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Graveyard Vandal Gets 3 Years, Accomplice Held Pending Exams

David Goldner, a 41-year-old Israeli Jew, was sentenced Sunday by the Haifa Magistrates Court to four years in prison, 12 months of it suspended, for the May 12 desecration of 303 graves in the Haifa Jewish cemeteries of Kfar Samir and Hof Carmel.

Goldner, an electrical engineer from Kiryat Motzkin, in the Haifa Bay area, was found guilty May 24. A returnee to Orthodox Judaism, Goldner had confessed to the desecration, describing himself as an emissary of the Messiah.

Goldner’s friend and co-defendant, Gershon Tennenbaum, 32, of nearby Kiryat Yam, is still undergoing psychiatric examinations to determine whether he is mentally sound. Tennenbaum likewise has described himself as a messianic envoy.

Magistrate Amirav Rand, who accepted Goldner’s guilty plea, noted that Goldner had previously been examined by psychiatrists and found to be responsible for his actions.

Rand said he had no faith in Goldner’s expressions of regret for the desecrations, which included virulently anti-Jewish slogans calling on Arab leaders to kill Jews.

The magistrate said Goldner’s actions were taken to breed hatred and enmity between communities. They were not only potentially dangerous but also ran counter to Goldner’s stated aim of uniting the Jewish people, Rand said.

Both Goldner and Tennenbaum said they wanted to free the Jewish people and draw attention to the dangers facing the Jewish people and Israel. Both were described as “eccentric.”

Police charged Goldner with the actual writing, with Tennenbaum alleged to have dictated to him what to write.

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