NCF's Update from the Negev-Naqab
thank you for your
Friends and Supporters of the Negev Coexistence Forum for Civil
As we approach the end of 2019 and the Christmas and Hanuka Holidays,
we would like to thank you for your support. Thanks to you, NCF
continues to stand alongside Bedouin communities in the Negev/Naqab and
to support them in their resistance to the dispossession of their
villages and amplify their voices for equality.
In 2019, we were successful in reaching major achievements, despite
facing another challenging year.
We participated for the first time in a unique international
exhibition. We brought the unprecedented photographic testimony of four
Bedouin women from Umm
al-Ḥīrān to the Photoville
Festival in New York. The festival received more than 100,000
visitors this year.
Together with Bedouin children, women and youth, we continued
documenting their every-day-life as well as home demolitions, arrests,
demonstrations, and the daily reality of neglect. One of the most
targeted villages this year was al-ʿArāgīb.
NCF mounted daily visits to the village to monitor the situation and
support activists and residents, who faced continued harassment,
demolitions and arrests. We organized solidarity visits and events.
Through our local and international advocacy efforts we have been able
to generate political pressure on the state of Israel to change its
policies towards Bedouins. In 2019 we organized tours and lectures
reaching almost 1,500 people.
In partnership with other organizations, NCF presented expert
information to different UN Committees and UN Special Rapporteurs. In
doing so, NCF gives exposure to the plight of Bedouin communities in
the Negev/Naqab and brings the subject matter into public dialogue and
political debate. Our work has been fairly covered in the Arabic,
Hebrew and English media landscapes.
As we enter a new decade – and as we face an unprecedented
climate and ecological crisis, we corroborate our commitment to
promoting a shared society that is stable and safe and where all its
residents feel at home. A society that respects everyone’s
dignity and human rights while providing every individual with equal
opportunities. A society that is tolerant and respects diversity.
With your support, NCF will continue standing alongside the Bedouin
communities in their struggle, amplifying their demands for equality,
and supporting them in their resistance to the dispossession of their
villages, heritage and traditional way of life.
Human Rights Week 2019
the occasion of International Human Rights Day, NCF published a report
on the human rights situation of Arab Bedouin citizens in the
For the full report
- changing reality! On the 8th of December we toured with a
group of young Israelis. This group is just part of the
hundreds of Israeli young men and women who joined our alternative
tours of the Negev/Naqab.
Meeting with Arab Bedouin people from these villages exposes the young
adults to the reality on the ground, one that does not usually reach
the mainstream media.
The group joined the weekly protest rally of al-ʿArāgīb,
and visited the village. There, they met with Aziz al-Turi and his
father, the village's leader Sheikh Sayah. They sent the young
men and women with a clear message: Be on the right side of history, do
not cooperate with human rights violations!
Monday, NCF participated in a discussion in Parliament on the abolition
of the Kaminitz Law.
Members of Parliament (Knesset) from the entire political map (Joint
List, the Democratic Union, Labor-Gesher, Blue and White, Yisrael
Beiteinu and more) all joined the coalition, calling for the
immediate cancellation of the Kaminitz Law.
To our satisfaction, on December 11, 2019, it was decided that the
Kaminitz Law will be returned to the next Knesset for
discussion and in the meantime it has been frozen!
09/12/2019 - NCF pretenses at the
Tel Aviv Solidarity Festival.
Solidarity Festival is the only one in Israel dedicated entirely to
cinema and human rights.
festival, held at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque as of 2010 under the
initiative and management of Danny Wilanski, is produced by the
Solidarity Art, Activism and Human Rights Association and is held
thanks to the work of volunteers to collaborate with nonprofits and
year, NCF presented six short films by women and men from the
unrecognized villages in the Negev/Naqab.
Thursday, we celebrated Human Rights Day at the Multaka-Mifgash
cultural center. The day was dedicated to women from
the unrecognized villages participating in NCF's documentation project "Yuṣawiruna
– Photographing for Human Rights". During the
event, we also revealed the Women's Portrait Exhibition and
our annual album, all made up of photos taken by
women from the various groups.
invites you to visit our On
the Map website.
It gives easy and quick access to information and photos from each
village and also the various plans which threatens the future of most
of these villages.
