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Jerusalem mixed school set on fire in apparent arson attack

The largest Arab-Jewish educational institution in Israel has been targeted several times in the past.

Firefighters in a classroom that was set on fire in the bilingual Hand In Hand school in Jerusalem, November 29, 2014. (Photo by Tali Mayer/Activestills.org)

Firefighters in a classroom that was set on fire in the bilingual Hand In Hand school in Jerusalem, November 29, 2014. (Photo by Tali Mayer/Activestills.org)

Jerusalem’s bilingual Arab-Jewish school was set on fire Saturday night, and hate speech was sprayed on its walls with the messages: “Kahane was right” and “There is no coexistence with cancer.” One classroom was totally consumed while another was partially burned, as well as a stack of books.

Read also: ‘We will overcome’: Arson and mourning at J’lem bilingual school

Most schools in Israel serve Jews or Arabs separately, in addition to separation between secular and religious students. Mixed schools are the exception and there are only a small number of them, most of which are private.

Graffiti sprayed on Jerusalem's bilingual school reads: "There is no coexistence with a cancer." (photo: Jerusalem Firefighters)

Graffiti sprayed on Jerusalem’s bilingual school reads: “There is no coexistence with a cancer.” (photo: Jerusalem Firefighters)

Graffiti sprayed on Jerusalem's bilingual school reads: "Kahane was right." (photo: Jerusalem Firefighters)

Graffiti sprayed on Jerusalem’s bilingual school reads: “Kahane was right.” (photo: Jerusalem Firefighters)

The Max Rayne Hand in Hand school, which serves 624 Palestinian and Jewish students from East and West Jerusalem, pre-kindergarten to 12th grade, is the largest Arab-Jewish cultural institution in Israel. It has been the target of several hate crimes in recent months, including during the summer’s Gaza War. Students responded at the time by writing “Partnership; Love; Fraternity” on their walls.

Parents of students at the school gathered there Saturday night to set up alternative spaces for the classrooms damaged and hung up signs like, “Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies,” which will greet the kids when they arrive at school tomorrow morning. A rally in support of the kids and the staff will be held at 8 a.m. at the entrance to the school.

Shuli Dichter, director of Hand in Hand, which operates five such bilingual schools in Israel, said in a statement:

This is not the first act of aggression against the school and our commitment to civil partnership. Even if it succeed in dirtying our walls, it cannot destroy our enterprise. In addition to sharply condemning the act and showing support, we invite the public in Israel to join us in building civil partnership between Arabs and Jews in Israel.

Education Minister Shay Piron issued a statement condemning the attack:

This is a violent, heinous, criminal act aimed at damaging the foundations of Israeli democracy. The fact that this was an arson attack on an educational institution that raises the banner of coexistence constitutes a severe blow to the relationship between Arabs and Jews. It is especially grave considering they chose to hurt the underbelly of Israeli society: A nursery school where young, innocent kids study. I call on the Israel Police to act immediately to bring these criminals to justice.

Jerusalem posters call to ban Arab workers
Settler violence: It comes with the territory
Last Arab-Jewish public school in Israel may close its doors

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    1. Pedro X

      How many mixed Arab-Jewish schools are there in Ramallah, Jenin, Nablus, Hebron or Gaza? None. Why? Because the Palestinians do not believe in co-existence. Palestinians teach their children to believe that Arce, Ashkelon, Haifa, Tel Aviv, Jaffa, and Beersheba are Palestinian cities which will be liberated in an orgy of blood lust by those same Palestinian children.

      Reply to Comment
      • no-BS-Politics

        “…Arce, Ashkelon, Haifa, Tel Aviv, Jaffa, and Beersheba are Palestinian cities”

        Actually, they are, or at least they once were. You can’t steal someone’s country and act shocked when they don’t accept it.

        Reply to Comment
        • Piotr Berman

          According to the impeccable logic of Pedro X, if there are no mixed schools in Ramallah then it is OK to burn a mix school in Jerusalem. Does it mean that Ariel University should be burned next? My head is spinning.

