By JG Vibes
March 4, 2013
This week it was announced that segregated bus lines are going to begin operating in Israel. Palestinians traveling from the West Bank will now be forced onto a separate bus line, because their ethnicity marks them as a “potential terror risk”. This has unfortunately been a problem in this area before, but now it looks as if they are attempting to expand and standardize this process.
Two brave resisters from a protest last year can be seen in the photo above, one with a note that says “we shall overcome”, a sad reminder of the racism and segregation in America’s not so distant history. As mentioned, this photo was actually taken last year, when moves were made to segregate the specific bus line that these people used to travel, and it is likely with these new announcements that there will be even more peaceful resistance in the spirit of Rosa Parks and others.
“Starting on Monday, certain buses running from the West Bank into central Israel will have separate lines for Jews and Arabs. The Afikim bus company will begin operating Palestinian-only bus lines from the checkpoints to Gush Dan to prevent Palestinians from boarding buses with Jewish passengers. Palestinians are not allowed to enter settlements, and instead board buses from several bus stops on the Trans-Samaria highway.
Last November, Haaretz reported that the Transportation Ministry was looking into such a plan due to pressure from the late mayor of Ariel, Ron Nahman, and the head of the Karnei Shomron Local Council. They said residents had complained that Palestinians on their buses were a security risk.
The buses will begin operating Monday morning at the Eyal crossing to take the Palestinians to work in Israel. Transportation Ministry officials are not officially calling them segregated buses, but rather bus lines intended to relieve the distress of the Palestinian workers. Ynet has reported that fliers are being distributed to Palestinian workers notifying them of the coming changes.
Any Palestinian who holds an entrance permit to the State of Israel is allowed by law to use public transportation. Officials at the Samaria and Judea District Police have said there is no change in the operation of the rest of the buses, nor is there any intention to remove Palestinians from other bus lines. But Haaretz has in the past reported incidents when Palestinians were taken off of buses, and witnesses at checkpoints say that such incidents are ongoing.”
Ofra Yeshua-Lyth is a member of Machsom Watch, a female advocacy group monitoring West Bank checkpoints. She says that recently, Bus 286 from Tel Aviv to Samaria arrived at a checkpoint filled with Palestinian workers. She filed the following report:
“Police officer Advanced Staff Sergeant Major Shai Zecharia stops the bus at the bus stop. Soldiers order all the Palestinians off the bus. The first thing they do is collect all their identity cards as they get off. One by one, the Palestinians are told to go away from the bus stop and walk to the Azzun Atma checkpoint, which is about 2.5 kilometers away from the Shaar Shomron interchange. All of them responded with restraint and sadness, at most asking why. Here and there they received answers such as, ‘You’re not allowed on Highway 5’ and ‘You’re not allowed on public transportation.’ Advanced Staff Sergeant Major Zecharia gave some vital information to one of the older Palestinians who had arrived there, telling him: You should ride in special vans, not on Israeli buses.”
In response to the report, the Transportation Ministry said it “has not issued any instruction or prohibition that prevents Palestinian workers from riding the public bus lines in Israel or in Judea and Samaria. Furthermore, the Transportation Ministry is not authorized to prevent any passangers from riding those lines.”
“The two new lines that will be run as of tomorrow (Monday) are intended to improve the services to Palestinian workers that enter Israel via the Eyal Crossing,” the ministry’s statement continued, adding that the new lines will replace the “pirate” driving services who have been transporting Palestinian workers “at exorbitant prices and in an irregular fashion.”
Although there is still an unfortunate amount of racism in the Middle East, most of the hate is generally fueled and stirred up by the politicians who benefit from it and thrive on it, and this hateful sentiment is not shared by the vast majority of the general population.
For well over a year now peace activists in Palestine have been teaming up with other peace activists in Israel as well as the United States and Iran to spread a message of love and unity among people of all geographical locations…..regardless of what all the crazy politicians say.
Some of the most popular of these efforts is the Palestine loves Israel and Israel loves Palestine campaigns, which started out as a viral Facebook phenomena where Palestinians and Israelis would send messages of love to one another and reassure each other that the hateful rhetoric put forward by governments and media outlets are totally out of line with the true feelings of the average person.
The fact that movements like this offer us some hope, and show us that “we shall overcome”
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J.G. Vibes is the author of an 87 chapter counter-culture textbook called Alchemy of the Modern Renaissance, a staff writer, reporter for theintelhub.com and Executive Producer of the Bob Tuskin Radio Show.
You can keep up with his work, which includes free podcasts, free e-books & free audiobooks at his website www.aotmr.com