Photo Credit: Lori Lowenthal Marcus
Canadian judge ruled flicking a lighter in Jewish girl's hair while saying "let's burn the Jew" not racially motivated

A high school student grabbed a Jewish female classmate, held a lighter to her hair and said out loud, “let’s burn the Jew,”  but a Canadian judge concluded that the incident was “not racially motivated.”

The incident between two 15 year old Winnipeg, Canada high school students took place in 2011.


The lawyer for the defendant claimed, essentially, it was the girl’s fault her hair caught on fire.

He said his client grabbed the girl, lit the lighter and made the comments, but her hair caught fire when she pulled away. He also said that referring to the girl as “the Jew” was simply the way people interacted at the school, and the defendant was not the only one who called her that. He referred to his client as “a jerk and a bully,” but said the incident was “impulsive and unplanned.”

The defendant’s therapist claimed the incident was an “impulsive teenage action.”

Winnipeg’s Provincial Court Judge Robert Finlayson, before whom the trial was held, agreed with the defense. While he called the act “totally vulgar and inappropriate,” Finlayson said he was satisfied it was not racially motivated.

Given the judge was unwilling to classify saying “let’s burn the Jew” and then actually grabbing a Jew and burning her hair as anti-Semitic, perhaps he should be praised for also stating that the school culture in which this kind of incident was commonplace was was “unhealthy and dark and there’s no place for it in society.”

The victim claimed the incident “changed her world upside down.” She needed therapy to deal with her fears.  She also believes that the people in the school blamed her for making a big deal of the incident.

The now-17 year old defendant was not given any prison time. Instead, the court ordered him to serve 18 months of supervised probation. He also has to seek out counseling, write a letter of apology to the victim and perform 75 hours of community service work, according to the Winnipeg Free Press. In an earlier stage of the prosecution, the defendant pleaded guilty to assault with a weapon.

This story was corrected to reflect that the incident itself occurred in 2011, not 2010, as originally reported. The sentencing and judgment about racial motivation was entered on January 2, 2014.

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Lori Lowenthal Marcus is a contributor to the A graduate of Harvard Law School, she previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools. You can reach her by email:


  1. Pretty steep punishment for a teenager who was said to be ‘innocent’. If the judge really thought the little devil was innocent, why not just let his bullying mysogenistic ignorant little squat to pee coward go free? The judge is a coward, that’s why!

  2. I’m not a lawyer. But I’ve heard ‘precedent’ as being important in looking at crime. What about premeditation? There is a precedent, a very historical one of Jews being burnt. Accidentally setting someone on fire is much different than going through the steps preparing to burn someone. Because of the precedent the threat was clear. The idea of this kid’s lawyer saying it was the girl’s fault her hair was ignited is outrageous–she wasn’t expected to struggle, resist and get away? People who complain about the category ‘hate crime’ see crime without extenuating circumstances, but that is not the real situation. For hate crime there is a prior history of attacks just as if there were attempted crimes, and then a completed crime. You can find all kinds of precedent for Jews being systematically burned. But can you see them as single, unrelated crimes? Isn’t the boy’s statement clear enough? Why did he express burning in association with a Jewess? At the least he was choosing a very specific way with a specific historical precedent to terrorize her.

  3. I am irate. Ready to write this judge a letter, call his office-get friends to storm his doors. . . THEN I read the date. It took FOUR YEARS before this article was written? WTF, man…

  4. um. you silly fish all gobbling up this bait in a big race-fueled frenzy,

    the heinous person you should be addressing is the person who chose to race-bait your utterly predictable arrogance and group orgy over a thing that happened FOUR YEARS AGO.
    You may want to revisit the definition of “news”.

  5. Moreyn, the judge just imposed the punishment and just made the determination that what happened was not "racially motivated." I don't know where you live, but in most civilized countries an incident occurs, a decision is made whether or not to criminally prosecute, and if they decide to pursue the case, then the prosecution and the defense marshall their positions. In this case there was no trial because the defendant entered a guilty plea to assault with a weapon, but then the defendant underwent lengthy evaluations by mental health professionals. And then this past week the judge ruled on how the defendant would be punished for his crime. All this took over 3 years. That is why this article appeared yesterday.

  6. Thank you for explaining that in Canada it takes 3 years to ignore what in America is an OBVIOUS 'hate crime'. I pity ANYONE who does such a thing to me. They wouldn't survive.

  7. If any American Jew patronizes travel to Winnipeg, products made in Winnipeg, attends a hockey game in which Winnipeg competes, or even goes to a movie made in Winnipeg then they are actively or tacitly supporting an anti-Semitic, warped and twisted culture. I would urge Americans in general to reconsider any involvement with Canada altogether, except perhaps, Ontario, where this presumably would not have happened with the same "legal" result.

  8. There is anti semitism all over the world, even in "civilized" Canada. There is no excuse for what had happened, but the judge made the right call. Putting this teenager in jail would have accomplished nothing. Community service, and Probation would have been the right choice.

  9. Good for you Sara! I live in the U.K. and I am sick of the way JEWS respond to all the hatred, BDS, Palestinian Solidarity etc., etc. If it was Muslims they would be bombing the judge! Not that I want to stoop to their barbarous actions, but Jews just keep their heads down and protest. Politely! We need to be more like Gays – who stand proud of who they are and let the world know it. As a group we contribute so much to the world, it is about time that we stood up for ourselves. Give me the name and address of the judge, I will write to him and let him know what racism means and how his actions encourage hatred.

  10. The judgement was wrong. However, since Community Service was ordered, it should be done in a Jewish Institution! I would suggest the Simon Wiesenthal Center but it's too far away. There has to be a Jewish organization in that community that does charitable work. 75 hours is NOT enough! The Community Service should be a combination of education in a facility and "not so pleasant" physical work! This is clearly a Hate Crime.

