PALESTINE: Freedom Riders take Israeli settler bus to Jerusalem

28 November 2011
PALESTINE REFLECTION: Freedom Riders take Israeli settler bus to Jerusalem

 by Jo Ann Fricke

On Tuesday, 15 November 2011, six Palestinians stood at the bus stop outside the settlements of Psagot and Migron, and boarded a bus used by settlers to travel to Jerusalem.  When CPT’s Hebron team heard about the action on the internet, they sent three members to accompany the six Freedom Riders, as the activists referred to themselves.

Although no law explicitly forbids Palestinians from boarding the Israeli buses in the West Bank, racial and ethnic discrimination and the fact that Palestinians are not allowed to travel to Jerusalem where the Central Bus Station is, create a separate system of transportation that is off-limits to the Palestinians, but open to Israelis.

The six were able to board the bus, along with numerous journalists and photographers and depart from the bus stop.  However, at the first checkpoint, Israeli soldiers and police stopped the bus and boarded it.  After about forty-five minutes, the bus moved one last time just down the road to a parking lot, where it sat for at least another hour before police carried the six Palestinians off the bus and arrested them.

Some Palestinian friends of the Hebron team questioned the effectiveness of the action, but the event was widely covered in the world press, including by the BBC, Washington Post, Los Angele Times, and the Christian Science Monitor.  In a press statement read before the activists boarded the bus, spokeswoman Hurriyeh Ziadah noted,

Martin Luther King, Jr. said: “He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it.  He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.”

We urge the people of the world not to accept the evil that is our occupation, dispossession, and oppression, and to divest yourselves and your governments from the corporations that enable Israel to continue doing this to us.  Egged and Veolia are two transportation companies that serve Israel’s segregated, colonial, infrastructure.  By passively accepting their presence and not protesting against them, you are all indirectly complicit in the crimes they commit against us, and the profits they make from the violation of our rights; violations that the Freedom Riders will expose today.

 Our rights will not voluntarily be handed to us, so we are heading out to demand them.