In Memory of David Rosenfeld

Curator of Herodium

On 2 July 1982, David Rosenfeld was brutally murdered by terrorists of the Palestine Liberation Organization acting in the name of Yasser Arafat. A few months before his murder and five years before the “intifada,” David sent the following letter to the New York Times, but they didn’t print it. Despite having been written 20 years ago, the letter is unfortunately almost “prophetic”: only one year ago two young boys of Tekoa, Koby Mandell & Yosef Ishran were murdered exactly as David described in his letter to the Times.

David’s murderers were caught, tried, sentenced, and then set free in the exchange for Israeli POWs.


“One feature of the landscape of Israel is an abundance of stones and rocks in areas that have not been reforested. They say that each stone has a history in this ancient land. There is certainly one salient fact about these stones that has been overlooked in our technologically oriented society — they are potential weapons.

The American press has dwelled on the fact that during the recent disturbances in Judea and Samaria the Arab rioters had only stones while the Israeli army had guns. First of all, Arab rioters in the past – as well as Arab armies – had and still have sophisticated weapons at their disposal. What we should look at is the use of these weapons.

When a PLO terrorist murders a Jewish child in Israel, the Arabs praise this man for killing an Israeli soldier. When the terrorists have guns or bombs in Israel, their purpose is to use them to murder Jews — civilians or soldiers. On the other hand, the Israeli soldier never uses his gun on civilians — rioting or not — except as a last resort in self-defense. If an Arab is killed by an Israeli, an investigation is started to ascertain if the Israeli’s life was in danger. Most of the army’s bullets are fired into the air — warning shots — in an attempt to control a riot. Arab bullets fired in Israel are aimed at the hearts of innocent people. The purpose of the weapons in each side’s hands is different, one for attack, the other for defense.

The second point is that the stones being thrown by the rioters are weapons. They can maim or kill — and they have. If any of you don’t believe this, go to a park with your friends and ask them to start throwing stones at you. But be fair. Ask them to use big stones and to throw them as hard as they can. Later, in the hospital, you may perhaps have a better understanding of what pressures the Israeli soldiers are under, and in spite of this threat to their lives, how few incidents occur in which they shoot back at their attackers. Another situation occurs when an Israeli family is driving on a road. Hurled stones start smashing the windows. Think of the fear and pressure put on that family in the car. Would you defend the lives of your wife and children? If you had a gun, would you use it? The laws relating to the use of a gun by an Israeli are very strict — as can be seen by the fact that many civilian cars have been stoned but very few of the attackers have been shot at and then only when they continued their attacks and threatened the lives of the passengers.

I am not surprised that other peoples, who have not shared our historical experience, are unable to comprehend what Israelis — Jews — feel about violence. We abhor it; we have been victims of violence for centuries. We still are today.”


Sincerely Yours,  

David Rosenfeld