German appellate court: Firebombing of synagogue was "anti-Israel" criticism, not an anti-semitic attack

By this logic, the Nazi era was one big “anti-Israel” protest. True, Israel didn’t exist yet, but the Nazis always did say they were ahead of their time.

The original synagogue in this town, Wuppertal, burned on Kristallnacht. This building, attacked by three men of Palestinian ancestry with molotov cocktails in 2014, replaced it. Times change but the impunity stays the same:

A German regional court in the city of Wuppertal affirmed a lower court decision last Friday 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

Three German Palestinians sought to torch the Wuppertal synagogue with Molotov cocktails in July, 2014. The local Wuppertal court panel said in its 2015 decision that the three men wanted to draw “attention to the Gaza conflict” with Israel. The court deemed the attack not to be motivated by antisemitism…

The court sentenced the three men – the 31-year-old Mohamad E., the 26 year-old Ismail A. and the 20-year-old Mohammad A.—to suspended sentences.

No one was injured and the property damage amounted to less than a thousand dollars, but it’s strange that attacking a place of worship with an incendiary device wouldn’t warrant a day in jail. Stranger, this decision can’t be chalked up to the fluky awfulness of one terrible judge. It was an appellate ruling, affirming the judgment of a lower court. Evidently, as a matter of law in Germany, attacking random Jews is a coherent expression of opposition to Israeli policy. Which is ironic, as Israel’s critics are normally emphatic in distinguishing anti-Zionism from anti-semitism. Just because you oppose settlements and believe that Palestinians deserve a right of return, the argument goes, doesn’t mean you wish ill on Jewish people generally. Until, that is, you’re hauled into court for throwing gasoline at a Jewish religious building, in which case anti-semitism morphs effortlessly into anti-Zionism for the defense. Imagine being a German Jew and hearing from the local court that, as far as the law’s concerned, you’re essentially an Israeli political agent. That wouldn’t be the first term Jews in that country have been told they’re not citizens the same way everyone else is. Between this and Merkel’s open-door policy, if you liked the old Germany, you’re going to love the new Germany a few decades from now.

The president of the European Jewish Congress asked a good question:

“This court decision can also lead to anarchy across Germany,” said Kantor, “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. Is it possible that when Arabs are targeted by far-right groups, 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.”

The last thing the German government should want, given the friction between German natives and migrants, is a legal standard in which light sentences are handed out for throwing bombs at mosques so long as the defendant claims that he was merely protesting, say, Assad’s policies in Syria. But that’s what they’re looking at here — if not for the double standard for Jews and Israel, that is.

The oddest thing about this case, though, is that the severity of the sentence seems to turn so heavily on whether the motive is officially deemed “anti-semitic” or not. That’s sort of in keeping with U.S. hate-crime laws, where time is added to a sentence if the perpetrator targeted the victim because he’s a member of a protected class, but tossing a small bomb at a building would be deemed a serious crime whether or not an improper motive was proved at sentencing. Given the suspended sentences for the three perps, it’s as though the presence or absence of an anti-semitic motive determines whether it’s a serious crime at all. If they had thrown molotov cocktails at the Israeli consulate instead, would everything be jake?

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Jazz Shaw 10:01 PM on June 07, 2023