Friday, March 08, 2013

'Apartheid' Bus Lines Update


Further to my previous post (here) I was sent this fisking of the accusation of "Palestinian only" buses which also asks how a policy which excluded Jews from a bus line could be considered racist towards Arabs in the first place.

- and see the Yesha Council reaction below -

I also picked up this:
Another point one could make is how it is possible that the PA did not succeed to set up normal public transportation during the last twenty years. They received plenty foreign aid to do so.
The same point can be made when it comes to infrastructure in the PA controlled territories. I was just in the Arab village Nahalin near Betar Illit and when you travel in these villages the first thing you notice is the deplorable state of the roads. 
That's the same story, the PA doesn't maintain the roads in area A and B. I was told that the PA almost always uses the excuse that there is no money for improving the roads. Remember they received more foreign aid per capita than the Europeans received under the Marshall plan.

Evelyn Gordon has an oped:

Waging an “Anti-Segregation” Crusade on the Palestinians’ Backs

who writes, in part:

...West Bank Jews and Palestinians don’t live in the same towns, most Palestinians will find the new buses more convenient, whereas Jews will prefer the old ones. But calling it “segregation” to have different buses serving Qalqilyah and Ariel makes about as much sense as saying that America has segregated bus lines because New Yorkers and Chicagoans ride different buses to get to Washington.

The real question, however, is why it took so long to provide this service. A major part of the answer, as with everything in Israel, is bureaucratic inertia and incompetence. But equally important is that the international response to the new bus service was utterly predictable–which constitutes a powerful disincentive to launching it. If every Israeli attempt to offer better service to Palestinians is going to spark cries of “segregation” and “apartheid,” Israel has an obvious interest in refraining from such attempts.

In short, the people who suffer most from the world’s knee-jerk reflex of denouncing every Israeli action are often the Palestinians themselves. But that doesn’t bother their self-proclaimed supporters;

And I was wondering, at JFK, entering travelers line up on two different queues, one for Americans and the second for all others (I'm excluding that for flight crews).

Is that segregation?

David Ha'Ivri writes on

The Apartheid Bus Blitz

And one more from my neighbor ST:

Someone should check if the price the Arabs pay is the special subsidized reduced one we Yesha residents pay that includes the reduction that was fixed to encourage Jewish residents to ride the bulletproof buses so as to avoid payouts from terror victims injured by ... Arab terror attacks.

Now, wouldn't that be ironic.

From Yesha Council (excuse translation):-
Last week began operating in Judea and Samaria public bus lines that serve the Palestinian population, funded and initiated by the State of Israel. These lines allow Arab workers to travel across the region at low prices, and without needing the services of the transport provided by dubious pirate drivers . Haaretz, as expected, published an editorial in which it accuses the State of Israel to be an apartheid state and racially discriminatory, due to the establishment of new lines. What did the Arab workers themselves tell Haaretz?  ...Hint: not that the Arabs have suffered. Entitled "Portrait of racism" Haaretz this week published an editorial that denies the possibility of the public transportation serving the Arab population in Judea and Samaria...The funny thing is that in that newspaper reporter Haim Levinson published a news item titled "Palestinian workers actually satisfied segregation on buses in the West Bank." Story is told that "for reform, thousands of Arab workers have been used for many years by drivers pirated, are finally get quality service and orderly state." For example, Khalil, a construction worker from Hebron, several reporter that he was forced to sleep every night in Qalqilya so he could get to work in Petah - Tikva. "At three o'clock in the morning he gets up and goes the Eyal crossing, then up the pirate shuttle car with 15 dollars," said the report. "Yesterday (Sunday) the workers were satisfied about the new bus...Bus will cost a total 8.80 shekels." No money ", he said. 12 dollars savings every day; 250 dollars less a month. On any working day is getting 200 dollars, so the savings, he said, the most significant. " That editorial, reminding the country the issue of roads throughout the West Bank, as an example of another component of apartheid. "Well, this is a great opportunity to remember the facts: Areas "C" are now used in full by the Arab population and the Jewish population coexistence region. With the decline in the level of terror, Israel has effectively eliminated the vast majority of roadblocks and checkpoints that hit the daily life of the Arabs. These currently enjoy full freedom of movement throughout the region, which led to a dramatic improvement in living standards and the Palestinian economy...You could say that the freedom of movement of Arabs in Judea and Samaria is significantly greater than that of their brethren in Gaza, life under the threat of terrorism of Hamas. What about the Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria? These, thanks for asking, can travel only in 60 percent of the areas of the region. Moreover, an Israeli citizen ID card is allowed to enter the cities of Nablus and Jenin, for example, only if ... he is an Arab. An Israeli citizen of Jewish nationality is prohibited entry, according to military rules, and he will be punished. Who said racial discrimination?

And yet more:

The bus line fracas is a reflection of changing circumstances in the West Bank where, due to the improving security situation, thousands of Palestinians have received permits to work in Israel, mainly in construction.

However, no comprehensive transport arrangements were made. In their absence, the workers were forced to catch buses originating in the settlements or pay what, for them, are huge sums to private taxi companies.

The tender for the new lines was issued by the Transport Ministry following complaints by Jewish local council leaders in the West Bank, who claimed that the Palestinian workers traveling on Israeli bus routes were “a security risk”.

They raised the concern that the buses connecting the settlements and the Tel Aviv region could be used by terrorists.

So far, two new bus routes starting from a central checkpoint in Samaria have begun operating and, while the Palestinians are still officially allowed to travel on the lines operating between the settlements and Tel Aviv and other coastal cities, according to Israeli human rights groups, most of these buses have now been stopped and Palestinians are forced to dismount and take “Palestinians-only” buses instead.

Israeli officials insist, however, that the new routes are not a form of segregation. Ben-Hur Achvot, the director of the company operating the routes, told Yediot Ahronot: “It is a plan that benefits the Palestinians and saves money they would have to pay in exorbitant fees to private taxi drivers.”

Even so, it seems clear that the complaints about security by settlers having to travel alongside Palestinians was the original motive for setting up the new bus routes. On the other hand, the new routes are more convenient for many Palestinian workers and do save them money. This is the aspect that Israeli authorities have emphasised.

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