FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Support the New Freedom Riders

by JOSH RUEBNER

Fifty years ago, Freedom Riders braved beatings and arson by supremacists intent on maintaining apartheid in the Jim Crow South.  By challenging segregated transportation through nonviolent action, these African American and white activists set in motion a process that ultimately dismantled segregation. While the struggle for racial justice continues, at least this shameful chapter of formal racial discrimination is history.

Reflecting on this anniversary, Rep. John Lewis, one of the main organizers of the Freedom Rides, noted that they “changed America. Before the movement…people were afraid….That fear is gone. People can walk, live, work and play with a sense of dignity and a sense of pride.”

Fired by the same drive for dignity and pride, six Palestinian nonviolent activists boarded last week an Israeli settler bus to draw the world’s attention to the segregated transportation systems and apartheid conditions they endure living under Israel’s brutal 44-year military occupation of the Palestinian West Bank and East Jerusalem. Channeling Frederick Douglass, spokesperson Hurriyeh Ziadah asserted, “Our rights will not voluntarily be handed to us, so we are heading out to demand them.

While attempting to ride from the occupied West Bank into occupied East Jerusalem, nonviolently demanding their right to benefit from infrastructure created by Israel on their land,  Israeli military stopped the bus, physically removed and arrested the riders who held signs reading “Freedom,” “Dignity,” and “We Shall Overcome.”

For the benefit of 650,000 Israeli settlers living in Israel’s illegal settlements in these occupied Palestinian territories, Israel has constructed–in violation of international law–a vast, alternative infrastructure of roads and bus lines from which 2.5 million Palestinians are all but effectively banned. Palestinians are often confined to their village or town due to hundreds of temporary and permanent Israeli roadblocks, checkpoints, walls, and other barriers that prevent Palestinians from exercising their right to freedom of movement.  When Palestinians are allowed to travel by their Israeli occupiers, they must do so on circuitous, inferior roads to bypass Israeli settlement infrastructure, making even the most mundane trip a grueling trek. Separate is never equal.

Looking back on his achievements since the Freedom Rides, Rep. Lewis is not yet satisfied. “I would like to, before I leave this little piece of real estate, do a little more for the cause of peace. To end the violence here at home and violence abroad. We spend so much of our resources killing each other.”

To do a lot more for the cause of peace, Rep. Lewis and his Congressional colleagues should end U.S. weapons transfers to Israel and redirect those resources to better uses at home.  Between 2009 and 2018, the United States is scheduled to provide Israel with $30 billion in taxpayer-funded weapons which will be used by Israel to perpetuate this apartheid system the Palestinian Freedom Riders are challenging.

Not only do U.S. weapons to Israel entrench its illegal military occupation of Palestinian territories, allow Israel to expand its illegal settlements, thwart efforts to establish a Palestinian state, and injure and kill Palestinian civilians on a horrific scale (according to the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, Israel killed nearly 3,000 unarmed Palestinians during the 2000s); they also deprive our communities of funds for unmet needs.

Of this $30 billion, residents of Atlanta, many of whom are represented in Congress by Rep. Lewis, are expected to provide Israel with nearly $110 million of their hard-earned money to finance U.S. weapons for Israel.  This same amount of money could fund instead each year more than 1,300 low-income Atlanta families with affordable housing vouchers, or provide more than 3,200 at-risk Atlanta school children with early reading programs.

Palestinian Freedom Riders are seeking their rights to be treated as equal human beings free to move about in their own land. They are not seeking the type of “charity” provided by U.S. economic aid that often functions to entrench the very system of Israeli apartheid against which they are protesting.  A 2010 report by the Applied Research Institute of Jerusalem found that one-third of roads funded and built by the U.S. Agency for International Development reflect Israel’s priorities for constructing an inferior and segregated transportation system for Palestinians.

If Rep. Lewis helped end the immorality of segregation in the United States, then half a century later he can also contribute to ending discrimination in Israel/Palestine by stopping U.S. weapons transfers that sustain Israeli apartheid toward Palestinians.

Josh Ruebner is the National Advocacy Director of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation and a former Analyst in Middle East Affairs at Congressional Research Service.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
January 20, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Divide and Rule: Class, Hate, and the 2016 Election
Andrew Levine
When Was America Great?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: This Ain’t a Dream No More, It’s the Real Thing
Yoav Litvin
Making Israel Greater Again: Justice for Palestinians in the Age of Trump
Linda Pentz Gunter
Nuclear Fiddling While the Planet Burns
Ruth Fowler
Standing With Standing Rock: Of Pipelines and Protests
David Green
Why Trump Won: the 50 Percenters Have Spoken
Dave Lindorff
Imagining a Sanders Presidency Beginning on Jan. 20
Pete Dolack
Eight People Own as Much as Half the World
Roger Harris
Too Many People in the World: Names Named
Steve Horn
Under Tillerson, Exxon Maintained Ties with Saudi Arabia, Despite Dismal Human Rights Record
John Berger
The Nature of Mass Demonstrations
Stephen Zielinski
It’s the End of the World as We Know It
David Swanson
Six Things We Should Do Better As Everything Gets Worse
Alci Rengifo
Trump Rex: Ancient Rome’s Shadow Over the Oval Office
Brian Cloughley
What Money Can Buy: the Quiet British-Israeli Scandal
Mel Gurtov
Donald Trump’s Lies And Team Trump’s Headaches
Kent Paterson
Mexico’s Great Winter of Discontent
Norman Solomon
Trump, the Democrats and the Logan Act
David Macaray
Attention, Feminists
Yves Engler
Demanding More From Our Media
James A Haught
Religious Madness in Ulster
Dean Baker
The Economics of the Affordable Care Act
Patrick Bond
Tripping Up Trumpism Through Global Boycott Divestment Sanctions
Robert Fisk
How a Trump Presidency Could Have Been Avoided
Robert Fantina
Trump: What Changes and What Remains the Same
David Rosen
Globalization vs. Empire: Can Trump Contain the Growing Split?
Elliot Sperber
Dystopia
Dan Bacher
New CA Carbon Trading Legislation Answers Big Oil’s Call to Continue Business As Usual
Wayne Clark
A Reset Button for Political America
Chris Welzenbach
“The Death Ship:” An Allegory for Today’s World
Uri Avnery
Being There
Peter Lee
The Deep State and the Sex Tape: Martin Luther King, J. Edgar Hoover, and Thurgood Marshall
Patrick Hiller
Guns Against Grizzlies at Schools or Peace Education as Resistance?
Randy Shields
The Devil’s Real Estate Dictionary
Ron Jacobs
Singing the Body Electric Across Time
Ann Garrison
Fifty-five Years After Lumumba’s Assassination, Congolese See No Relief
Christopher Brauchli
Swing Low Alabama
Dr. Juan Gómez-Quiñones
La Realidad: the Realities of Anti-Mexicanism
Jon Hochschartner
The Five Least Animal-Friendly Senate Democrats
Pauline Murphy
Fighting Fascism: the Irish at the Battle of Cordoba
Susan Block
#GoBonobos in 2017: Happy Year of the Cock!
Louis Proyect
Is Our Future That of “Sense8” or “Mr. Robot”?
Charles R. Larson
Review: Robert Coover’s “Huck out West”
David Yearsley
Manchester-by-the-Sea and the Present Catastrophe
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail