The Arab Association for Human Rights (HRA) condemns the actions taken last week by MK Michael Ben-Ari. He photographed himself tearing the New Testament out of a copy of the Bible and he published those photographs online. We believe this constitutes a provocation to the every religious person’s feelings and it contributes to the animosity between religions in general. The HRA, in principle, condemns every action that contradicts with the respect of all universal rights, especially when this act is committed by states or members of the Knesset that should represent their people and the their country. The HRA calls on the state of Israel and all its political institutions to respect all religions and religious places equally. Additionally, the Israeli government should take the necessary actions to prevent further violations to every person’s right to freedom of religion.
The HRA recalls that this offense is not the first time that Muslim and Christian holy places or beliefs have been attacked. In recent years it has become a phenomena for militant Jewish Israelis and settlers to burn Mosques, Qurans, and Bibles. The perpetrators of these actions have seen no adequate punishment.
Israel cannot continue to present itself as a democratic, civilized country and ask the world to deal with it as such while continuing to defend violations of basic human rights against those who don’t believe in its religion or its policies.
The HRA calls on all embassies and foreign representation in Israel to clearly condemn these actions, especially considering an Israeli government official committed these actions. This action constitutes a grave attack against the feelings of Christians and Muslims and their beliefs. These embassies should present to their constituencies the truth of this attack and other instances of Israel failing to defend the basic human rights. They should call on their governments to officially condemn these actions and to take further actions to prevent similar attacks in the future.
Finally, the HRA, in confirmation of its position stated above, calls on the Attorney General of Israel to start an official investigation against Ben-Ari. He should not be granted immunity because that would implicitly approve and legitimize further attacks in the same vein.
July 27, 2012