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IDF, police remove Palestinian "Freedom riders" from Israeli bus

By Mya Guarnieri and Noa Yachot

IDF soldiers and police on Tuesday forcibly removed Palestinian activists from a bus to occupied East Jerusalem, which they had boarded in a campaign they called a reenactment of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement’s “Freedom Rides” of the 1960s. See photos of the day here

Six activists boarded an Israeli bus in the West Bank that typically services Jewish settlers, with the intention of trying to reach East Jerusalem, which West Bank Palestinians are forbidden from entering without special permits. The campaign was part of an effort to call attention to Israel’s occupation in general, and policies of segregation and restricted freedom of movement in particular.

The security forces carried the activists off the bus following a standoff on the Jerusalem side of the Hizmeh checkpoint, during which they tried to convince them to disembark voluntarily or risk arrest. The activists had boarded after waiting some 40 minutes outside the West Bank settlement of Psagot before a bus finally stopped at the station at roughly 3 P.M. Israel time, enabling activists and journalists to board. After standing still for some time, the bus headed out in the direction of Jerusalem.

At Hizmeh, IDF soldiers boarded the bus, and asked to see the passengers’ IDs. After a short struggle with one activist, Badia Dweik, the standoff ensued, with the bus parked in a lot on the Jerusalem side of the checkpoint and Dweik remaining on the bus. At roughly 5:15 P.M., security forces began carrying the activists off the bus, and arrested them all.

Earlier, one of the riders, showing his green ID card to the cameras present, announced from the bus, “I am illegal. It is now illegal for me to be here.”

An IDF soldier and Israeli woman who had initially been waiting at the Psagot bus station left the scene with the arrival of the Palestinian activists. The woman told +972 she had walked away after hearing Arabic spoken. The six activists – five men and one woman – included Palestinian scholar and activist Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh. Of the six, five hold the green ID cards issued to West Bank Palestinians, and one a blue card held by East Jerusalem Palestinians.

Organizer Huwaida Arraf, one of the six to board the bus, told a press conference in Ramallah earlier Tuesday afternoon that organizers had handpicked potential buses ahead of time, focusing on routes where settlers tended to be less heavily armed. The lines ultimately selected, she explained, tend to have between four and six empty seats at the time of the day in question, and organizers wanted to avoid being told by drivers that the bus had no room.

According to a press released issued Sunday by organizers:

While parallels exist between occupied Palestine and the segregated U.S. South in terms of the underlying racism and the humiliating treatment suffered then by blacks and now by Palestinians, there are also significant differences. In the 1960s U.S. South, black people had to sit in the back of the bus; in occupied Palestine, Palestinians are not even allowed ON the bus nor on the roads that the buses travel on, which are built on stolen Palestinian land.

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.

Read more:

PHOTOS: Palestinian ‘Freedom riders’ board settler-only bus in WB

Palestinians to launch “Freedom Rides” campaign on Israeli buses

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    1. Ben Israel

      I warned people I know who live out in the yishuvim about this idiotic stunt, since it could lead to disruptions in bus service. Since this wasn’t kept secret I hope the IDF and Egged are prepared to deal with this.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Shir Harel

      Ben, some people who live next door to your friends in the “yishuvim” don’t have basic rights to move around their areas freely, as your friends do. While they try to make this point about the conditions of their daily lives and the rights which aren’t afforded to them, you are more concerned with disruptions in bus service? How do you justify such lack of empathy for your friends’ neighbors?

      Reply to Comment
    3. David

      Another difference I guess between this stunt and the students on the Freedom Rides in the south is that the original Freedom Riders were on a number of occasions murdered and buried in Earthen dams or other unknown locations. This will not happen here. You may try to make some sort of Israeli settler = Klansmen comparison, but it unfortunately does not hold water.

      I support the complete and total end of the Israeli occupation, just saying that this comparison is laughable at best and it besmirches the memory of those American activists (including Jews) who died so that African Americans would be free.

