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Los Angeles should say no to segregation, and say no to Veolia

ActivismNews

Angelenos may not know Veolia Transportation, the company that runs bus services across our city. But its history of discrimination against Palestinians means both our city’s reputation and our tax dollars are at stake. The Los Angeles City Council ought not to destroy the hard-earned image of our City of Angels by doing business with a company that operates much like Southern bus companies that once discriminated against African Americans.

Veolia Environment is a 155-year-old multinational company based in France that operates in 77 countries. In the United States, its subsidiary, Veolia Transportation is bidding to renew its contract with the City of Los Angeles to operate our DASH buses. Accepting the bid would make the City of Angels complicit in discriminatory practices.

Veolia claims its mission as “serving communities and passengers, going beyond simply moving from one place to another, ensuring simpler, easier and seamless mobility.” Presumably that means all communities and all passengers Veolia serves.

This sounds praiseworthy. But it could not be farther from the truth. During our travels in the Israeli-occupied territories of Palestine, we did not witness Veolia “focusing on serving communities and passengers.” To the contrary, we witnessed Veolia’s refusal to serve millions of Palestinians who live in the West Bank.

In the occupied West Bank, Veolia operates bus lines that connect Jewish-only settlements to Israel. These buses do not stop in Palestinian towns and use Israeli-only roads, built on land confiscated from the Palestinians for the exclusive use of Israelis and settlers. West Bank Palestinians are denied access in a throwback arrangement reminiscent of the Jim Crow South.

Then there is the Jerusalem Light Rail Project Veolia is constructing which will link illegal Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem to Israel. That tramway not only helps make the illegal settlements permanent but also serves as a critical component of the Israeli settlements infrastructure, “undermining any chances of a just peace for the Palestinian people,” according to the international human rights group Global Exchange.

Israeli settlements and the whole settler infrastructure that supports them in the West Bank and East Jerusalem are not only illegal under international law but also by our country’s own policy for many decades.

Veolia’s rules reflect Israel’s deliberate policy of ethnic segregation, which is the subject of harsh criticism by a recent U.N. report expressing “extreme [concern] at the consequences of policies and practices which amount to de facto segregation.”

Yes. Segregation.

We believe Veolia’s discriminatory provision of transportation services is antithetical to the values and policies of the City of Los Angeles. Such behavior would not have been tolerated by Angelenos in apartheid South Africa; similarly, it should not be tolerated when practiced by Israel against West Bank Palestinians.

Los Angeles has a proud history of standing against discrimination locally and internationally. In 1984 Los Angeles was one of the first major cities in the U.S. to divest from apartheid South Africa as part of an international boycott and divestiture movement that was critical in bringing down that regime. Similarly, in 2010 the LA City Council voted to boycott Arizona and any companies based there because of Arizona’s discriminatory anti-immigrant law SB1070. And in 2008 and 2009, the City’s Fire and Police Commissions terminated relationships with a program run by the Boy Scouts of America because of the Boy Scouts’ explicitly discriminatory policies against LGBTQ people.

Based upon our tradition of upholding human rights and rejecting bigotry, Los Angeles now has the opportunity to do the right thing once again by ending its relationship with Veolia and choosing instead to contract with a company that does not willingly and routinely discriminate against passengers based on their ethnicity or religion.

As people of Abrahamic faiths and tax-paying Angelenos, we call on the Los Angeles City Council to join Stockholm, Melbourne, Bordeaux, Dublin and the many other cities around the world refusing to contract with Veolia because of its participation in discriminatory, segregationist practices.

Estee Chandler Tony Litwinko Shakeel Syed

Estee Chandler is a member of Jewish Voice for Peace, Los Angeles Chapter, Tony Litwinko is active with Friends of Sabeel and Shakeel Syed works with American Muslims for Palestine.

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24 Responses

  1. joec on August 17, 2012, 2:00 pm
    • MRW on August 17, 2012, 3:38 pm

      Israelis are running the Los Angeles bus system, so you can expect their brand of white supremacism to reign.

      Veolia sold off Veolia Transdev (the transportation portion of giant Veolia Environnement) to Egged Israel Transport Cooperative Society Ltd. in 2010. Israel hasn’t yet approved the deal, apparently because another Israeli company, Dan Bus Company, was rebuffed by Veolia and Dan Bus is pissed.

