Pro-Palestinian graffiti was discovered on a Lowell synagogue Wednesday as tensions overseas escalated between Israel and Palestine, officials said.
James Mitchneck, building committee chairman at the Montefiore Orthodox Synagogue, said the graffiti consisted of two messages about 10 to 15 feet in length that read “Free Palelestine” and “God bless Gaza” spray-painted in a blood-red color, with the word Palestine spelled incorrectly. The vandalism was on the wall of the synagogue facing Westford Street, he said.
“We did not see the perpetrator,” Mitchneck said. “They did not leave any clues behind.”
Mitchneck said he spent most of Thursday cleaning up the graffiti.
Lowell police are investigating the incident and asked residents in the area of Westford Street to report any suspicious activity they may have witnessed, he said. Because Westford Street is a heavily traveled thoroughfare, Mitchneck said, someone probably saw the vandalism occur.
Police declined to comment Thursday night.
While the synagogue does have a surveillance system, the camera that would have captured the incident was not functioning properly, Mitchneck said.
“We have one camera in that area that has been misbehaving, and unfortunately it chose this time to misbehave,” he said.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations released a statement Thursday condemning the vandalism.
“Whatever views one holds on the current round of violence in the Middle East, attacks on houses of worship must be condemned and the perpetrators brought to justice,” the council said.
Mitchneck said the vandalism shocked him because of the tradition of religious diversity in the Lowell area.
“I’m very surprised at this point in time that people would use vandalism to get some sort of message or fear across,” he said.Rachel Riley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.