In France and Germany, Courts Come to Terms with Non-Jewish Victims of Anti-Semitic Violence

The end of the past year saw the conclusion of four legal proceedings that placed anti-Semitic murderers on the dock. On December 16, a French court convicted fourteen people for their involvement in the 2015 killing spree that targeted the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, and thereafter a kosher supermarket. In Germany last October, a court sentenced the neo-Nazi Stephan Balliet to life in prison for attempting a massacre at a synagogue on Yom Kippur of 2019, and for two murders he committed after the attempt failed. Ben Cohen notes that, although both courts delivered guilty sentences, there were important difference is their handling of the respective crimes:

One . . . has to factor in the reluctance—not to say distaste—within the French judiciary for acknowledging any anti-Semitic motives among defendants in crimes that involve Jewish victims, even when these are staring them in the face, as lawyers for the victims’ families pointed out several times during the harrowing six-month trial. This was certainly not the issue with Balliet’s trial in Germany, where the searing hatred of Jews that drove his assault was front and center in the courtroom proceedings.

Neither of the two individuals murdered by Balliet was Jewish. . . . Nonetheless, both of these people were victims of anti-Semitic violence, irrespective of whether they happened to be Jewish. To say otherwise is to separate Jews out from the rest of society.

I would argue that much the same judgment can be made concerning the Paris attacks, where Jewish and general institutions were targeted. . . . In accordance with their extreme Islamist ideology—for [French killers] “the Jews” were at the root of the evil that enabled Charlie Hebdo to print cartoons that lampooned the prophet Mohammad. Just as for Balliet, “the Jews” were the reason why Germany had permitted the entry of hundreds of thousands of Syrian war refugees during 2015. That is why, when asked to explain his preference for shooting up a synagogue over a mosque, Balliet answered that he wanted to “fight the cause, not the symptoms.”

But while both trials resulted some measure of justice, this was not the case elsewhere:

Last week, a court in Buenos Aires acquitted Carlos Telleldin, a car-dealer charged with having supplied the truck that was used in the devastating July 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish center in the Argentine capital. The day after that decision, which roiled Argentina’s Jewish community, a court on the other side of the globe in Sindh, Pakistan, released the four men accused of orchestrating the 2002 abduction and beheading of the American Jewish journalist Daniel Pearl.

Read more at JNS

More about: AMIA bombing, Anti-Semitism, Charlie Hebdo, Daniel Pearl, France, Germany

Iran’s Calculations and America’s Mistake

There is little doubt that if Hizballah had participated more intensively in Saturday’s attack, Israeli air defenses would have been pushed past their limits, and far more damage would have been done. Daniel Byman and Kenneth Pollack, trying to look at things from Tehran’s perspective, see this as an important sign of caution—but caution that shouldn’t be exaggerated:

Iran is well aware of the extent and capability of Israel’s air defenses. The scale of the strike was almost certainly designed to enable at least some of the attacking munitions to penetrate those defenses and cause some degree of damage. Their inability to do so was doubtless a disappointment to Tehran, but the Iranians can probably still console themselves that the attack was frightening for the Israeli people and alarming to their government. Iran probably hopes that it was unpleasant enough to give Israeli leaders pause the next time they consider an operation like the embassy strike.

Hizballah is Iran’s ace in the hole. With more than 150,000 rockets and missiles, the Lebanese militant group could overwhelm Israeli air defenses. . . . All of this reinforces the strategic assessment that Iran is not looking to escalate with Israel and is, in fact, working very hard to avoid escalation. . . . Still, Iran has crossed a Rubicon, although it may not recognize it. Iran had never struck Israel directly from its own territory before Saturday.

Byman and Pollack see here an important lesson for America:

What Saturday’s fireworks hopefully also illustrated is the danger of U.S. disengagement from the Middle East. . . . The latest round of violence shows why it is important for the United States to take the lead on pushing back on Iran and its proxies and bolstering U.S. allies.

Read more at Foreign Policy

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, U.S. Foreign policy