David Be’eri is either much admired or much hated, depending on how you feel about Israel and Jewish heritage. Be’eri is the founder and head of the Ir David Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to excavating, preserving and developing biblical Jerusalem, the City of David.
When Be’eri began his project in 1986, the City of David, located just opposite the Old City, was in shambles. Former excavations were hidden beneath heaps of garbage and debris.
Owing to his efforts, today the City of David is one of Israel’s most
beloved tourist attractions. Some 500,000 tourists visit the site each
year. Seventeen archaeological excavations have been undertaken there or
are currently ongoing. Annual archaeological conferences at the site
attract leading scholars from all over the world.
One of the keys to Be’eri’s success has been the close relations he has
cultivated with the local Arabs. Hundreds of local Arabs have worked in
the City of David on the various excavations.
But in the past few months, and particularly since the Obama
administration began pressuring Israel to curb its sovereignty in
Jerusalem, things have begun to change. Leftist groups including Peace
Now, Ir Amim, B’Tselem, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel,
Rabbis for Human Rights, and Emek Shaveh have begun organizing frequent
According to Udi Ragones, the spokesman for Ir David, the various
leftist groups collaborate openly with two Arab groups that have been
formed over the past year: Silwannet and the Wadi Hilweh Information
Center. Peace Now’s Hagit Ofran is often seen working with Jawad Sayam
from the information center.
One of the information center’s employees also works for Emek Shaveh, an organization of anti-Zionist archaeologists.
OVER THE past month, what began as non-violent protests against Ir David
turned violent. A month ago, anti-Israel activists set several cars
ablaze. Local Arabs who work with the Ir David Foundation began
receiving threats. The car of one such Arab was set on fire.
Two weeks ago, the demonstrations morphed into suicide protests as
activists set up a roadblock in the middle of the street, ambushed an Ir
David security guard and began violently attacking him. In order to
fend off his attackers, the guard shot his pistol and killed one of
them. Using faux footage, the protesters accused the guard of murder in
cold blood. The police rejected the accusation. Channel 2 initially
backed up the protesters’ claim, but later its reporter recognized he
had been used.
Last Friday, the violence was ratcheted up several notches when Be’eri
was targeted by an ambush. As he drove to his home in Ir David with his
13-year-old son, the car in front of him suddenly hit the breaks.
Be’eri drove around the car and was greeted by an ambush of demonstrators who attacked him with stones.
Blocked from backing away by a car that had suddenly stopped, Be’eri had
to decide between opening fire and driving through the protest. He
drove through, hitting two of his attackers. Both were minors. Neither
sustained serious injuries and were out and about within hours of the
The stone throwers were not the only people who participated in the
ambush. Six or seven photographers and at least one employee of the Wadi
Hilweh Information Center were also on the scene. The photographers
hailed from the far Left Hebrew-language Walla web portal and from
several European media outlets. They filmed Be’eri running over his
attackers from multiple angles. They then quickly sold the story to the
world as a tale of a vicious “settler” who ran over two innocent
children on their way home from the mosque, just because he is an evil
But as Ragones notes, “We were actually lucky that the media were there.
The photos that were supposed to frame Be’eri showed clearly that the
whole thing was a setup.”
Not only does the footage show that Be’eri was ambushed, it shows that
the photographers were integral members of the ambush team. The
children’s role was to provoke Be’eri into killing or injuring them by
attacking him with rocks. The photographers’ role was to photograph the
children getting killed or hurt.
The Ir David Foundation accuses the Wadi Hilweh Information Center of
organizing the incident. The presence of the center’s employees on the
scene in the footage lends credence to the allegation. Ir David also
argues that the entire episode was the product of close coordination
between the information center and the leftist groups that work with it
to demonize, discredit and otherwise harm Ir David specifically and
Israeli control over unified Jerusalem generally.
WHAT IS new about Friday’s incident is not its nature, but its location.
As Marc Prowissor, the director of security projects for the One Israel
Fund, a non-profit that supports stressed Jewish communities in Judea,
Samaria, the Galilee and the Negev notes, these sorts of suicide
protests have been going on for at least a decade.
Early incidents that had strategic impact on Israel’s international
standing were the Muhammad al-Dura affair in October 2000 and the Rachel
Corrie incident in 2003. In the former, Palestinian security forces
worked with a Palestinian cameraman and France 2 to cook up the libel
accusing IDF forces of killing the Palestinian boy Muhammad al-Dura. A
French court ruled last year that the footage, which shows al Dura
moving after he allegedly died, was falsified.
