JAFFA (JWN and agencies)—Quiet was restored in this ancient port city on Sunday after residents were outraged Saturday to find racist graffiti spray-painted on two cemeteries—one Muslim and one Christian. An unknown assailant tossed a firebomb at a local synagogue Saturday night in apparent retaliation.
Slogans such as “Death to Arabs” were daubed at the two cemeteries. The firebomb failed to cause damage to the synagogue, but tense residents expressed concern that the attempt might also have been in response to last week’s torching of a mosque in the Galilee Bedouin town of Tuba-Zangaria.
Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino met with leaders of Jaffa’s Muslim and Christian communities on Sunday in a successful effort to restore calm. He said the police have been receiving calls about hate-graffiti from throughout the country since the mosque arson.
“We view the incident that took place here as a grave one,” Danino told the community leaders. “The incident will be dealt with at the highest level; we’ll make every effort to find the perpetrators and bring them to justice. Our top people will be devoted to this matter. I ask the community to continue to aspire to coexistence and a shared life while upholding law and order.”
President Shimon Peres spoke out against the vandalism. “It doesn’t matter whether it’s Muslims, Christians, or Jews—it’s an act of vandalism, it’s a crime, it’s against everything the Jewish people stands for as a country and as a democracy.
“We have to make sure every citizen and every home will be a safe place, but we carry also a spiritual responsibility and an historic one. One that means that everyone can pray to the Lord in his own language, from his own prayer book, and that every holy place is holy for all of us,” Peres said.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told the cabinet at its weekly meeting Sunday Israel is “not prepared to tolerate any vandalism, especially that directed against religious sensitivities.” Netanyahu said Israelis “need to continue living together in coexistence and mutual respect, without violence, in tranquility and peace.” He added that Israel would act against those responsible “to the fullest extent of the law.”