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A Jerusalem judge has refrained from convicting a teacher from Hebron who cursed policemen of Ethiopian origin, telling them: "Nazis, Falashmura, go back to Ethiopia."

David Kirya, a teacher at the Talmud Torah in Hebron, admitted his guilt.

However Judge Ilta Ziskind said she was not convicting Kirya so as not to harm his career in education.

The incident took place during a Purim festival in 2007. Kirya arrived intoxicated at the Machpela Cave in Hebron, where he was prevented from entering by the policemen, who were of Ethiopian origin.

Kirya responding by saying: "You are Nazi Falashmuras. Why did you come here from Ethiopia ¬ to chase away Jews? You are gentiles and this is not your home. You should be ashamed and go back to Ethiopia because there is nothing for you to do here." He also raised his hand in a Nazi salute.

In court, Kirya expressed regret for his remarks, adding, "The process I've undergone is enough for me. It is a fact that, because it's a mitzvah, I get drunk on Purim every year and every year since then. But I have treated the policemen with respect and I even warned others not to make a mistake and insult any one of the policemen. I have been teaching the children of Israel for six years now and I help them to overcome difficulties thanks to my talents. I ask that I be allowed to continue helping them."

Kirya's lawyer requested that he not be convicted since he is an instructor at a national religious school and studying for a master's degree in educational psychology. A conviction, she said, would "affect his career in a disproportional manner."

The state had sought imprisonment, conditional imprisonment and compensation for the policemen.

Ziskind ruled this week that she was accepting the request not to convict Kirya, but she did sentence him to 180 hours of public service.

"The accused expressed regret and understanding for what was wrong with his behavior," the magistrate said. "The probation officer was of the impression that he has a normative value system and is capable of focusing his awareness on the motives that led him to act like that and to make a change; his actions when he committed the crime deviated from his lifestyle."