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Israeli Parliamentarian Shreds a New Testament. World Yawns.

A far right member of the Israeli Knesset, Michael Ben-Ari, recently received a copy of the New Testament in his mailbox, a gift from local Christian missionaries. He was not enthused, reports the Associated Press:

Ben-Ari, an Orthodox Jew, was enraged to receive the book, in whose name he says millions of Jews were slaughtered. Ben-Ari tore it up, he said, then posed for photographs with the destroyed Bible.

What’s notable about this incident is that you probably haven’t heard about it. That’s because there were no riots of angry Christian mobs in the streets of Israel or anywhere else in its wake. And most of the outrage that followed came from Jewish groups and Israeli officials tripping over themselves to disavow the act. As Prime Minister Netanyahu’s spokesman Mark Regev told the AP, “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.”

Gee: a hot-headed believer in a particular religious tradition does something tasteless to the holy book of another religion. No howling mobs rage through the streets, burning and lynching; no cells of deranged fanatics hatch terror plots. Instead, more emotionally balanced co-religionists of the original hothead distance their faith from the provocative act.

What’s so hard about that?

Here’s a wild and crazy suggestion: this is how all of us should try to act when faced with some kind of religious or political affront.

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  • Hu Ngu

    MK Ben-Ari’s ripping and tearing of the unwanted New Testament has set back Judeo-Christian relations by…oh, 15 minutes?

  • J R Yankovic

    “Here’s a wild and crazy suggestion: this is how all of us should try to act when faced with some kind of religious or political affront.”

    That is, unless you’re some highly-urbanized, Western-educated, angry, chip-on-your-shoulder Islamist. In which case the only UNinsulting, UNdemeaning seat you could be offered at a banquet of the world’s religions would be, of course, Your Rightful One – at the head of the table.

  • Lexington Green

    He felt free to do it because he knew no one would try to kill him in response. Incidentally, a paper copy of the New Testament is not sacred in itself. This act was disrespectful, was not a profanation of God himself. To a Muslim, or so I understand it, a copy of the Koran is more like the eucharist, God’s material presence among his people. So, the analogy is probably not as strong as it may appear at first glance, the two different holy books have very significant differences. Nonetheless, even an attack on a Catholic tabernacle, and a desecration of the Blessed Sacrament, as horrible as that would be, would not lead to a homicidal response from Catholics, at least not in this year of Our Lord 2012 — 1512 or 1112 would be a different story. Presumably, that is maturity. Sadly, the lesson of recent years appears to be that your religion is treated with respect and deference solely to the extent that it can physically intimidate and kill or harm its critics, with Islam being fully mobilized in this regard, with all due recognition that most Muslims probably do not approve of such actions. It only takes a small minority of people willing to act in this way to terrorize people of their own religion as well as others. This is a very bad incentive structure. The world is rewarding the worst possible behavior and getting more and more of it.

  • Alex Scipio

    Here’s a truth for you, followed by a wild & crazy suggestion:

    TRUTH: A tolerant society can withstand anything EXCEPT civilizational intolerance. There’s a one-word description for tolerating civizational intolerance: “suicide.”

    SUGGESTION: Lock Islam in a box until it becomes tolerant of others – or destroy it before it destroys us.

  • Corlyss

    Someone should remind Ben-Ari that if it weren’t for the western devotees of that little book, and one nation in particular comes to mind, he’d be representing his district in a smoking ruin in an Arab-occupied state.

  • JJ

    On this side of the pond, we call it the First Amendment: You have the right to say whatever you like, no matter how offensive, but if you make an ass of yourself, expect to be marginalized, especially by your own side. (We’ve gotten very good at marginalizing haters without trying to imprison them.)

    No speech codes, no censorship, no Canadian-style human rights tribunals.

    What’s so hard about that? Well, it took the human race a few millennia to discover this principle. And even now some people want to enact laws against “hate speech” and things called “campaign finance reform” that would limit the First Amendment. In Canada, or the Netherlands, such limits on free expression exist. Israel and the USA do it right. But it is far from the norm even today, even in Western Democracies.

  • Kris

    That does it! Michael Ben-Ari is off my Christmas card list!

  • Freebird

    Actually, you and everyone you know should send him a Christmas card – sounds like he’d really appreciate it!

  • Jack

    “…this is how all of us should try to act when faced with some kind of religious or political affront.”

    It is this this sort of broad brush that Meade invokes that makes me most angry, as if we’ve all been rioting in the streets.

    It is Muslims who do this, Mr. Meade! How many Islamic countries are NOT calling for the destruction of Israel. How many non-muslim religious groups kill in the name of their religion? Muslims and Islam are the intolerant ones. That you whitewash this demonstable fact is a source of constant irritation for me.

    And the main reason why I disount what you have to say.

  • Kris

    Dear Jack@9, I am sorry that you will no longer be reading Via Meadia. As a consolation prize, I shall be sending you a book that should be more your speed. I wish you all the best in your future endeavors.

  • Rafael

    Yeah, all Christians are very rational, as opposed to all Muslims.

  • Johannim

    this really need to go viral

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