      Reply to Comment
    4. John Harkin

      I note from what I have read that this protest is a non-violent one. I hope that it will be listened to by all who strive to live in peace.

      Reply to Comment
    5. For Real

      Shir Harel-they are hardly his “friends”, seriously, poor choice of words on your part there!

      There is one teensy, itsy bitsy difference the article and protestors forget to mention between the civil rights movement in the US and the Palestinians in Israel….

      ISRAEL IS AT WAR, its a fact. War sucks, but it is. Were blacks bombing buses, smuggling overseas weapons or shooting ROCKETS over Memphis and Burmingham?????

      No, and to equate the two situations is idiotic, pathetic and childish.

      This does not justify everything the IDF does, but the IDF’s oppression of the Palestinians does not justify being stupid and ignorant either.

      Reply to Comment
    6. Outsider

      This Ben guy is classic 🙂

      Damn pesky people wanting equality, nothing but a disruption to my day

      The statement is so ridiculously lacking in empathy I’m not sure whether to take it serious

      Reply to Comment
    7. Paul

      Congratulations to the activists on highlighting the apartheid Zionist regime occupying the Palestinian people. This sort of state sponsored discrimination based on race, ethinicity or religion has come and gone in the USA, Northern Ireland and South Africa and so too it must be highlighted and dismantled in the occupied land of the Palestinian people.

      Reply to Comment
    8. Sinjim

      David would deny that Bassem Abu Rahmeh, his sister Jawaher, Tristan Anderson, and so many others haven’t paid their price for the advocacy of Palestinian human rights. He would deny the settler violence and pogroms in Hebron and across the West Bank. He would deny the intimidation tactics of these criminals who burn down mosques, deface cemeteries, and destroy farmland. But most importantly, he would deny that this has anything to do with institutionalized racism.
      Well, David, whether you accept it or not, the truth is right there as plain as the nose on your face. Denying what happens to the Palestinian people won’t change that reality one bit.

      Reply to Comment
    9. Hey, For Real: Unarmed Palestinians are not the enemy. Shir’s comment is right on the money; Ben Israel’s comment demonstrates moral autism, and so does yours.

      Reply to Comment
    10. Robynne

      I support the Palestinian’s in this.

      Reply to Comment
    11. Ben Israel

      You people really don’t understand, do you? This has nothing to do with civil rights. The effort should be made in ENDING THE ARAB-ISRAELI CONFLICT. That will only be done by a COMPROMISE PEACE. That means not only is Israel going to make concessions, but ALSO THE PALESTINIANS, which means primarily giving up the so-called “right of return”. The fact is that those who came up with the ideas of stunts like this DO NOT WANT A COMPROMISE PEACE. They feel that a “war of attrition” against Israel using tactics like this will eventually get Israel to capitulate without the Palestinians having to make any concessions.
      I repeat…those who are advocating these kind of actions instead of pressuring the Palestinians Authority to negotiate with Israel do not want peace and are, in fact, prolonging the current situation which they claim to abhor.

      Reply to Comment
    12. Jaime

      A completely misguided publicity stunt that only reinforces the fact that the Palestinian Arabs aren’t interested in sitting down and negotiating the contours of a state, preferring to stage scams and “events.” It’s a complete travesty to compare this stunt with the freedom riders of the US in the 1960’s. There wouldn’t be restrictions at all if there wasn’t the serious danger of Palestinian activists hijacking and blowing up buses, killing and injuring many like was done not very long ago.

      These so-called activists should simply be tried as saboteurs and spies by military tribunal and punished accordingly. Not just because they are a military threat to Israel, but as maniacs who hurt the Palestinian cause.

      Reply to Comment
    13. Richard Witty

      To East Jerusalem,

      It should be done peacefully 10000 times.

      Reply to Comment
    14. Mariana

      Doesn’t Ben Israel have nothing to do but read 972? He’s a pain in the neck. Giving up the Right to Return can only be proposed by someone who’s out of their mind.

