Saturday, February 07, 2015

07-Feb-15: German synagogue petrol-bombed by Palestinian Arabs might be an overdue wake-up call if the sleepers pay attention

The sanctuary of the Wuppertal, Germany, synagogue, 2014 [Image Source]
Benjamin Weinthal, writing in the Jerusalem Post today, reports on the conviction this week of two Palestinian Arabs, 24 and 29, by a German court on criminal charges arising out of an arson attack on a synagogue in Wuppertal, North Rhine-Westphalia.

The hurling of petrol bombs (often called Molotov Cocktails in the media) by Palestinian Arabs is a daily occurrence in Israel, where no one is in much doubt on either side that it constitutes an act of hatred and extreme hostility in the ongoing war of terror waged by Fatah/PA against Israelis.

The Wuppertal synagogue had been destroyed by fire in the German nationwide Kristallnacht pogrom on the night of November 9/10, 1938. Its replacement was daubed with "Free Palestine” slogans a few days before the attack that led to this week's conviction.

As Weinthal notes ["German Judge: Torching of Synagogue not motivated by anti-Semitism"
Jerusalem Post today"], a German political figure, Volker Beck of the Green Party, has stepped in to urge the court to reconsider and designate the criminal attack as anti-Semitic, presumably with more severe sanctions as a consequence:
The Wuppertal court sentenced the two men, ages 24 and 29, to a suspended prison term of one year and three months. The two men, along with an 18-year-old juvenile, in July tossed Molotov cocktails at the synagogue in Wuppertal, a city in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia with a population of nearly 344,000. The court ordered all three to perform 200 hours of community service. Beck said on Saturday the “attack on the Synagogue was motivated by anti-Semitism” and blasted the court for issuing a decision stating that the goal of the attack was to bring “attention to the Gaza conflict... The ignorance of the judiciary toward anti-Semitism is for many Jews in Germany especially alarming.”
The three perpetrators admitted the attack when their case was heard four weeks ago [German news source, which calls them Jordanian] and owned up to being "really drunk" in their own words. and wanting to "make a statement" [Deutsche Welle].  A different news report at the time of the attack said the attackers evidently aimed to burn the house of worship to the ground.

The more sober parts of the German political leadership know they have a growing and very serious problem on their hands. But denial is not hard to find, as the court decision demonstrates.
In mid-November, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said at a conference on anti-Semitism that "hatred of Jews" was in the rise in Germany and across Europe. He attributed this to spiraling violence in the Middle East. [Deutsche Welle, January 14, 2015]
Wuppertal's self-appointed "Sharia Police" [Image Source]
He might have said, but didn't, that the rising hatred of Jews has some concrete causes that Germans are finding hard to articulate - or to face.

Someone else, however, did. The political editor for the weekly newspaper Die Zeit. Jochen Bittner, writing in the New York Times ["What’s Behind Germany’s New Anti-Semitism", September 16, 2014] stated it pretty clearly:
Europe is living through a new wave of anti-Semitism. The president of Germany’s Central Council of Jews calls it the worst the Continent has seen since World War II. He may well be right. Attacks on synagogues are an almost weekly occurrence... We’ve seen this before, of course. But there’s an important difference this time. The new anti-Semitism does not originate solely with the typical white-supremacist neo-Nazi; instead, the ugly truth that many in Europe don’t want to confront is that much of the anti-Jewish animus originates with European people of Muslim background. Until recently, Germany has been unwilling to discuss this trend. Germans have always seen Muslim anti-Semitism as a less problematic version of the “original” version, and therefore a distraction from the well-known problem of anti-Jewish sentiment within a majority of society. And yet the German police have noted a disturbing rise in the number of people of Arabic and Turkish descent arrested on suspicion of anti-Semitic acts in recent years, especially over the last several months... What has become obvious this summer is that the “old” Germans have not yet managed to properly deliver this message to all the “new” Germans. Emotionally, this may have been understandable, given how many “bio-Germans,” as we call ethnic Germans, actually had Nazi family members that they still got to know, which may have made them wary of telling others what to think...[NYTimes]
That's Germany. In the specific town whose synagogue was bombed, authorities discovered some quite specific Islamist challenges just a few months ago:
Police in Wuppertal are seeking ways to stop the group of men who have been seen patrolling the area around the western city's main train station on several evenings recently. The bearded fundamentalists have declared the sleazy nightlife area of the city of 340,000 to be a "Sharia Controlled Zone"... Police stopped 11 men between the ages of 19 and 33 in Wuppertal on Wednesday night and they are now being investigated to see whether charges of illegal assembly could be brought against them... "Intimidation or provocation won't be tolerated," Wuppertal Police Chief Birgitta Rademacher said on Friday... Wuppertal's mayor, Peter Jung, said he supported the police taking a hard line on the group's activities. "These people's intention is to provoke and intimidate and force their ideology (upon others)," Jung said. He added that Wuppertal was an "open and tolerant city, which is proud of the fact that people of different religions and convictions live together in peace." [Deutsche Welle, September 5, 2014]
We're left wondering whether German judges get briefed on issues like this.

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