Next Tuesday, Palestinian activists will attempt to board segregated Israeli public transportation headed from inside the West Bank to occupied East Jerusalem in an act of civil disobedience inspired by the Freedom Riders of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement in the 60’s.
Fifty years after the U.S. Freedom Riders staged mixed-race bus rides through the roads of the segregated American South, Palestinian Freedom Riders will be asserting their right for liberty and dignity by disrupting the military regime of the Occupation through peaceful civil disobedience.
The Freedom Riders seek to highlight Israel’s attempts to illegally sever occupied East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank, and the apartheid system that Israel has imposed on Palestinians in the occupied territories.
Several Israeli companies, among them Egged and Veolia, operate dozens of lines that run through the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, many of them subsidized by the state. They run between different Israeli settlements, connecting them to each other and cities inside Israel. Some lines connecting Jerusalem to other cities inside Israel, such as Eilat and Beit She’an, are also routed to pass through the West Bank.
Israelis suffer almost no limitations on their freedom of movement in the occupied Palestinian territory, and are even allowed to settle in it, contrary to international law. Palestinians, in contrast, are not allowed to enter Israel without procuring a special permit from Israeli authorities. Even Palestinian movement inside the Occupied Territories is heavily restricted, with access to occupied East Jerusalem and some 8% of the West Bank in the border area also forbidden without a similar permit.
While it is not officially forbidden for Palestinians to use Israeli public transportation in the West Bank, these lines are effectively segregated, since many of them pass through Jewish-only settlements, to which Palestinian entry is prohibited by a military decree.
Not to worry, the Zionist establishment wants to tell the world that Israel is a real democracy that should be blindly embraced by all (unless you want to laugh, which I encourage):
The Zionist Council of Victoria (ZCV), together with the Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) will proudly support the launch of the grassroots group Australian Friends of Israel (AFI) this month with an inaugural event on November 16 at the Beth Weizmann Community Centre.
Luke Martin, a Melbourne-based part time teacher completing his law degree, initiated AFI on the social media networking site Facebook in December 2010 and the group has grown to 300 members around Australia.
Martin, a former Monash University Lecturer and Liberal candidate for Cranbourne in 2006,is genuine and forthright about the significant role Israel holds for him and by extension, AFI, and his desire to help enhance the historical relationship between Australia and Israel well into the future.
“This is about Israel, and the Australian relationship with Israel. I want Australian Friends of Israel to assist in educating people. I want to remind my fellow Australians of our heritage – a heritage steeped in a love for Israel. Because moderate and respectable Australian patriotism has always been pro-Israel, we are entitled to enshrine our national friendship with Israel in the untouchable mystery and tradition of iconic Australian imagery such as ANZAC Day, Beersheba and the Australian founding fathers. If our founding fathers believed in Israel, so should we. I am doing this for my grandparents” he says.
The AFI facebook page boldly makes its support of Israel known: “The Jews have as much right as any other people to live in freedom and without fear of harassment or persecution. Israel, the only truly free democracy of the Middle East is a beacon of light to the entire world. Since 1948, it has been transformed into a productive modern industrialized nation. Often provoked with suicide bombings and even invasions from hostile regimes, Israel shows incredible patience and grace towards its neighbours.For such reasons and many more; we stand side-by-side with our ally Israel. Like everybody else, Israelis have a right to live in a secure homeland.”
The group is troubled by “…the increasing rise of anti-Semitic violence and hatred in various sections of the world and even to some degree in the Lucky Country.”
Luke Martin has seen firsthand the extreme anti-Israel and anti-Semitic vitriol at BDS rallies and says “We desperately need to reinvigorate a national consciousness and conversation in support of Israel. Whilst I do not want to over play the Max Brenner protests, they are an illustration of the fragility of the fabric that holds our society together. Without direct police intervention and opposition from the Coalition, Labor and the Jewish community, the prospect of how those ugly BDS protests might have developed is deeply concerning.”