Ali Mustafa, a student who rents an apartment in the north Israeli city of Safed, awoke on Friday to find his car vandalized. He reported to the police that unidentified perpetrators smashed his side mirror, scratched the vehicle and spray-painted the words "Arabs out!" on it.
"Obviously this was an act of racism," Mustafa told Ynet on Saturday. "It won't deter me from continuing to study. I didn't come here to disturb anyone, I rent an apartment here and come to study at the college every day. I hope the police will find the individuals behind this act."
Mahmoud Abu Salah, a representative of the student union at Safed College, said that the act was an example of the racist attitude prevalent in the city.
"This was yet another incident of harassment of a student who came to obtain a higher education, and is legally renting an apartment in the city," he said. "We haven't come to hurt the residents of Safed. Unfortunately, we feel that along with the rabbis' letter and
additional Jewish law rulings, we are being persecuted."
Abu Salah reiterated, however, that the students will continue to study regardless of the disturbing trend. "I get phone calls every day from female students who are afraid to go outside after dark," he said. "I know that the police, the college and the municipality are doing everything to prevent the persistence of these events."
A Jewish law ruling
published by Safed Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, which prohibits selling and renting property to Arabs, has escalated tension in Safed in recent months. Several incidents of vandalism caused to students' apartments were reported, and flyers condemning Safed Mayor Ilan Shohat for promoting an academic environment that attracts Arab students were distributed around the city.
Police have charged a few Jews for some of the acts, and claim they continue to search. "Our investigation has a direction which may lead to arrests," a police official said. "We treat each event of physical or verbal abuse gravely."