          Reply to Comment
      • Just like clockwork.
        Obfuscate – check
        Distort – check
        Defame – check
        Delusional – double check (bonus)
        Your work here is done. Time to cash your check.

        Reply to Comment
        • Sluggo

          Hi Annie, did you have a good weekend?

          Reply to Comment
          • LOL

            Reply to Comment
          • Stalking Sluggo – so none of your posts made it past the moderators at Mondoweiss? They’re doing their job. You’re getting a free pass here and this is what you choose to do? What a silly little man you are. Or silly little woman? Hard to tell, y’all sound so much a like. Must be the small gene pool. Anyway, Gustav/Ginger – honey is that you?

            Reply to Comment
      • Lilian

        Who told you we Palestinians don’t believe in coexistence ,,,but do we have Jewish community in Palestine to have schools for both nations

        Reply to Comment
        • Pedro X

          A 2011 poll by Israel Project tells us that 73% of Palestinians believe the Hadith in which Muslims must kill all the Jews in the world. Not only that, Hamas and Fatah leaders on a regular basis remind Palestinians of their obligation to kill Jews in accordance with this Hadith. Hamas has enshrined the Hadith in its Charter. The Mufti of Jerusalem has endorsed the Hadith. I would suggest that this is a good indication of not wanting co-existence.

          Watch this little clip of ceremonies at a Fatah celebration;


          Note the reference to the war with descendants of monkeys and apes as being a war of religion and faith for Palestinians. Notice Mufti’s reference to the Hadith and the destiny of the Muslims to kill Jews. Does this sound like co-existence?

          In a PSR poll done by Palestinian pollsters in September 2014, 72% of Palestinians desired to transfer Hamas weapons and tactics to the West Bank. This is another strong indicator that Palestinians desire war above co-existence.

          Reply to Comment
      • Bryan

        We are used to assinine comments on this site, but that takes the biscuit. The cities you mention are in Area A of Palestine, to which entry is forbidden to all Israelis. The West bank is part of the proposed Arab state in the UN partition proposal which gerrymandered the boundaries so as to include as many Jews as possible in the Jewish state. Perhaps this is why there are no mixed Arab-Jewish schools in the non-Jewish bantustans, just as there are no mixed Earthling-Martian schools. But never mind – you have mastered the first lesson of hasbara well – every legitimate criticism of Israel can be deflected with an irrelevant, inappropriate or false “what about” comparison.

        Reply to Comment
    2. utemia

      It would be a great idea to have those in the territories.. mixed jewish-palestinian schools. In fact, it would be best to make that mandatory so the children get to know each other and you have a generation that grows up and is actually able to communicate and got to know each other. The best way to battle fundamentalism is by humanizing the other and showing that all the propaganda and prejudices are mostly shite.

      Alas, hell freezes over sooner.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Ben Zakkai

      Pedro, thank you for being the ugly face of Hasbara. You help the world understand what’s happening here. Any sane, decent person who understands what it means when six-year-old kids have their classroom torched, while outside graffiti calls those kids cancer and wishes them death – anyone with sufficient compassion and imagination to think of what those kids are seeing this morning when they arrive at school – and then sees your pathetic and loathsome reply, will immediately understand what kinds of monsters are growing in Israel today. You want to try to divert people’s minds from that outrage and talk about hypothetical Arab-Jewish schools in the West Bank instead? Fine, ask the Jews there, who live in segregated illegal settlements and drive on Jews-only roads and just got finished kicking Palestinians off their now-segregated buses, if they want Arab kids in their schools. Asshole.

      Reply to Comment
      • Brian

        Yes, you correctly situate Pedro X’s comment and describe its sheer evil perversity, Ben. Nothing surprises me anymore. Gustav likes to mock people here with words such as “eeeeevil settlers” put in our mouths but each time he does that Pedro X’s perverse comment at the top of this page might be shown to him. To anyone who defends Pedro X here I just have this to say: If you don’t get the monster quality in the comment and it’s relation to the situation then you and I have nothing to talk about because you’ll defend anything.

