Leader of German Jews Thinks Justice System is Inadequate
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Leader of German Jews Thinks Justice System is Inadequate

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The head of Germany’s Jewish community believes German justice and intentions are inadequate to combat neo-Nazis.

Ignatz Bubis, speaking with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency about issues confronting the community, said judges have been too liberal in sentencing the perpetrators of right-wing crimes.

Nevertheless, he also admitted that he had no solution or suggestion of his own about educating the growing far right movement to turn away from racism.

“I don’t have any suggestions, and that’s worse. I don’t know what one should do. It’s a situation where it’s difficult to say you have to do this or you have to do that.”

And his verdict is not yet in on what, if any, success accrued from a recently rip to Israel of neo-Nazis from the city of Dresden.

“I’m not sure if that was a good or bad thing,” said Bubis.

The trip was organized by a Dresden city employee in charge of foreign affairs in conjunction with local social workers. Its goal was to erase stereotypes by giving neo-Nazis a firsthand view of Israel.

It was criticized by some prominent Jews in Germany who worry that the trip might actually have had an adverse effect and could end up reinforcing stereotypes.

Bubis spends much of his time trying to educate non-Jews about the 40,000-member German Jewish community and in trying to erase stereotypes and preconceptions.

He is also active in promoting equality for foreigners living here.

Shortly after this interview, Bubis left Berlin for Molln, to mark the first anniversary of the killing of three Turks by neo-Nazis.

Bubis, who is 66, has a daily agenda that is more packed than people half his age. Indeed, he appeared tired and overworked during the interview. His schedule is so hectic that he employs three secretaries to keep things in order.


After 14 months as head of the Jewish community, he has been largely well-received here, by both Jews and non-Jews alike. But while Bubis is seen as more thought-provoking and diplomatic than his predecessor, the late Heinz Galinski, he does not think his message is different.

But times have changed in Germany. Within the last 12 months, there have been 2,584 incidents of violence or vandalism by the radical right, and 17 people have died from neo-Nazi attacks.

And, the punishment has been far greater for those who kill prominent businesspersons than toward those who kill asylum-seekers, he said.

Bubis voiced concern about the discrepancy between Germany police and court treatments of activists of the radical right and left.

A debate as to whether Germany is “blind in the right eye” has been brewing here ever, since the first suspended sentences were handed down two years ago in the initial wave of post-unification neo-Nazi crimes.

Among those who are speaking out on this problem are Lea Rosh, a well-known Jewish television journalist here and co-author of the book “Death is a Meister from Germany,” where “meister” translates into “ruler” and the phrase indicts Germany as a whole.

A number of law professors have also blamed the German system for its mild treatment of the right wing.

Bubis believes the establishment does not see the links and organizational ability of the radical right.

“We are dealing here with about 80 different groups. I am of the opinion that there are connections between these 80 groups. The police say that there are no connections,” he said.

Many, he says, are from the 1968 generation, where youth protests in Paris spilled over to Germany, and they place a heavy emphasis on rehabilitation before punishment.

The trouble, Bubis said, is not that judges are too conservative but that they are too liberal.

“The laws are sufficient, but the justice is too liberal for me,” said Bubis.

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