Politicians condemn arson at bilingual Hebrew-Arabic school

As authorities carry on investigating the incident, politicians speak out, calling to condemn extremists.

November 30, 2014 09:41
2 minute read.

Jerusalem bilingual Hebrew-Arabic school ablaze in suspected hate crime

Jerusalem bilingual Hebrew-Arabic school ablaze in suspected hate crime


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Classes proceeded as normal at the Max Rayne Hand in Hand School, which serves more than 600 Arab and Jewish pupils from throughout Jerusalem, one day after part of the school was set on fire and spray painted with racist graffiti.

The suspected hate crime sparked condemning reactions from lawmakers and Knesset members.

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat condemned the arson, saying "we cannot let pyromaniacs and violators who take the law into their own hands ruin the routine of our lives." He added, "we'll continue to condemn the extremists and do all that it takes to restore the peace to Jerusalem."

Meretz leader Zehava Gal-On said that "first and foremost" it was the responsibility of the police to find the perpetrators, but it "is the prime minister's responsibility" to condemn the act.

"How is it that the prime minister, [Benjamin] Netanyahu, has not spoken out against the hate crime at the Hebrew-Arabic school?" she asked.

Gal-On also charged that the controversial "Jewish state" bill gave legitimacy to those who "want to use violence to show Arabs that they are second-class citizens."

Education Minister Shai Piron toured the school Sunday morning and called the arson an “intolerable crime” full of hate. "The fact that damage was done to this place is a terrible message for Israeli society.  The revolting arson and graffiti are an attack aimed at injuring the heart of relations between Jews and Arabs in Israel," he said.

The education minister further called to "do everything possible to catch the culprits and bring them to justice."

MK Amram Mitzna, head of the Knesset Committee on Education, Culture and Sports also strongly condemned the “Price Tag” attack and called on all sectors of society to do the same.

MK Eitan Cabel, chairman of the Labor Party said that in light of the event he intends to resubmit his bill to classify "Price Tag" attacks as an act of terror. "It is in Israel's unequivocal interest to crush this ugly phenomenon, and it will not disappear if we continue to deny its existence but only if we confront it with courage and determination,” he said.

The Balad Party also released a statement calling the arson another “act of terror joining a string of ‘Price Tag’ attacks.” The party criticized the police and law enforcement agencies for "not resolving even a single case of the Price Tag terrorist activities," which it said "gives a boost to terrorists to continue their horrific acts."

Their statement also criticized the current administration for fostering an environment of "racism and hate" alluding to the passing last week of the Jewish State Bill by the cabinet. "Balad places full responsibility of the criminal arson on the government and on the police and reiterates its demand to immediately declare Price Tag as a terrorist organization and act to identify and arrest the terrorists and prosecute them," the statement read.

A Meretz representative commented, “This is a direct result of the ‘Jewish state’ bill, which gives legitimacy to harming the fabric of relations between Jews and Arabs. It is no coincidence that this violent action was against those who want to establish coexistence and equality.”   

Justice minister Tzipi Livni visited the site this morning. Reacting to the vandalism on site calling for "death to Arabs," Livni said, "we won't let radicals set coexistence on fire."

Barkat said that the investigation of the incident, a top priority of the district police force, is underway.

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