On Tuesday, July 17, a controversial member of Israel's parliament named Michael Ben-Ari had his legislative aide take photographs while he ripped up a copy of the New Testament that was sent to him by an organization called The Bible Society in Israel.
The Bible Society in Israel is dedicated to promoting Messianic Judaism and distributing copies of the Old and New Testaments. On Tuesday, they sent Bibles featuring annotations in Hebrew to all 120 members of Israel's Knesset.
According to Tzvika Brot of Ynet, "... while most [members of the Knesset] chose to ignore the book or return it to its sender, the rightist lawmaker [Ben-Ari] chose to term the book a 'provocation,' tore it up into shreds and then threw it out."
Ben-Ari, who is a member of the National Union Party, is perhaps best known for being openly hostile to Israel's Arab population. He was once denied entrance into the U.S. because of his association with an outlawed political party that the U.S. considers to be a terrorist organization.
According to Erica Ritz of The Blaze, "'This despicable book galvanized the murder of millions of Jews during the Inquisition and during auto-da-fe instances,' [Ben-Ari] was quoted as saying.
"He reportedly continued: 'This is an ugly missionary provocation by the church; this book and its senders should be in history’s trash can.'"
In an article published in The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday, July 18, :Lahav Harkov reported that Hanna Sweid (the only Christian member of the Knesset) said Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein should press incitement charges against Ben-Ari for performing an act that could encourage violence against Christians.
According to Harkov, "Sweid, an MK in the Arab-Jewish socialist faction Hadash, complained to the Knesset Ethics Committee, but said he has no doubt that it will not punish Ben-Ari effectively or remove his parliamentary immunity.
"He was also skeptical that the Attorney-General’s Office would heed his call, though he called Ben-Ari's actions on Tuesday 'incitement,' and expressed fears that they would encourage the public 'to raise a hand against Christians.'
"... Sweid said he was disappointed that there was not more of an outcry, but at the same time is not accusing those who did not speak out against Ben-Ari of supporting such acts. However, the Hadash MK stated that if the public does not stand up against Ben-Ari, he will be encouraged."
Other members of the Knesset were quick to speak out against Ben-Ari's actions.
According to Ritz, "Government spokesman Mark Regev said: '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.'
"Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin even denied the man's request to explain himself on Wednesday, telling him to 'stop giving the Knesset a bad name.'
"And MK Masud Gnaim, who is Muslim, slammed the action, adding: 'As a Muslim, I respect all religions' holy books.'"