Vandals slashed the tires of seven cars in the Arab neighborhood Shuafat in East Jerusalem early yesterday - one car was sprayed with the word "Ulpana," the part of the Beit El settlement where the High Court has ordered homes demolished.

"We got up in the morning and that's what we saw," said Ibrahim Salah, a resident of Shuafat. "The people here are simple folk who want to live in peace. I don't understand why people are doing this. This country is becoming racist .... Now foreign laborers are being targeted as well. Racism is rife in Jerusalem because of radical Jewish groups."

Late Thursday night, vandals slashed the tires of 14 cars and sprayed racist slogans on three of them at the Jewish-Arab village Neveh Shalom near Latrun. Graffiti was also scrawled on the entrance to the community's bilingual Arab-Jewish school.

The slogans included "Death to Arabs," "Revenge," and "Ulpana." The secretary of the Neveh Shalom Association, Gideon Suleimani, sees the vandalism as "an attack on the idea of coexistence - the political idea on which the village was founded." The police are investigating the incident.

"It's a racist act directed against our community," added Neveh Shalom resident Nava Sonnenstein.

"They did it so the children would see it when they went to school in the morning. We've been trying to bring Jews and Arabs closer for 33 years, but the waves of racism are stronger than we are."

In recent months hate graffiti has been sprayed several times on the walls of the bilingual school near Jerusalem's Beit Safafa neighborhood. The slogans have included "Death to Arabs" and "Kahane was right," referring to the far-right American-Israeli rabbi who was assassinated in 1990.

The school is a symbol of coexistence in the capital, with an equal number of Jewish and Arab students.