On the bus from Masada to Jerusalem, passing through the West Bank, we got a little nervous when we saw a black-bearded man wearing a round white Muslim skullcap or kufi hop aboard. My wife whispered that he might be a suicide bomber. But we both agreed we were engaging in racial or religious profiling, and we didn’t have any reason to suspect this man of anything. I noted shortly that he smiled at the young Jewish women across from him and seemed to be speaking Hebrew or English to them. He started having a long conversation with the bus driver on the way into Jerusalem, and he acted open and relaxed, not nervous or menacing.
When the bus entered the gates of Jerusalem, however, two soldiers hopped aboard the bus. One was very short and looked like he was about 12 years old. He scoured the bus, saw mainly white faces, then set his eyes on the 40-something dark-skinned Muslim man. Glaring, he asked the man for ID papers, which were quickly presented. Examining the papers, he ordered the man off the bus. No one else on the bus was asked to present papers. I could see no evidence whatsoever for throwing this amiable, civil man off the bus other than his dark skin, beard, and religion.
Such is the daily life of a Palestinian in Israel. He faces multiple restrictions on routine movement. I was reminded of the shameful treatment of African Americans in the Old South.
- Bus Segregation Is One Aspect of Israeli Apartheid (The National): A new United Nations Human Rights Committee report calls on Israelis to end their institutionalized discrimination against Palestinians, citing 18 examples of the way they differentiate between the “Jewish and non-Jewish population” undermining the Palestinians’ right to self-determination.
- West Bank’s Buses Only the Latest in Israel’s Segregated Public Transport (The Daily Beast)
- Israel Launches Segregated Busses for Palestinians Only (2013)
- Palestinian ‘Freedom Riders’ Arrested on Bus to Jerusalem (2011)