Kristine L Ming

Politicians condemn arson at bilingual Hebrew-Arabic school

Classes proceeded as normal at the Max Rayne Hand in Hand School, which serves more than 600 Arab and Jewish pupils from throughout Jerusalem, one day after part of the school was set on fire and spray painted with racist graffiti.

The suspected hate crime sparked condemning reactions from lawmakers and Knesset members.

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat condemned the arson, saying “we cannot let pyromaniacs and violators who take the law into their own hands ruin the routine of our lives.” He added, “we’ll continue to condemn the extremists and do all that it takes to restore the peace to Jerusalem.”

Meretz leader Zehava Gal-On said that “first and foremost” it was the responsibility of the police to find the perpetrators, but it “is the prime minister’s responsibility” to condemn the act.

“How is it that the prime minister, [Benjamin] Netanyahu, has not spoken out against the hate crime at the Hebrew-Arabic school?” she asked.

Galo-On also charged that the controversial “Jewish state” bill gave legitimacy to those who “want to use violence to show Arabs that they are second-class citizens.”

Shai Piron, minister of education, said the lighting of a bilingual school on fire was a hard hit for Israeli-Arab relations. He spoke out against the incident, calling it a “serious, violent act done to undermine the foundations of Israeli democracy,” and called on police to act immediately to bring the perpetrator’s to trial.

A Meretz representative commented, “This is a direct result of the ‘Jewish state’ bill, which gives legitimacy to harming the fabric of relations between Jews and Arabs. It is no coincidence that this violent action was against those who want to establish coexistence and equality.”   

Justice minister Tzipi Livni visited the site this morning. Reacting to the vandalism on site calling for “death to Arabs,” Livni said, “we won’t let radicals set coexistence on fire.”

Barkat said that the investigation of the incident, a top priority of the district police force, is underway.

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