A routine Los Angeles City Hall meeting Wednesday showed how volatile Middle East politics can erupt in unexpected places and around the most seemingly mundane of issues — awarding a shuttle bus contract.
The five-year, $160-million agreement involved operating part of Los Angeles' popular DASH shuttle bus service.
A coalition of groups showed up at a rally and City Council transportation committee session to loudly denounce the recommended contractor, Veolia Transportation, a subsidiary of an international firm they say is responsible for discrimination against Palestinians. Veolia currently operates a number of DASH routes under a contract that expires next month.
"Veolia carries thousands of Angelenos to and from work and other destinations every day.... At the same time, Veolia has built and currently operates a transit system that is a lifeline for maintaining the Israeli occupation of Palestine," Eric Romann, an organizer with the Dump Veolia L.A. coalition, told about 30 supporters outside City Hall.
"As long as Veolia buses and trains carry Israelis between East Jerusalem and illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank, no Veolia bus should run down Temple, Spring, Grand, Crenshaw, Vermont or any other street here in L.A.," Romann said. He later said Veolia has been complicit in what he claims is Israel's violation of international law.