Her Eyes: Art Photography & Resistance
Arab Bedouin women photographers from Umm al-Ḥīrān present their story
in New York
support these four Arab Bedouin women as they share their
photographic documentation of the State’s assault on the 500
Arab Bedouin residents in the unrecognized village, Umm
al-Ḥīrān. Their unprecedented photographic testimony will be
exhibited in the Photoville Festival in New York this September 12-22,
which expects to receive more than 92,000 visitors.
will be a symbolic and material demonstration of support for the civil
struggle and resistance of Arab Bedouin women, whose photographs
express their strength and resilience against various forms of
We urgently need
your help in order to present the exhibition in New York! Please
donate by 8th of September 2019.
voices to be heard and their story be told!
Why? As we witness violence and
displacement of indigenous populations and first nations all around the
world, women are taking unimaginable risks to step up and face private
and state institutions to stop state projects that will effectively
destroy their communities.
The story of the indigenous Arab Bedouin people in the Negev/Naqab is
presented through the unmediated eyes of women, who document their
daily lives in Umm al-Ḥīrān.
Bedouin people in the Negev/Naqab desert, despite being Israeli
citizens, are under daily risk of their home demolitions and are
constantly denied of water, electricity, and
other basic services.
Four courageous Arab Bedouin women documented their lives as the State
forces them and their families to say goodbye to everything they call
home. Now their photographs will travel all the way to New York to
share a message of humanity and resilience.
– Photographing for Human Rights
2014, the NCF started the Yuṣawiruna –
Photographing for Human Rights Project. NCF and
seven unrecognized villages’ committees founded several women
groups that are documenting both their lives in the villages and the
continual human rights violations perpetrated by the state. The
participants receive a personal camera and NCF coordinators conduct
monthly photography workshops, as well as discussions about human
rights and accessibility to governmental services in the villages.
Women present the photographs that they took since the last workshop
and accompany each other to take new ones. Through these activities,
participants forge connections through their response to a shared
experience across all of their villages.
Passover from NCF
Passover, Jews and Arabs alike are saying:
ONE of us can be free until EVERYBODY is free"
| Photo: Khitam.
Bīr Haddāj, 2018
the Past year, NCF has worked to promote equality between the
Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel in the Negev/Naqab.
We exposed the brutal policy of house demolitions and the state's
failures in finding employment solutions for Bedouin women. We brought
thousands of people to tour the unrecognized villages, in hopes of
breaking down the barriers for a shared society. We had solidarity
visits with hundreds of partners in Israel and around the world.
We demonstrated against the unjust imprisonment of Sheikh Sayah, a
Bedouin human right defender, and lobbied the UN committees in
order to pressure the Israeli government to ensure the protection and
the implementation of the Bedouin
In the name of freedom of speech, NCF fought (and won) in the
Supreme Court so that it can continue the valuable work of the
Multaka-Mifgash, the only joint Arab-Jewish cultural center in the
But there are still many challenges ahead,
and freedom for all is still out of grasp.
In order for NCF to continue
its activities, we need your support!
at the United Office in Geneva
Bedouin community representative to the UN Committee on Economic,
Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR): “The so-called
development in the Negev/Naqab is done on our expense, we need the
support of the international community”.
* This publication was produced with the financial support of the
European Union. Its contents are the sole responsibility of Adalah and
NCF and do not necessarily represent the views of the European Union.
The statement was given on the 11th
of March (Monday) during the pre-session of the CESCR Working Group.
Following a report submitted by NCF and Adalah, which depicted the
discrimination of the Bedouin community in the southern region of
Israel. The Committee will convene to examine the implementation of the
Covenant in Israel in September-October 2019. “Israel signed
the Covenant and is obliged to implement its
The report mentioned the severe neglect of the education and health
systems, and the inability of the state to effectively promote Arab
Bedouin employment. In addition, the organizations expressed concern
with the government’s “development” plans
that will lead to the displacement of 36,000 Bedouins from their
villages, and severe budgetary neglect in the fields of education,
health and employment, which causes huge gaps between Jews and Arabs in
Strong reservations were made regarding the Five-Year Plan for
Development (Government Resolution No. 2397), which they claim serves
as a pressure tool to evacuate the 35 villages that are being
denied recognition in the Negev/Naqab: "The residents of these villages
are completely excluded from the budgets ... The Plan includes an
allocation of NIS 42 million to increase the enforcement of the
Planning and Construction Laws in the Negev/Naqab, and another NIS 30
million to plant trees in the evacuated lands, in order to prevent the
residents from returning to their homes."
