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Israel’s Apartheid Bus Lines

| March 7, 2013

An Israeli checkpoint in Qalqilya, a Palestinian town near where a segregated bus line now transports Palestinians to Israel. (Vadim Lavrusik)

An Israeli checkpoint in Qalqilya, a Palestinian town near where a segregated bus line now transports Palestinians to Israel. (Vadim Lavrusik)

When buses in Montgomery, Ala., were segregated, owners of the National City Lines could not understand what upset blacks so much. They were allowed to ride the bus, after all. They were provided a service, if not a favor. They could sit from back of the bus to the front, so long as whites, who had the privilege of sitting from front to back, did not crowd them out. Nothing wrong with that, National City Lines operators thought, until Rosa Parks decided to differ, and to refuse to give up the seat she’d taken, when a white person boarded and demanded it. Jackie Robinson had done the same thing in 1944, when he was still a soldier, when blacks were sent to Europe and Japan to fight for freedoms most of them were denied. He was court-martialed. That he was acquitted is beside the point: the offense was in the laws that deemed him guilty of inferiority to start with. And still, whites wondered what the fuss was about: “They’re allowed to ride the bus, aren’t they? What more do they want?” What more do they want: the oppressor’s patronizing motto in full bloom, blind to its own delusion of benevolence.

pierre tristam flaglerlive editor's blogIsrael’s transportation ministry is reviving the line and applying it to Palestinians, who board buses in the West Bank and commute to Israel to work. Israel’s West Bank colonists, planted there illegally and euphemistically referred to as “settlers,” have been bitching up a storm about having to ride with Palestinians. They of course consider every Palestinian a terrorist, though the terrorism best documented in the Occupied Territories in the last several years has been rather one-sided: colonists have been terrorizing, murdering, maiming and pillaging Palestinians with impunity reminiscent of white supremacy’s heyday in the American South. The colonists have been applying pressure on the transportation ministry to end the practice. Monday, the ministry revived its own homage to Plessy v. Ferguson: it gave in to the settlers, and started two segregated bus lines for Palestinians, as racist a practice as the old National City Lines’. Israeli rights groups immediately and correctly tagged them “apartheid lines.”

“Creating separate bus lines for Israeli Jews and Palestinians is a revolting plan,” Jessica Montell, director of B’Tselem, the Israeli human rights organization, said on Israel’s Army Radio. “This is simply racism. Such a plan cannot be justified with claims of security needs or overcrowding.”

It’s nothing new. In Hebron, Jews and Arabs are officially have been officially separated since Baruch Goldstein, an Israeli terrorist and colonist, massacred 29 Muslim worshippers and wounded 125 at a mosque in one of Israel’s worst mass killings. In Hebron now, B’Tselem, the Israeli human rights organization writes, “the policy is implemented primarily through severe restrictions on Palestinian travel and movement in downtown Hebron, where most Israeli settlement outposts are located. Some of the main roads in the area are completely off limits to Palestinians, and many roads bar any and all Palestinian vehicles. Israel’s strict restrictions have made the lives of Palestinians in downtown Hebron intolerable, forcing many to leave their homes and jobs.” Last September, Israeli authorities split a key road in half: the wide, paved side is for Israelis, the narrow, dirt passageway is for Palestinians. Still, they don’t call it apartheid. They call it accommodation. They even—correctly—point to Israeli pirate-drivers who extort 15 shekels ($4) from Palestinian workers to drive them in, and say the bus lines are cheaper (8 shekels, or a little over $2). What more do they want?

As always in the United States, what would have triggered demonstrations on campuses and howls in Congress had the offender been, say, South Africa (as was the case in the 1980s) barely warrants mention in the press. The Times noted the new apartheid bus lines in an online posting on March 4, but hasn’t mentioned it in print. The development is drawing more attention in Europe, where human rights issues now resonate more deeply with people than in our routinely reactionary United States. Maybe the surprise, as Yousef Munayyer, the director of the Palestine Center in Washington, tells  the Times, is that the bus segregation issue is attracting any attention at all, since apartheid is a fact of life for Palestinians living under martial law since 1967.

