Israel Segregates Buses for Palestinians
The bus was among the first ways I realized there was a black world and a white world.—Rosa Parks
I apologize to my American readers for this short introduction; yet, most Israelis have no idea whom Rosa Parks was. On December 1, 1955, in Montgomery, Alabama, she refused to obey bus driver James Blake’s order to give up her seat in the colored section to a white passenger after the white section was filled. She was arrested for civil disobedience in violating Alabama segregation laws.
This small act triggered civil rights protests across America and earned Rosa Parks the title “Mother of the Civil Rights Movement;” she became an international symbol of resistance to racial segregation, achieving prominence in the civil rights movement together with civil rights leaders, including National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
She died in 2005 and became the first woman and second non-U.S. government official to lie in honor at the Capitol Rotunda. On March 1, 2013, the Israeli Ministry of Transport inaugurated two lines of buses to be used exclusively by Palestinians and created the opportunity for a Palestinian Rosa Parks to spark the struggle for Human Rights in the Holy Land.
Israeli Transportation Ministry Strikes
Israelis may not know whom Rosa Parks was, but the Israeli Transportation Ministry is clearly aware of that it is dealing with pure TNT, not even degraded into dynamite. The news was published in Hebrew media with a lot of defusing clauses. Officially, the new lines are defined as “general bus lines;” yet, they are meant to transport Palestinian workers from the Eyal Crossing, near the West Bank city of Qalqilya, in the West Bank, to the Tel Aviv Metropolitan Area. Jewish settlers will continue to use existing lines. The ministry alleges that this is an attempt to ease the congestion on “mixed” bus lines, as well as the existing tension between Jews and Palestinians. Bus drivers who have already been instructed by the ministry, told Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonoth that Palestinians who will choose to travel on the so-called “mixed” lines, will be asked to leave them.
Even in Israel, the described plan is illegal. Thus, in cooperation with the Ministry of Defense, it was decided to renew the identity checks to Palestinians at the Eyal Crossing. If traveling in one of the “mixed” lines, they would be requested to step down and pass the check. From there, they would be allowed to continue only in a Palestinian bus. The ministry issued an oddly racist statement, claiming, “The new lines are not separate lines for Palestinians but rather two designated lines meant to improve the services offered to Palestinian workers who enter Israel through Eyal Crossing.” The statement continued, “The Transportation Ministry is forbidden from preventing any passenger from boarding any line of public transportation.”
In this case, it wasn’t referring to the Palestinians but to the settlers. The Palestinian lines are being hidden from the Jewish population; maybe in a sad attempt to let them think that they live in a democracy. The picture below shows a Transportation Ministry pamphlet announcing the new lines. The Transportation Ministry logo and the Afikim bus company data appear in Hebrew, but everything related to the buses is in Arabic. Most Israeli Jews cannot read Arabic, despite it being an official language, thus unless reading the March 2 newspapers, they won’t know that the lines exist.
“The new lines will reduce congestion and will benefit Israelis and Palestinians alike,” the ministry continued to justify its crimes. I was about to drop the entire issue, when the ministry’s last sentence strike like a lightning on a TNT barrel, “Instating these lines was done with the knowledge and complete agreement of the Palestinians.” I am sorry, but no Palestinian has the right to renounce his rights, in the same way that no Israeli has the right to violate them; Israel is so deep down the path of Apartheid that it cannot understand even this elementary truth. What else needs to happen, to dismantle Israeli Apartheid?
Roi Tov is a graduate—among others—of Tel Aviv University and the Weizmann Institute of Science. In addition to his memoir, Tov is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Molecular Physics and other scientific journals. He won various travel writing and photography awards.
In his writings, he tries to reveal life in Israel as a Christian Israel Defense Force (IDF) officer—from human rights violations to the use of an extensive network of underground agents. He was recognized first as a refugee and subsequently as political prisoner of Bolivia.