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Activists pulled off bus for protesting racial profiling at Israeli hospital

Security guards remove the activists for protesting a new policy that singles out Palestinians on a public bus line in southern Israel.

Arab and Jewish citizens protest racial profiling at the entrance to Barzilai Medical Center, January 20, 2019. (Courtesy of Standing Together)

Arab and Jewish citizens protest racial profiling at the entrance to Barzilai Medical Center, January 20, 2019. (Courtesy of Standing Together)

Security guards at an Israeli hospital detained 10 Arab and Jewish activists Sunday for an act of civil disobedience protesting a policy to single out, remove, and inspect Palestinians on a public bus line in southern Israel.

The activists, from the grassroots protest movement Standing Together, were removed from the bus at the entrance to Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon, after refusing to show their identification cards and demanding to know why non-Arab passengers weren’t asked to show theirs.

For several months now, security guards at the hospital have been asking passengers deemed to appear Arab to show their IDs. If they are Palestinian, the guards make them step off the bus and are only allowed back on as it leaves the hospital premises, Local Call first reported last week. The hospital and bus company both confirmed that the new practice is taking place, but insisted it is “carried out respectfully.”

On Sunday morning, a security guard boarded the number 18 bus as it approached the Barzilai Medical Center premises, approached Gadir Hani — a Palestinian citizen of Israel who wears a hijab and is active with Standing Together, and asked for her ID card.

Video footage shows Hani asking the security guard why she was being singled out, and demanded that he ask every passenger to show their ID. The other Arab passengers aboard the bus also refused to present their ID, after which several more security guards stepped aboard.

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When the activists pulled out signs, the guards told them they were being detained and removed them from the bus. A few minutes later, a more senior hospital official arrived and released them.

“This kind of segregation is exactly what those behind the Jewish Nation-State Law had hoped for: to show Israeli society that there is legitimacy for discrimination in all aspects of life between Jewish and Arab citizens in Israel,” said Standing Together activist Uri Weltmann. “We won’t accept racial segregation — not on buses nor anywhere else.”

Standing Together, the activist group behind the protest, published the following video of the protest:

Following the Local Call report on the discriminatory practice, more than 3,000 people signed an online petition demanding the hospital cease singling out and removing Arab passengers from the bus line.

The hospital and bus company insist that only Palestinian residents of the West Bank and Gaza are singled out for extra inspection and removed from the bus line as it enters the hospital, justifying the practice on ambiguous security grounds. One local resident who regularly rides that particular bus line, however, told Local Call that she has also seen Palestinian citizens of Israel pulled off the bus on numerous occasions. (Palestinian residents of the West Bank have green ID cards, while Israeli residents and citizens, including Palestinians, have blue IDs.)

Since the practice was first publicized in a Facebook post last week, a number of Israeli human rights organizations have demanded that the hospital, the bus company, Israeli Health Ministry and Transportation Ministry, immediately stop the practice.

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    COMMENTS

      • Tal.C

        Oh for f!*ks sake. In all the terror attacks or attempted attacks in hospitals, from the one in Soroka Hospital 15 years ago to Hamas’ attempted attack 4 months ago, where a Palestinian mother of 9 was escorting a cancer patient and was also escorting a bomb, all the terrorists (forced to be ones by Palestinian leaders or otherwise) were Arab Palestinians. All of them. Your comparison is laughable.

        Reply to Comment
        • Ben

          @Tal.C: This too doesn’t add up. Using the language of fear, it attempts to preempt thinking and blur the distinction between citizens and non-citizens, between the West Bank and Israel, residents of one place and another, and to thereby reduce Arab citizens and non-citizens alike to people with dispensable human rights. You may have missed this article’s clear delineation of certain basic facts, but most readers here will have not:

          “Palestinian residents of the West Bank have green ID cards, while Israeli residents and citizens, including Palestinians, have blue IDs.”

          And, as always, it wants to have it both ways. There is no distinction between Israel and the territories it occupies when that suits the agenda, but there is every distinction between them when that suits. And this having-it-both-ways plays out in myriad complex forms—this example being just one of many layers to this.

