Bay Area activists declare historic victory over Israeli shipping company

Workers World organizers in Oakland, Calif., who are active with “Block the Boat,” sent us this news release, dated Oct. 29. It lists the following contact numbers for more information. Press contact: Lara Kiswani at 530-220-2842; Mohamed Shehk at 408-910-2618; Spanish speaking contact: Luis Curiel at 209-277-4489; Arabic speaking contact: Diala Khasawnih at 415-658-1870.

Pro-Palestinian activists in the Bay Area achieved a decisive victory over the Israeli-owned Zim Integrated Shipping Services this past weekend. As part of a sustained organizing effort to protest Israel’s ongoing occupation and apartheid rule against the Palestinian people, organizers deterred the container ship Zim Beijing from docking at the Port of Oakland.

The protest was organized by the Block the Boat Coalition (BTB), an Arab-led coalition made up of a diverse range of Bay Area community organizations and activists committed to building on the worldwide “Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions” movement to isolate and weaken Israel.

Members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, Local 10, the union which represents dockworkers at the Port of Oakland, informed BTB organizers that the Zim Beijing had been rerouted to Russia “to avoid disruptions at the SSA Terminal,” according to a statement by BTB. The Zim Beijing was originally scheduled to arrive and unload its cargo at the Port of Oakland on Oct. 25, but changed course to avoid protests that had been planned by BTB.

This is the first time in history when pro-Palestinian activists have prevented an Israeli cargo ship from docking, forcing it to change course entirely to avoid the port protests. “Due to our sustained organizing, we’ve achieved an enormous BDS victory over Israel and Zionism in the Bay Area,” says Reem Assil of the Arab Resource and Organizing Center. “Israel is helping the U.S. militarize its police forces as Zim is shipping weapons and ammunition into our local communities. A win against Israel is a win not just for Palestine, but also for all communities here who are subjected to police violence and repression.”

Similar BDS protests targeting Zim have spread across the country — including in Los Angeles; Tampa, Fla.; and Seattle — and across the border in Vancouver, Canada, and were inspired by the successful four-day BTB protest in August at the Port of Oakland. In addition, Zim no longer lists the Port of Oakland as a destination in its future schedules.

Oakland activists see this retreat as an unprecedented victory for Palestine and are hopeful that they have staved off Zim for good. “This effort of Block the Boat, the Palestinian and Arab communities, and allies has truly revealed our collective power against Zionism,” says Sameh Ayesh of Arab Youth Organizing. “Zim is the largest shipping company in Israel and the 10th largest in the world. It is now clear to Zim that our communities in the Bay Area will not welcome it or any other business that supports Israeli occupation and apartheid.”

Activists with BTB will use this victory to continue organizing actions and build with ILWU Local 10’s rank-and-file workers, who have respected and supported pro-Palestinian pickets at the port since the first one of its kind in 2010. “As long as the Palestinians continue to face ethnic cleansing, state violence and colonization, we will continue to organize protests, like this one against Zim, to ensure that the state of Israel feels the consequences of its actions and continues to suffer politically and economically,” added Assil. “Just as apartheid in South Africa fell with the help of international solidarity, so too will the Israeli apartheid regime fall.”

List of endorsers

The following list of endorsers of the BTB activity illustrates the breadth of support for the action:

  • Addameer: Palestinian Prisoner Support and Human Rights Organization
  • Advance the Struggle
  • Af3irm
  • Al-Awda, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition USA
  • All African People’s Revolutionary Party
  • American Muslims for Palestine
  • Anakbayan East Bay
  • Arab Resource and Organizing Center
  • Asian Pacific Environmental Network
  • Answer Coalition
  • BDS collation in Illinois
  • BDS collation in Texas
  • Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists Social Justice Committee
  • Bay Area Women in Black
  • Boycott! Supporting the Palestinian BDS Call from Within
  • Catalyst Project
  • Center for Political Education
  • The Coalition for Justice in Palestine in Illinois
  • The Coalition for Justice in Palestine in Texas
  • Coalition to Stop $30 Billion to Israel
  • Cognitive Liberty
  • Community Futures Collective
  • Critical Resistance Oakland
  • Critical Resistance Los Angeles
  • East Bay Solidarity Network
  • Free Palestine Movement
  • Freedom Archives
  • Freedom Socialist Party
  • Friends of Sabeel—North America
  • GABRIELA San Francisco
  • Global March to Jerusalem – North America
  • Gray Panthers of San Francisco
  • General Union of Palestine Students
  • Haiti Action Committee
  • Helena (Montana) Service for Peace and Justice
  • Interdenominational Advocates for Peace
  • International Action Center
  • International Coalition to Free the Angola 3
  • International Jewish Anti Zionist Network
  • International Socialist Organization
  • Iraq Veterans Against War – Bay Area
  • ISM – Northern California
  • Jews for Palestinian Right of Return
  • Justice for Palestinians
  • Labor for Palestine
  • Lighthouse Masjid Social Justice Committee
  • Marcha Patriótica Colombia – California Chapter
  • Malcolm X Grassroots Movement
  • Milbes Family Foundation
  • National Lawyers Guild
  • New York City Labor Against the War
  • NorCal Friends of Sabeel
  • Occupy SF Action Council
  • Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee
  • Palestinian American Youth League
  • Palestinian American Council/ National
  • Palestinian American Congress /National
  • Palestinian Humanitarian Relief Fund/National
  • Palestine Poster Project Archives
  • Palestinian Youth Movement
  • Party for Socialism and Liberation
  • The Peace and Freedom Party of Alameda County
  • Phat Beets
  • Queers Undermining Israeli Terror
  • Real Cost of Prisons
  • Ruckus Society
  • Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network
  • SF Women in Black
  • Students for Justice in Palestine – Cal
  • The US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation
  • UAW2865 BDS Caucus
  • US Palestinian Community Network
  • Women Organized to Resist and Defend
  • Workers World Party