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
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.