Wednesday, Aug 20, 2014 12:50 am est

21st century equivalent of Jim Crow laws in Israel?

Posted on March 7, 2013 | by Charlie Spector

A group of long-oppressed people — whose aforementioned oppression spanned the lifetimes of many generations — is being forced to use separate buses in order to maintain a sense of decorum in a given society.

Sound familiar?

It should. It sounds like something one would hear in a documentary about the civil rights movement, right at the part where the now infamous Jim Crow laws were being discussed. At this point in the documentary, they would talk about the Montgomery bus laws, and how figures such as Rosa Parks and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. turned the former’s arrest into a massive boycott of the bus system and a major turning point in the long and complicated history of civil rights in this country.

Unfortunately, this isn’t an excerpt from something about the civil rights movement — this is present-day West Bank. Last week, the Israeli government chose to install buses and subsequent bus routes intended exclusively for Palestinians to use.

These routes cut strategically through the West Bank. And I use strategically as a euphemism here — they skip some major stops entirely. Why? The sole criterion behind this comes from the international equivalent of a Not In My Backyard parents’ association meeting — or some approximation thereof.

The origins of these bus lines came from a collective safety complaint from Israeli citizens living in the West Bank settlement of Hebron, whose legality is the subject of much debate. The citizens of Hebron recommended the measure to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government out of fear that bombs would strike their own buses.

Ironically, this action appears to provide incentive to do just that. With this act, the Israeli government is continuing a wave of measures that are, at best, preventive safety measures. At worst, they are exceedingly close to apartheid.

The laws are strikingly similar to the Jim Crow bus laws of the early 20th century, and the laws are so influential that some Palestinians are even calling for their own version of Rosa Parks.

There is one key difference, however — whites and blacks shared buses under Jim Crow.

These laws are morally reprehensible because they set a precedent as to how a society can treat people it considers beneath them. If Israel does not repeal these laws soon, extreme radicals on both sides of the Israel-Palestine debate may abandon peace negotiations altogether.

After all, those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

Charlie Spector is a contributing columnist. Email him at


  • Arafat

    The distortions, half-truths and insinuations in this column are ugly and say more about Charlie Spector than they say about the reality.

    Pallywood is a propaganda tool used by those whose aim is to deligitimize Israel and Charlie is a skilled actor on this perverted stage.

    • Arafat

      Pallywood is little different than the Nazi propaganda machinery desgined by Goebbels. It’s just a modern-day version of it using things like photo-shopped pictures to lie about the facts on the ground.

      But some things have not changed since the 1930s including Spencer’s games of insinuating conclusions from a false premise whose end result is to make Jews look like something out of Mein Kampf.

      Good job Mr. Spencer, it’s clear you’ve done your homework {sic}.

      • Fanon

        Arafat your racism just makes you appear to be absolutely desperate. Give Pamela Geller my regards you arrogant fascist.

  • Arafat

    Israel knows full well how indoctrination can poison the well for peace.
    Just south of Israel’s border, in Gaza, the Hamas government has created an atmosphere of extremism that vilifies Israelis and Jews to the next generation.
    Gaza Kindergarten graduations feature “terrorist dress-up,” where five-year olds stage plays that glorify jihadists and suicide bombers.
    Families in Gaza watch public television sermons featuring Hamas ministers like ‘Atallah Abu Al-Subh, who recently claimed that…

  • Arafat

    claimed that (and I quote) “the Jews are the most despicable and contemptible nation to crawl upon the face of the Earth.”
    Incitement is no less prevalent under Abbas in the West Bank as it is under Hamas in Gaza. Under the PA, students learn history from textbooks that glorify terrorists – and learn geography from atlases that erase Israel from the map.
    Sports facilities, streets, and public buildings are named after terrorists, such as Dalal Mughrabi, a woman who led an attack on a bus that…

  • Arafat

    bus that killed 38 Israeli civilians – including 13 children.
    Imagine if the Norwegian government named a playground after Anders Breivik – or if the US named a park after Charles Manson. What kind of message would it send to the children who play there?

  • Nyu grad

    Clearly all the fanatical comments were written by the same petty and desperate Zionist: typical smear accusation of anti-Semitism instead of engaging the issues. Zionists basically believe that if you are opposed to the idea of Israelis spitting on Palestinians then you must hate Jews, that oppression committed by a self-declared Jewish state or Jews’ state cannot be opposed on humanitarian grounds that are rooted in no malice toward Jews but must, somehow always, represent Nazi parallels if…

  • nyu grad

    if not sympathies. Sane people can see this for the farce that it is. Israel is a state and opposition to it by decent people, many of whom are Jewish, has nothing to do with prejudice but respect for the rights of all. As a final point, reactionary or terrorist acts by Palestinians does not justify Israeli occupation and oppression because whatever objectionable Palestinian deed is 1) not an initiator but a response to a decades long brutal military occupation and 2) no excuse for Israel to…

  • nyu grad

    2) no excuse for Israel to continue to repress Palestinians indiscriminately, occupy them, steal their lands and massacre them. Neither side holds the best impression of the “other” but only one is occupying and colonizing. It is that genesis and structure of violence by Israel that is the cause of violence, its sustainer and should be unequivocally condemned.

  • Asian

    “After all, those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

    I like that quote…

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