Victory for Freedom of Expression in the Negev

NegevCoexistenceForum_BeerShevaGroupPhoto_featured

After a legal battle and public campaign, the Be’er Sheva municipality will not evict the Negev Coexistence Forum for Civil Equality from a public shelter that it has used for more than a decade in the city.

The Negev Coexistence Forum for Civil Equality (NCF) is a small, grassroots, Jewish-Arab organisation that fights for equality among all Negev residents. For years, activists who oppose the forum’s agenda have pressured the city to stop renting them this space. Last January, the city’s political leaders caved and issued an eviction notice, based on a dubious claim that NCF’s activities violated their rental agreement.

The District Court initially ruled in favour of the municipality. But with the support of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), they appealed the decision, which has now been overturned by the High Court.

“The principle of pluralism obliges the municipality to allocate public buildings to a variety of organisations, even those that do not conform to the majority public opinion,” Justice Menachem Mazuz said during the discussion.

Responding to the High Court decision, a spokesperson for NCF said, “Coexistence and a shared life are about discussing things together — whether we agree or not. We will continue to create a common culture of tolerance and understanding between Arabs and Jews in the Negev.”

photo via Facebook