Vandals Deface Car of Acre Imam, Who Called for Tolerance After J'lem Attack

Police suspect the vandals poured acid on the car, which was parked outside the religious leader's home.


Vandals defaced the car of Sheikh Samir Assi, the imam of the Al-Jazaar mosque in Acre, overnight Thursday, in what the city's mayor called an unfortunate incident.

Police suspect the vandals poured acid on the car, which was parked outside the religious leader's home.

Acre Mayor Shimon Lankri denounced the crime and said he hoped its perpetrators would be apprehended and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. "The residents of Acre, Jews and Arabs alike, have proven they know how to respect one another and to coexist with mutual respect and understanding," he said.

The imam was among clergy representing Christians, Jews and Muslims who met Wednesday near the Jerusalem synagogue where five people were killed in a grisly Palestinian attack to plead for tolerance amid spiking regional tensions.
Absent from the meeting were Muslim authorities from Jerusalem and senior Israeli rabbis.

"People from all religions which are here in the Holy Land want to express the common belief that this is not the way," said Rabbi Michael Melchior, a former Israeli legislator who is active in interfaith efforts. "We can have our differences, political differences, our religious differences, but this is not the way."

Melchior's moderation seems an increasingly scarce commodity in this region, which in recent weeks has been riven by religious tensions. During that time 11 people have died at the hands of Palestinian attackers — most in Jerusalem, but also in Tel Aviv and the West Bank.

For their part Israeli Jews have also engaged in periodic trashing of Palestinian property, including cars and olive groves. Visits by Jewish worshipers to a sensitive Jerusalem holy site have also raised tensions and drawn accusations that Israel is plotting to take over the site, a charge Israel denies.

With Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theofilis III of Jerusalem and Latin Patriarch Fuad Twal in attendance, Assi condemned the Palestinian attack on the synagogue.

"We came to this place to take a stand toward this criminal act, which involves an assault against the sanctity of the house of God, and against the unarmed worshipers," Assi said.