A fire was started the two first grade classrooms in the Max Rayne Hand in Hand Jerusalem school on Saturday night, November 29th, with hateful anti-Arab graffiti on the walls. Firefighters contained and put out the fire, and at least one of the classrooms was badly burned. Rachel Azaria, the Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem came to school and said: “Harming this school is a horrific crime perpetrated by people who want to destroy any place that creates real cooperation between Jews and Arabs despite our fears and differences. We will not let them do this. The municipality of Jerusalem fully supports the school and we will ensure their continued to work.”
Hand in Hand CEO Shuli Dichter responded: "This is not the first time that our shared endeavor has been targeted. They may stain our walls, but they cannot destroy our work. We invite the Israeli public to strongly condemn this action and to join us in building civic cooperation among Jews and Arabs in Israel. We will continue to grow and develop our educational and social structures, where 1200 students, 200 teachers, and thousands of community members come together every day.”
Below we provide updates on all the events and expressions of support that have taken place since the attack as they occurred (newest first)
December 8th, 2014
8:00am The Jerusalem Post reported a number of suspects have been arrested in connection with the arson and vandlism at the school.
December 5th, 2014
10:00 am Several thousand people gathered to walk in solidarity along Train Track Park ending with festivities in variety of family activities at the school.
December 3rd, 2014
12:30 pm The United States Consul General Michael Ratney visited the school.
11:00 am Leaders from the Arab community of Beit Tzafafa came to visit the principals and teachers in the school.
9:00 am The first grade students were invited for a day at the president's house. "you are proof that we can live together in peace and we can’t let the difficult experiences, like what you went through this week, harm our faith in our ability to live together.”
December 1st, 2014
8:30 pm Rabbi Benny Lau elects to teach his weekly class at the Hand in Hand school in a show of support. The topic of the class was "The connection between sovereignty and responsibility, for the wellbeing of all citizens." Over 100 people packed into the school library to hear the talk in which he praised the Hand in Hand schools "where people make space for each other, they make space for God. I believe there is God here."
2:00 pm Soccer players from Hapoel Katamon visit the school and teach gym class to excited elementary school students!
11:15 am First grade students in their morning art class "together, hand in hand, we continue with love"
11:00 am Knesset members Afu Agbaria and Dov Khenin from the Hadash Party visit the school.
9:30 am First grade students see the beginnings of their new classroom!
9:00 am Ambassador Dan Shapiro and his wife Julie Fisher visited the school. "We were impressed by the resilience of all the members of the school community who are determined to continue on their path of coexistence, tolerance, and mutual understanding and respect." - Ambassador Shapiro
November 30th, 2014
10:00 pm Municipal workers worked into the night renovating the burned classrooms
3:00 pm Knesset member Moshe Feiglin visited the school
2:00 pm Knesset member Uri Ariel, Minister of Housing visited the school
1:00 pm Shai Piron, Minister of Education came and expressed his support for the school.
11:00 am Tzipi Livni Minister of Justice – “We won’t let radicals set coexistence on fire.”
10:00 am Local area high school students from Kedma came out to show their support, received by Deputy Mayor Rachel Azaria and Hand in Hand principals Nadia Kinnani and Arik Sporta.
9:00 am Tag Meir gathered with over a hundred people to show their solidarity with Hand in Hand holding signs that said “Light instead of Terror”. At the rally Deputy Mayor Rachel Azaria said, “There are brave people in this city who are creating the Jerusalem of the future for all of us. People here at this school who look complexity in the eye and move forward together.”
8:00 am Parents gathered to talk about the safety of their children. "This was not an attack on Jews or on Arabs - it was an attack on shared living. Our power comes from us sitting here together." Hattem Mattar, Co-chair of the Parents' committee.
7:30 am Mayor Nir Barkat together with senior staff from the municipality spoke at the Max Rayne School to assembled teachers and parents expressing full support for the school and our path. “Violation of the school is a violation of every other worldview in Jerusalem.” City Council Member Tamir Nir said, “The best way to cope with what has happened is to share these values with all other schools.”
7:00 am Tenth grade students made signs: “Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies.” “We continue together without hatred or fear.”
November 29th, 2014
8:00 pm As news of the fire spread, dozens and dozens of staff, parents, students and community members mobilized. They prepared temporary classrooms for the 1st grade students and painted signs to greet students. Staff and parents prepared to receive the students who would be in attendance as usual the next day. Rachel Azaria, a Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem came to the school and said, “Harming this school is a horrific crime perpetuated by people who want to destroy any place that creates real cooperation between Jews and Arabs, despite our fears and differences. We will not let them do this. The municipality of Jerusalem fully supports the school and we will ensure their continued work.”
7:30 pm Smoke was noticed and the fire department was called. Fires were set in two first grade classrooms in the Max Rayne Hand in Hand Jerusalem School, and hateful anti-Arab graffiti was painted on the walls. Firefighters were able to contain and put out the fire, but both of the classrooms were badly damaged.