Fifty years ago brave African American civil rights activists challenged the racist and unjust laws of Jim Crow by boarding buses to the segregated South, thereby embarking on a campaign of civil disobedience and direct action.
In less than an hour, Palestinian activists, taking inspiration from the Civil Rights Movement’s Freedom Rides, will embark on a similar civil disobedience campaign to challenge Israel’s regime of colonial Apartheid in Palestine.
Although the tactics and methodologies differ, both white supremacists and the Israeli occupiers commit the same crime: they strip a people of freedom, justice and dignity. In undertaking this action we do not seek the desegregation of settler buses, as the presence of these colonizers and the infrastructure that serves them is illegal and must be dismantled. As part of our struggle for freedom, justice and dignity, we demand the ability to be able to travel freely on our own roads, on our own land, including the right to travel to Jerusalem.
We also aim to expose two of the companies that profit from Israel’s apartheid policies and encourage global boycott of and divestment from them. The Israeli Egged and French Veolia bus companies operate dozens of segregated lines that run through the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, many of them subsidized by the state. Both companies are also involved in the Jerusalem Light Rail, a train project that links illegal settlements in East Jerusalem to the western part of the city. By facilitating population transfer into occupied Palestinian territory, Egged and Veolia are actively and knowingly complicit in Israel’s settlement enterprise, which the International Court of Justice has determined to be a breach of international law.
Martin Luther King, Jr. said: “He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.”
We urge the people of the world not to accept the evil that is our occupation, dispossession and oppression, and to divest yourselves and your governments from the corporations that enable Israel to continue doing this to us. Egged and Veolia are two transportation companies that serve Israel’s segregated, colonial, infrastructure. By passively accepting their presence and not protesting against them, you are all indirectly complicit in the crimes they commit against us, and the profits they make from the violation of our rights; violations that the Freedom Riders will expose today.
Our rights will not voluntarily be handed to us, so we are heading out to demand them.
We know that in undertaking this action we risk arrest, vicious attacks by Israeli settlers, abuse by Israeli soldiers, and even death. We take this risk upon ourselves as a step towards ensuring Freedom, Justice, and Dignity for future generations of Palestinians and all people in the region.