Baal Shem Tov, or Besht — the founder of Chasidism —
MOSQUE DEMOLITION IN THE NEGEV
ISRAEL DEMOLISHED THE ECO-MOSQUE ON DEC 25th AT 5 AM, rachmana lits'lan...
It's hard to imagine in the midst of the Gaza war protesting the destruction of a building in the Negev where no one was hurt. But this building represents the hopes of many many people who believe that there can be an end to wars, and that peace within Israel is as important as peace with Israel's neighbors. So without further adieu...
From Bustan, Wadi Na'am, Israel
Dear Friends and Supporters,
As many of you know, BUSTAN has been supporting this project for several months, with volunteers helping to build the mosque, which was made largely out of straw bale and mud, every step of the way. Volunteers from all over the world—Jewish, Muslim, Christian, others—contributed to building it. In November, largely thanks to our presence, along with the RCUV, and your letters of support, the mosque was threatened with demolition but it was not carried out.
Last week, Israel released the Goldberg Commission report, which appeared to indicate a shift in government policy to legalize existing buildings and work toward a solution of the issue of home demolitions in Bedouin communities. Unfortunately, the actions of the government tell us much more than their words.
Mahmoud, the builder of the mosque, invites everyone to Wadi Na'am on Friday January 3rd for a ceremony and prayer to commemorate the destruction and to begin work anew! Email firstname.lastname@example.org. We strongly encourage anyone in Israel who wants to show their opposition to the government's demolition policies to attend. [This event is passed but you can still help build.]
As many of you know, the mosque, located in the unrecognized Bedouin village of Wadi Na'am, built by local Bedouins as well as Christian, Muslim, and Jewish volunteers from Israel, the United States, Europe, Latin America, and Africa over the last four months along ecological principles, mostly out of straw bale and mud, received a potential demolition order in August, and then a demolition action order November 17.
BUSTAN and the RCUV were able to mobilize, at very short notice, a significant number of Jewish and Arab Israeli activists as well as international volunteers to spend several nights and days at the mosque to provide it some measure of protection. On Thursday morning, policemen appeared, signaling the beginning of the demolition process. We will never know exactly why, but the demolition did not proceed...This is a victory, and an indication that if we continue to organize and bring attention to this practice that it becomes harder to carry it out. It also buys Mahmoud Jarbeau, the builder of the mosque, more time to pursue legal options to save it. This does not mean that we have won, however. There is a high probability that the Israeli government will return next week, probably in the very early morning hours with no notice, and carry out the demolition at a time when there are not witnesses to document and protest.
What you can still do:
– Outside Israel: raise money to rebuild the mosque; inside Israel: help rebuild it! Please email email@example.com .
– Send letters and faxes of protest to the authorities!
There are as many as 80,000 Bedouin Arabs currently living in 45 unrecognized villages in Israel like Wadi Naam that lack basic infrastructure, health care, electricity, and water access.
Please fax or call the following officials to protest the demolition:
Itzhak HaKohen, the Minister of Religious Service
Fax: 02 6706157. firstname.lastname@example.org
Meir Shitrit, the Minister of Interior
Fax: 02 6408920. email@example.com
Zeev Boim, the Minster of Housing and Construction, and Minister responsible for the Israeli Land Authority, and the Bedouin Minority.
Fax: 02-6496062. firstname.lastname@example.org
For press inquiries:
Mahmod Jarbeau at 057-466-2331 (Hebrew, Arabic) —resident of Wadi Na'am, served nine years in the Israeli military, director of the mosque project
Ra'ed Al Mickawi 052-371-1801 (Hebrew, Arabic, English)—Director of BUSTAN
Dr. Yeela Livnat Ra'anan 054-748-7005 (English, Hebrew)—Regional Council of Unrecognized Villages
This press release was forwarded by Devorah Brous, the founder and former director of BUSTAN. Here are her [edited] words about the demolition:
An eco-built mosque (the first in Israel) is slated for demolition in the unrecognized village of Wadi el Na'am. This village is one of the worst places I've ever seen on earth - surrounded 360 degrees by heavy military and industrial infrastructure; many of the citizens living there are sick, they receive no services and are 'on hold' to be relocated to a government-planned town for the past few years with no date in sight. This move requires them to relinquish all land claims, and many Bedouin are resisting by waging a non-violent struggle.
The Jews and Arabs that built this mosque are Israelis from BUSTAN, international volunteers, and a diverse mix of families from the village. We're trying to stave off the demolition - it is inhumane and it seriously undermines work that many Jewish and Arab NGO's are doing to build civil society in this dry, heavily contaminated, and extremely under-resourced part of the country. BUSTAN calls for the Israeli government to negotiate with Bedouin leadership. Please forward to this appeal to your lists and HELP in any way you can, to stop the pending demolition.
Design in progress © Rabbi David Mevorach Seidenberg 2006