        Reply to Comment
      • Pedro X

        Jews in Ariel have Arabs attending their schools with Jews. In 2012 there were 320 Arabs enrolled in Ariel’s university. In 2014 there are now about 600 Arabs studying in Ariel.

        The college says it welcomes Arab students, both Israelis and Palestinians, to promote diversity. It has a Muslim prayer room for its Muslim students. Arabs speak Arabic in the hallways and mingle with Orthodox Jews, settlers, secular Israelis and recent immigrants.

        “A third year Muslim student, Naka Sarsur, said that she is attending AUC largely because of how highly it was recommended to her by friends. She said that the teachers are all very helpful and the students are extremely friendly. She says that she relates to the Jewish students as people she likes and not on the basis of religion.”

        So Ben Zakkai members of Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria can live in co-existence with Arabs who are prepared to do the same.

        Reply to Comment
        • Ben Zakkai

          Your attempts to fool the gullible with Potemkin villages fool no one any more. How nice of Israel to let a few Palestinians study at Ariel University, built in their occupied territory on their stolen land! Of course Israel still steadfastly refuses to accredit and fund institutions of higher learning in Nazareth or any other primarily Arab city within Israel.

          Reply to Comment
    4. Danny

      “There is no coexistence with a cancer”

      For once, I agree with the settlers. There cannot be any coexistence with them.

      They will need to be removed from the occupied territories for there to be peace in Israel/Palestine.

      Reply to Comment
      • Pedro X

        Just who do you think will remove 600,000 Jewish children, women and men from Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria? They are there to stay. The Palestinians can accept this reality and negotiate an end of conflict agreement, or wait until Israel annexes its communities in Judea and Samaria and area “C”.

        Time is not on the Palestinians side. President Obama’s administration will be gone in two years and the Republicans will determine foreign policy in the United States.

        Reply to Comment
        • Brian

          This is definitely the question of our time isn’t it: on just whose side is time on?


          Former Mossad chief: For the first time, I fear for the future of Zionism

          The nation of Israel is galloping blindly toward Bar Kochba’s war on the Roman Empire. The result of that conflict was 2,000 years of exile.

          By Shabtai Shavit | Nov. 24, 2014

          … Today, for the first time since I began forming my own opinions, I am truly concerned about the future of the Zionist project. I am concerned about the critical mass of the threats against us on the one hand, and the government’s blindness and political and strategic paralysis on the other. Although the State of Israel is dependent upon the United States, the relationship between the two countries has reached an unprecedented low point. Europe, our biggest market, has grown tired of us and is heading toward imposing sanctions on us. For China, Israel is an attractive high-tech project, and we are selling them our national assets for the sake of profit. Russia is gradually turning against us and supporting and assisting our enemies.

          Anti-Semitism and hatred of Israel have reached dimensions unknown since before World War II. Our public diplomacy and public relations have failed dismally, while those of the Palestinians have garnered many important accomplishments in the world. University campuses in the West, particularly in the U.S., are hothouses for the future leadership of their countries. We are losing the fight for support for Israel in the academic world. An increasing number of Jewish students are turning away from Israel. The global BDS movement (boycott, divestment, sanctions) against Israel, which works for Israel’s delegitimization, has grown, and quite a few Jews are members….

          … Israelis’ rush to acquire a foreign passport, based as it is on the yearning for foreign citizenship, indicates that people’s feeling of security has begun to crack.

          I am concerned that for the first time, I am seeing haughtiness and arrogance, together with more than a bit of the messianic thinking that rushes to turn the conflict into a holy war…

          I also see, to the same extent, detachment and lack of understanding of international processes and their significance for us. This right wing, in its blindness and stupidity, is pushing the nation of Israel into the dishonorable position of “the nation shall dwell alone and not be reckoned among the nations” (Numbers 23:9).

