Jewish leader: Judiciary doing too little to combat anti-Semitism

Josef Schuster, the president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, has accused the country’s judiciary of doing too little to combat anti-Semitic crime, in an interview in Der Spiegel news magazine published on Friday.

“I see very significant shortcomings,” Schuster said, adding that when anti-Semitic crimes are committed, judges seemed to “look for ways to set lighter sentences.”

Schuster said that paves the way for further anti-Semitism and that he could not shake the impression that judges were not taking the crimes seriously enough.

Right-wing extremists are prepared to kill people, Schuster said, referring to the recent terror attack on a synagogue in the east German city of Halle. He also mentioned the murder of Walter Luebcke, a politician who backed Chancellor Angela Merkel’s open immigration policy, who was killed in June.

Schuster said he welcomed the inclusion of anti-Semitic motives in Germany’s criminal code, paving the way for tougher sentencing.

The Bundesrat, Germany’s second chamber of parliament representing the federal states, has called for tougher penalties for anti-Semitic crimes and plans to draft a law for consideration by parliament in which anti-Semitic motives are punished more severely.

Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht has already announced such a reform.

Schuster praised the government’s efforts so far in the interview, saying that Merkel is “clearly committed to Jewish life.”

However, he said that the rise of the far-right Alternative for Germany had shifted and was shifting boundaries in a way that is changing social mores. “Words are becoming deeds,” Schuster said.

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