There has been a huge international outcry about the latest ostensible evil emanating from Israel – a segregated bus line for Palestinian use only. The Israeli media only exacerbated the outrage with their stupidly misleading sensationalist headlines, like Ynet’s “Ministry launches ‘Palestinian only’ buses” and Haaretz’s “Israel introduces ‘Palestinian only’ bus lines, following complaints from Jewish settlers“.
Of course when one looks into the subject further, it turns out that there is no segregation, no apartheid, no discrimination, but simply an extra bus line to make the lives of Palestinian workers a bit easier. If this line also serves to ensure greater safety to Israeli civilians, why is this a bad thing?
As Seth Frantzman (in the Jerusalem Post) writes in “Segregating Fact and Fiction” (emphases are mine):
The Twainist witticism of the “lie traveling halfway round the world while the truth puts on its socks” was never more true than with regard to this week’s story about Israel inaugurating “segregated bus lines.”
This story began with Israeli media reporting Sunday: “Israel introduces ‘Palestinian only’ bus lines, following complaints from Jewish settlers” (Chaim Levinson, Haaretz). The mainstream newspaper Yediot Aharonot reported on “Separate but equal bus lines?” the next day.
The foreign media took its cue from the Israeli reports – in many cases, such as at Al Jazeera, the Israeli reports were re-printed almost verbatim.
The media hype was perfectly scripted to fit the narrative that is every Israeli leftist’s dark fantasy and every anti-Israel activist’s dream: Apartheid and the “Old South” alive in well in the Holy Land.
EVERY SINGLE one of these stories about the “segregated Palestinian only” bus lines was based on ignorance of the actual situation, and most of the stories were brimming with inaccuracies, to a degree bordering on unethical reporting. What is interesting is that the source for almost all the information in these reports was the original two Israeli reports.
The assumption is that Israeli sources, being on the scene, report the news accurately. However the reality is that the two initial reports in the Israeli press were crafted to provide a manipulative narrative, to fit an agenda.
Why did Yediot title its article “Separate but equal”? No one at the Transportation Ministry or the bus company suggested that these lines were supposed to be separate or equal. In fact the ministry and company categorically denied that there was any directive saying Palestinians must take certain buses: “the Ministry of Transport is not authorized to prevent any passenger from using public transport services.”
The website of the bus company, Ofakim, shows that the No. 211 bus route begins near Kalkilya and travels to Tel Aviv with stops in Petah Tikvah, Bnei Brak and elsewhere. It doesn’t indicate that it is a “Palestinian only” bus or that Jews may not ride it. Ofakim claimed “We are not allowed to refuse service and we will not order anyone to get off the bus.”
Why did the press not title the articles “New buses servicing Kalkilya prompt accusations of segregation”? This is, after all, the real story.
The new bus lines were not inaugurated, as some reports claimed, to serve all the Palestinians in the West Bank, or “30,000” workers (in fact the new lines serve around 1,300 people daily). They were created only to serve the needs of workers who come from the area of Kalkilya and usually used buses that serve the Jewish communities in Samaria. This is a major corridor for Jews and Arabs who commute to Gush Dan to work.
Nothing clearly prevents Jews from waiting for bus No. 211, one of the new lines, along with the Arab workers, and nothing obvious prevents Arabs from commuting to a bus stop near a large Jewish community, to take a bus serving Ariel for instance. There is no “segregation,” no “separate but equal.” No one is “sitting at the back.”
Like an advertising company creating slogans, some in Israel’s media will create catch phrases like “Palestinian only buses” so that they will be picked up abroad; Israel’s news organizations can then put the very phrase they invented in quotes, as if it were a term referring to a real phenomenon. This is what happened in Haaretz, where the editorial bashed the “new routes to racism” and an op-ed by Aeyal Gross claimed the country was “on the bus to Israeli apartheid.”
Israelis, primarily on the Left, wallow in the need for “another Rose Parks.” This is part of a culture that wants to relive the 1960s and, absent of actual heroes today, invents “modern-day Rosa Parks” to fulfill the dream of being modern “freedom riders”…
THE MOST biting aspect of the current demagoguery is that it ignores a fundamental hypocrisy. Israel’s coffee-house smarties whine about the “segregated buses” without wondering just who are these 30,000 Palestinian workers who wait in lines at 4 a.m. to board the “segregated” bus to Tel Aviv.
They demand that Israel’s public buses not serve the Palestinian population, deriding any service as “apartheid,” in order to make the Palestinian workers’ lives as hard as they can be; the workers must pay three times more to ride “shared taxis” to Tel Aviv.
The reality is exactly the opposite – there are no “Palestinian only” buses. Instead, with its new bus routes, Israel is reducing crowded buses, attempting to relieve ethnic tensions and security concerns, and is assisting Arab Palestinians enter Green Line Israel to work. But we’ll get to the facts – which exonerate Israel from “Apartheid” charges – in a minute. For right now you can rest assured that despite efforts to cast the Arab Palestinians in the role of Rosa Parks, a closer fit would be to cast the purveyors of this latest attack as peddlers of the Big Lie.
What are the facts?
First of all, all Israeli citizens are permitted to ride all Israeli transportation vehicles, whether they are Arab, Finnish or Lithuanian, Jewish, Muslim, Christian or Buddhist.
Second, any non-citizen of Israel, just as is the case with every other country in the world, has to show identification when entering Israel’s official borders […]
Third, Israeli citizens who live in Judea and Samaria pay taxes, a portion of which subsidize the transportation infrastructure and vehicles, whereas Arabs who live in the PA towns do not. […]
One consequence of the preceding points is that the Israeli bus lines travel from and to all areas in which tax-paying Israeli citizens live – from Jerusalem to Shilo, from Tel Aviv to Efrat, and so forth. The Israeli bus companies do not stop at, for example, the Arab town of Ramallah, just as they do not stop at non-authorized Jewish towns such as Givat Har-el.
WHAT IS NEW?
The bare fact: the Israeli government added two bus lines (so far, there was overcrowding on Monday, March 4, the first day the service was instituted, and the Transportation Ministry said more buses will likely be added) that will serve Arab Palestinian towns with transportation into central Israel.
So why the hysteria? Because some see this as an evil plot to segregate Jews and Arabs. But non-citizens are not entitled to use Israeli public transportation into central Israel without showing border identification, and prior to the provision of these new bus lines, Arab Palestinians were dependent on transportation services by “pirate” (Arab, by the way) companies which charged the Arabs far more than the Israeli lines do.
The new bus lines are not, as the misleading headlines suggest, only for Arab Palestinians, the restriction they have is that they only stop at Arab towns in the territories, where – few would disagree – Jews with or without special identification would not dare go for fear – a legitimate one – of physical violence.
One of the many ironies in this latest attack on Israel’s morality is that the efforts, like mushrooms in the dark, have grown and mutated. For a long time there was a repeated insistence that there are “Jews Only” roads in Israel. Amira Hass, of the hard left Haaretz, was one of the primary dispensers of that tall tale. Of course there are no “Jews only” roads in Israel, just as there are no Jews only buses or even ‘Palestinian only’ buses in Israel. But if you tell a big lie often enough, well, Goebbels was the master and look where that took us.
The article has much more information in it, including an overview of Palestinian terrorism on buses and the legalities of crossing international borders. Read it all.
The Israeli media should be ashamed of themselves for whipping up an anti-Israel frenzy and smearing Israel’s good name purely for the sake of ratings. What a disgrace!