Op-Ed: The Apartheid Bus Blitz
The new trending topic on the anti-Israel network is “Apartheid Buses.” According the narrative, Israel has now launched Arab-only bus lines as a new means of oppressing the local Arab population.
In fact, however, the truth behind this story is a special service that this Israeli bus company has begun to provide for Palestinian Arab workers from the security checkpoint they pass though to the work areas they want to reach in central Israel.
To draw this in a negative light, propagandists have spiced up the story by reporting that the new service was launched after Jewish Israelis complained about the workers traveling on their regular buses. As usual, the propagandists do not allow small details - like the facts - to get in the way of the twisted picture they wish to project about Israel.
Tens of thousands of non-Israeli Palestinian Arabs are permitted to work in Israel every day. Those who receive these work permits consider themselves lucky, because the economy in the Palestinian Authority areas is so bad that work places there are hard to find and pay very poorly. Those holding work permits are allowed to enter only at designated security crossings. This is a rule determined by the government security agencies, and has nothing to do with the preferences of the Jewish commuters.
After this blitz grew wings and became the center of media attention, Israel journalist Chaim Levenson of Haaretz wrote on his Facebook page that he was going to meet with the Arab workers on the new bus line at 4:30 AM leaving the Eyal crossing. Many workers are headed for early starts at building jobs, where they need to be on site by 6 or so. Obviously, these buses have been provided as a special service, at the time and place that suit the needs of the worker population from that area. Does someone suggest that they wait for the first bus leaving Ariel at 5:30am, and be late for work?
Arab-only bus lines owned by Arabs and travelling throughout Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem are nothing new. There are Arab-owned lines running between Shechem (Nablus), Ramallah, Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Hevron. You will never see them stop for a Jew waiting at a bus stop on the way. There is an Arab-only bus station in the American Colony in Jerusalem. Don't expect to see Jewish people walking around there or getting on that bus. Why, you might ask? It’s because the Jews feel threatened there, and, correctly, fear for their safety.
On the other hand, Israeli-owned public transportation in all of these places is used by Jews and non-Jews alike. The same bus company, Afikim, which is being accused of running special bus lines - actually tailored to the needs of Palestinian Arab workers - as also launched special bus lines that suit the needs of the students at the university in Ariel. 80% of the university's 14,000 students are commuting from Israel's more central areas, and need more buses coming in during the morning hours, and more leaving at the end of the day. The university’s Arab students enjoy those buses just as Jewish students do.
The rumor that Jewish residents were involved in the new bus arrangement was thrown in by some propagandist to make the story more sensational. It is an obnoxious distortion of the facts. The Jewish commuters have nothing to do with security regulations.
In fact, the new buses are set to save the Palestinian Arab commuters a lot of money, as their previous alternative was to pay for expensive private taxis to their workplace destinations.
This is racism?