Freedom Rides highlight the lack of Palestinian rights, and the unjust system attempting to keep it that way

on 16 Comments

Bill Fletcher Jr., Senior Scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies and past president of TransAfrica Forum, comments on tomorrow’s Freedom Rides in the West Bank:

When I first heard about the planned Freedom Rides scheduled for Tuesday, November 15th to take place in the Occupied Palestinian Territories I realized that this was a brilliant tactic. Much as with the Freedom Rides that were used in the USA to dramatize the violence of Jim Crow segregation in the South, and later the Immigrant Freedom Rides to dramatize the plight of immigrants, the Palestinian Freedom Rides are about dramatizing violence—the violence that the Palestinian people face every day as a result of the Israeli Occupation.

B’Tselem video on Israel’s segregated Route 443.

In my visit to Palestine this past June, the problem of transportation was discussed in virtually every conversation. The limits on transportation for Palestinians tell you virtually all that you need to know about the racist Occupation. One graphic example is that there are different license plates for Israeli settlers from those of the Palestinians. A car with Palestinian plates cannot travel into Israel. And, in fact, there are roads within Occupied Palestine, on which Palestinian vehicles are prohibited. Another graphic example, which relates directly to the matter of the Freedom Rides, was explained to me at a border crossing where Palestinian workers were going into Israel for their jobs. I was informed that once in Israel they had to ALREADY have their transportation arranged. Naively I assumed that they could simply hop on a bus and go to work. Not so fast, it turns out. The Israeli buses will not stop to pick up Palestinian workers.

The Palestinian Freedom Rides aim to dramatize that there is no freedom of movement for Palestinians. They are a population suffering from an on-going occupation that has become, as I have asserted previously, a slow-motion annexation. Discriminatory transportation policies which privilege the freedom of movement of Israelis, and Israeli settlers in particular, are part of the low-intensity violence experienced by the Palestinians on a daily basis aimed at further and further marginalizing them until they feel forced to abandon their own land.

The Freedom Rides conducted by African Americans in the USA, particularly after World War II, brought the attention of the world onto Jim Crow segregation. These were not only demonstrations for rights, but were demonstrations to illustrate that the absence of rights was tied to a regime of violence and oppression. To put it another way, Jim Crow segregation was not solely or mainly the separation of African Americans and whites, but instead was the violent separation and subjugation of African Americans by a white supremacist system. This is not a matter of semantics. Apologists for the Jim Crow South attempt to portray it as simply a matter of social separation rather than a system that aimed at dispossessing the African American, thereby subverting any possibility at democracy. That this was to the advantage of the white ruling elite in the South is critical to grasp, but it cannot be overlooked that masses of whites, even contrary to their own interests, allied themselves with this system of racial subordination.

The Palestinian Freedom Riders are also displaying that the travesty of transportation in the Occupied Territories is not simply a matter of lack of rights. Instead it is illustrative of the manner in which the larger Occupation system operates with the aim of suppressing the Palestinian population in perpetuity. For this to work, not only the Israeli settlers in the Occupied Territories, but the Israeli population within Israel proper have to decide that the system of racial violence must be supported, if not reinforced. This is the challenge being thrown down by the Palestinian Freedom Riders and in doing so they need solidarity from those of us committed to global justice.

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16 Responses

  1. annie
    November 14, 2011, 1:28 pm

    excellent article adam. everyone should also watch the accompanying video “west bank road for israel” as the driver explains the impact this has had on life and commerce in the villages.

    thanks for this report.

    • seafoid
      November 14, 2011, 4:01 pm

      Compare the poverty of the Palestinian village featured in the video to the swank of Jew only settlement Maaleh Adumim

      with banks govt office shopping malls conservatory art museum library
      great for South Africans.

      • annie
        November 15, 2011, 1:45 am

        weird, and only 124 viewings. 125 now i suppose.

  2. seafoid
    November 14, 2011, 3:30 pm

    For Israel the Palestinians have no right to live in Erez Israel. They aren’t going to take any Freedom Rides lying down. The Palestinians have no right to Freedom. There will be violence. What happened at Anatot is a nice intro.