      Veolia (Scroll down to Veolia Transdev)
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veolia_Environnement

      Egged
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egged_(company)

      Dan Bus
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dan_Bus_Company

      • joec on August 17, 2012, 6:30 pm

        So now, on top of everything else, it’s on the verge of being owned by an Israeli military contractor! I suggest comrades in Los Angeles put this useful information to work, if they haven’t already.

    • annie on August 18, 2012, 4:28 am

      signed

  2. MRW on August 17, 2012, 3:39 pm

    Why isn’t Los Angeles using an American company run by Americans?

    • American on August 17, 2012, 6:18 pm

      “MRW says:
      August 17, 2012 at 3:39 pm

      Why isn’t Los Angeles using an American company run by Americans?
      >>>>>>>

      LOL…same reason America isn’t run by Americans.

      • OlegR on August 17, 2012, 7:03 pm

        OMG by who then?

      • Egbert on August 18, 2012, 7:51 am

        Ask Manny Friedman – ‘Jews DO control the media’ in The Times of Israel. Maybe they control other things as well in the country that they own.

        http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/jews-do-control-the-media

        “I’ll never forget when I was involved in Israeli advocacy in college and being at one of the many AIPAC conventions. A man literally stood in front of us and told us that their whole goal was to only work with top-50 school graduate students because they would eventually be the people making changes in the government. Here I am, an idealistic little kid that goes to a bottom 50 school (ASU) who wants to do some grassroots advocacy, and these guys are literally talking about infiltrating the government. Intense.”

      • American on August 19, 2012, 3:53 pm

        OlegR says:

        OMG by who then?””
        >>>>>>>>

        I am sure you want me to say Jews run the US so you can add to your conspiracy theories about the anti semitic conspiracies.
        Sorry you’re out luck.
        There’s more to America not being run by Americans than the I-firsters.

    • Bumblebye on August 17, 2012, 6:53 pm

      Could it be something to do with GATS? General Agreement on Trade and Services. Seems to be leading to the privatisation and selling off of everything once public here in UK. And the ethos behind so called “free trade” means being unable to protect services or limit them to on shore owners. (But of course, the taxpayer takes the fall when things go awry, as they always seem to do!)

  3. Taxi on August 17, 2012, 4:01 pm

    Good luck beating back the zioz in Loz-Ziongeles.

    • American on August 17, 2012, 6:22 pm

      “Good luck beating back the zioz in Loz-Ziongeles.”..Taxi

      I wouldn’t suggest bloody horse heads in their beds since I love horses.
      But it’s clear the non zionist need their own mafia.

      • Merk on August 17, 2012, 9:10 pm

        I thought it was Tehrangeles

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yD8k1Nuqe1g

        (Shah’s of Sunset is a kick-ass show btw)

      • Roya on August 18, 2012, 3:59 am

        That’s a disgusting show. It doesn’t surprise me that you like it.

    • ColinWright on August 17, 2012, 7:42 pm

      ‘Good luck beating back the zioz in Loz-Ziongeles.’

      I would prefer to see such an insinuation documented. I don’t deny it, and I don’t accept it — but I would like to see it documented.

      • Taxi on August 18, 2012, 4:11 am

        I live there colin – so YOU go get your own “documentation” to disprove me.

        You’re sounding like a convoluted polemicist ass.

      • ColinWright on August 18, 2012, 7:57 pm

        Taxi says: “I live there colin – so YOU go get your own “documentation” to disprove me.

        You’re sounding like a convoluted polemicist ass.”

        Speaking of sounding like an ass…

        I lived there for seven years. Maybe I just didn’t notice the unseen hand. Or maybe there’s been a takeover. I left in 1987 — I suppose it’s possible.

        So before I agree it’s there, is it too much to ask for some evidence — or do we just lurch straight to the flailing insults?

      • Taxi on August 19, 2012, 1:29 am

        Colin,

        You coulda asked without pompous-rompus in your tone.

        And did you really need to ask? I mean LA houses the second largest jewish community in the country, and you know this already as a fact. So like WTF?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        Don’t be a timewaster – do the small maths yourself.

