Friday, March 08, 2013
Israel Falsely Accused of Bus Segregation
Waging an "Anti-Segregation" Crusade on the Palestinians' Backs
- Evelyn Gordon
The headline: "Israeli buses for Palestinians spark accusations of segregation" appeared worldwide this week.
The headline that didn't appear was: "Palestinians thrilled: Finally, decent bus service for those who work in Israel." For years, Palestinians who work in Israel have had only two ways to get to work - take a shared taxi, which is expensive, or ride an Israeli bus, which is inconvenient. Israeli buses don't serve towns controlled by the Palestinian Authority, so Palestinian workers had to commute to where they could pick up the bus.
This week, Israel took a step toward solving this problem: It instituted bus service direct to central Israel from the Eyal crossing near Kalkilya, to serve workers from that PA-controlled city and its suburbs. As the Israeli daily Ha'aretz reported, most Palestinians are thrilled: "Thousands pushed onto the Tel Aviv line. There weren't enough buses to meet the demand." As one worker explained, the new buses will save him NIS 250 a month, more than a full day's wages.
Because West Bank Jews and Palestinians don't live in the same towns, calling it "segregation" to have different buses serving Arab Kalkilya and Jewish 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 international response to the new bus service was utterly predictable. 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.