Israeli bus (Illustrative).
(photo credit: BEN HARTMAN)
“Anyone who is afraid is welcome to get off,” Israeli bus driver Ruti Tehrani told passengers as she rejected their demands to kick an elderly Arab passenger off her bus this week.
According to the Channel 2-affiliated portal NEXTER, a group of passengers riding Route 129 from Petah Tikva to Tel Aviv began to panic when a man on the bus began to mumble to himself in Arabic. They approached the bus driver and demanded she remove him immediately, citing fears that he may be a terrorist.
Tehrani, a 54-year-old mother of three, pulled the bus over and checked on the passenger.
“I approached him carefully and asked him if everything was okay, if he needed help or if he wanted to sit next to me,” Tehrani told NEXTER. “I saw that he was an older man who was not feeling well and didn’t seem to pose a threat to anyone, and he was certainly not a terrorist,” she said.
Tehrani then told passengers they were welcome to disembark, but that she would not comply with their demands to remove the Arab passenger.
“I understand the current security situation but everything has a limit,” Tehrani told NEXTER.
“In our company everyone is equal, Jews and Arabs. I was taught at home to respect every person and not to discriminate against anyone,” she added.
Tehrani continued on her regular route.
“To remove a passenger just because he is an Arab and because the passengers requested it? That seems a bit extreme,” she said.
“If I had to do it again, I would do exactly the same thing. The Arab passenger didn’t bother anyone and the demands of the passengers were out of proportion. There was no chance in the world that I would comply with their demands.”