In an action reminiscent of the US-based ‘Freedom Riders’ who rode on segregated buses in the American South in the 1960s, six Palestinian non-violent activists styling themselves under the same name were taken into Israeli custody on Tuesday afternoon after boarding ‘Jewish-only’ settler buses going from the West Bank to Jerusalem.updated from:
Freedom Riders Defy Segregration On Israeli Settler Bus Route
Tue, 15 Nov 2011 19:42:23
As people around Palestine celebrate their Independence, six Palestinian activists attempt to make the journey to Jerusalem on a settler only bus, highlighting the segregation prevalent in Israeli society.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Rides, which were an integral part of the U.S. Civil Rights movement. Activists defied the segregation laws with non-violent action, travelling on buses throughout the south of the country. The reaction that was provoked helped the Civil Rights movement gain momentum and put the issue into the national spotlight. Fifty years on, Palestinians facing the same prejudices are attempting to do likewise.
The Palestinian Freedom Riders are endeavoring to bring the daily human rights violations that Palestinians must endure at the hands of the Israeli occupation to the world’s attention. A campaign statement from the group read: “We launch this campaign in the belief that we will not achieve freedom, justice, and self-determination unless we make the Israeli occupation pay, economically and politically, for its daily violations of our rights and dignity.”
The Freedom Riders boarded the bus bound for Jerusalem, with approximately forty other passengers made up of journalists and international activists sitting side by side with the Jewish Settlers. The bus was stopped near the Israeli settlement of Kochav Yakov and was boarded by Israeli Border Police. With thousands of people watching the proceedings via live stream around the world, the Freedom Riders were asked to get off the bus; when they refused the police used force to drag them off.
Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh, one of the Freedom Riders, spoke to IMEMC over the telephone, providing updates regarding the situation. He stated that the Israeli border police were surrounding the bus and claiming that they were under arrest because they tried to “Enter Jerusalem illegally.”
While the treatment of the activists was not nearly as brutal as that dished out to their civil rights counterparts in America, their efforts today will resonate around the globe. As events were unfolding, tweets of support came pouring in from all corners, but it is too early to tell what the full impact will be.
One of the more memorable moments of the day was when Huwaida Arraf, a young American-Palestinian civil rights lawyer, was forcibly removed by the Israeli Border Police. As she was dragged away she proclaimed movingly “My name is Huwaida Aarraf, I am a Freedom Rider, and I just want to go to Jerusalem.”
See livestream video at link below: