20:47 GMT +320 January 2020
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    A regional court in Germany ruled Friday that a 2014 firebombing of a synagogue in Wuppertal, in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, was not a manifestation of anti-Semitism, but an act aimed to criticize Israeli policies in its conflict with Gaza.

    In July 2014, three Palestinian-born German residents threw self-made Molotov cocktails at the Bergischen synagogue. Members of the synagogue were not hurt in the attack, but the firebombs caused some €800 in damages. Several days before the incident, an unidentified person spray-painted "Free Palestine" on a wall of the building.

    The men, who apologized to the Jewish community as they testified in the Wuppertal district court, claimed that they didn not want to hurt anyone, and were given suspended sentences.

    This week's decision affirms the 2015 ruling by a lower court that the perpetrators sought only to draw public's attention to the conflict in Gaza.

    Volker Beck, a leading Green Party MP, sharply criticized the decision, claiming that the firebombing was obviously motivated by anti-Semitism, as the synagogue that fell under attack was not located in Israel, and people worshiping there were not Israelis.

    "What do Jews in Germany have to do with the Middle East conflict?" he questioned, cited by Vox. "Every bit as much as Christians, non-religious people or Muslims in Germany, namely, absolutely nothing."

    Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the leading US-based Jewish human rights organization Simon Wiesenthal Center, described the affirmation of the ruling as "disgusting and dangerous."

    "Left unchallenged, this outrage could signal open season on German Jewry and their institutions," he warned.

    Wuppertal's original synagogue was destroyed by the Nazis in 1938, during the Kristallnacht pogroms.    


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