      • ColinWright on August 19, 2012, 3:13 am

        ‘pompus-rompus?’ Oh well. I was just trying to make it clear that I wasn’t assuming the case was one way or another — I really did want to know what basis you had for your claim.

        Does it boil down to observing that ‘LA houses the second largest jewish community in the country?’

  4. Keith on August 17, 2012, 5:45 pm

    “…Los Angeles now has the opportunity to do the right thing once again by ending its relationship with Veolia and choosing instead to contract with a company that does not willingly and routinely discriminate against passengers based on their ethnicity or religion.”

    I am unfamiliar with the transit history of Los Angeles, however, as a general rule, transit should be controlled by a governmental authority, Los Angeles should be running their own bus/rail system. Privatization of these functions is a horrible idea that benefit’s the corporations at the public expense, and is a core component of neoliberal globalization. Veolia is also into the privatization of water services, another disaster for the public. We have already traveled much too far down the road of corporate feudalism, the corporations the great lords of capitalism who own and control everything, the commonweal a faint echo from the past.

    • ColinWright on August 17, 2012, 7:00 pm

      Keith: “…Privatization of these functions is a horrible idea that benefit’s the corporations at the public expense, and is a core component of neoliberal globalization…”

      Except that government operations are so grossly inefficient. Having been employed by several government organizations (including the city of Los Angeles) — and also employed by several private organizations (including my own) I feel qualified to say this.

      Privatization has its drawbacks as well (witness Iraq), but really — it starts with the often awesome inefficiency of public sector operations. It can be mind-numbing. I have seen eight people including a supervisor incapable of carrying out one man’s work. I have seen people putting their minds to it and managing to turn in only one hour of actual work for eight hours on the clock. I’ve seen people putting their minds to it and managing to turn in zero hours for eight hours on the clock. As a rule, in the public sector, you’re doing pretty good if you get one hour of actual work for every two paid — and you can double the number of support staff, number of supervisors, cost of benefits, etc, etc.

      That’s why things get privatized. Because government sucks at just about everything. Not because there’s a giant conspiracy on the part of the lords of capitalism. The University of California winds up subcontracting their printing, not because of some sinister capitalist plot, but because the subcontractor can deliver the same product for half of what it is costing the University of California to do it itself.

      • Keith on August 18, 2012, 11:49 am

        COLIN WRIGHT- “Except that government operations are so grossly inefficient.”

        Yeah, that is why our private healthcare system is the envy of the world, right? Guess we would be better off privatizing social security and Medicare too? While we are at it, better eliminate public education as well. Perhaps that is why our environment is so wholesome, our climate so stable as a consequence of sound business ethics. Some folks are under the impression that the corporations and finance capital are destroying the planet. Go figure.

        Suffice it to say, my experiences have been different than yours. Privatization is usually an attack on wages and benefits to permit profit to be squeezed out. True organizational efficiency is not dependent upon ownership. And you will rue the day when private companies control your water supply. Unless, of course, you are one of the owners looking to make a killing.

      • ColinWright on August 18, 2012, 8:06 pm

        Keith says: “…Perhaps that is why our environment is so wholesome, our climate so stable as a consequence of sound business ethics. ..”

        Ever checked out some of the environmental havoc that occurred under socialist regimes?

        As to health care, I will readily agree that our current system miraculously combines all the inefficiencies of government with all the inequities and overpricing any beginning economics student can tell you will result if you let a guild establish a monopoly over a vital service. That I’m not going to defend — although I doubt if you’d like my solution.

        “…Privatization is usually an attack on wages and benefits to permit profit to be squeezed out…”

        Well, of course. Why would any private purveyor take up meeting the University’s printing needs if there wasn’t a prospect of profit? The point is that government is so wildly inefficient that the possibility exists in the first place.

        “And you will rue the day when private companies control your water supply. “

        Offhand, and at a guess, in places private companies do supply the water. Here, our garbage service, gas, electricity, cell phone, and internet are all provided by private firms. Probably different elsewhere, but…

  5. American on August 17, 2012, 6:17 pm

    If there is a pattern of discrimination in the ads they allow they should be sued now under discrimination laws.

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