Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin on Wednesday slammed MK Michael Ben-Ari (National Union) for ripping a New Testament to shreds and throwing it in the trash.
“I condemn any disrespect of holy texts of any religion, including ripping the New Testament by an MK yesterday,” Rivlin said in the plenum. “Every holy book is important to its believers.”
According to the Knesset Speaker, if a parliamentarian from another country would burn a Torah and call it a provocation, the world would condemn him or her.
“Democracy is the freedom of speech, but it is not anarchy, and freedom of faith and worship is one of the founding values of this country,” Rivlin added.
On Tuesday, Ben-Ari tore up a copy of the “Book of Testaments,” combining the Tanach and New Testament in one volume, sent to all 120 MKs by The Bible Society in Israel, a messianic Judaism institution for research, publication and dissemination of holy books.
Rivlin rejected Ben-Ari’s request to respond in the plenum on Wednesday, telling him to “stop giving the Knesset a bad name.”
“Millions of Jews were murdered in the name of the New Testament, this revolting book brought massacres of Jews in the [Spanish] Inquisition and throughout history,” Ben-Ari said.
According to the National Union MK, the Bible Society wanted to “step on the corpses of the millions of martyrs that were murdered because of their Judaism.”
Ben-Ari said he has no doubt his reaction was appropriate and called for all other MKs to throw the New Testament in the trash.
After Rivlin’s condemnation in the Knesset, several MKs reacted in the plenum.
MK Nissim Ze’ev (Shas) said the New Testaments sent to the Knesset were written by “heretics” – meaning messianic Jews – and as such must be burned. He added that a Torah written by a female Reform Rabbi should also be incinerated.
Ze’ev condemned missionary activity, and called sending the books to MKs a “pointless provocation.”
“I got a copy of the New Testament in the mail, too, but I never thought to rip it up or burn it,” MK Masud Gnaim (UAL-Ta’al) said, calling Ben-Ari and Ze’ev racists. “As a Muslim, I respect all religions’ holy books.”