I am not sure how much this was discussed in the Dutch news and media, but I couldn’t just ignore it and felt I should at least write something about it.

Due to increasing tension in the West Bank and after some serious security events that took place in Judea and Samaria in the last couple of months, the new defense minister Bogi Yaalon came up with a plan that was meant to improve the security situation in the West Bank. Only that this plan seems to belong to a different time and space. In order to “supervise” the Palestinian workers who are travelling everyday from the west bank to Israel and back, Yaalon and Netanyahu came up with the “great” idea of segregating the Palestinian workers from the Israeli travelers by having different bus lines. In other words, the Palestinians will not be allowed to use the same buses as Israeli citizens do.

This puzzling and bizarre decision immediately caused a storm in the media, and the criticism was heard from all sides of the political map including Reuven Riblin, the Israeli president, who shared a very clear Facebook post about it. In response to the criticism, Yaalon decided to withdraw his strange plan after only a day, and said to the press: “There is no segregation between Jews and Arabs on public transport in Judea and Samaria. There has been no discussion about [segregation] and there has been no decision about it.”

It was good to see that so many public figures and parliament members criticized the West Bank bus separation. Unfortunately their criticism came from a totally selfish place. You see, most of them were just worried that the image of Israel will get hurt; they were worried that now Israel will really look like an apartheid state.

While I was following the story in the media I thought to myself how strange it is that nobody really addresses the problem we have here. It was difficult to see how the critics just go on and ignore the sad reality of the occupation.

The problem is not which image Israel will have in the eyes of the world, but the political and social climate in Israel that allows this bizarre discourse about segregation between human beings and hierarchy. While most of the Israeli politicians are worried about Israel’s image and afraid from economic boycotts, they forget that we are talking about lives of human beings. They continue to ignore the situation of the Palestinians in Israel.

Although this plan didn’t succeed, it sends out a clear message. Is there really any hope for a change? With this kind of attitude it is hard to stay optimistic.


Ronie Barel

verhuisde van Israël naar Nederland, activist, blogger

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