          Reply to Comment
    1. Ben

      Who among us, Right or Left, knowing what we know today, would say that Martin Luther King, Jr. was not right about the Vietnam War in 1967, long before most other Americans would accept and not fiercely reject King’s judgment? King turned out to be right, and prescient, on this as on other things, but at the time he paid a big political price for his stand. We can easily see today, with hindsight, that he was right, courageous, and ahead of his time. King was able to do this in part because he held fast to certain principles. He had vision. And courage.

      Fifty-two years later, I think +972 Magazine, Breaking the Silence, Jewish Voice for Peace, If Not Now, and Standing Together are similarly courageous and ahead of their time. This is all explained well here:

      Time to Break the Silence on Palestine
      Michelle Alexander
      https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/19/opinion/sunday/martin-luther-king-palestine-israel.html

      Reply to Comment
        • Ben

          This won’t wash. The idea that the New York Times—home to Bari Weiss, Brett Stephens, Matti Friedman**, and Isabel Kirschner, and which almost never publishes anything remotely like the on-the-ground, authentic truth-telling one consistently finds at +972 Magazine and sometimes finds in Ha’aretz—is somehow unbalanced in an “anti-Israel” direction is simply preposterous. It cannot plausibly be foisted on anyone who is versed in the western mainstream media and regularly reads the New York Times. The New York Times reliably produces, at best, a kind of gauzy whitewashing of what is really going on on the ground.

          “Camera” is not by contrast some objective “fact checker” and “ombudsman.” If the Times is 5/10 liberal on a 10/10 left wing scale, Camera is a 10/10 on a right wing scale. And the article you link to shows that. The “Camera” article is hackneyed propaganda—that would insert a propaganda narrative defining what it means to be “pro-Israel,” “anti-Israel,” and anti-Semitic (but in which outfit’s vocabulary has never been heard the term anti-Semitizing, or a discouraging word, and the skies are not cloudy all day). As if this were the self-evident order of the journalistic universe, and would ask us to trust Camera’s extremely contentious and distorted narratives on this, backed by its faux-statistics. Nothing doing.

          Your claim that “Camera” has in any way debunked Michelle Alexander’s argument, or debunked anything else in that long screed you link to, does not stand up to scrutiny.

          But yes, as Alexander’s refreshing piece suggests, the times (and the Times) they are a’ changing.

          Shovrim Shtika is called Shovrim Stika for a reason and went outside Israel for a reason after finding unceasingly deaf ears and relentless hostile persecution inside Israel. Sikha Mekomit is called Sikha Mekomit/+972 Magazine for a reason, and for a reason was published in English and Hebrew from the beginning. “Gideon Levy,” the name of an unusually strong and persistent Israeli swimmer against the tide is not, as you would have us assume, reducible to a stock reference term of derision for the archetypal fiendish smolan in the current twisted Israeli vernacular.

          _______________

          ** Lisa Goldman on Matti Friedman and the New York Times:
          https://twitter.com/lisang/status/1085937535061278727

          Reply to Comment
    2. Bruce Gould

      Just a few months ago Israel announced that it has first and second class citizens. Maybe it would have less reason to fear its own Palestinian citizens if it toned down the apartheid vibe.

      “This kind of segregation is exactly what those behind the Jewish Nation-State Law had hoped for: to show Israeli society that there is legitimacy for discrimination in all aspects of life between Jewish and Arab citizens in Israel,” said Standing Together activist Uri Weltmann. “We won’t accept racial segregation — not on buses nor anywhere else.”

      Reply to Comment
      • itshak Gordine

        Everything is not so simple. You forget the security aspects and Arab terrorism ..

        Reply to Comment
        • Ben

          What Gould and Weltmann and Konrad are saying is complex. You’re the one oversimplifying.

          Reply to Comment
    3. Gershom

      Saddest this is not new at all.
      “now Jews have done Nazi things.” (mapam leader 1948, re; acts during Plan Dalat.
      I am as serious as I can be, I fear for our future. This must stop!

      Reply to Comment