An Orthodox rabbi, standing as the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) mayoral candidate, last week posted photographs of himself burning a Bible—but, unlike non-Jews arrested for burning a Koran on the Internet, or for placing bacon sandwiches outside a mosque, he faces no police investigation or charges.
According to a report in the Times of Israel, UKIP’s Manchester mayoral candidate, Shneur Odze, tweeted a photo of the burning Bible last Monday.
“Grateful to whoever put a missionary bible amongst our synagogue’s books. Was wondering what I’d burn my Chametz with,” he tweeted, a reference to the leavened bread that Jews destroy on the eve of the Passover festival.
Odze claimed that the book contained not only the Old Testament, which Orthodox Jews consider holy, but also the Christian New Testament.
He said he had “no option but to burn it,” since it was produced by “an extreme proselytizing Christian sect of former Jews trying to convert practicing Jews to a belief in Christ as the prophesied Messiah.”
Giving it away, he said, would have led to the “fraudulent” Bible being given to someone else, compounding the issue, and simply throwing it away would “disrespect what is still a religious tract.”
A spokesman for UKIP said later that “While we understand the act, it was ill-advised to put a picture of it on social media which was also provocative and likely to be misunderstood.”
So far, more than a week after the event, no one in the British establishment has said anything about the incident—a silence which contrasts strongly with the instant police manhunt always ordered for anyone posting Koran burning images on the Internet or anything even vaguely regarded as “anti-Semitic.”
For example, in 2010, British police launched a nationwide manhunt for six British men who appeared in a video pouring fuel over what appear to be copies of the Koran and setting fire to them, on the anniversary of the 9-11 attacks.
Police scoured the country until they finally arrested six men and charged them with “racial incitement.” The charges were eventually withdrawn because the authorities could “not identify who had recorded and posted the video online, there was no evidence threatening behavior was used, and there was no evidence anyone present was upset by what they saw.”
Kevin Crehan and the bacon sandwiches which got him sentences to a year in jail.
Not so lucky was Kevin Crehan, a 35-year-old man from Bristol who was sentenced to 12 months in jail for leaving bacon sandwiches on the doorstep of the Jamia mosque in that town. The practical joke—which police and the controlled media described as an “attack” on the mosque—saw Crehan and three others jailed. (Crehan died in prison after serving six months of his sentence.)
Readers will be free to speculate for themselves as to the reasons for the disparity in police reaction to the incidents.
* Odze is a member of the Chabad Lubavitch ultra-Orthodox Hasidic sect, and also chairs the UKIP Friends of Israel group.