  11. I agree. Not so sure if it was intended as a hate crime; not sure if the kid would even know enough of history to be aware of the seriousness of his "joke", but then isn't that how racism is perpetuated? By stupid people repeating stuff that then becomes their default way of thinking? But it should be recognized that ignorance is no excuse, that it was a hate crime be reason of the language used, just as a careless driver killing a pedestrian is still murder whether intended or not outside the court of law. This would be the perfect scenario for Restorative Justice.

  12. I have suggestion: a group of our Canadian brethren should learn the identity of this little bastard, and then grab him and beat the living crap out of him. Afterwards, let it be known that the same thing will happen to anyone who harasses a Jew. If the justice system breaks down, or is perverted, vigilante justice is the appropriate response. If Canadian (or American) authorities ignore the harassment of a Jew, then we must take it upon ourselves to punish the anti-Semite. I am serious. Grab the little toad and put him in the hospital!

  13. I think people are missing a potentially defining moment, here. The community is apparently so imbued with anti-semitism, the judge being part and parcel, that it seemed to him to be a normal course of events in that region.

  14. This is why my kids are trained in self defense. Every Jew should take Krav Maga. One hand on her hair, one hand on the lighter means the perp had no hands to defend himself. If this were done to me or mine, this individual's arm would have been broken and he would have been left writhing on the floor in pain having learned his lesson. And that would have been legitimate self defense against an aggravated assault.

  15. Some kids actually make jokes about such things without realizing the gravity behind the joke. He should be forced to live in a prison camp's furnace while watching videos about the events that happened there. Whatever it takes to make it sink in. I'm almost as upset that he put his hands on a girl and made a violent gesture against her…I would expect even racists to have lines they don't cross.

  16. why didn't these embassies invite these protestors in permanently and give them sanctuary, food and drink within the confines of those embassies or at least pay to fly them out to their own countries?

    Blaiming the problem is not the answer. the solution is these countries should admit them to their own countries.

  17. So what if someone flicks a lighter near the dishonorable Judge Roberts testicles, he can also surely claim he had a teenage moment couldn't he? Jews, wake up! can't you see the writing on the wall? it just happened here in NY with the NY compost, Just to quot you from a teaching of the Alter Rebbe the Baal Hatanya, "its a Chazokoh Aisov soneh es Yaakov" lets not be taken by surprise.

  18. The direct opposite happens in the UK. A couple of years ago a young British man was arrested for 'blowing his car horn in a racist manner'. The world is currently in a state of madness as it seems one can only be a victim of racism if the victim belongs to a certain "peaceful" religion.

  19. i'm so sorry for this girl's experience, and the pain she was caused. "PEOPLE ARE JUST STUPID" isn't a very satisfactory explanation, but sometimes it's the only one. ;/

  20. We have the Islamist equivelent of the Hitler Youth, the Muslim Student Association, proliferating and spreading thier filth on campuses across the United States. Jew Hatred has actually become fashionable on our universities. We are literally making comic book heroes out of our enemies. What would have happened if someone tried to put a Nazi in a cape next to Superman in WW II? The First few books below exposes why this is happening:

    Indoctrination U: The Left's War Against Academic Freedom and The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America by David Horowitz
    Ivory Towers On Sand: The Failure of Middle Eastern Studies in America by Martin Kramer
    (The War Against Boys: How Misguided Feminism Is Harming Our Young Men by Christina Hoff Sommers)

    The Haj by Leon Uris (A Primer on the “right to return” scam)

    Fiction: The Source by James Michener-Need proof of the Jewish claim to Jerusalem?
    Non-Fiction: Archaeology Exclusive: Ancient Gold Treasure Discovered in Jerusalem

    The Book of Jewish Knowledge by Nathan Ausubel

    Muslim Mafia: Inside the Secret Underworld, (CAIR and the Muslim Brotherhood), That's Conspiring to Islamize America by Gaubatz and Sperry
    CAIR: Islamists Fooling the Establishment by Daniel Pipes and Sharon Chadha (MEQ article)

    Because They Hate: A Survivor of Islamic Terror Warns America by Brigitte Gabriel

    Slavery, Terrorism and Islam, (and Holocaust in Rwanda), by Peter Hammond

    The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism by Andrew G. Bostom (Read the "Note on the Cover Art-Execution of a Moroccan Jewess")
    Supplemental Article “The First and Last Enemy: Jew Hatred in Islam.” by Bostom
    The Legacy of Jihad by Andrew G. Bostom MD

    A Concise History of the Crusades by Thomas F. Madden

  21. Daniel Paul Gold, good point. These things are taught at home, long before a kid enters a school. And it's not enough to expect schools to teach morals to the kids when parents are (or should be) part of the education as well. And come to think about it, making any joke like that shows his lack of empathy for fellow people, which neither parents or schools seem to teach very well.

  22. It happens here, too. See Crown Heights in 1991, where Mayor Dinkins withheld police intervention while blacks attacked Jews and Jewish property. The resulting murder of Yankel Rosenbaum was neither prosecuted as murder nor as a hate crime. Two (only two) of Yankel Rosenbaum's murderers were convicted of civil rights violations.

  23. How are we not a minority at .5% tops? I filed a case against my employer for her anti Jewish statements. She called every employee into her office individually to remind them that if they testified on my behalf she would STILL be their boss. No one testified. I lost.

  24. Your wake up call is one I am tired of saying and hearing. I s the JDL active or similar action group????? The perpetrators need to be clearly identified and tracked by organized and trained "retribution force."
    Why wait any longer for our youth to learn self defense as well as being trained to use weapons if needed. Especially on campuses.

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