Antisemitic Protests Outside Michigan Synagogue Are Allowed, District Judge Rules
Antisemitic protests that have been staged outside a synagogue in Michigan, for nearly two decades will be allowed to continue, a local judge ruled this week.
The demonstrations, featuring signs that say “Jewish Power Corrupts” and “Resist Jewish Power,” have been taking place during Shabbat services at Beth Israel Synagogue in Ann Arbor.
Some members said their right to worship had been violated by offensive signs that caused emotional distress. But US District Judge Victoria Roberts said the protests were protected by the First Amendment, The Detroit News reported.
“There is no allegation that the protesters prevent plaintiffs from attending Sabbath services, that they block plaintiffs’ path onto the property or to the synagogue, or that the protests and signs outside affect the services inside,” Roberts said on Wednesday.
Peaceful demonstrations were “entitled to the highest level of constitutional protection, even if it disturbs, is offensive and causes emotional distress,” the judge posited.
Ziporah Reich, co-counsel for synagogue members, said a request for reconsideration was planned.
“The court is effectively saying that the emotional distress experienced by Jews in reaction to the antisemitic slurs hurled at them every week for 16 years in front of their house of worship, is insufficient injury to grant them access to federal court,” Reich stated.
The protests outside the synagogue have been organized by “Witnesses for Peace,” a vehemently anti-Zionist protest group started by Henry Herskowitz, who identifies as a “former Jew.”
Antisemitic signs carried by the group outside the synagogue also call for boycotts of the State of Israel, denounce the “Holocaust” against the Palestinians and charge that the US government is controlled by Israel.