An Australian court this week creatively dealt with a young gang member who shouted “Kill the Jews” and “Heil Hitler” at a bus-load of Jewish children.
The youth, who expressed remorse for his actions, was sentenced to attend a Shabbat meal, visit the Sydney Jewish Museum and read works by Primo Levi and Elie Wiesel. Compare this with the recent social media hate case involving Luciana Berger, which saw Mr Garron Helm jailed for four weeks for sending the Labour MP “grossly offensive” tweets.
The 21-year-old created a picture of Berger with a yellow Star of David pasted onto her forehead, which he sent together with vile anti-Jewish slogans. In the present climate, few would criticise the sentence. But can jailing a young man like Helm really achieve anything? Not judging by his poisonous Twitter feed. While he was locked up, Helm’s followers tweeted in support for the ‘political prisoner’.
Now he’s out and tweeting as ‘Aethelwulf’ again, Helm is raging at the ‘tyrannical Jewish government’. Perhaps a British magistrate might emulate this Australian court’s creativity when sentencing a future anti-Semitic internet troll.
The offender might be obliged to attend a traditional Friday night Shabbat meal before perhaps visiting the inspiring Holocaust Survivors’ Centre in Hendon, to make tea for residents and listen to their stories. Perhaps the day might end by volunteering their time to one of our community’s countless good causes.
Such a programme wouldn’t have turned Helm into a decent member of society, but it would have given him what a stint in prison clearly did not – a chance to address his ignorance.