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, beginning around the time 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 protests.
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.
Caroline B. Glick is the senior Middle East fellow at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C., and the deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post, where this article first appeared.
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