All posts edited by Madeline Ricchiuto.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Israel introducing buses for only Palestinians?

Starting on Monday buses running from the West Bank into central Israel will start having different lines/buses for Palestinians and Israeli's. According to reports, the Afkim company will start running Palestinian only lines to prevent Palestinians boarding with Jewish passengers.

These lines, which again begin on Monday, are not being called segregated buses by Transportation Ministry officials (for obvious reasons). Instead the lines are said to be there to 'relieve the distress of Palestinian workers'. Specifically the ministry said, "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 Transportation Ministry has also stated "[We have] 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."Interestingly enough there have been reports that would imply otherwise. Ofra Yeshua-Lyth, a member of Machsom Watch (a female advocacy group), filed a report where Palestinians were asked to get off a bus at a checkpoint.

In here report Yeshua-Lyth said, "Police officer Advanced Staff Sergeant Major Shai Zecharia stops the bus at the bus stop. Soldiers order all the Palestinians off the bus...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."

This report seems to completely contradict the official statements made by the Transportation Ministry. It would seem an obvious political move to not call it segregation, but to deny things that are definitely happening and have been reported seems a stretch. Thus far I have seen no report of looking into Yeshua-Lyth's report, or any consequences for such an action, and the new bus lines are clearly intended for only Palestinians. I don't see how this is not blatant segregation.

I don't see how this would be justified. Almost anyone can recite to you the adage, 'separate is inherently unequal' which resulted from the Supreme Court of the United States in regards to racial discrimination. How then is this any different? 

Apparently some people think that the Palestinians pose a security threat. Many residents have reportedly complained to public officials about this. Here there seems to be conflict of rights. On the one hand the citizens of Israel have a right to safety, but on the other the Palestinians have a right to not be discriminated against. I would think that such claims of a threat to safety ought be verified before even considering making a segregated bus line.

What do you think? Is this blatant discrimination? Or is it possible that this act may be justified?

You can read more on the story here and here.


  1. Charlie F (creepin' here)March 3, 2013 at 4:06 PM

    Your response kind of reads like you're considering the article as a crazy random happenstance without considering the centuries of tension and violence that both proceeded it and continue to happen through the present day. Let's put aside the fact that pro-Palestinian, 'Israel Is Evil' politics is the new 'Kony 2012' for the white, middle-class social justice armchair activists who have no stake in the issue and take into consideration that Israel, as a state, has been hated, threatened, and nearly constantly attacked by every one of its neighbors almost since its declaration as a inception as a national home for the Jewish people in the early 1900s. Just since the Balfour Declaration in 1917 (letter from the British Foreign Secretary formally stating Britain's plans to establish a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine), Israel has been targeted for somewhere between thirteen and twenty major military offensives, all carried out by the surrounding countries as well as the PLO - which continues to bomb northern Israel almost daily. Every treaty Israel has signed, whether it began the conflict a treaty ended or not, has involved the state giving up land that its neighbors wanted; when it refuses, the larger states attack. Again.

    Israel and its politics and its policies are so entwined with its history that you can't, you absolutely cannot look at one without the other as context.

    Now. If New Jersey was its own country and had a history of being constantly attacked by New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Connecticut for the hundred years it had been its own state, you'd probably be able to understand where the Israeli people are coming from in declaring the kind of rule that they are in terms of the bus system. It's not like the Civil Rights movement and isn't comparable in terms of 'separate but equal' because PoC didn't and don't have an inarguable history of antagonism from without the US and that same inarguable history of terrorism from within the way that Palestinians do with Israel.

    I'd say it's pre-emptive defense by the Israelis, though granted, not in the effective of ways (and it also gives those white, middle-class social justice armchair activists something else to tout while screaming that Israel is evil and deserves what it gets). It's both to try and prevent the bus bombings that are carried out all too often and to protect Palestinian commuters from the violence that results from that justified fear of terrorism. And while it might be nice to say, 'Well, why don't the Israelis just get the fuck over it and recognize that not all Palestinians are going to blow them up', that's an entirely impractical solution to a very real problem - and is very much like telling a victim of multiple rapes that they shouldn't be so afraid of men because not all men are going to hurt them.

    Israel's done what it can do with what it has. The previous security measures obviously weren't doing what they needed to in terms of suppressing the violence and terrorism and bombings, so they stepped it up in a direction that might actually make a difference, albeit in a way that outsiders might not like.

    But keep in mind that, as someone without a personal stake in Israeli politics and as someone who's not directly affected by them, this really isn't your issue to campaign for or condemn. You aren't and haven't been hurt by the violence that's been a part of Israel's past and you're not protected or affected by the new security measures, all of which means you have no right to condemn them.

    1. 1. I think it is unfair to say that I have no right to campaign or condemn an issue. Using that logic, nobody should be allowed to comment on happenings in essentially any foreign country, unless it personally has a stake for me. I also think it is wrong to assume that I don't have a personal stake in such issues. Even if I am neither Israeli, Palestinian, or Jewish I would argue that a infringement of human rights is in fact something that can affect me personally. Being that such events are setting the precedent and climate that our generation is going to inherit.

      2. I agree that it is of course something that needs to be put in context. However, I don't think the context changes things very drastically. Yes Israel has been at almost constant war since its birth. Yes it has lost land with almost every treaty it has signed. However, I do not think that translates into a state that can discriminate against peoples who have been granted legal access to the State. Similarly I do not agree with you when you say that I would probably understand it differently if we considered NJ to be in Israels place. I might understand better a worry about my own security - being a citizen of NJ - but I would like to think that I would not advocate putting peoples on a completely separate bus line simply because of where they are from.

      Furthermore, I was not saying anything about Israeli's shoudl just get over their security concerns. I advocated that while the security concerns are there I don't think that is grounds for discriminating against another group of people's. As for your comparison with a rape victim that exactly what psychologists and therapists do, not in those words, but all the same you don't just let a woman who is raped be irrationally afraid and treat all men differently because they were raped by one (or even many). That doesn't mean you just say 'get over it', it means you work with them (in this case Israel) to find a good solution/way to solve the issue.

      3. I don't think it is right to just say 'Israel has done what it can do with what it has'. You even admit it is probably not the most effective ways to defend against the security threats. I honestly think there is a better solution to the problem.

      4. I'd also like to point out that I avoided taking either side in the conflict between Palestine and Israel. I did not claim either side as evil or better or worse than another. I gave a specific instance of policy and gave an opinion on that. Even when you consider all the context, in my eyes it comes down to the Israeli's right to safety and security (as well as those Palestinians traveling on the buses) and the right of Palestinians who have entered legally to be treated equally and with the same respect as others who enter the country legally.