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.