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David Rovics a long time supporter of Palestine, performs in Nablus

Play his song 'Jenin'

Time in Palestine

Solidarity with Palestinian Freedom Riders

November 17, 2011 

On November 15th, Palestinian activists boarded segregated Israeli settler public transport headed to occupied East Jerusalem in an historic act of civil disobedience inspired by the Freedom Riders of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement. The six Freedom Riders — Fadi Quran, Nadeem Al-Sharbate, Badee Dwak, Huwaida Arraf, Basel Al-Araj and Mazin Qumsiyeh — chose to board a bus that serves Jewish-only settlements in the West Bank on it’s way to Occupied East Jerusalem, wearing kuffiyehs (Palestinian scarfs) and t-shirts reading ‘Justice’, ‘Freedom’, and ‘We Shall Overcome’.

They took this bold action to expose the racism and policies of segregation that pervade every aspect of life in occupied Palestine. To send the message to the world that separate is not equal. Not in the United States and not in Israel or Palestine. They also wanted to bring attention to the role of Israeli and international companies, such as Egged and Veolia, who operate these segreated bus lines, in perpetuating and profiting from the occupation.

The first bus drivers— seeing that Palestinians were waiting at the bus stop— passed without pause. Once a bus finally stopped and they boarded, the driver did not know what to do with Palestinians on board. He consulted with the Israeli soldiers, who had arrived on the scene after being alerted that Palestinians were standing at a Jewish bus stop. They instructed him to continue to the Hizmeh checkpoint, where the settlers were taken off the bus and soldiers got on. The Freedom Riders refused to get off, asserting their right to go to Jerusalem. One by one these non-violent protesters were roughly dragged off the bus and arrested, along with Fajr Harb, a supporter who had not been on the bus. All the Freedom Riders did to warrant arrest was to take a bus from one place in the Occupied Territory to another, using public transportation.

While Israelis are allowed to come and go as they wish in the Occupied Territory—even to settle in it in contradiction to international law— Palestinians’ movement in their own land is severely restricted, even criminalized. This kind of racism and segregation is as abhorrent today as it was 50 years ago in the Jim Crow South. Fadi Quraan, one of the arrested freedom riders, is a 23 year old Palestinian from Ramallah. He was born in Jerusalem and is currently a graduate student at Birzeit University finishing his master degree in Democracy and Human Rights. Right before being dragged from the bus by Israeli soldiers, he said: “We are not going to give up. We are struggling for justice, freedom, and dignity and we shall overcome. Stand with us in solidarity.

Please divest from the Egged and Veolia bus companies and all Israeli institutions. We will achieve freedom, justice, and dignity for this generation of Palestinians.” Fadi and his fellow Freedom Riders will keep boarding those buses until the day comes when all may do so freely. Palestinian Freedom Riders are asking US activists to step up alongside them, taking to the streets (or buses!) to show our solidarity with these courageous and historic protests. Learn more about segregated transporation in Israel/Palestine by watching this video or reading this report

Source: Jewish Voice for Peace