      Reply to Comment
    15. Judith Levine

      Let someone take your land and/or separate you from your land and see how non-violent you will be. Let someone put up “public” services for some, but not for all and let you be the one who can’t ride the bus, can’t visit your family, can’t till your field, can’t go to the beach, can’t have access to what your taxes are paying for and let’s see how non-violent you will be. I am very impressed with this kind of peaceful demonstration. I am outraged by any kind of “price tag” action. Who is the terrorist here? Who is being a better Jew?
      “What is hateful unto you, do not do unto your brother. All else is commentary.” -Rabbi Hillel

      Reply to Comment
    16. Rico

      Ben Israel, its not that civil rights aren’t the “real” issue, its that YOU DO NOT CARE about Palestinian civil rights. How do i know? This was a peaceful demonstration. There was no security threat to the state or to Jews. It’s about civil rights. It’s an occupation, not a war.

      Reply to Comment
    17. Palestinian

      No the problem is that some people refuse to undetstand that this is not about two peoples fighting over a piece of land , its about outsiders (aka burglars) who took over other’s land justfying this by a myth.Its about a long series of terrroism supervised and supported by countries that claim they respect human rights “former and current colonial countries”.Israel cant compromise bcz a burglar isnt compromising when he agrees to give back part of his loot.It doesnt belong to him !

      Reply to Comment
    18. RichardNYC

      “Hey, For Real: Unarmed Palestinians are not the enemy. Shir’s comment is right on the money; Ben Israel’s comment demonstrates moral autism, and so does yours.”
      –>What a nice shout out to autistic people! Ben Israel’s comment isn’t about morality, and its basically correct – from a strategic point of view. Even non-violent Palestinian activists do not seem interested in making the compromises needed to achieve independence from Israel. Talking about their tactics (“unarmed Palestinians”) does not substitute for a discussion about their goals. I am in favor of unilateral withdrawal from most settlements, but I don’t see how these demonstrations contribute in any meaningful way to Palestinian independence as long as the activists are irredentists. If anything, raising irredentist morale by telling Palestinians that there’s a universe of non-violent tactics they’ve yet to try is counterproductive. The sooner that denial of the Israeli existence dies, the sooner Palestinians will gain independence.

      Reply to Comment
    19. RichardNYC

      The concern isn’t that non-violent Palestinian civil rights aficionados would gain independence, its that their less progressive, AK-toting colleagues would seize power. Your criticism is misplaced.

      Reply to Comment
    20. RichardNYC

      Thank you for demonstrating why hard line Palestinian irredentists are not in the right simply because they employ non-violent tactics and demand civil rights alongside other things, like the land Israelis live on.

      Reply to Comment
    21. aristeides

      Ben Israel is, of course, totally wrong. This movement is entirely about civil rights. Many Palestinians are aware that Israel will never allow a Palestinian state to exist and are thus shifting their goal from statehood to rights.

      And now the world can see the lie exposed. It’s apartheid. All those apologists who insisted that Palestinians were perfectly free to use the roads are proven to be wrong.

      Reply to Comment
    22. sh

      They are free to use the roads Aristeides, but they’ll likely be stopped at the roadblocks. They showed how the discrimination works to whoever was watching, it’s important to show that. So their mission was a success.
      RichardNYC said …”its that their less progressive, AK-toting colleagues would seize power.” That’s exactly what has happened in Israel. Our less progressive gun-toting colleagues have seized power. You don’t seem to be as shocked as I am.

      Reply to Comment
    23. Stan Squires

      I am from vancouver,canada and i wanted to say that the israeli gov. and the former apartheid gov.in South Africa are identical in their actions.The Freedom Riders are doing a good job of exposing the apartheid policy of israel.I hope all people in the world gets to know about the Freedom Riders in East Jerusalem.The BDS movement is also inportant in this fight.With world wide support this apartheid policy can be ended for good.

      Reply to Comment
    24. RichardNYC

      And the far-left’s action plan for relieving Bibi of power is…what? Make pragmatic arguments? Or insist that Zionism must die, knowing full well that the vast majority of Israeli Jews cannot seriously entertain their ideas?

