Rubik Danilovich and other right-wing activists continue to persecute the Negev Coexistence Forum and the only Arab-Jewish culture center in the Negev, the Multaka-Mifgash.
The Beer Sheva municipality demands that municipal taxes be paid in the amount of NIS 480,000 retroactively for seven years of activity from a public shelter in neighborhood D in the city.
This was only one month after the organization won its appeal in the Supreme Court against the evection order from the Beer Sheva municipality, which demanded that NCF evacuate the shelter due to political activity that it claimed violated the contract.
After more than a decade of Arab-Jewish activity from the public shelter in Beer Sheva, the Negev Coexistence Forum for Civil Equality received on January 20, 2019 a notice regarding the demand for payment of municipal taxes for 7 years of activity (2012-2018), as well as for the current year, totaling NIS 480,000 (the business rate for municipal taxes, otherwise known as Arnona). This is the first time that NCF has been asked to pay municipal taxes for using the public shelter. Needless to say, NCF is a non-profit organization and does not conduct any business-like activities from the Multaka-Mifgash.
The payment notice was issued only ten days after a ruling was made in the Supreme Court regarding the matter of the NCF’s appeal against the eviction order that was issued a year earlier by the Beer Sheva municipality, in December 2017. The municipality claimed that NCF held activities that do not conform to the allocation contract to which it is signed. Among the events that NCF hosted were: a discussion of conscientious objection, an event about the Nakba, and a workshop to photographing demonstrations. NCF’s appeal alleges that the municipality, after allocating the building to the organization, cannot intervene in its content or cancel the contract based on its interpretation of what is legitimate political activity. Attorney Dan Yakir from the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) said that the complex issues in society are the essence of promoting a common society, and as long as they are not infected with racism and incitement, the municipality does not have the right to intervene in them.
NCF submitted a letter to the municipality this week demanding that the payment, which is tainted by extraneous considerations, be canceled immediately. In a letter submitted by Attorney Yishai Shnidor and attorney Carmel Pomerantz on behalf of NCF, it was argued that this retroactive charge of municipal taxes is illegal, other than in exceptional cases, and stated that: “The failure to issue the charges in the past was not a mistake of the municipality. In that NCF, which is a volunteer institution for the benefit of a public that conducts social, not economic / business / for-profit activities, is not supposed to pay municipal taxes.” In addition, the lawyers added that it is impossible to avoid a serious aspect of extraneous considerations that exists in this new affirmation, which arises “to actual harassment and an attempt to circumvent a ruling … The connection between the two events is evident.”
NCF stated in response: “It appears that even after the Supreme Court’s ruling, the municipality, under the pressure of extreme right-wing elements, continues to persecute and silence those who are trying to promote joint activity of Arabs and Jews in the city. The decision to go after a non-profit organization for an astronomical retroactive payment for municipal taxes is a brutal provocation and illegal decision. Which marks a new record in the fight that the Beer Sheva municipality is leading against freedom of expression. The municipality failed miserably in the past when it tried to silence NCF and evict us, and it will fail in doing so once more.”