Dear partners and supporters,
I am writing to update you about a notice we have received from the Be’er Sheva municipality on Thursday, informing us of their intention to re-examine the allocation of the municipal bomb shelter where Multaqa-Mifgash, our Arab-Jewish cultural center, operates. The cultural center in the Dalet neighborhood has operated since 2006 as a joint Arab-Jewish space, offering a verity of events, gathering, film screenings, shared holiday feasts, and language classes.
In the past 11 years, Multaqa-Mifgash has become a shared space for the different communities living in Be’er Sheva and the Negev as whole, and allowed various exciting encounters between the communities sharing the area.
This is not the first time Multaqa-Mifgash has made headlines. In recent years, the municipality has repeatedly asked us to cancel events and limit our activities. This attempt to limit our events and eventually take away our premises to prevent said events is part of the larger restrictions on freedom of speech, and a testimony to the shrinking of civil spaces.
Be’er Sheva is home to a big community of residents who enjoy and take part in the activities and services Multaqa-Mifgash provides. To the limitations on freedom of speech and cancellation of events, we, Arabs and Jews, answer by continuing to hold shared encounters and gatherings, calling for a just, shared existence for all residents of the Negev.
According to the municipality’s notice, we must answer the arguments in the letter within seven days as part of the review process. We reject these arguments outright and will answer them in detail in the coming days. We intend to continue operating Multaqa-Mifgash in the bomb shelter allocated to us, and will work by all available channels to ensure that.
Hoping for better days,
Executive Director, Negev Coexistence Forum for Civil Equality