Vandals attacked a dual Hebrew and Arabic language school in southern Jerusalem Monday night, the second incident in eight months, spray-painting swastikas and anti-Arab graffiti on the school’s walls just in time for the last day of school.
The Max Rayne Hand-to-Hand school was set ablaze in November by Yitzhak Gabai and brothers Nahman and Shlomo Twitto, members of Lehava, a group that works to prevent intermarriage and coexistence between Jews and Arabs in Israel.
The Twitto brothers pled guilty to starting a fire and spray-painting on the school’s walls racist messages such as “There is no coexistence with cancer”; “Death to the Arabs”; and “Kahane was right,” a reference to the late Rabbi Meir Kahane, a mentor of the Jewish ultra-nationalist movement.
There was no fire in Monday night’s attack, but the racist slogans returned, including “Arabs to slaughter,” “Arab blood is cheap,” and “Arab — the son of a whore.” In a somewhat bizarre twist, swastikas were also spray-painted on the school’s walls.
The students, who arrived for the last day of the school year Tuesday, began working to removing the graffiti and prepared signs to hang in response, the school wrote on its Facebook page.
“They made signs that said, ‘Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies’ and put it up over where the graffiti had been,” the Hand in Hand organization wrote.
A spokesperson for the Hand in Hand organization, which oversees several Jewish-Arab schools, said that despite a rising tide of anti-coexistence sentiment, such schools have been gaining in popularity.
“Despite the racist attacks, the various schools and kindergartens of Hand in Hand — in Jerusalem, Wadi Ara, Haifa, the Galil, Tel Aviv and the Triangle,” the group’s spokesperon said, referring to an area with a large concentration of Arab towns along the Green Line, “are marking an increase of 18 percent in registration for the next year’s studies.”
The five Hand in Hand schools across the country educate over 1,000 students and aim to “create a strong, inclusive, shared society in Israel” through bilingual education in Hebrew and Arabic, and integrated classes.