Israel’s Bus Service and Liberal Rage
by Arik Elman
Those of you who prefer to get your news about Israel from somewhat more reliable sources than “Haaretz” or the Lede blog of the New York Times, could have missed a new Israeli atrocity du jour this week – namely, the addition of two bus lines that run from the Arab areas in western Samaria to Tel-Aviv via the Eyal crossing point near the Palestinian city of Kalkiliya. The predictable crowd of liberal “friends of Israel” and foreign-sponsored “human rights defenders” within the Jewish state erupted in predictable rage, protesting “the apartheid” against the Palestinians and blaming “the settlements.” The self-appointed prophet of Israeli doom Jeffrey Goldberg, whom the New York Times insists on calling, rather hilariously, “a staunch defender of Israel,” pronounced Israel guilty of some not entirely clear “double standard” over Judea and Samaria and demanded on behalf of Palestinians either “a state, or a vote in Israel.” The pro-Palestinian surrender movement “Peace Now” called for “a Palestinian Rosa Parks to sit on Jewish bus lines.”
First, note the last statement. America’s historical obsession with issues of race and the history of the greatest democracy on Earth overcoming the shameful disease of bigotry aren’t really common knowledge in Israel. By conjuring up the ghost of Rosa Parks “Peace Now” seeks not to advance any legitimate internal debate about the treatment of Palestinians or the future of Judea and Samaria, but to besmirch Israel in the eyes of millions of good and naÃ¯ve men and women all over the world who are potty-trained from an early age to abhor racism instinctively and know almost nothing about the reality of Arab-Jew relations.
It is a criminal waste of space to point out that the liberal rage over the new bus service (provided BY Israel FOR Palestinians coming to work IN Israel) was completely baseless. All relevant Israeli authorities denied immediately that they are seeking to abolish the Palestinians’ right to use all existing bus lines. The Israeli Transportation Ministry reminded those who wanted to listen that until now, Palestinian workers had to use local taxis which cost them about 40 NIS one way, while the new bus fare will be between 5 and 11 NIS, depending on distance.
Moreover, the whole problem has only arisen because over the last years Benjamin Netanyahu’s “right-winger” government increased the number of permits for Palestinians to work in Israel. The Jewish State has managed quite well without Palestinian labor, and Israel is not obliged to allow Palestinians free access to its labor market. In fact, the influx of Palestinian workers is and has always been detrimental both to the Israeli wage-earners in the lower brackets and the technological efficiency in the affected industries – especially agriculture and construction. The consent of Israel to take on board the surplus of the Palestinian labor force was a freebie which Israel granted to the “moderate” Palestinian leaders Salam Fayyad and Mahmoud Abbas to prop them up, and to compensate for their conspicuous failure to push through an adequate program of job creation, despite Israeli measures to allow freedom of movement of people and goods throughout the PA territory. Instead the Palestinian “moderates,” acutely aware of their complete lack of legitimacy, prefer to keep their people occupied by anti-Israeli provocations – first in UN and now closer to home.
The most interesting part of this mini-scandal has to do not with official Israeli policy, but with complaints that in some cases, the Palestinians were forced to leave the buses because Jewish passengers or drivers demanded that they leave. Those incidents are being paraded as evidence of ingrained Jewish racism, because those who report them take particular care not to provide any context. Jews are evil, arrogant and violent; Palestinians are poor, meek, and submissive. If, after seeing and reading those reports, you don’t feel an urge to burn some Israeli flags, you must be an AIPAC stooge.
The truth is, of course, quite simple. There’s no elaborate race theory behind the Jewish desire to avoid any contact with Palestinians (by the way, right now it remains the only drive behind the support Israelis give to the concept of a Palestinian state). There’s only fear – a well-justified product of several years of horrifying bloodshed, unleashed by the Muslim Arabs of Judea, Samaria and Gaza against Jewish civilians on both sides of “the Green Line.” While the minority of Palestinians committed war crimes against Israelis, the majority of Palestinians gave them their full-throated support. For all those years of indiscriminate killing of Jews, there was no public protest in “Palestine” or among Palestinians abroad against the strategy of “resistance” which recruits women and adolescents to become murderers and suicide bombers and forces, among others, Palestinian workers to strike at their Jewish employers and co-workers and Palestinian patients to try to murder their doctors.
It wasn’t always like that. In 1991, I remember travelling on an Israeli “Egged” bus from Jerusalem to the Golan Heights. Travelling along the Dead Sea road, the bus stopped at a station in Jericho, took on board some locals and proceeded North via the Jordan Valley. Even after a few years of the “first Intifada,” at the height of “occupation,” any animosity towards Arabs was absent. Even today, the same spirit might be observed at the Jerusalem light rail, which has linked Arab and Jewish neighborhoods together (and was boycotted for it by the usual crowd of “friends of Israel”). Only when it became increasingly clear that almost any Palestinian, regardless of age and sex, can transform from a seemingly normal person into a ravening homicidal beast, did the Jews start to fear – and, yes, hate – their former neighbors. When ordinary, functioning people can butcher small Jewish children and their parents without compunction or remorse, and their society and authorities have no meaningful objections to make, that can force you into some unfortunate but well-grounded generalizations out of concern for your own safety.
The bleeding-heart liberal critics of Israel – from MERETZ leader and MK Zahava Gal-On to Jeffrey Goldberg – know this, of course, but they prefer, in essence, to blame the victim. According to the Left, since the settlement enterprise is in itself a monstrous crime against Palestinians, the proper way to ensure that Jews are not harmed is to remove them from “Palestinian land” altogether. Since, according to this view, the Palestinians are waging a just war against Israel and the Jews in settlements are war criminals and offenders against the cause of peace, the security of the latter troubles the liberals not a one tiny bit.
Today, to enforce the liberal dream of Palestinians and Jews sharing the same bus service will get Jewish passengers and drivers killed. This, in the liberal eyes, will be a small price to pay to convince the rest of the Jewish settlers to leave so “justice for the Palestinians” will prevail.