In the second incident, Corrie was brought to Gaza by the non-Israeli
International Solidarity Movement and deployed to block IDF forces from
carrying out counterterror operations. Corrie became the poster girl for
suicide protesters when an IDF bulldozer operator, who could not see
her, ran Corrie over as she sought to block his operations.
Since 2000, there has been escalating cooperation between Israeli
leftist organizations with foreign projihad groups like ISM and
Palestinian terror and political warfare outfits. This new cooperation
first gained prominence as the Israeli group Anarchists Against the Wall
began participating in the weekly Palestinian/ ISM riots against IDF
units at Bi’ilin and Na’alin in 2003.
Prowissor notes that throughout Judea and Samaria, especially around
olive harvest season, Rabbis for Human Rights and likeminded radical
groups bus Arab protesters into areas where they do not live to stir up
and participate in protests.
“Their modus operandi is always the same,” Prowissor explains. “They
stage violent attacks in front of their own cameras with the aim of
provoking local Israelis to defend themselves. For instance, they stone
Jewish cars and if a Jewish driver gets out and tries to fend off his
attackers, they film him and accuse him of attacking them for no
The weekly protests at Bi’ilin and Na’alin involve Palestinian, Western
and Israeli rioters attacking IDF forces and Border Police units with
stones and Molotov cocktails.
Five months ago, the protesters began using the same tactics against
Israeli civilians at Neveh Tzuf in the Binyamin region. A few weeks ago
they added the Carmei Tzur community in Gush Etzion to their list of
As for Jerusalem, the riots in Sheikh Jarrah every Friday have been
going on for several months. They spread to Ir David on Friday.
The reason for this is clear enough. Suicide protests are an effective
means of harming Israel. Just look at the Turkish terror shop Mavi
Marmara. The nine suicide protesters onboard who were killed while
attacking IDF naval commandos with knives, guns and bats are a bonanza
for Israel’s enemies. They are being used to drag Israel before the
international hanging jury at the UN, the Hague, in US university
campuses and throughout Europe.
What can be done about this growing menace? How can Israel defend itself
against it? SUICIDE PROTESTS work on three levels simultaneously.
To neutralize their impact, Israeli citizens and officials have to develop strategies to contend with them on all three levels.
The most basic level is the criminal level. It is criminal to solicit
violence. It is criminal to foment violence against citizens and
security and police forces. It is criminal to conspire to carry out
violence or impede soldiers, police and other security forces in the
lawful dispatch of their duties.
Bearing this in mind, the police and the IDF should be directed to
investigate all organizations suspected of planning, directing or
participating in violent protests. When they get advance notice of
protests, they can and should be preempted. It is legal for the police
to arrest the protesters en route to illegal demonstrations.
Then too, cases should be built against sponsoring organizations. Groups instigating violence should be banned.
Suicide protests, like suicide bombs, use violence to advance political
goals. In Israel’s case, they are used to demonize the state and its
citizens in a bid to coerce the government into acting in a manner that
Bureaucratic and political tools should be employed to scuttle these
efforts. For instance, in the aftermath of Friday’s ambush in Ir David,
the media watch group Tadmit sent a letter to the Government Press
Office requesting that it withdraw the press credentials from the
photographers present at the scene. The GPO should act on Tadmit’s
request and deny or remove press credentials from any self-proclaimed
reporter or photographer that participates in violent, illegal
activities aimed against the state.
Beyond that, Israeli citizens’ groups and the government should actively
discredit groups involved in suicide protests. Data should be gathered
against participating organizations and should be rapidly released every
time an event like last Friday’s ambush takes place.
Finally, there is the legal aspect of the suicide protest strategy. The
alliance of Arab, Israeli and Western anti- Israel groups use suicide
protests as a means of attacking Israel in foreign and international
legal areas, like British courts and the Hague. Both private citizens
and the government should sue local groups who collaborate with such
initiatives for damages. To the extent that enabling legislation is
required to bring such suits, the Knesset should pass such legislation.
The local media initially ran the story of Be’eri’s ambush just as the
leftist-Arab coalition wanted them too. Be’eri was portrayed as an
aggressive, violent settler who ran over two innocent Palestinian
children for no reason. But then the suicide protesters overreached.
On Sunday they ambushed and stoned a Channel 2 camera crew. Sunday night the truth was out.
But next time they will probably be more careful.
Suicide protests are the newest and, so far, most effective weapon in
the political war against Israel. It is the task of the government and
citizens alike to develop and implement strategies to blunt its