In an article featured in Y-net it was revealed that the Ministry for Transportation has established bus lines catering only to Palestinian workers in Israel. Up until now Palestinian workers entering into Israel through the Eyal checkpoint near Qalqilya have boarded the same buses that Israelis use.
These new bus lines have been introduced following complaints that the Palestinians on board the regular buses pose a security risk (there has apparently been a great deal of tension amongst passengers) as well as charges of overcrowding being levelled at the bus company. Despite assurances from both the bus company and the Ministry that anyone can use either bus the new lines have been publicised only in certain Palestinian villages using publicity materials written only in Arabic, it is clear that these are special buses to ensure that Palestinians don’t get on buses with Israelis.
Furthermore according to Y-net; “the ministry [of Transportation] alleges that the move is meant to ease the congestion felt on bus lines used by Jews in the same areas, but several bus drivers told Ynet that Palestinians who will choose to travel on the so-called “mixed” lines, will be asked to leave them.”
A part of me would like to calmly say that oh so cliched line ‘and so it begins’ but this isn’t the beginning at all it’s just another step along the line to becoming a state that is entirely out of sync with the values of democracy and freedom that we purport to hold so dear and that so many of our brethren have died defending. While everyone from the bus company to the Ministry of Transport has gone to great lengths to argue that anyone at all can take whatever bus they like the proof of the pudding is in the eating and if statements such as the following, from one of the bus drivers, are correct there is little doubt that de-facto Apartheid on our buses will be enforced:
“We are not allowed to refuse service and we will not order anyone to get off the bus, but from what we were told, starting next week, there will be checks at the checkpoint, and Palestinians will be asked to board their own buses,”
I have no doubt that there are many people who will, on the one hand argue that the buses are necessary while on the other argue that this is not Apartheid at all. I doubt that their voices will drown the inevitable condemnation both from within Israel and from without, nor should they, I personally am positively FUMING!
Quite frankly measures like this are a slap in the face to Israel advocates everywhere (as well as to Palestinians themselves). How stupid was I for writing a post arguing that we have no Apartheid only to surf the web and find out that now we really are moving in this disgusting direction? How can anyone debating for Israel argue that this is a good idea, an example of something positive that Israel is doing? While we run to condemn the environment that exists on many university campuses how is it possible that we work tirelessly to ensure that that environment becomes progressively worse by making the charges levelled against us true?
While we take steps to ensure that the West Bank will remain a part of Israel forever we are turning our country into a pit of darkness for those who we continue to occupy. At what point is enough going to be enough? At what point do we stop and ask ourselves whether we have eroded enough principles of democracy and freedom in our quest for a life of security that will never exist until there is a genuine peace with a Palestinian government?
The arguments against this and other measures aren’t new, the time where we could both hold on to the West Bank and argue that we are a free and democratic society just like the great Western democracies we so love to compare ourselves to is at an end. The longer we continue to pretend that the West Bank is anything other than a noose around the neck of Israeli democracy that is very quickly getting tighter and tighter the worse we make our own predicament.
While those people who are ideologically opposed to withdrawal on religious grounds continue to flaunt security issues as the ultimate reason that we can’t let go of the West Bank they drag the rest of us into a moral and military quagmire from which we cannot escape. With each call for more settlements to be built they increase the power of the calls for our destruction and the likelihood of it actually happening.
I plead with my Prime Minister and the government he has not yet formed to stop this insanity now before we are so committed towards discriminatory policies that have no justification for either legally or morally that we are no longer able to hold our heads up high amongst the nations of this world.