Aw come on Israel. You’re better than that!

Who exactly does this Mosque threaten? We're knocking it down because... ?

Who exactly does this Mosque threaten? We're knocking it down because... ?

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.

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About the author


Founder and Publisher of Jewlicious, David Abitbol lives in Jerusalem with his wife, newborn daughter and toddler son. Blogging as "ck" he's been blocked on twitter by the right and the left, so he's doing something right.


  • “Aw come on Israel. You’re better than that” just about says it. It’s one thing to demolish the family homes of terrorists; what better way to punish dead murderers, and force others to contemplate the personal consequences of doing the same. It’s one thing to demolish permanent structures built illegally in the West Bank — on territory that is still poised for divvying.

    It’s quite another thing to allow a bureaucratic failing to destroy a completely harmless house of warship, built by bedouin people whose majority has maintained loyalty to the state of Israel (the guy served 9 years!). It isn’t a tactical, or humane move. Are we actually aiming to alienate every possible Arab-Israeli ally at this point? Did crapping on the Druzim suddenly lose its appeal?

    I sincerely hope that the fat-assed jobniks who are likely behind this debacle shave ten minutes off their prolonged cigarette break, and right this!

  • This moved me to comment and say thank you, ck, for writing this piece. I agree that this is a humiliating move to all of our communities.

  • Batya,

    This is not the disengagement. The game of tit-for-tat your playing is uneven in this scenario.

    Hevron is an overwhelmingly Arab city, whereas there are no Jews (aside from volunteers) living in these Bedouin encampments. That’s because there are no Jews in Israel today that would submit to the kind of squalor that these Bedouins do. This building was built for Arabs, in an Arab enclave. However ‘illegal’ it is to build a permanent structure without a permit (and permits are not handed out like candy at kiddush to Arabs) it doesn’t change the fact that tactically and morally this is a stupid move. It will senseless inspire more resentment, frustration, and anger in Arabs and their peacenik supporters.

  • Props to you CK for posting this. You get much respect for consistently and accurately reporting the uglier side of Israeli bureaucracy in a rational and non-didactic way.
    However, I forgot who said this but “compassion without action leads to death of the soul.” On that note, any info on who we can contact to express our opposition/strong disapproval now and in the future would be greatly appreciated… I’d be glad to get involved in any way I could… thanks in advance

  • The mosque is still up. Hasn’t been knocked down yet. Anyone wanna go spend the night there after Shabbat? Call me: 054 673 5873

  • (Literally) chillin’ here in NYC but sent polite (but firm) e-mails to the Ministers you mentioned above.
    If things start to look bleak maybe there are other NY’ers who’d like to join me in raising a stink at the embassy? If we get enough people it could be damn embarrassing for them, and they might decide it’s not worth looking so bad over something so trivial…

  • Read more about what w down that day here:

  • Helloooooo!!

    “Unrecognized” means “Built on land not owned by the residents”

    As in illegal squats.

    What part of this don’t you understand?

    … and we’re supposed to feel guilt because people who chose to squat on/near a chemical dump have health problems?

    Well, Duh!!!
    Maybe that’s why the government didn’t authorize residential construction there.

    Maybe that’s why they shouldn’t be there.

    … CK – the expulsions of Jews from their LEGALLY OWNED property (as opposed to Bedouin squaters on other people’s property) is MUCH more problematic to anyone who respects the rule of law.

    Or maybe we should just go with our hearts and forget about zoning and property rights… yeah, let’s all hold hands and sing songs…

    I will remind you of this post whenever you invoke “the rule of law” in issues regarding the settlers.

  • I have a lot more sympathy for the settlers than you imagine Ben-David. That having been said, this has nothing to do with the rule of law. No one is saying that laws need to be broken and the internationals on the ground have been instructed by the Bedouin director not to interfere with or attack any personnel that come to demolish the mosque. No surprise there – Mahmod Jarbeau is an active reservist with 2 tours of combat duty and 9 years service in the IDF. That having been said, there is nothing illegal about applying pressure and disagreeing with a bureaucratic order. My respect for the rule of law continues unabated.

  • A couple of things. First of all, they came and demolished the mosque on Thursday, December 25th. You can read about it here:

    Secondly, to Ben David:

    Unrecognized means they don’t get services from the government despite being citizens. Many of the Bedouin actually DO own the land, or they own land in the Negev that was confiscated by the state in 1948.

    The village of Wadi al-Naam was founded in 1950, after the residents were pushed off their land by the military. Ramat Hovav was founded in 1979, the Bedouin were already there, bonehead. The chemical plant was built in their midst, they didn’t choose to settle there.

    These are not squatters, many of the villages predate the creation of the State. They are Israeli citizens who were unfortunate enough to not be born Jewish, and therefore get shat upon at every possible opportunity.
    Maybe you should read a little further into the issues before you pontificate upon why the people have health problems, and why they have no rights.

    This has nothing to do with zoning laws, incidentally. Zoning laws are used as a tool to discriminate against the Bedouin. You think this mosque was demolished because it violated zoning laws? Please. It was demolished because it was a symbol of community strength and vitality, and that is simply unacceptable.

    Yes, lets all sing songs celebrating racism and the unbelievable doublethink you seem to have managed to master.