Swastikas, PLO flag scrawled on Jerusalem religious school

Pro-PLO message, PLO flag, Nazi symbol graffitied in 1st grade classroom of state religious school in Jerusalem. Arab cleaners implicated.

David Rosenberg,

Swastikas (file)
Swastikas (file)
Flash 90

Parents and school staff members at a religious public school in Jerusalem received a most unwelcome surprise earlier this week when they discovered anti-Semitic and pro-PLO graffiti in one of the school’s first grade classrooms.

According to a report Monday evening by Channel 20, vandals scrawled swastikas, PLO flags, and the phrase “I love you Palestine” in permanent marker on the chalkboard and tablecloth of the teacher’s desk.

After the discovery, the school’s principal called local police and the Jerusalem municipality to investigate the graffiti.

Three Arab employees of a cleaning company charged with maintaining the school were implicated in the vandalism, police said, after investigators questioned the three. The suspects had apparently stayed in the school overnight prior to the discovery of the graffiti.

The cleaning company which employs the three suspects works on behalf of the City of Jerusalem, and is not directly accountable to the school in question.

Representatives from the company say the three suspects have been suspended and will not be permitted to work at the school again.

Some parents voiced their frustration with the city’s failure to screen those hired to work in local schools.

“When we got to school this morning, it looked horrifying,” one teacher told Channel 20. “How can they have people working in the school overnight who do these kinds of things? It is astounding that the city doesn’t check who the cleaning company hires at the city’s expense.”

In an email to parents, however, the principal appeared to play down the incident, suggesting the graffiti may not have been the work of one of the cleaners, but perhaps was done by one of their children they had brought along.

“It could be that this was [done by] a child of one of the cleaners, who came with his father to the school during the night.”

The principals email drew criticism, however, as some pointed out that the graffiti appeared to be the work of adults, not children.

“There’s no doubt that an adult did this,” one parent said in response.

The City of Jerusalem issued the following statement in response to the vandalism: “The education director of the City of Jerusalem is aware of the incident, and it is being dealt with responsibly by the municipality and police. The children’s safety is our primary concern. We want to emphasize that all of the employees entering educational facilities have the required permits and licenses.”