A 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 and was not anti-Semitism.
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. The perpetrators will not be jailed.
The attack took place on the anniversary of Kristallnacht, a Nazi pogrom which left almost a hundred Jews dead and where over 1,000 synagogues – including the original synagogue in Wuppertal – were burnt and destroyed.
In 2015, 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. But the court said in its decision that the three men wanted to draw “attention to the Gaza conflict” with Israel and deemed the attack not to be motivated by anti-Semitism.
The arson attack on the Bergisch Synagogue in Wuppertal took place in the early morning hours of 29 July, 2014, following the end of a Ramadan celebration and during the height of anti-Israel protests in Germany and elsewhere. Damage was minimal and there were no injuries.
Israel launched Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014 to stop Hamas rocket attacks into Israeli territory.
A few days before the fire, a person sprayed “Free Palestine” on one of its walls.
“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.