Those “apartheid” buses
A number of British publications recently featured articles about some new Israeli bus lines devoted to transporting Arab residents of Judea and Samaria into Israel. These publications have outrageously called the buses, “apartheid” buses.
Lori Lowenthal Marcus lays out some of the background (and much more):
First of all, all Israeli citizens are permitted to ride all Israeli transportation vehicles, whether they are Arab, Finnish or Lithuanian, Jewish, Muslim, Christian or Buddhist.
Second, any non-citizen of Israel, just as is the case with every other country in the world, has to show identification when entering Israel’s official borders – it is true for American citizens entering Canada and Mexico, just as it is the case for citizens of the Palestinian Authority who wish to enter Israel.
Third, Israeli citizens who live in Judea and Samaria pay taxes, a portion of which subsidize the transportation infrastructure and vehicles, whereas Arabs who live in the PA towns do not. In fact, taxes paid by Arabs in Israel are turned over to the PA to support their infrastructure, which includes – or should – transportation services for their residents.
One consequence of the preceding points is that the Israeli bus lines travel from and to all areas in which tax-paying Israeli citizens live – from Jerusalem to Shilo, from Tel Aviv to Efrat, and so forth. The Israeli bus companies do not stop at, for example, the Arab town of Ramallah, just as they do not stop at non-authorized Jewish towns such as Givat Har-el.
The toughest part of this smear to understand is something that Adam Levick lays out in The factual and logical failures behind accusations of ‘racist’ Israeli bus lines:
But, one question remains: How would it be racist against ‘Palestinians’ if service on a bus line operating in the West Bank was for ‘Palestinians only’? That is, how could Palestinians be victims of racism if service on a public transportation system was denied to Jews?
The usual justification for judging Israel as an “apartheid” society is some injustice that Israel supposedly inflicts on the Palestinians. In this case it is an extra benefit! I know we keep hearing from Israel’s detractors that there’s a need for “debate” over Israeli policies. This latest example shows that the debate means justifying condemnations that are not even logically coherent.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t only British publications promoting this libel. Robert Mackey, the anti-Israel activist posing at the New York Times weighed in with, Israelis Divided Over Separate Bus Lines for Arabs and Jews in Occupied West Bank. As CAMERA notes, unsurprisingly,
Citing Only Critics, Robert Mackey Claims Ignorance of Arab Supporters of New Bus Lines:
If Mackey really missed these stories, then what does that say
about his journalistic skills? Alternatively, if he didn’t miss them,
and just said that he did, then he’s just plain lying. Either way, New York Times readers deserve better.
Mackey really doesn’t believe in debate over Israeli policies. (At the end of his article he cites a controversial statement made by Ehud Barak – that isn’t even applicable to this case – to defend his posture.) He only believes in condemnation.
While it’s not entirely relevant to this topic, David Bernstein at the Volokh Conspiracy recently wrote, No, Arabs Living Under Israeli Control are Not Going to Outnumber Jews Any Time Soon.
Let’s do the numbers. There are approximately 6.4 million Jews (including “Jews” who are not recognized by the Israeli Interior ministry as such because they are not Jewish under Jewish law). There are also approximately 1.6 million Arabs living in Israel, and 2.5 million (though this is debated) in the West Bank. Of the latter, an estimated 2.3 million live in areas under Palestinian civil control, and joint Israeli-Palestinian military control. Even giving a liberal construction to “living under Israeli control”, that makes roughly 6.4 million against 4.1 million. Given a Jewish birth rate of 2.9 per family, plus net Jewish immigration to Israel, there is not likely to be a majority of Arabs in the territory under Israeli control any time soon.
Criticisms and condemnations of Israel for “occupation” use the demographic threat as a reason for Israel to address the problem immediately. The “apartheid” charges stem from the “demographic threat” that may or may not emerge and liberally applied to the current situation. The desperation of Israel’s enemies is apparent from the logical contortions they need to employ to make their case.