NY court sees synagogue attack as hate crime

Court of Appeals rules stricter penalties imposed for such crimes apply to Palestinian convicted of trying to bomb Bronx synagogue in 2000.

A person can be guilty of a hate crime even if the violence is directed at a building rather than a person, New York's top court ruled Tuesday.
The Court of Appeals unanimously said the stricter penalties imposed for such crimes apply to a Palestinian man convicted of trying to bomb a Bronx synagogue in 2000.
"It is self-evident that, although the target of the defendant's criminal conduct was a building, the true victims were the individuals of Jewish faith who were members of the synagogue," Judge Victoria Graffeo wrote. She upheld rulings by the trial court and a mid-level court on a state statute enacted in 2000.
"The evidence in this case proved that defendant committed an attempted arson of the synagogue because of his anger toward a particular religious group," Graffeo wrote.
The attacker, 30-year-old Mazin Assi, is serving five to 15 years in prison.
Jan Hoth, Assi's lawyer, said her client has been denied parole twice,will probably serve the full term despite having no prior criminalrecord and would be free already if simply convicted of attemptedarson. He had grown up in the Palestinian territories and was workingat a deli in New York at the time, she said.
Prosecutors saidAssi and three others tried to make firebombs out of vodka bottles andthrew them through the glass door on the Congregation Adath Israelsynagogue on the eve of Yom Kippur. The homemade bombs did not ignite.
Assitold police he was angry that a Palestinian child was shot by the IDFand wanted to make a statement that would stop Middle East violence.