Reenacting the Freedom Rides in Occupied Palestine


At 11:00 AM on November 15, 2011, Palestinian activists in the West Bank will board Israel’s segregated transportation services en route to occupied East Jerusalem to defy institutionalized prejudice the same way the Freedom Riders did during the United States’ civil rights movement in the 1960s.

Five decades after Black Americans challenged the status quo by riding interstate buses through the segregated South, Palestinians will employ the same method of civil disobedience to further the dismantling of the customs, laws, and military directives that implement the forceful suppression of Palestinian rights. The targeted transportation lines are typically state-sponsored, and they serve to connect illegal Israeli settlements and outposts dotting the West Bank. Although, as Philip Weiss makes clear, Palestinians are not officially prohibited from boarding Israeli public transportation networks built in the West Bank, the lines stop only in Jewish settlements and oftentimes cut through entire Palestinian towns. In order to board a bus in the West Bank, Palestinians, unlike Israelis, must present a virtually unattainable military order to enter the settlement in which a bus or train station is located. While Israelis can rely on guaranteed busing service to reach Jerusalem, Palestinians are forced to take unpaved backroads that usually feature a checkpoint or two.

These are the shameful standards being challenged by the Palestinian Freedom Riders in the coming days.


There are 6 comments

  1. Noelle Clearwater

    Such courage! I am holding them in the light every day. I am not old enough to remember the freedom rides although I was a child when they were first occurring. I have a friend who lives in Gaza on G+. Her internet has been cut off. She has no way to communicate with us. Those who struggle for the civil rights we so easily take for granted here have the hearts of lions. Prayers and blessings to them. Insha’Allah they will be safe and well.

      1. ProudZionist777

        So there is no bus transportation in the West Bank?
        Don’t bother answering. You don’t seem willing to answer my fair question about whether West Bank Arabs would let Jews ride on Arab buses.

      2. Sami Kishawi

        Your hypothetical question conditioned along a skewed narrative that implies that Arabs impose discriminatory restrictions on Jews cannot in any way be considered “fair”. Here is the reality of the situation: the West Bank is occupied by a foreign power that transfers its population into the occupied territory (in contravention to the Fourth Geneva Convention among other international laws) and systematically prevents the occupied Palestinian population from using the established “public” services. Again, there is no centralized transportation system in the West Bank owned and operated by Palestinians. Rather than concerning yourself with hypotheticals, face reality.

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