The video of a young American Jewish activist who was forcefully arrested on
Jerusalem Day near Damascus Gate has been garnering attention in the pro-Palestinian blogosphere in the past 24 hours.
Lucas Koerner, a sophomore
at Tufts University majoring in International Relations and Spanish, was dressed
in a kippa and a keffiyeh as he shouted at passersby in the Flag March that “the
occupation is ethically reprehensible.”
Activists clash with Border Police at Kalandia crossing
Left-wing activists scuffle with police in east Jerusalem
“Israel is occupying the
Palestinians in my name, in the name of world Jewry,” said Koerner, waving his
American passport. “And I, myself, an American Jew, am here to say that it is
completely unjustified!” Koerner was unaffiliated with any Israeli activist
organizations, and apparently had come to Israel on an organized
Damascus Gate was the site of rock throwing, high tension and
multiple arrests during Jerusalem Day’s Flag March. Twenty-four people were
arrested and three were injured over the course of the holiday.
police said they asked Koerner to stop harassing the marchers, which is not
shown on the video. When Koerner refused to give the police his passport, they
arrested him for disturbing the peace. The arrest, which involved multiple
policemen, was filmed by Palestinian activists.
Koerner wrote on his
Facebook page that he “went limp” to resist arrest.
A video of the arrest
shows policemen wrestling him to the ground roughly and forcefully dragging him
into a police vehicle, where it took five officers to force him into the
Jerusalem police spokesman Shmuel Ben- Ruby told The Jerusalem Post
on Monday that Koerner bit a police officer during the course of his arrest, a
fact which Koerner denied. He said the officer’s injuries were from something
“The video doesn’t excite me,” Ben-Ruby said. “It was taken after
he was told he was arrested, he refused to cooperate with the police, and he bit
a policeman, so there’s no reason they shouldn’t arrest him with
Koerner was held in detention for less than 48 hours, at which
point a judge from the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court declined to extend his
detention until a trial.
Koerner’s lawyer encouraged him to leave the
country immediately, which he did. Ben-Ruby said that if Koerner returns to
Israel, he will be arrested upon entry and detained until he faces
The force employed by the officers during the arrest is typical
for what left-wing activists encounter during protests, which have turned more
violent in the past month.
Assaf Sharon, an activist with the Sheikh
Jarrah Solidarity Movement, said the video was garnering a large response
because it involved an American and was disseminated
Though the organization has similar videos showing
comparable violence, none of their videos have created waves.
expect much from America, we don’t send our videos outside, so our community is
much smaller anyways,” Sharon said.
The video has almost a quarter of a
million hits on YouTube. Koerner immediately created a Facebook page “We Are All
Lucas Koerner,” in reference to the Egyptian Facebook group “We Are All Khaled
Said,” a group that helped spark the January 25 revolution in Tahrir Square and
has almost 125,000 members. Sixty-four people have joined Koerner’s group.