German court calls synagogue torching an act to 'criticize Israel'

A regional court in Germany has decided that a brutal attempt to set fire to a local synagogue in 2014 was an act meant to express criticism against Israel's conduct in its ongoing conflict with Gaza

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January 13, 2017 03:41
2 minute read.
A window is pictured with the Star of David in a new synagogue in Cottbus, Germany

A window is pictured with the Star of David in a new synagogue in Cottbus, Germany. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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A regional court in Germany has decided that a brutal attempt to set fire to a local synagogue in 2014 was an act meant to express criticism against Israel’s conduct in its ongoing conflict with Hamas.

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 Bergische Synagogue by three men in 2014 was a justified expression of criticism of Israel’s policies.

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Johannes Pinnel, a spokesman for the regional court, explained the court’s decision regarding the three German Palestinians who sought to firebomb the Wuppertal synagogue in July 2014. The court said in its 2015 decision that the three men wanted to draw “attention to the Gaza conflict” with Israel and deemed the attack not to be motivated by antisemitism.

Israel launched Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014 to stop Hamas rocket attacks into Israeli territory.

The court sentenced the three men – Muhammad E., 31, Ismail A., 26, and Muhammad A., 20 – to suspended sentences for tossing firebombs at the synagogue. and causing €800 worth of damage.

The original synagogue in Wuppertal was burned by Nazis during the Kristallnacht pogroms in 1938.

Wuppertal has a population of nearly 344,000 and is located in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia.

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The court noted that the men had consumed alcohol and there were no injuries to members of the synagogue.

A 13-year-old boy who lived near the synagogue and noticed the flames called the police. Several days before the fire, a person sprayed “Free Palestine” on one of its walls.

After the court’s ruling, Volker Beck, a leading Green Party MP, said the “attack on the synagogue was motivated by antisemitism” and blasted the court for issuing a decision stating that the goal of the attack was to highlight the war in Gaza.

“This is a mistaken decision as far as the motives of the perpetrators are concerned,” he said, adding that the burning of a synagogue in Germany because of the Middle East conflict can be attributed only to antisemitism.

“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 antisemitism is for many Jews in Germany especially alarming, ” said Beck.

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