vandalism at Jerusalem mosque_311.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
When the news of an arson and vandalism attack on an abandoned downtown
Jerusalem mosque spread throughout the country, dozens of politicians from
across the spectrum released statements.
One resident picked up a
paintbrush. “What happened here is unconscionable, and I don’t think it is
representative of Israeli society, this neighborhood or Jerusalem,” said Avi
Mayer, a Jerusalemite who works for the Jewish Agency.
But rather than
denounce the crime with strong language and media fanfare, Mayer quietly chose
to use his hands to clean up what the municipality’s sanitation crew had
Along with his friend Arie Hasit, he redid shutters, painted over
graffiti that read “Price Tag” and tried scrubbing smoke off the exterior
Their actions drew curious onlookers, some of them less than
enthusiastic about the duo’s work.
A group of young haredi boys scolded
Mayer. “Are you even Jewish?” they demanded. “We wish the mosque had burned
down!” “The Arabs hate us in their hearts, so we hate them as well!” others
“It’s been disturbing to hear some of the reactions,” Mayer
said. “Not all, but some have found ways to justify this
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Throughout the afternoon, they witnessed the media frenzy
surrounding United Arab List-Ta’al MK Ahmed Tibi’s appearance and a visit from
Shari’a Council members.
But there were also sweeter moments: Several
Arab boys from the nearby Lycée Français de Jérusalem school were cajoled into
helping. By the end of the day, a bucketful of sooty water stood as a testament
to a different way of responding to violence.
“This is quite simply wrong
in the message it sends to the world,” said Mayer. “Hopefully we have taken a
small step toward righting this.”
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