Jerusalem's Arab bus drivers speak out

Al Monitor, Dec. 30, 2014

A bus owned by Egged, Israel's largest bus company, passes old buildings in Jerusalem on Dec. 3, 2014. (photo by AFP/Getty Images/Ahmad Gharabli)
A bus owned by Egged, Israel's largest bus company, passes old buildings in Jerusalem on Dec. 3, 2014. (photo by AFP/Getty Images/Ahmad Gharabli)

 

In an interview with Al-Monitor, three Arab bus drivers who spoke on condition of anonymity, A., N. and D., described the harsh atmosphere, the attacks and humiliations that have become a matter of routine.

<p[...] I decided to go back to work, because I have no other way to support my family,” said A., one of the drivers. “I have seven children; all of them are going to school. The elder boy told me, ‘Dad, we can get along, as long as you stay alive.’”

The interview follows:

Al-Monitor:  Have you ever been in fear for your life?

A.:  Sometimes. But mostly, I was afraid that I would lose control. A Jewish passenger wearing a skullcap gets on the bus, and spits in my face. He then smirks and tells me: “You dirty Arab; you terrorist! Go and find work in Gaza.”

Al-Monitor:  How many such attacks have you experienced?

A.:  More than three. But curses such as “You dirty Arab” are an almost daily routine.

Al-Monitor:  Have other passengers protested against this behavior?

A.:  Yes, quite a lot. But no one wants to fight with them. Usually, they just say, “Leave him alone; he is only the driver.”

Al-Monitor:  How do you respond?

A:  I wipe off the spit from my face, and keep driving. What else can I do? If I argue or come back at my attacker, it'll be even worse — for me and for everyone.

Al-Monitor:  N., you still have not returned to work. How do you feel about the recent events?

N:  I'm not sure if I’ll go back to work. I've had enough of this. I've seen enough of it. A friend of mine was attacked by three children who threatened to hit him on the head with an iron club. It was a miracle that there were soldiers on the bus who stopped the attackers. He, too, quit his job, and he is still afraid to go back to work.