Last night, they were helping rearrange the school after an arson attack.
The school’s students and community are now figuring out how to overcome the attack during a year that — owing to a string of violent attacks in Jerusalem — has already been tougher than usual. This is the second time in about a month that vandals have graffitied “death to Arabs” on the school.
Noa Yammer, the school’s communications coordinator, told JTA that last night’s attack has served to draw the students together in opposition to racism and violence. On the night of the attack, 10th-grade students helped clear out one of their classrooms so first-graders could use it until their room was repaired.
“There’s a double reaction of feeling scared and feeling solidarity with each other,” Yammer told JTA the morning after the attack. “The kids were feeling comforted by the presence of all the other kids and the desire to help in any way they can. It’s not an attack on Arabs or Jews, but an attack on the fact that we’re living together.”
Yammer said that though parents are worried, all the students arrived at school today and that the school is trying to function as normally as possible. But at 9 a.m., students were joined by 500 supporters in a vigil organized by Light Tag, a coalition that opposes anti-Arab racism. Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat addressed the crowd and was joined by representatives of other Jerusalem schools.
Gadi Gvaryahu, Light Tag’s chairman, hopes such condemnations will translate into action against the vandals. He and Yammer both worry that the school will experience more vandalism, but hope that mobilization based on opposition to racism can prevent future attacks.
“It doesn’t interest us who wins elections,” Gvaryahu told JTA. “What interests us is that there won’t be hate crimes and racism. Every nation needs to stop its extremists, and if we think extremists are only on the other side, we’ll have more events like the one.”