The truth about those Israeli apartheid buses
ABOUT those separate buses for Israelis and Palestinians. You know, the story Prada headlined: “Israel rolls back to Apartheid.” The Telegraph’s Jake Wallis Simons notes in “Palestinian-only buses: Israeli apartheid?”:
…the current plans are merely one step away from enforced segregation; this may very well cause more problems than it solves, and may set a troubling precedent.
It sounds terrible.
The Telegraph’s Robert Tait has more. He quotes Ofra Yeshua-Lyth, an activist with Women For Civil Disobedience, an Israeli-Palestinian campaign group:
“They are institutionalising segregated services for Jews and non-Jews. Many people don’t class the Israeli situation as apartheid because for a long time, Israel refrained from the characteristics of petty apartheid, like separate roads, cafés and buses. This bus situation is a step in the direction of petty apartheid because people are being segregated in their daily activities.”
The Times notes:
‘Apartheid’ anger as Israel starts separate bus lines on West Bank… One Palestinian official, who is considering a legal complaint, said: “This smacks of blatant racism; it is yet another rung in the ladder that Israel is slowly climbing until all the world will call it an apartheid state.”
Oddly, Al Jazeera says “a number of Palestinian commuters have welcomed the move…”
Israeli human rights group B’Tselem wasn’t listening to that:
“The attempt at bus segregation is appalling, and the current arguments about ‘security needs’ and ‘overcrowding’ must not be allowed to camouflage the blatant racism of the demand to remove Palestinians from busess”
They want apartheid? Well, no. Jeffrey Goldberg reports the message he received from Aaron Sagui, spokesman at the Israeli embassy in Washington:
Right now, Palestinians wishing to cross legally into Israel (with a working permit) have no direct line to the border crossing. So they either take unauthorized taxis (at expensive fares, since the service is uncontrolled by transportation authorities), or they have to walk or travel to an Israeli city or village (Ariel, for instance) and there take a bus into Israel. The relevant bus company opened two lines that will serve Palestinians, going from their place of residence into Israel, saving them the trouble of going to Ariel first, or taking those taxis.The bus company made it clear, in an official announcement, that no Palestinian shall be shunned or rejected if they choose to travel on the Ariel line.
So. There are two sides to the story. It’s not apartheid, then. It’s business…
The new bus service started yesterday, March 4. It also may have ended yesterday.
There were riots Monday morning at the Eyal Crossing because there weren’t enough buses – which Transportation Minister Israel Katz said would be rectified. But too late, because Monday night someone set fire to two Afikim buses which were parked in the Arab town of Kfar Qassem. The bus company has now removed all their buses from the area because of the violence and destruction.
Such are the facts.