Aw come on Israel. You’re better than that!
The unrecognized village of Wadi Na’am is home to nearly 8,000 Bedouins. Located adjacent to Ramat Chovav, one of Israel’s largest chemical industrial areas and chemical dumps, Wadi Na’am isn’t exactly Shangri La. Children born there have a very high incidence of asthma and cancer rates are through the roof. The Bedouins, after much struggle, have been offered a new piece of land to move to that is in keeping with their rural lifestyle – but the infrastructure for such a move hasn’t been built and there’s no telling when any construction will actually begin.
So along comes this guy Mahmod Jarbeau. He’s a former officer and 9-year veteran of the IDF and a resident of Wadi Na’am. He’s director of a project that along with groups like the Regional Council for Unrecognized Villages, Bustan and a slew of volunteers from around the world, have built what can be best described as an eco-Mosque, community center and showcase of Bedouin culture.
Josh Berer described the Mosque as follows:
It is a relatively large mosque, easily enough to fit 200-300 worshippers, made of straw-bale construction. For those unfamiliar with this method of building, it involves stacking straw bales one on top of the other as the core of the walls, and then covering the bales with thick clay-like mud, and finally covering the mud with plaster, which is often then water-sealed. This creates a structure that is earthquake proof, waterproof, and mostly fireproof. It is also completely green, and has a very low environmental footprint. In this case, the only non-natural materials were the rebar used to hold the bales in place, the cement floor, and the metal roof and its supports. No drywall, no tyvec, no pvc.
So now guess what? Through some remarkably inept Israeli bureaucratic myopia or what have you, a demolition order has been made against the Mosque and it is set to be destroyed tomorrow!! No offense to the powers that be, but seriously guys – are you retarded? All us residents of Israel have experienced this kind of stupidity – but it’s one thing to stand in lines, or provide endless documentation or whatever bureaucratic inconvenience we’ve all shared – it’s quite another thing to destroy an inoffensive building erected under the directorship of an IDF veteran and citizen meant to serve an impoverished and embattled group.
Devorah Brous, former Director of Bustan had this to say:
This land is holy – for all its peoples, and demolishing a house of worship no matter who built it, who prays in it, is an unholy, political tool. The people in these villages rank at the bottom of all socio-economic indicators and don’t have commercial, educational, or health facilities – basically ANY other infrastructure in their villages aside from prayer houses.
Bustan was involved in the construction of a similarly built, environmentally friendly medical clinic at Wadi Na’am.
So yeah. Hear Ye O Israel. Don’t embarrass me and don’t embarrass yourself. Don’t tear down Mahmoud Jarbeau’s Mosque. Don’t deprive the citizens of Wadi Na’am of their community center. Don’t be muddled in stupid and senseless bureaucracy. This is such a dumb move that words fail me. I wish I could be more eloquent.
Thanks to Ra’ed Al Mickawi, current director of Bustan and Dr. Yeela Livnat Ra’anan of the Regional Council for Unrecognized Villages for taking the time to update me on this mess.