The only Jewish-Arab cultural center in the Negev has been evicted from its premises by the Be’er Sheva Municipality. Operating out of public defense shelter for 15 years, Multaqa-Mifgash (Arabic and Hebrew for “Meeting) the Negev Coexistence Forum for Civil Equality (NCF), has worked to promote grassroots solutions to the conflicts in Israel’s South.
Since its founding in 2006, Multaqa-Mifgash has held cultural events, workshops, film screenings, lectures, language courses and meetings of social activists aimed at creating a space for dialogue between the various communities living side by side in the Negev and providing a platform for co-resistance and action for equality. “We must not comply with censorship, silencing and political persecution by the Be’er Sheva municipality and the extreme right who is doing everything to prevent joint Jewish-Arab cooperation,” the NCF has said in a statement.
The Be’er sheva municipality first threatened closures in 2014 when it started interfering with the group’s content, censoring anything authorities deemed to be “problematic,” i.e., content related to the occupation, discrimination and exploitation. When the NCF refused to comply with these limitations, the municipality went to the court. The NCF appealed that the municipality should not be allowed to interfere. A similar fate had befallen the Barbur Gallery in Jerusalem, which was ordered to vacate its building after hosting the anti-occupation NGO Breaking the Silence.
A crowdfunding campaign has been set up to help raise NIS 100,000 for Multaqa-Mifgash to find a new home, with the sum being enough to cover rent and utilities for a year. So far, almost NIS 60,000 has been raised.