          I am concerned because as I understand matters, exile is truly frightening only to the state’s secular sector, whose world view is located on the political center and left. That is the sane and liberal sector that knows that for it, exile symbolizes the destruction of the Jewish people. The Haredi sector lives in Israel only for reasons of convenience. In terms of territory, Israel and Brooklyn are the same to them; they will continue living as Jews in exile, and wait patiently for the arrival of the Messiah.

          The religious Zionist movement, by comparison, believes the Jews are “God’s chosen.” This movement, which sanctifies territory beyond any other value, is prepared to sacrifice everything, even at the price of failure and danger to the Third Commonwealth. If destruction should take place, they will explain it in terms of faith, saying that we failed because “We sinned against God.” Therefore, they will say, it is not the end of the world. We will go into exile, preserve our Judaism and wait patiently for the next opportunity…..

          I am concerned that large segments of the nation of Israel have forgotten, or put aside, the original vision of Zionism: to establish a Jewish and democratic state for the Jewish people in the Land of Israel. No borders were defined in that vision, and the current defiant policy is working against it….

          I wrote the above statements because I feel that I owe them to my parents, who devoted their lives to the fulfillment of Zionism; to my children, my grandchildren and to the nation of Israel, which I served for decades.

          The author is a former director general of the Mossad.

          Reply to Comment
          • Pedro X

            Yigael Yadin noted in his book on Bar-Kokhba that:

            “Nothing remains here today of the Romans save a heap of stones on the face of the desert, but here the descendants of the besieged were returning to salvage their ancestor’s precious belongings.”

            Over the long duree of history, the Jews have survived and prospered. The Canaanites, the Philistines, the Assyrians, Persians, Macedonians, the Romans, the Byzantines, Muslim rulers, Berbers, Kurds, Turks, and the British have disappeared or lost their rule over Israel. The Jews remain and have a vibrant civilization.

            Unlike Bar-Kokhba’s miitary position, the Israeli army is the strongest military force in the region. It has weapons sufficient to assign permanently to the dustbin of history any state or non-state actor which threatens it. It h as not unleashed the full force of its conventional weapons much less its nuclear assets.

            On top of this Israel’s economy has never been stronger. It never had more diplomatic relationships. Its bond with the United States is unbreakable.

            Reply to Comment
          • Brian

            Revealing. In this way:

            Compared to the comprehensiveness and subtlety and humanity of Shabtai Shavit’s strategic thinking on this matter, your reply is striking for its narrowness and blinkered crudeness, anchored as it is only to a blunt faith in conventional military might–which in any event is, short of the nuclear Armageddon which you rather creepily invoke, overestimated in its strategic significance and sustainability as you divorce it from everything Shavit talks about. By hinting at the nuclear option or other total war scenarios you underline precisely what Shavit is worried about: the destruction of the Third Commonwealth at the hands of Darwin Award-winning national/religious fanatics. And all of this side steps as you meant to all the other strategic threats that Shavit discusses–in fact none of what he writes has anything to do with military strategy, per se.

            “On top of this Israel’s economy has never been stronger. It never had more diplomatic relationships. Its bond with the United States is unbreakable.” Go back and actually read what Shavit writes please.

            Really, this is very revealing of Pedro’s Potemkin Village you are marketing here. Go back and check your fundamental business plan.

            Reply to Comment
          • Pedro X

            Shabtai Shavit’s points are not true. Israel has always been threatened and its position is not worse than it was in the past. Israel is no longer the weak state which emerged after 1948. It is not the weak economic state of the 1970s. It has never been stronger militarily nor economically.

            This does not mean that Israel is not threatened by outside forces as it has been since 1948. What it means is that Israel has to pre-empt those threats as Shavit himself wrote on November 5, 2007 in a paper for The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs:

            “The recommendation of any intelligence officer would be that the state should prepare for the worst-case scenario and not for any lesser eventuality. In this case, it means that Israel and maybe others should prepare for the eventuality that a nuclear Iran will use this capability.”

            “My opinion is that since there is an ongoing war, since the threat is permanent, since the intention of the enemy in this case is to annihilate you, the right doctrine is one of pre-emption and not of reaction. To use reaction as the main strategy means to sit quietly and wait until the enemy comes to attack you. But when we are dealing with an enemy which plans all the time and waits only for the opportunity in order to attack, what is the point even morally to wait and only do something when he comes to attack?”

