I get that the Christian Bible, and in particular the New Testament, are not popular reading for most Israelis. I also get that being sent a copy of the New Testament by the Bible Society could be offensive for a lawmaker in the Jewish state.
But I don’t get this response of Knesset member Michael Ben Ari, who ripped up a copy of the New Testament and has his legislative aid take a photo and then send that photo to the newspaper Maariv.
Lawmakers had received in their Knesset mailboxes copies of the new edition of the New Testament released by the Bible Society in Israel, which distributes Christian books in the country, Ynet reported. Some returned it to the society and others quietly disposed of it.
“Sending the book to lawmakers is a provocation. There is no doubt that this book and all it represents belongs in the garbage can of history,” Ben Ari said, adding that it “galvanized the murder of millions of Jews” throughout history, including during the Spanish Inquisition.
Mark Regev, a government spokesman, didn’t understand or appreciate Ben Ari’s reaction either. Regev told Ynet:
“We totally deplore this behavior and condemn it outright. This action stands in complete contrast to our values and our traditions. Israel is a tolerant society, but we have zero tolerance for this despicable and hateful act.”
Ben Ari is not the first to publicly destroy a copy—or hundreds of copies—of the New Testament in Israel.