Kosher restaurant attacker in Amsterdam convicted but avoids more jail time | JTA
AMSTERDAM — A Syrian asylum seeker who smashed the widows of a kosher restaurant in Amsterdam was convicted Wednesday of vandalism but will not have to spend more time in jail.
A criminal court in the Dutch capital gave Saleh Ali, who attacked the HaCarmel restaurant in December while waving a Palestinian flag, a 4-month suspended sentence and said he must pay approximately $1,000 in damages — money Ali told the court he did not have. The court ruled that the 52 days he spent in jail following the incident was enough.
Ali, who attacked the restaurant a day after President Donald Trump announced that the United States would move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, will get back the Palestinian flag that police took from him. The offense for which Ali was convicted does not include the aggravated element of a hate crime, but the judge did reference it, saying the restaurant owners “had nothing to do with Trump’s decision.”
“Your action made a lot of people scared, including other Jewish business owners,” the judge said. During an interview published earlier this week with Telegraaf, Ali said he did not regret his actions. “Something in me snapped, it was like a volcano exploded” following Trump’s announcement, he told the paper. Ali promised the judge he would “not do it again.”
Ronny Naftaniel, a Dutch board member of CEJI, a Brussels-based Jewish organization promoting tolerance through education, said the sentence “does not constitute any deterrence for would-be” perpetrators of anti-Semitic crimes. And the CIDI watchdog group on anti-Semitism, which Naftaniel used to head, said on Twitter that the case “raises the question of screening for immigrants.”
It is “worrisome that someone who constitutes such a risk can walk about freely,” the group said. During the trial, which began in December, Ali declined to answer the judge’s questions and “kept going on about the Palestinian cause,” according to Saskia Belleman, the court correspondent for De Telegraaf. It also emerged in court that Ali told an officer after his arrest that the attack was “only the first step.” Asked about the next step, he said: “I will tell you later, no one needs to know.”
The article first appeared on JTA.