Joint Arab-Jewish school in Jerusalem torched

Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — A joint Arab-Jewish school in Jerusalem was torched in what is believed to be an arson attack.

A classroom of the Max Rayne Hand In Hand Jerusalem School was set on fire late Saturday night. “Death to Arabs,” and “There is no coexistence with cancer” were among the anti-Arab epithets spray painted on the walls of the school.

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The Hand In Hand Jerusalem School is Israel’s largest joint Arab-Jewish school and the only such primary and high school in the city. There are five Hand in Hand schools located throughout the country.

The school opened as usually on Sunday morning, as city workers worked to remove the offensive graffiti.

A preliminary police investigation found that the fire was intentionally set.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the arson attack in a statement at the beginning of Sunday’s regular Cabinet meeting.

“We are making great efforts to restore calm and tranquility to Jerusalem. Of course, we will not tolerate attacks from any quarter and we will not tolerate setting fire to a bilingual school as we saw last night. We condemn any such attempt and we will act as vigorously – and with as much unity – as possible to restore quiet and law and order in all parts of the city,” he said.

U.S. Ambassador Dan Shapiro expressed support for the school in a Facebook post.

“I want to express my solidarity and full support for the children, parents, teachers, and staff of the Hand-in-Hand School in Jerusalem that was damaged in an attack over the weekend, and I condemn whoever carried out the attack,” Shapiro said in the post. “The U.S. Embassy and USAID are proud to be partners with the school, which teaches its students the values of coexistence between Jews and Arabs, tolerance, and loving your neighbor as yourself. They provide an impressive example of those same values to Israeli society. Be strong and of good courage, and continue on you path.”