      Reply to Comment
    25. aristeides

      SH – they are clearly NOT free to use the public transportation on the roads. For Palestinians who do not own private vehicles, how else are they supposed to use the roads?

      It’s a false freedom.

      Reply to Comment
    26. Asaf

      Let me get this: the Palestinians boarded the busses, paid the driver, took pictures, all of this without interruptions. Even in the pictures it looks like they had a good time, even with their signs and Tshirts. Only in Hizme, which is the entrance point to Jerusalem, they were asked to get off the bus since they are not allowed into the city. Only after refusing to do so, they were forced out. So the fact is there is no segregation in busses on the west bank (how disappointing, ha?). There is only restrictions on the entrance to Jerusalem, which is the same no matter what is your transportation method. And this is political issue, and should be addressed in negotiations. Nothing to do with apartheid or other slogans.

      Reply to Comment
    27. AYLA

      As a fiction writer, I’m beginning to feel like I could just sign on as BenIsrael or RichardNYC and writer their comments; they’re both (in their own way) so predictable, exhausting, and disconnected from any reality other than their own.
      This movement is wonderful, and in need of much larger numbers of participants. Peaceful demonstrations, as specific in message as possible, are the way to go, and despite differences between the civil rights issues in the U.S. in the 60’s and the Is/Pal situation here, MLK’s model is exactly what Palestinians need, and in fact everyone involved in this conflicts needs Palestinians to use this model, because they have to fight for rights (not just peace) somehow, and that is the best way on so many levels.

      Reply to Comment
    28. Mitchell Cohen

      Well, as one who travels on the bus from Gush Etzion to work and back EVERY day (ok, throw the eggs at me and get it over with) as far as I am concerned I don’t care if there are Jews, Arabs, Chinese, or space aliens on the bus as long as a) they don’t have unauthorized weapons b) they let me catch up on my sleep.

      As long as I arrive to and from my destination in one piece, there could be robots on the bus with me and I wouldn’t care.

      Reply to Comment
    29. RichardNYC

      When the main tenets of Palestinian nationalism stays the same, responding to the willfully deluded requires emphasizing the same ideas repeatedly. Get off the anti-Zionist train to nowhere and my comments will be less predictable.

      Reply to Comment
    30. Richard Witty

      The movement needs to fill the jails.

      And, to fill the jails, it needs to recruit enough so that they can do this 6 times daily with 6-8 each time, for a year. In 200 days, that would be 10000 in jail.

      It will take that much patience, focus and discipline.

      The action should be focused, and should not use dismissable language like “apartheid”. It is dismissable because it describes a composite of issues and vaguely.

      Non-violent civil disobedience works most effectively with actions that are not dismissable, limited, clearly wrong, undertaken without expression of anger, patiently, determinedly.

      Reply to Comment
    31. Asaf

      Witty, you don’t read all the way down. All of them have been released and got home before dinner. Don’t let the facts distract you.

      Reply to Comment
    32. Richard Witty

      “Don’t let the facts distract you.”

      You must be one of those insult addicts.

      What do you think is success of the freedom rides?

      How do you think that will be realized, actually? (Please go light on rhetoric).

      Reply to Comment
    33. Richard Witty

      There is a great difference between the South African mode of dissent and the Gandhiian and King mode.

      This is a choice to adopt the Gandhiian/King mode.

      It only works if applied.

      1. Utterly non-violent (confrontational only by presence, not by word or action)
      2. Willing to bear the consequences including arrest and even physical harms
      3. Patient, repetitive, determined
      4. Specific goal
      5. Clear communication to the public

      The vague rhetorical approach, accompanied by anger, actual violence, has been attempted for 63 years, and I hope you would acknowledge has failed Palestinian Israelis, West Bank Palestinians, Gaza Palestinians, diaspora Palestinians.

      This is something new. It should be actually tried.

