Bus Roulette / by Sophie Schor

November 6, 2014 

Riding the buses has become a bit of Russian roulette lately. Coming home yesterday from the university, which is located right on the border with East Jerusalem, I had to make a choice. Do I take the 19 which goes right by the Old City and will probably be delayed or re-routed due to the current clashes that have erupted over the occupation and access to al-Aqsa mosque? Or do I take the 34, the slowest bus that winds and curves it’s way through the ultra-orthodox religious Jewish neighborhood where everyone is black-hatted and walks in front of buses without looking knowing that their life is in God’s hands? I made the right choice, as the road for the 19 was completely closed with police standing guard. As I stared out the window at religious women pushing their strollers and gaggle of children across the street, I read online about the latest attack on the train stop. An Israeli died. He left behind his wife and 3 year old, he was also a Druze.

Things are taking a turn for madness (more than the usual dose of crazy you find here). But it’s more than just random violence, it’s rooted in a context of oppression and disenfranchisement. Just this week alone, 2 Palestinian houses were demolished in East Jerusalem, 188 Palestinians were arrested in the last 2 weeks, a 5 year old girl was run over by a settler in Hebron, and there was an announcement for an expansion of settlements and a building permit for 500 more houses in Ramat Shlomo. Limiting access to al-Aqsa has just been the match to the fire. No one seems too sure what direction it will take. Some say third intifada, some say it’ll simmer down.

But for now, I’ve begun to feel a different sort of pressure. Which bus do I take to get home?