Michael Ben-Ari
Michael Ben-Ari Photo by Gil Eliahu
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Olivier Fitoussi
Knesset members Zevulun Orlev (Habayit Hayehudi), left, and Michael Ben Ari (National Union), Jan. 30, 2012. Photo by Olivier Fitoussi

Several U.S. Jewish groups condemned the public destruction of a copy of the New Testament by Israeli Knesset member Michael Ben Ari.

Ben Ari, a member of the National Union Party and reportedly a devotee of the late Meir Kahane, invited a legislative aide to photograph him ripping up a New Testament and throwing it in the garbage. Ben Ari then had the photos sent to Israel's daily Maariv. The book reportedly was mailed to Ben Ari and the Knesset's other members by a messianic Jewish group called the Bible Society in Israel.

The Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee issued statements condemning the action. In an interview with JTA, Malcolm Hoenlein, the executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations called it an "outrageous" action that was "not acceptable."

The Jewish Federations of North America told JTA it had no comment on the incident.

The Knesset’s lone Christian parliamentarian, Hanna Sweid of the Hadash Party, told the Jerusalem Post, “This is hooliganism, bullying and an apocalyptic act of hatred that was baseless and unnecessary.”

Other Knesset members, including a spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, condemned the incident, and Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin reportedly denied Ben Ari a chance to explain himself on the Knesset floor, saying the National Union MK should stop giving the Knesset a bad name.