      Reply to Comment
    34. Edwina White

      It is time to bring the realities of the occupation home. As long as we leave it up to our “leaders”, nothing will get done. They have had decades to come to an agreement. There is no peace process. Past “peace processes” were mostly posturing. Change must come from the people. It always has.

      Reply to Comment
    35. AYLA

      @RichardNYC–that you characterize me as an “anti-zionist” is exactly your problem. @Mitchell–no eggs.

      Reply to Comment
    36. RichardNYC

      how do you reconcile your support for “right of return” with not being an anti-Zionist? I’m anticipating the BDS schtick that goes “we’re not advocating political solutions, just rights.” Please explain why I’m wrong.

      Reply to Comment
    37. Hasan Bhatti

      I’ll answer you RichardNYC: Because Israel was created in order to secure one people’s rights who had been violated in an inhumane and horrific manner unlike the world has seen… at the expense of the other people’s rights to live on the land that they had grown up on. Now that non-violence is being used in the protests, people are somehow

      But, honestly, anything I say you’re not going to digest, because you have read your specific dose of history. Zionism is based on a history that is from one side. I am a Zionist, but I sure support the ROR, because the definition of Zionism has been changed from what you believe it to be. This homeland is a universal homeland, so why must it be just the Jews anymore? Another Zionism is rooted in rights for all, including those that just want to return home and grow their lemon trees (which, contrary to your opinion, is the majority of the Palestinian populace… your focus on the radical margins of Palestine would be like looking at the settlers and pointing to how this represents Israeli society). In a state that inhabits religious and ethnic diversity, it would make sense, now, that people start to pay attention to rights and not the political situation… because political situations justified the 1982 Lebanon war. And out of that, what was created? A fertile land for our friends Hezbollah, and by extension Hamas, to grow. Political? Maybe. Correct? No.

      Reply to Comment
    38. Hasan Bhatti

      Oops; two corrections : “people are somehow twisting their actions as manipulative… whereas 9 years ago, it was that throwing rocks was a bad form of protest… So, honestly, I know you’re not going to digest any of what I say, cause you’ll always create rationalizations around your version of history.”

      “Your Zionism is based on a history that is from one side”***

      PS: without an ideological vision beyond what is on the ground, how did the state of Israel come to exist? Isn’t this the same type of tactic used by the Zionists in the beginning? And, if so, why is it not accepted now? Isn’t this “the hope” that we sing about in Hatikvah?

      Reply to Comment
    39. RichardNYC

      Did you really think that’s what I meant by “Zionism”? I doubt it. So why bother with that answer? Do you think anyone who reads this who’s a Zionist is going re-understand the concept from your point of view? I doubt it. So what was the point of all that?
      –>To me “Palestine” is really just a place that’s in everyone one of us – a place that we can all go to wherever we live if we just BELIEVE. So really, I am a Palestinian Nationalist because I think the Palestinians don’t need a state – they just need to change their attitude. Bingo! Problem solved…HASAN STYLE!!!!

      Reply to Comment
    40. Shaun

      Is there a specific law that prevents Palestinians from Traveling on these busses?
      From what is reported here the police/ Army didn’t take action until the posters made it clear that they wanted to be thrown off the bus.

      Reply to Comment
    41. AYLA

      @RichardNYC–the way your brain works, it’s not worth my energy. There’s no point. Just consider that it is possible to care about Israel as a holy land for jews and as a holy land for others, and that it is possible to care about Israel as a homeland for jews that does not hurt others in the process of being here. The fear some experience around the possibility of a Palestinian Right of Return is irrational; not so many would actually move back, though a certain percentage would get a passport and be dual, non-resident citizens, and a larger percentage would enjoy the right to VISIT. And to call this a “so-called right”, as the 972 loyal opposition has, is sick, considering that many palestinians were driven off this land in or around 1948, in their lifetime, and many of those people tried to come back shortly after and were denied, and have not been able to visit since. You think that their return threatens our existence. I think that treating others injustly threatens our existence. And also, how dare you (I’d put this differently if it were permissible) call ANYONE who lives here, and works within Gaza missile range no-less, an anti-zionist, RichardNYC. I’ve just given you much more energy than you deserve.

