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New York, U.S.A. — AJC called on the Knesset to censure one of its members for desecrating the Christian Bible.
MK Michael Ben-Ari of the National Union Party, in his Knesset office, tore pages from the New Testament as he condemned the Christian holy book for fostering anti-Semitism.
“MK Ben-Ari’s extremist views and actions are outrageous,” said AJC Executive Director David Harris. “The photograph of MK Ben-Ari tearing up the Christian Bible, holy to many around the world, is a sacrilegious outrage, an abominable assault on an entire religion.”
Ben-Ari has a long record of open hostility towards Israel’s Arab citizens, and has been barred from visiting the U.S., his country of birth, due to his association with the extremist Kach movement, banned in Israel. The Kach party was banned in Israel after a law was passed that stated political parties who incited racism could not be elected to office. Today the party is considered a terrorist organization in Israel, Canada, the United States, and the European Union.
Harris, praising today’s remarks by Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, and by Mark Regev, spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, urged other Israeli leaders to speak out and take appropriate action against Ben-Ari.
“I condemn all disrespect of holy writings, including the tearing of the New Testament by an MK last night. Imagine a foreign parliament member tore the bible, relating to it as a provocation,” Rivlin said at today’s Knesset session in Jerusalem. “Democracy means freedom of speech but not freedom to disrespect other religions. A foundation of the state is freedom of worship and belief.”
Speaking for the Israeli government, 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.”
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