L.A. DASH Line Hit With Pro-Palestinian Protest
About 20 activists boarded buses around 4 p.m. to raise awareness among riders that the company that runs DASH also operates in the Palestinian occupied territories.
“We believe when people…realize that the money they’re paying in taxes to the City of LA is being used to support corporations like this one that is profiting from racism and apartheid in Palestine, that people will raise their voices and tell the city of L.A. that they no longer want that kind of contract to happen,” said Garrick Ruiz, a volunteer with Boycott Divestment Sanctions-LA.
The activists were acting in solidarity with a protest that took place in the occupied territories earlier in the day. Six Palestinians, calling themselves “freedom riders” in the tradition of civil rights protesters of the American south, boarded a bus used by Israeli settlers. They were arrested at a check point before the bus entered Jerusalem.
No law prevents Palestinians from using Israeli public transportation, but protesters argue the bus lines are effectively segregated. Palestinians cannot enter Jewish-only settlements and must have a permit to enter Jerusalem. Israel defends the restrictions to prevent suicide bombers and other attackers from entering the city.
Estee Chandler, Los Angeles organizer for Jewish Voice for Peace, compares the situation in Palestine tothe former apartheid system in South Africa. “Once the world became aware of what was going on down there," she said about South Africa, "they used the nonviolent tools of boycotts, divestment, and sanctions, which is the same thing that Palestinian civil society has asked the world to do. The Arab Spring and the quest of justice that’s spreading is no different than the Palestinian quest for justice.”
The United Nations Security Council announced last week that it was divided on Palestine’s bid for statehood. Palestine would not have the requisite nine votes in the Security Council, though the United States pledged to veto the bid if it came to a vote.
Israel and some of its support organizations contend that the bid for statehood at the UN isolates Israel while not changing the reality on the ground for Palestinians.
Chandler, an Israeli-American, sees the bus action as a small step in the process of peace. “What the Torah teaches us is actually to do onto others as we would have done onto ourselves,” she said. “I know that if I want my dream to come true that [Israelis] can live in a place with security and peace, the only way that they can achieve that is by providing justice and security and peace to Palestinians as well.”
Peace talks are set to resume in December, but the settlements in the occupied territories remain a huge stumbling block.
This story also appears on Annenberg Radio News.
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