WHEN HILLARY CLINTON expressed dismay over gender segregation on buses in ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem — where women are forced to sit separately — she somehow neglected to mention the Jewish-settlers-only bus system in the Occupied Palestinan Territories.
On November 15, a group of Palestinian activists were arrested travelling on a bus carrying Israeli settlers. The activists call themselves the “Freedom Riders,” after the U.S. civil rights campaigners of 1961. Their aim was to demonstrate that the Israeli occupation of the West Bank has led to segregation, but their goal is not “equal rights” with the settlers. Rather:
“In undertaking this action Palestinians do not seek the desegregation of settler buses, as the presence of these colonizers and the infrastructure that serves them is illegal and must be dismantled. As part of their struggle for freedom, justice and dignity, Palestinians demand the ability to be able to travel freely on their own roads, on their own land, including the right to travel to Jerusalem.”
Further Freedom Rides are pending and solidarity efforts are important. For information and updates, see http://jewishvoiceforpeace.org/campaigns/solidarity-with-palestinian-freedom-riders.
January/February 2012, ATC 156