The pre-session of the Working Group, which took place in Geneva from
11-14 March, is part of the United Nations monitoring mechanism for the
implementation of the UN Covenant on Cultural, Economic and Social
Rights (1966), to which the State of Israel joined in 1992. Member
States who signed the Covenant are committed to promise the protection
of five central rights: the right to education, the right to health,
the right to work, family rights and the right to adequate standard of
living. The latter was discussed at length in the report due
to the housing shortage and the policy of house demolitions against the
Bedouin population in the Negev/Naqab, and included harsh criticism of
the Authority for the Development and Settlement of the Bedouin in the
Negev: "The Authority enters the villages in order to negotiate with
the families, while the eviction itself is not even
negotiable”, it said.
Speaking in-front of Committee Members, Amir Abo Qweder
NCF’s representative to the UNOG, said: "This
year, my brother 'Akef's house was demolished, his wife Amani and his
little children Judah and Gina had to return to live with their
grandmother to this day. They are still subjected to harassments and
investigations by the Yoav Special Unit”. Abuo
Qweder himself is a resident of an unrecognized
village, added: "Minister Uri Ariel is proud of
dispossessing and evacuating tens of thousands of Bedouin from their
villages. He does not treat us as citizens, but rather as criminals! ".
Tal Avrech, NCF’s
international advocacy coordinator said: “The
State of Israel deliberately and constantly chooses to ignore the
Bedouin living in unrecognized villages. It prevents them from
accessing their basic civil and human rights, in order to exhaust them
so that they will align with the agenda it is trying to promote. Israel
continues to ignore the Bedouin residing in unrecognized villages in
both its internal and external surveys and reports, acting as if they
just don’t exist. But they exist, and they are equal citizens
of the state. NCF chose to write its report to the CESCR so that the
voice of the Bedouin in the Negev/Naqab will echo in the hallways of
the United Nations”.
in the Media
Abo Freh, Umm al-Hiran. Photo: Meged Gozani, Haaretz
Umm al-Ḥīrān – Countdown”
Umm al-Hiran Photography Book, “Umm al-Ḥīrān Parting
Moments”, prepared by the village women as part of the Negev
Coexistence Forum's documentation project, is dedicated to the memory
of Yaaqub Abu al-Qian, may he rest in peace.
reporter, Vered Lee, came to the village to speak with the
project’s participants and coordinators and hear about their
Taken from the article:
The photo book ... documents from a
female perspective the residents living in the unrecognized village in
the Negev, forced in April 2018 after a long struggle to sign an
evacuation agreement and move to the township of Ḥūrah.
The separation period from the village, which is about to be evacuated,
was documented by a group of Bedouin women who take part in the "Yuṣawiruna
– Photographing for Human Rights" project,
which has been operating in the village for the past four years on
behalf of the Negev Coexistence Forum for Civil Equality. As part of
the project, participants receive a still camera and a video camera,
professional guidance in photography and exposure to human rights
issues. They meet once a week in a house in the village, go out to take
pictures throughout the village, present the photographs during their
meeting and learn to improve the language of photography and analyze
the photographs while discussing the situation in the village and their
lives as Bedouin women in Israeli society.
Hala Abo Freh, documentation
coordinator for the Yuṣawiruna
project, said: "The process of working with the women
flooded me with memories of my childhood that connect me back
to my roots. It really enlivens the past. I see before me a population
that is displaced by the state - it is a path that my family has also
made and through which I recognize how much we have lost from our
culture and our natural way of life. "
political persecution of NCF and the Multaka-Mifgash cultural center
Danilovich, Mayor of Beer Sheva Municipality, a continue to persecute
the Negev Coexistence Forum for Civil Equality 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
eviction order from the Beer Sheva municipality, which
demanded that NCF evacuate the shelter due to political activity that
it claimed violated the contract.
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 NCF's appeal against
the eviction order that was issued in December 2017 by the Beer Sheva
municipality. 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 constitutes 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 space, and as long as they are not infected with
racism and incitement, the municipality does not have the right to
intervene in them.
This week, NCF submitted a letter to the municipality 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 for municipal taxes in the past was not a mistake of the
municipality. In that NCF, which is a volunteer
institution for the benefit of the 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.”