“The ministry has not issued any instruction or prohibition that prevents Palestinian workers from traveling on public transport in Israel nor in Judea and Samaria,” said Avner Ovadia, spokesman for the Israeli Transport Ministry. She also said, mostly to deaf ears, that ministry officials are “not authorized to prevent any passenger from using public transport services.”
The bus company, Afikim, issued its own statement: “This plan aims to ease travel for Palestinian passengers and offer a solution that counters pirate bus companies that charge exorbitant prices.”
But for some people, and lots of journalists, no good motives can be imputed to Israelis.
There has been pushback to the explanation that the new bus lines were instituted in order to relieve crowding and to protect Arab Palestinians from exorbitant prices. Mairav Zonszein of +972 wrote, “That may be so, but in order to solve the problem of overcrowding, why not simply add more bus lines for everyone? Why the need to specify who they are for?”
The answer is that only Arabs live in the towns where these new lines will stop. And yes, security is an issue. A legitimate issue for a legitimate government.
On the other hand, there are Arabs-only buses throughout the Middle East, where no Jews are allowed. They’re in Middle Eastern locales like Saudi Arabia and Egypt, and even in most parts of the PA-controlled territories. But that’s not a story likely to gain any traction in the media, even for those who apparently yearn to write a story of Apartheid in the Middle East.
About the Author: Lori Lowenthal Marcus is the US correspondent for The Jewish Press. She is a recovered lawyer who previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools.
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