German Court: Shul Arson Was ‘Legitimate Act of Protest’ Against Israel

Burned siddurim in the shul. (Gershon Elinson/Flash90)

The burning of a shul in Wuppertal, Germany, in 2014 was not an act of anti-Semitism but a “legitimate act of protest” against Israeli policies, a German regional court ruled Friday. The ruling affirmed a lower court decision from 2015 that the arson was committed to “draw attention to the Gaza conflict” and was not motivated by anti-Semitism, The Jerusalem Post reported.

Three Arab migrants to Germany who committed the arson were given suspended sentences by the court. They were arrested in July 2014 for attacking the shul with Molotov cocktails in the wake of Operation Protective Edge, in which Israel attacked Gaza terrorists who had lobbed thousands of missiles at Israeli targets in the month leading up to the war. The arson caused about 800 euros worth of damage to the shul. The building had originally been burned down in 1938 as part of the Kristallnacht pogroms.

The controversial court decisions were slammed by numerous politicians, including Volker Beck, a leading Green Party MP. The Jerusalem Post quoted him as saying that the “attack on the synagogue was motivated by 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 anti-Semitism is for many Jews in Germany especially alarming,” he said at the time of the 2015 decision.