German Court Rules No Jail for Muslim Synagogue Arsonists

In 2015 a lower court decided three Muslim attackers who tried in 2014 to burn down a synagogue in Wuppertal Germany was not Anti-Semitism, rather it was a means of “drawing attention to the Gaza conflict” with Israel and it let them off the hook without a jail sentence.

Just last Friday,  a German regional court in the city of Wuppertal affirmed the decision stating that a violent attempt to burn the city’s synagogue by three men in 2014 was a justified expression of criticism of Israel’s policies.

The three Muslims attacked on the anniversary of Kristallnacht – when in 1938 the Nazis hordes burned down more than 1,000 synagogues in Germany, including the original synagogue in Wuppertal, and killed nearly 100 Jews.

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Plaque in Berlin commemorating destruction of Synagogue during Kristallnacht

Back when the attack happened, Charlotte Knobloch the 81-year-old former president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany declared, “When synagogues burn, it is time for all leaders to ask, ‘what must we do to protect Jewish citizens’!” She also demanded to know why other German citizens were not responding to the anti-Semitic outrages and instead were remaining silent – again – and added, “Whoever is silent now affirms what is happening!”

A few days before the firebombing, “Free Palestine” was spray painted on the wall of the synagogue. The case was first reported by Jerusalem Post journalist Benjamin Weinthal.

The German regional court ruled that the actions of the three Muslim perpetrators were governed by “anti-Israelism” and not anti-Semitism. Because of this, the judge declined to incarcerate the attackers. It is not clear why “Anti-Israelism” makes arson acceptable conduct.
Green Party MP Volker Beck said in protest: “This is a decision as far as the motives of the perpetrators are concerned. What do Jews in Germany have to do with the Middle East conflict? Every bit as much as Christians, non-religious people or Muslims in Germany, namely, absolutely nothing. The ignorance of the judiciary toward anti-Semitism is for many Jews in Germany especially alarming.”

Dr. Moshe Kantor, the European Jewish Congress president, was outraged with the verdict.

“It is unbelievable that attempts to burn a synagogue have been equated with displeasure of Israeli government policies,” said Dr. Moshe Kantor, President of the EJC. “This has now given a carte blanche to anti-Semites across Germany to attack Jews because a German court has given them a ready justification. This court decision equates to open season on Jews.  (It) can also lead to anarchy across Germany because it provides a legal justification for the targeting of any minority, religion and nationality on the basis of a conflict that they could be in some way connected to because of religious or national ties,” Kantor continued.

“Is it possible that when Arabs are targeted by far-Right groups then it could be claimed they are reacting to the bloodshed and violence in the Arab world? That of course would be absurd, but like in many other areas, there appears to be a separate rule when it comes to Jews and anti-Semitism. In fact, it could be argued that this ruling as it singles out a different way of treating Jews has elements of anti-Semitism,” he said.

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Wuppretal Synagogue before destruction on Kristallnacht

Last May, at the Berlin-based International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Conference, a new definition of anti-Semitism was agreed upon, stating that “holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel” is anti-Semitic. Germany is a member of this organization and should uphold what it agreed to. Clearly this German regional court’s decision flies in face of that definition.

You would think they should know better.


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