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International Update | November 11, 2017

Be’er Sheva mayor threatens to take action against Multaqa-Mifgash, once again

Dear partners and supporters,

I am writing today to update you once again on measures taken by the Be’er Sheva mayor against the political agenda of Multaqa-Mifgash, NCF’s Arab-Jewish Cultural Center in Be’er Sheva. Multaqa-Mifgash, the only cultural center in the Negev-Naqab that brings together Arab-Bedouins and Jews for meaningful human rights activism, is once again facing threats from individuals and groups asking the Be’er Sheva municipality not to allocate a city bomb-shelter to NCF, claiming NCF’s work is provocative and anti-Israeli.
Today, the threats grow stronger as for hosting an upcoming event about the Israeli military industries and arms exports around the world, in collaboration with Coalition of Women for Peace’s project “Hamushim” and Adv. Eitay Mack. The event, that will take place on Monday 13/11, was targeted by right-wing activists, in collaboration with the organizations “B’tsalmo” and “Im Tirzu”, as well as members of Knesset. Other than writing the Mayor and city council members, and sparking up local and national media against Multaqa-Mifgash, the groups also plan to hold a demonstration in front of the event.
Yesterday, MK Nava Boker (Likud party) deputy head of Knesset, sent a letter to Be’er Sheva Mayor Ruvik Danilovich: “This event has enough to suggest anti-Israeli propaganda and to bring damage to the state of Israel and Be’er Sheva city in particular.  I ask you to prevent, in any way, the event from taking place, in order to limit the anti-Zionist work that de-legitimizes Israel in the world”.
Hours later, Mayor Danilovich wrote me a letter, criticizing the events taking place in Multaqa-Mifgash and asking for cancellation of the upcoming event: “For a long time […] we allowed you to continue with your activities in the hopes that eventually, logic and reason will overcome.  Unfortunately, we stood corrected. One event after the other, escalation by escalation, as if your entire goal is to cause provocations to glorify the name of NCF’s (and one might add, to probably help fundraising). […] I wish to clarify that if you choose to hold the event despite all being said, I will have no choice but to seek legal action”.
NCF wrote the mayor back, reminding him of his obligation to democracy and freedom of speech and of the State Attorney’s former claims of holding political (non-partisan) events in city property is proper and appropriate and that the municipality must not censor or ask NCF to censor events. NCF plans to hold the event as planned, and to allow an important discussion on an often censored subject – Israel’s involvement in arming human rights abuses, ethnic cleansing and genocides around the world.
Multaqa-Mifgash has been the center of many political threats in the past few years, as a hateful racist atmosphere acts to shrink the democratic space for left political discussions and activism, and to limit the work of organizations seeking to promote human rights. The attacks on the freedom of speech and on human rights work only prove the importance of the cultural center, and of NCF’s work. NCF will continue to stand firm against those attacks and will work to promote mutual exchange and political dialogue for all residents of the Negev-Naqab.
Hoping for better days,

Haia Noach
Executive Director, Negev Coexistence Forum for Civil Equality


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