  3. seafoid
    November 14, 2011, 3:43 pm

    Great video. At 6.13 he says Chul yom. Instead of Kul yom. Fellahi ya’ni. The peasant accent. They don’t talk like that in Ramallah where all the smart madani people live.

    The ultimate nightmare. You wake up and your country has been taken over by European Jews with a bone to pick with Germany. But they take it out on you and your people.

    I had to go once from Ramallah to Hebron. 45 mins on the Jew roads. 4 hours on the Palestinian roads.

    On the way back I went through Jerusalem. Got a Jewish taxi to Btselem. The Jewish taxi driver drank Nescafe and was listening to Britney Spears. He wore a white tshirt and jeans and had designer glasses.

    At the Damascus gate I got a Palestinian taxi. The driver had a white tshirt and jeans and cheap sunglasses. He was drinking turkish coffee and listening to Fairuz. Sumud, habibi.

  4. seafoid
    November 14, 2011, 3:46 pm

    And the Knesset is bringing in a law to outlaw international funding of Btselem who made the video. It is a bit like banning short selling of shares. It says so much.

    And is another step closer to Jewish fascism.

  5. dumvitaestspesest
    November 14, 2011, 3:47 pm

    Sweet voice of Freedom.

    • seafoid
      November 14, 2011, 3:53 pm

      Sweet voice of Jewish apartheid

      the language difference is so important. Hebrew is the language of apartheid.

      • DBG
        November 14, 2011, 6:41 pm

        Hebrew is the language of apartheid.

        if that isn’t antisemitism, what is?

      • annie
        November 14, 2011, 6:58 pm

        i might say german was the language of the holocaust. maybe it wouldn’t be very nice but it would be true, wouldn’t it?

        right now apartheid is being implemented in hebrew. don’t change the language change the action and stop the crime. blame and shame. where have we heard that before?

      • Mooser
        November 14, 2011, 7:42 pm

        “if that isn’t antisemitism, what is?”

        If what you are doing isn’t using Judaism as a human shield for the crimes of Zionism, what is?
        So in criticising Zionism or Israel we are criticising, or even condemning things done by Jews, so we are guilty of anti-Semitism?
        Yeah, DBG, you just keep fighting it out along those lines. It’s a real recipe for success. Just keep telling yourself it’s all anti-Semitism.

      • seafoid
        November 15, 2011, 2:09 am

        Antisemitism is taking a Jew off a bus in Hungary and beating him to death because he is Jewish. Zionism is apartheid. Hebrew is the language of Zionism . Hebrew is the language of apartheid.

      • seafoid
        November 15, 2011, 2:24 am

        German was the language of the Shoah. Even now it pops up every so often. Our son goes to a football camp in German. The Fussball Lager.
        And for me “Lager” means concentration camp.

      • LeaNder
        November 16, 2011, 4:08 pm

        Our son goes to a football camp in German. The Fussball Lager.
        And for me “Lager” means concentration camp.

        Don’t worry “Lager” in German can mean all kind of things, in this case it could mean either soccer training? or holiday? camp. Depending on the specifics.

  6. Richard Witty
    November 15, 2011, 4:44 am

    “These were not only demonstrations for rights, but were demonstrations to illustrate that the absence of rights was tied to a regime of violence and oppression. ”

    I think the opposite is the case. I think the success of the Freedom Rides was that they limited their dissent to the quiet, patient, single concern that they were addressing.

    They let the reality of the experience be the communication, rather than a rhetorical embellishment.

    • Shingo
      November 15, 2011, 5:26 am

      I think the success of the Freedom Rides was that they limited their dissent to the quiet, patient, single concern that they were addressing.

      Translation: Yes, quiet is the key. I want all dissent to be quiet so that when Israel goes on a killing spree, there is a little covergae of it in the media as possible.

      Let’s not resprt to name calling about mass murder and violence by Israel. That way, I can go on pretending that Israel is a jewel and not a turd.

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