            Reply to Comment
          • Brian

            So Shavit is “wrong” when you want him to be and “right”when you want him to be. Only in EACH case it looks like the powers that be are not following his advice. Let’s see how that plays out. Who has Time on their side? We’ll have to check back with each other in five years. 1st December 2019. I’ve put it in my calendar. “Check back with Pedro.”

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben Zakkai

            Brian, I have long felt that the Jewish Zealots’ war on the Roman Empire is an apt analogy for Israel’s transgressions and self-inflicted wounds in our time. It’s not for nothing that I write under the pen name Ben Zakkai.

            Reply to Comment
          • Brian

            I hear you Ben Zakkei! I hear you! The analogy is not a shallow one. It is strikingly apt.

            Reply to Comment
    5. Jeff G

      Pedro, you and your ilk are more akin to the fascists of WWII than to the heros of our people throughout history.

      The Jewish people have survived by the strength of our spirit, our strong righteous ethical position, pride in our people and out relationship with G-D. Do you believe that all people are created in the image of God or just some people?

      You and your kind may “win” for the short run through sheer power but your moral bankruptcy will eventually catch up with you as it has with all unethical fascists and bigots.

      Reply to Comment
      • Pedro X

        “Do you believe that all people are created in the image of God or just some people?”

        No, from the Midrash and the story about Terah the idol maker, it is clear that people created images of god in their own images.

        Jewish ethics did not save the Jewish Shtetl or the Jewish communities of the middle east. A combination of military power and diplomacy prevented a second genocide in the war of 1948. A strong army and leaders like Ben
        Gurion, Golda Meir, Menachem Begin and Ariel Sharon have kept Israel from being overcome by its enemies.

        Reply to Comment
        • Brian

          Except that yesterday’s solution often becomes today’s problem. We see this in many fields and walks of life. And this truism underlies all of the debates on this site. I think Shabtai Shavit sees this clearly and you don’t. We keep coming back to Time. Your idée fixe is that your enemy and your strategic situation are ever unchanging. It refuses to even consider that the enemy has evolved, and the world at large has evolved. So for example you mindlessly chant your faith that the USA will forever back you as it does today. This is not strategic thinking. It is cult-think. I’ll check back with you in December 2019.

          Reply to Comment
        • Bryan

          You got one thing right and several things completely wrong.
          Yes – God is a construction of the human mind.
          No – (1) the Yishuv never faced a second Holocaust in 1948 – proper historians are near unanimous that the Israeli armed forces out-gunned, out-numbered and out-fought the small Arab forces that intervened to prevent the Israeli conquest of all of Palestine (2) it was Zionism, with its ruthless determination to create a state where it had merely been promised a home, and its readiness to massacre and expel the local population that threatened the Jewish population in Arab lands (3)you have more than just the strong army necessary for self-defence – you have an all-powerful army capable of dominating the region, distorting your government and society and with the constant refrain that you must live by the sword – a sad and sorry over-reaction to the earlier vulnerability of some European Jews. In all likelihood had that army existed in 1939-45 it could not have prevented a Holocaust had Germany decided to strike for Gulf oil rather than Caucasian resources.

          Reply to Comment
    6. “On top of this Israel’s economy has never been stronger. It never had more diplomatic relationships. Its bond with the United States is unbreakable.”

      Another check for PedroEx.

      Reply to Comment
      • Piotr Berman

        Any time I see such a proud list of achievements, I want to add “Look at my works, ye mighty, and despair.”

        Reply to Comment
    7. Lo

      Thanks to Pedro X, you guys have started to discuss nuclear war and the Romans, as opposed to the matter at hand: a bigoted attack against a bilingual school.

      If there’s any hope for a peaceful resolution of this conflict, it lays in the next generations who might be able to learn to trust again. These attacks undermine that in the most direct possible way.

      Reply to Comment
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