I’ve decided that I’m happy about the new buses for Palestinians in the West Bank. There isn’t a lot of good news in the papers, so you have to take it where you can get it. Had these buses been requested by Palestinians who felt underserved by the previous bus routes, I would believe that it was just good transportation planning (and I like public transportation!).
The buses were requested by leaders in Jewish settlements in the west bank, who argued that members of their communities felt unsafe on buses full of Arabs. One Jewish woman from a settlement was quoted as saying that “the buses are full of Arabs, there is nowhere to sit.” It’s a strange phrasing, you would think someone would say “the buses are full,” it is presumed that they are overcrowded with people, not with velociraptors or something, and overcrowding is a good reason for asking for additional buses. But it shouldn’t matter who is “crowding” the buses if the buses are for everyone. Belatedly, the government has declared that everyone is allowed on every bus. At the same time, Israel HaYom reports:
“While there is no rule that bars Palestinians from using the public transportation in Judea and Samaria and in Israel-proper, Haaretz has reported that Israeli forces will now enforce a new policy under which Palestinians on mixed buses would be routinely stopped at checkpoints and then be forced to continue using the designated buses.”
So the bus is chugging along, Jews and Arabs sitting together, equally, and then it reaches a checkpoint, and the Arabs must disembark and transfer to another bus, and the first bus chugs on with only its Jewish passengers. What does this experience do to the Arabs experiencing it? And what does it do to the Jews?
The reason I decided that these buses are good news is the same reason that it is sometimes good news when a patient in the hospital gets a rash. You don’t really want your patient to break out in a rash, it is not pleasant for them. At the same time, sometimes your patient has vague symptoms, maybe fever, nausea, a little vomiting, no one is really sure what is going on. Are they seriously ill? Are they ok? What do they have? Then the patient develops a rash of small pink spots on their hands and feet, that slowly spreads to the rest of their body, and you say “ah! they have Rickettsia” and you treat them with doxycycline, and they can get better.
And Israel has broken out in a rash.