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Spokane Church Vandalized after Displaying Pro-Israel Sign


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Spokane Church Vandalized after Displaying Pro-Israel Sign

News Story by Cassy Benefield | FāVS News

Plymouth Congregational Church found itself a victim of hate’s crossfire on Wednesday (Jan. 24) when their welcome sign, which read “GOD BLESS ISRAEL,” was vandalized with an expletive followed by “Zionism” in orange spray paint.

The Rev. Janet Ahrend reported the damage to police that day, said Spokane Police Department Officer Daniel Strassenberg, according to The Spokesman-Review.

On Friday, what’s left of the vandalism is a partial “F” and “u” with “Zionism” still clearly spray painted over the date and time of the church’s next service.

Hershel Zellman, a board member of Human Rights Spokane who also helps record hate incidents in Spokane County, was at the church Friday there with his wife Mary Noble, gathering information about the defacement. He said his organization would consider this a hate crime.

“Certainly there has been a lot of passion in the community about the Israel-Hamas war, and these types of things we expect to be happening a lot more as the war winds on,” Zellman said.

Noble, a member of Temple Beth Shalom, said that supporting Israel was not a zero sum idea in which supporting Israel means you don’t support Palestinians.

In fact, she endorsed the Spokane City Council’s passage, 5-1, on Monday (Jan. 22), of a more inclusive resolution to replace the first one passed on Oct. 9 in response to the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel.

She commended the compromise the council members made to show balanced support of both Israelis and Palestinians in this moment.

“What strikes me is that the message that’s on the church reader board says ‘God bless Israel.’ It makes no anti anybody or anti anything. It’s a positive message that says ‘God bless Israel,’” Noble said.

She said her interpretation of the vandalism is that one can’t be an ally of Israel. She added that the entities in the community who she thought were her allies have been quiet, which has been difficult.

“So it means a lot when a church or any organization says something supportive,” Noble said. “This is just an example of hate rhetoric in the community. It’s sad, it’s scary. Not a good reflection. Not a good reflection of Spokane. It’s tough. It’s very tough.”

At publishing, Ahrend respond to an email FāVS News sent her for comment.

Cassy Benefield
Cassy Benefield
Cassy (pronounced like Cassie but spelled with a 'y') Benefield is a wife and mother, a writer and photographer and a huge fan of non-fiction. She has traveled all her life, first as an Army brat. She is a returned Peace Corps volunteer (2004-2006) to Romania where she mainly taught Conversational English. She received her bachelor’s in journalism from Cal Poly Technical University in San Luis Obispo, California. She finds much comfort in her Savior, Jesus Christ, and considers herself a religion nerd who is prone to buy more books, on nearly any topic, than she is ever able to read. She is the associate editor of FāVS.News.

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Sue Eggart
Sue Eggart
2 months ago

Thank you for this reporting, Cassy!

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