      Reply to Comment
    42. AYLA

      @Hasan Bhatti–beautifully put. Thank you.

      Reply to Comment
    43. Bosko

      Hasan Bhatti
      “Because Israel was created in order to secure one people’s rights who had been violated in an inhumane and horrific manner unlike the world has seen… at the expense of the other people’s rights to live on the land that they had grown up on”
      You are not telling the whole story Hasan. The original idea was to have two states living side by side. One for Arabs, one for Jews. Let’s be clear about it, who rejected that idea? Your people the Arabs. Why? Because you did not believe that Jews have a right to ANY part of Palestine? How did you reject it? By violence. Which brings us to the present status of mutual suspicion, mutual distrust and perpetual violence.
      Therefore, the least that you can do if you really want peace and equality, is to finally admit that your people played at least as much of a hand in creating the status quo as our people. Doing so, would be a giant step towards resolving this cancerous conflict. Pretending that Israelis are racists and that they are solely responsible for the status quo, will do nothing to get rid of the status quo. Take responsibility for your share of the blame and you might be surprised how much effort many Israelis will make to meet you half way.

      Reply to Comment
    44. AYLA

      @Hasan–if you keep responding to @RichardNYC and @Bosko (and they are everywhere; they apparently have nothing better to do than to comment on this news source that they oppose)–you will likely lose your energy to be here, and I, for one, would miss your presence. @Ben Israel is another one, though I find him to be different: extreme (often offensively so) in his views, utterly committed to re-routing dialogue with a “oh yeah, well what about what they do to us” kind of rhetoric, though he is well-informed and at least walks his walk. There are plenty of other right wing, jewish commenters here who I respect. But these three, each in their own way, will just drive you nuts. It’s very hard not to respond to them because it’s hard to leave what they say standing, but I trust that the majority of readers here disregard them and go on reading 972 as its meant to be read: as a news magazine. crazy me; I choose my news sources according to those I LIKE, not in order to go to battle each day.

      Reply to Comment
    45. Bosko

      Poor Ayla. Once again I said something that you don’t like? Oh well …

      Reply to Comment
    46. Bosko

      You better listen to Ayla. Don’t respond to contemptible individuals like me. Ayla knows best. She agrees with you that people like me are racists because we dare to suggest that Israel and Israelis are not the only ones who have contributed to the status quo. And Ayla speaks for the majority of Israelis. I am not even Israeli and I don’t know what I am talking about.
      If you believe all that, then good luck to you.

      Reply to Comment
    47. RichardNYC

      “@RichardNYC–the way your brain works, it’s not worth my energy. There’s no point.”
      –>Ok, I just assume that you take yourself seriously and didn’t bother responding to me in any seriously way after this sentence. Maybe I’m wrong. I guess we’ll never know.

      Reply to Comment
    48. Bosko

      “and they are everywhere; they apparently have nothing better to do than to comment on this news source that they oppose”
      “They are everywhere”. Yes Ayla we are omnipotent, live with it.
      “Oppose”? I did not know that opposition is a dirty word and that one should not be present in places where one opposes at least some things. By her definition, Ayla should not be in Israel since she opposes most of the things that today’s Israel is.
      But wait … Is she really in Israel? Maybe, maybe not. One never really knows whether what people claim on the internet is real or not.

      Reply to Comment
    49. AYLA

      @Bosko–RichardNYC has been banned from the site; you’re dancing with yourself (even more than before).

      Reply to Comment
    50. Bosko

      So? Banning him should make you happy. Enjoy. As I said to you before I have no problems with being banned even though I have not given anyone cause. I am sure your heart will be glad when you will be instrumental in bringing it about.
      Just think of it Ayla. Won’t it be nice for you to agree and reinforce each other’s points of view without anyone being here to make you think about things even just a teeny weeney bit?

      Reply to Comment
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