Bronx, NY – An appeals court says a person can be guilty of a hate crime even if they direct violence at a building, rather than a person.
The state Appellate Division made that ruling in the case of a man convicted of trying to bomb a Bronx synagogue in 2000.
Mazin Assi, 29, who is doing five to 15 years in prison, also unsuccessfully argued that the hate crime measure was not yet in effect because it had just been enacted hours earlier.
Congregation Adath Israel was empty except for a caretaker on Oct. 8, 2000, when Assi and three Arab-American friends bought bottles of Devil’s Spring vodka to make Molotov cocktails.
The four men tossed the firebombs vodka bottles and rocks through the glass door of the synagogue on the eve of Yom Kippur.
The homemade bombs did not ignite.
“There is no question that [Assi] chose the synagogue because of the religion or religious practices it represents.” the judges’ 18-page decision read.
After his arrest, Assi who is of Palestinian descent told police he wanted to make a statement about Middle East violence, saying he did it because “the Jews in Riverdale send money” to Israel.
He also railed against Israeli soldiers who, he said, had shot a Palestinian infant.
“The Jews in Riverdale send money over there, and they buy guns and they are killing people,” he reportedly said.
(Source: NY Daily News)