initiatives from official bodies, rabbis, private organisations and groups of Israeli residents to try to prevent interracial dating and marriage.

Interracial marriage is a form of exogamy that involves a marriage between spouses who belong to different races.

It was historically a taboo in the United States of America and outlawed in South Africa.

In addition, civil marriage is banned in Israel, meaning that in the small number of cases where Jews and Arabs want to wed, they can do so only by leaving the country for a ceremony abroad. Dr Yuval Yonay, a sociologist at Haifa University, said the number of interracial marriages was too small to be studied.

Separation between Jews and Arabs is so ingrained in Israeli society, it is surprising that anyone manages to escape these central controls.