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beer sheva

  • In Be'er Sheva, coexistence is 'political,' and can get you evicted

    The Negev Coexistence Forum for Civil Quality has been a fixture in the city of Be'er Sheva for decades. Now, following pressure from far-right activists, the city is evicting it. By Yehudit Keshet The city of Be’er Sheva is trying to evict the Negev Coexistence Forum for Civil Equality, the only place where Jews and Arabs can meet to work together and promote equality and understanding, following a concerted effort by far-right extremists. [tmwinpost] The Forum has been operating out of a Jewish-Arab community center, located in a renovated bomb shelter, since 1996 — all under one condition: that it…

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  • Overcoming bigotry, Be'er Sheva to hold first pride march

    A year after the Be'er Sheva march was cancelled following threats by extremists, the LGBTQ community in the city wins its greatest victory to date. By Daniel Beller A year after it was cancelled by the municipality, the southern city of Be'er Sheva will hold its first ever pride parade this coming Thursday. Last year's cancellation came after organizers were forced to march on side streets and in a closed-off area, following pressure by the religious community in the city, and after the police claimed they had received concrete intelligence that extremists were planning on attacking the marchers. [tmwinpost] This year, after months-long…

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  • Creeping censorship in a southern Israeli town

    Verbal attacks by right-wing groups and politicians in Be'er Sheva are threatening both NGOs and the local university. By Daniel Beller Over the past year various entities, including right-wing movements, have been trying to close down a joint Jewish-Arab cultural institution in the southern Israeli town of Be’er Sheva. The Multaqa-Mifgash Center, founded by the Negev Coexistence Forum (NCF), operates out of a municipal bomb shelter and stages activities and events focused on coexistence. It’s a unique institution in Be’er Sheva, and — aside from Ben-Gurion University — is the only place in the city that holds discussions on fundamental, sensitive…

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  • Israel strands Bedouin in their own village

    The sudden and unannounced removal of a Bedouin village's only bus stop, by Israel's Transport Ministry, has placed the community under de facto closure. By John Brown* The residents of Umm Batin, a Bedouin village in the south of Israel, were surprised to discover at the beginning of December that the bus stop they use to get to nearby Be’er Sheva had disappeared without warning or explanation. When village residents asked bus drivers — after catching the bus from a stop further away — what was going on, they were told that services to their village had indeed been canceled. Instead,…

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  • Following complaints, bus company halts Arabic-language announcements

    Residents of Be'er Sheva were enraged to find out that a new bus company had announcements in both Hebrew and Arabic. After numerous complaints, the Arabic announcements came to an end. By John Brown* An Israeli bus company in the southern city of Be'er Sheva stopped activating its Arabic-language announcement system last week, following complaints by city residents. [tmwinpost] The company, Dan Be'er Sheva, won a tender in January of this year, replacing the Metro Dan company to the delight of many residents, who have repeatedly criticized the city's poor public transportation. The new buses include a PA system, which…

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  • WATCH: Israeli students stage soccer tournament for refugees

    Israel is imprisoning thousands of African asylum seekers in a desert detention facility called ‘Holot.’ A group of students and youngsters from Be’er Sheva, in southern Israel, recently organized a soccer tournament with the asylum seekers in an attempt to make them feel less isolated. Israeli authorities systematically deny the Sudanese and Eritrean asylum seekers any chance of getting refugee status, leaving them without any legal status in the country, and often detaining them without charge or trial. Read more on the situation of refugees and asylum seekers in Israel here.

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  • Court shuts down left-wing lecture following threats of violence

    'Breaking the Silence' planned to hold a speaking event at a local pub in Be'er Sheva. The police shut it down after it could not ensure the safety of the participants. By John Brown* A Be'er Sheva court barred a local pub from hosting an event put on by "Breaking the Silence" following threats by right-wing activists. The Be'er Sheva Magistrate's Court issued the order barring the event, which was supposed to take place Tuesday night at the Ashan Hazman pub, following a request by the police, which arrested a resident of the city on suspicion of threatening the pub owner earlier…

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  • Shin Bet threatens Bedouin activist, offers money to prevent protests

    Agents of Israel's security services raid the homes of several young Bedouin activists, summon them for 'friendly chats' and attempt to coax them into suppressing protests they claim undermine the 'fundamental principles of the state.'  By John Brown* It's Tuesday, just after midnight in the Bedouin town of Lakia in the Negev Desert. Black jeeps carrying approximately 15 plainclothes Shin Bet agents come to a screeching halt in front of one of the houses before bursting into it. The agents wake all the residents, including a young girl with a flashlight to her face, and take all the men outside. The men…

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  • Eritrean man’s 'lynch' highlights failings of the Israeli press

    The Israeli media shares some responsibility for the hysteria on the streets and the phenomenon of ‘accidental’ attacks against Jews, Palestinians, and now Eritreans. By Hagar Shezaf Habtom Zerhom, an Eritrean asylum seeker, was shot by security forces and then lynched by Israelis in Beer Sheva’s bus station after being mistakenly identified as a terrorist on Sunday. Moments later, Habtom’s identity was revealed, leaving many puzzled: the man who was accused of being the second assailant in a deadly gun attack didn’t match the profile of those behind the latest round of violence between Palestinians and Israelis. The Eritrean community,…

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  • The 'lynching' of Habtom Zarhum: A history of incitement

    Activists, asylum seekers and refugee advocates in Israel are pointing to the incitement directed toward African asylum seekers — by politicians, state institutions and the media — as necessary context for the vigilante mob and shooting that killed an Eritrean asylum seeker. An Eritrean asylum seeker was mistaken for a Palestinian during a shooting attack at the Be’er Sheva bus station Sunday night. Habtom Zarhum, 29, was shot by a security guard who thought he was a terrorist and then – as the asylum seeker lay bleeding on the ground – civilians kicked him, cursed and spat on him. A bystander…

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  • 'Truth commission' uncovers the history of Bedouin dispossession

    An informal 'Public Truth Commission' set out to find exactly what happened to the Negev Bedouin between 1948 and 1960. While Bedouin witnesses told stories of massacres, rape and expulsions, former Israeli soldiers said they were just following orders.  By Tom Pessah I identify as straight, so I cannot claim to know how it feels to be in the closet. But I do have friends who identify as LGBTQ, and they have taught me a little about what it is like: to constantly evade the subject is exhausting. If you demand that people hide such central parts of their identities,…

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  • Who will care about Israel's south when the rockets stop flying?

    Ever since the beginning of the war, jobs have evaporated in Be'er Sheva. Those who could afford to have left the city. And the worst part? The moment the rockets stop, the journalists and commentators will pack up their things and leave. Then what? By Daniel Beller I can't stand seeing cynical politicians, those with easy access to a microphone or camera, speaking about the "strong home front" in Israel's south. People have been living from siren to siren for more than a month, and earlier this week someone on the radio called for an end to the Home Front…

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  • From Iran to the tunnels: Do we really have to live this way?

    Those who spot an existential threat at every turn, turn their backs on diplomacy and mock peace efforts are now astonished to find that the enemy has sought out their own weapons of attack. The tunnels are a self-fulfilling prophecy; the time has come to look for another way. By Nir Baram It is heartrending and frustrating to see us, citizens of a country full of accomplishment and potential, repeatedly stupefied by a cynical propaganda machine whose real intent is simply inaction. What is meant by “inaction”? To avoid putting forth any solution, to not present any creative initiative or…

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