Racist Graffiti Sprayed at Mixed Jewish-Arab Village in Central Israel

Tires slashed and graffiti sprayed on Neve Shalom residents’ vehicles, slogans include ‘death to Arabs,’ ‘revenge.’

Graffiti was found overnight on Friday, at the Jewish-Arab village Neve Shalom, near Latrun. On Friday morning, residents discovered that the tires of roughly 14 cars had their tires punctured, and three were vandalized with graffiti such as “death to arabs,” “revenge,” “Kahana was right,” “regards from Havat Gilad,” and “Ulpana neighborhood.”

 “It is an act of racism targeting our community. They did it so that the children would see it when they arrive in the morning,” said Nava Zonenshein, a Neve Shalom resident. “We’ve been trying to do something for 33 years now, to bring Jews and Arabs together to talk, but the wave of racism is stronger than us,” said Zonenshein. An Israel Police forensics team arrived on the scene, and began an investigation.

Gideon Suleimani, secretary of the Neve Shalom Association, said “early this morning, the community’s gardener woke me up and told me that a pogrom had been taken place on the village’s vehicles. We got up and discovered that 14 cars had their tires punctured, and three were sprayed with graffiti. We also discovered graffiti at the entrance to the community’s bilingual school.”

Suleimani sees the vandalism as “an attack on the idea of coexistence, the political idea on which the village was founded. It’s part of the general phenomenon of ‘price tag,’ aimed at anyone who doesn’t agree, if it’s in Tuba-Zangariyye, in Jerusalem, or here. In this community it’s received with shock, surprise, insult, and fear, but we’re resuming our routine.”

Yoni Eshfar, a 37-year-old resident of Neve Shalom, whose car was sprayed with graffiti, responded to the overnight events. “Last night, a half hour after I got home, around 2 A.M., I heard all of the dogs barking, so I suppose that’s when it happened. I don’t think the message is meant for me or other Neve Shalom residents, but instead it’s meant to invoke fear in Israelis, and is directed toward the government and security forces,” said Eshfar.

“It doesn’t only happen in mixed communities,” said Eshfar, “this village has been around for many years, promoting a message of understanding and reconciliation. People here are in shock.”

Over the last few months, graffiti has been sprayed numerous times on the walls of the bilingual school in Jerusalem’s Beit Beit Tzafafa neighborhood.  Phrases such as “death to Arabs” and “Kahana was right,” were sprayed on one of the outer walls of the schoolyard.

Graffiti and punctured tires have also been found sprayed on the wall of the Greek Monastery in Jerusalem’s Emek Hamatzleva. Jerusalem police investigated both incidents, though no arrests were made.

Ahikam Sari