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NCF's Update from the Negev-Naqab


NCF thank you for your


Dear Friends and Supporters of the Negev Coexistence Forum for Civil Equality:

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.


International Human Rights Week 2019

On the occasion of International Human Rights Day, NCF published a report on the human rights situation of Arab Bedouin citizens in the Negev/Naqab. 

For the full report
Raising awareness - 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!

Last 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!

Tuesday, 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.

The 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 organizations.

This year, NCF presented six short films by women and men from the unrecognized villages in the Negev/Naqab.

You can view their work on our YouTube Chanel:

On 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. 

NCF 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.


Through Her Eyes: Art Photography & Resistance

Support Arab Bedouin women photographers from Umm al-Ḥīrān present their story in New York

Please 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.


Your donation 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 oppression.

We urgently need your help in order to present the exhibition in New York! Please donate by 8th of September 2019. 

Help their 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. 

Arab 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.

The story of Umm al-Ḥīrān
Photo by: B&H Photography Podcast
About the Photoville Festival NYC
Yuṣawiruna – Photographing for Human Rights
In 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.


Happy Passover from NCF

This Passover, Jews and Arabs alike are saying:

"No ONE of us can be free until EVERYBODY is free"
(Maya Angelou) 
Photo: Khitam. Bīr Haddāj,  2018

In 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 people's rights.   

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 Negev/Naqab.

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! 


NCF at the United Office in Geneva

NCF’s 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”.

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 recommendations”.

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 the Negev.

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”.
* 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.

NCF in the Media

Hala Abo Freh, Umm al-Hiran. Photo: Meged Gozani, Haaretz

“Photographing Umm al-Ḥīrān – Countdown”
The 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.

Haaretz’s reporter, Vered Lee, came to the village to speak with the project’s participants and coordinators and hear about their experience.

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 ūrah. 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 "Yuawiruna – 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 Yuawiruna 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. " 


The political persecution of NCF and the Multaka-Mifgash cultural center continues!

Rubik 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.
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 cultural center.

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.”

Read online on NCF's website

Visit NCF's villages project website and start to read and watch photos and videos from the Bedouin villages in the Negev-Naqab at:
Check out NCF's record of house demolitions in the Negev-Naqab