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12 Responses for “Israel’s Apartheid Bus Lines”

  1. Legally says:

    I guess they are suppose to roll out the red carpet for them, right?? I mean Palestine has only been lobbing bombs into their country. But I guess you liberals don’t have a problem with that now, do you?? The HYPOCRISY you guys display is absolutely unbelievable.

    • Anita says:

      Red carpets aren’t necessary. Treating Palestinians like the human beings they are, is; and yes, Liberals believe that everyone merits respect…until their words and actions prove they don’t.

    • Anonymous says:

      After a lifetime of reading about the problems in the Middle East I decided to educate myself on what is really going on, I started by reading the history of the Middle East ,shocking how surprised to discover who the 1st terrorist from the midleeast were , if you are curious google king David hotel bombing 1946, next I read peace not apartheid , by jimmy carter and for the real shocker I read the Israel lobby and foreign policy I had no idea the complete control a foreign government had over ours I urge all Americans to educate themselves on the Middle East, I am sure the majority would be as outraged as I was on what the real truth of the isreal persecution and apartheid conditions of the palestine christians and Muslim supported by American tax payers of a minimum of six billion a year

    • PCer says:

      Some would say that the Israelis have been lobbing bombs into the Palestinians territory since the 1940’s.

  2. Anonymous says:

    would you want to ride on a bus with people who strap bombs on themself?????

  3. Angelo says:

    I am constantly reminded of Rachel Corrie. American. Not Palestinian. Was smashed under an Israeli bulldozer, and the young brave and selfless young woman died a horrific death just because an Israeli soldier decided it was acceptable.

  4. Merrill says:

    Having ridden many buses with Arabs and Palestinians in Israel, I would like to see some documentation ofthe claims in this piece. In fact I’ll bet my cartissia the documentation is flimsy at best. If you don’t know what a cartissia is, then you really don’t know much about Israeli buses, do you?

  5. Tumor says:

    Why do Palestinians want to go into Israel. They have their own country. Is it because they can cause death and destruction to the Israelis with suicide bombers ? Yes it is…That’s the mindset of these barbarian islamics. Always has been always will be until Israel gets serious and pushes them back down the peninsula .

  6. Howard Duley says:

    I have far more respect for the Israeli’s than I do for this useless government we are stuck with. The mistake the Israeli’s made after the 67 war was not driving the Gaza strip into the ocean.

  7. Liana G says:

    The US and Israel have a lot in common, including a false claim of ‘manifest destiny’ that the rest of the world is tiring of. Nevertheless, a case of the tail wagging the dog here.

  8. A.S.F. says:

    The comparison to Montgomery, Alabama and the civil rights movement in the United States is “a reach” at best. Palestinians have been throwing rocks, lobbing rockets, bombing buses and manipulating their own people into strapping bombs onto themselves for the glory of Allah for years. Now, THAT’S a fact. If Israeli troops had to do a total body search every Palestinian who wanted to board a bus, no one would be able get to work on time, including the Palestinians riding the buses. It would also be quite offensive, especially to Arab women–and they have proven quite capable of strapping bombs on themselves as well. The other alternative would be to just say, “The Hell with security”, just for the sake of political correctness. This, I can safely guess, is something Israel will never consent to do–not if they value the lives of the innocent bystanders, both Israeli and Palestinian, who are the real victims of the Terrorist extremists and their dupes. You cannot bring back a dead man, woman or child and say, Sorry but we were just trying to be fair to the other guy. Giving the Palestinians separate buses to ride, on the hand, won’t kill them, although it may, understandably offend their dignity. If the Palestinian people rejected the extremists in their midst that are the real cause of their problems, steps like these would no longer be neccesary.

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