A German Court Rules a Synagogue-Burning “Criticism of Israel”

March 16 2017

Two years ago, three German men of Palestinian descent threw Molotov cocktails at a synagogue. In a ruling recently upheld by a higher court, the three were declared guilty of the attack but were not convicted of committing a hate crime since—in the courts’ logic—they had been engaged in a political protest against Israel’s policies. Abraham Cooper and Yitzchok Adlerstein write:

The German courts’ decisions will further fuel the anti-Semitism engulfing Europe. Jews are specifically warned not to wear kippot or other Jewish symbols in many European capitals. Holocaust survivors in Malmo, Sweden—where, ironically, they settled after escaping the Nazis—are fearful of walking to synagogue on the Sabbath because the anti-Israel political establishment won’t protect them or their rabbi from anti-Semitic threats. Armed guards are stationed in front of synagogues throughout the continent—yet, according to the president of the Conference of European Rabbis, Jews do not feel safe inside their own houses of worship.

The German court decision fits the pattern of European officials and the media who find it [safer] to attribute attacks against Jewish citizens to hooliganism, to anger at Israel, or to the plight of unemployed youth [than] to anti-Semitism. . . . [This verdict] has created a new tool for those who seek to deny or to do nothing about the world’s oldest hatred: simply dismissing it as political protest. That allows the guilty to go unpunished, removes the urgency for law-enforcement to act, and soothes the consciences of the apathetic.

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More about: Anti-Semitism, European Jewry, German Jewry, Germany, Jewish World

No, Israelis and Palestinians Can’t Simply Sit Down and Solve the “Israel-Palestinian Conflict”

Jan. 17 2019

By “zooming out” from the blinkered perspective with which most Westerners see the affairs of the Jewish state, argues Matti Friedman, one can begin to see things the way Israelis do:

Many [in Israel] believe that an agreement signed by a Western-backed Palestinian leader in the West Bank won’t end the conflict, because it will wind up creating not a state but a power vacuum destined to be filled by intra-Muslim chaos, or Iranian proxies, or some combination of both. That’s exactly what has happened . . . in Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq. One of Israel’s nightmares is that the fragile monarchy in Jordan could follow its neighbors . . . into dissolution and into Iran’s orbit, which would mean that if Israel doesn’t hold the West Bank, an Iranian tank will be able to drive directly from Tehran to the outskirts of Tel Aviv. . . .

In the “Israeli-Palestinian” framing, with all other regional components obscured, an Israeli withdrawal in the West Bank seems like a good idea—“like a real-estate deal,” in President Trump’s formulation—if not a moral imperative. And if the regional context were peace, as it was in Northern Ireland, for example, a power vacuum could indeed be filled by calm.

But anyone using a wider lens sees that the actual context here is a complex, multifaceted war, or a set of linked wars, devastating this part of the world. The scope of this conflict is hard to grasp in fragmented news reports but easy to see if you pull out a map and look at Israel’s surroundings, from Libya through Syria and Iraq to Yemen.

The fault lines have little to do with Israel. They run between dictators and the people they’ve been oppressing for generations; between progressives and medievalists; between Sunnis and Shiites; between majority populations and minorities. If [Israel’s] small sub-war were somehow resolved, or even if Israel vanished tonight, the Middle East would remain the same volatile place it is now.

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More about: Hizballah, Iran, Israel & Zionism, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Middle East