Arson Suspected in Second Fire at Neve Shalom Jewish-Arab School

A fire broke out overnight between Sunday and Monday, September 6-7, at a school in the Arab-Jewish community of Neve Shalom (Oasis of Peace), the second such blaze at the institution in a week. Last week there was a fire in an adjacent building that hosts Israeli-Palestinian dialogue programming, and arson is suspected in that case as well.

Residents of Neve Shalom said in a statement that they now believed both incidents were arson and hate crimes against the community, reported AlIttihad the communist Arab-language daily. “After a difficult night in the village it is now clear to us that the fire a week ago in the Peace School building was apparently a hate crime,” a statement released by the community said. “Today there was another fire/arson attack on another building.”

Fire at Neve Shalom, September 7, 2020

Fire at Neve Shalom, September 7, 2020 (Photo: Wahat al-Salam-Neve Shalom)

Hadash MK Yousef Jabareen (Joint List) tweeted his support for the community’s residents. “A shared life is the answer to the crimes of hate and incitement,” he wrote. “There is nothing that scares the extreme right more than bilingual education and the concept of true equality between Arabs and Jews.” Jabareen called on the police to bring the culprits to justice.

“In a place where books are burned, people will also be burned. Whoever burns a school and library is a terrorist who won’t hesitate to burn a family as well,” tweeted Hadash MK Ofer Cassif (Joint List). “When the prime minster himself incites against Arabs and the left, the ‘Bibistim’ [slang term used to refer to “Bibi” Netanyahu supporters] will go and burn down the society as a whole.”

Bruno Hussar, a Christian monk who was born a Jew in Egypt, founded Wahat al-Salam-Neve Shalom in 1969. The community aimed to foster dialogue between Jews and Arabs. Dozens of Jewish and Arab families live in the village. Its school uses both Arabic and Hebrew as languages of instruction, and is located near Latrun between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. The village is “dedicated to building justice, peace and equality in the country and the region.” The village has seen hate crimes in the past, including graffiti and the slashing of tires in 2012.

Related: Wahat al-Salam-Neve Shalom’s website