Monthly Archives: August 2014

ILWU Rank and File Back Picket Of Zim Ship Piraeus at Port Of Oakland (Labor Video Project)

ILWU Rank and File Back Picket Of Zim ship Piraeus At Port Of Oakland

In a four day labor community picket at the Port of Oakland, ILWU rank and file from Local 10 and Local 34 abided by a picket line despite the presence of hundreds of police and Alameda County Deputies to force the longshore workers to cross the picket lines.

The picketing which took place between August 17 through August 20, 2014. After failing to get longshore to work the cargo at port operator SSA. The ship left the terminal went out to sea and then returned to Ports America where efforts were made to unload the cargo by deceiving members of the unions. Only a small percentage of the cargo was removed and the ship left for Russia without fully unloading and not picking up any cargo. This successful solidarity picket against the role of Israel in the bombing and massacres of the people of Gaza backed by US military and economic aid is a real threat to the Israel shipping line.

For more video:

Production of Labor Video Project

Protestors block and delay Israeli ships up and down US West Coast (Electronic Intifada)

Electronic Intifada

Protestors block and delay Israeli ships up and down US West Coast

Protesters Block EI

Block the Boat Oakland march on 16 August. (Alex Chis/Flickr)

Over the past two weeks, activists in port cities along the West Coast of the United States staged picket lines to prevent or delay vessels operated by Israel’s Zim shipping line from offloading cargo.

The actions had been planned at the height of Israel’s assault on the Gaza Stripthat began on 7 July and ended with a ceasefire yesterday.

Zim Integrated Shipping Services Ltd. is Israel’s biggest cargo shipping company and the tenth largest in the world. It’s 2013 revenue was $3.7 billion.

The action originated in Oakland, California, which set a high bar for others to follow. Protestors there successfully prevented the unloading of the Zim Piraeuscontainer ship for nearly four full days.

But other cities’ more modest demonstrations were nevertheless successful in temporarily delaying the Zim ships from unloading, costing the company hundreds of thousands of dollars, building momentum and signalling widespread support for such actions.

After Zim Piraeus departed Oakland on 20 August, two different Zim container ships were scheduled to dock in Tacoma and Seattle, Washington and in Long Beach, California. Weeks earlier, organizers in Oakland had reached out to Palestine solidarity groups in those cities to plan a coordinated shut-out of Zim cargo ships along the West Coast.

In Tacoma, the Zim Chicago was supposed to arrive at port on 18 August but was delayed from offloading until 23 August — which local organizer, Nada Eliadescribes as a victory for the Northwest Block the Boat Coalition.  

Elia, who recently retired from Antioch University’s faculty and is a member of the steering committee of the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI), told The Electronic Intifada that the delay was partially due to a crane malfunction in Vancouver, British Columbia, but mostly due to protesters.

“The delay showed that they were trying to avoid the blockade,” Elia said. Throughout the week, activists around the state were poised — monitoring the Facebook page and then their phones for text alerts — to be called down at moment’s notice to Tacoma port for the picket. Elia said her group’s Facebook page was taken down with no explanation.

When the Zim Chicago docked on Saturday, activists rallied at the port and successfully blocked the two known entrances. But the port opened up a third, little-known entrance that allowed workers to cross the picket line and unload the containers from the Zim vessel.

The coalition that had formed around this action included Filipino group BAYAN, Queers Against Israeli apartheid and Occupy Seattle. Elia said people travelled from all around the state to attend the demonstration at the ports.

According to the Seattle Globalist, the delay cost the shipping company half a million dollars.

Limited goal

Elia said that the action’s organizers had to consider that their relationship with the longshoremen’s union in Seattle and Tacoma is not strong.  

“The union’s response was, to put it mildly, not positive,” Elia said. “So we knew they were not going to be on our side.”

So they were very clear about their goal: “Our victory was determined if we were able to delay, which we very clearly did for at least three days.”

On 25 August the same Zim ship docked in Seattle and organizers were unable to prevent the workers from unloading. However, according to a press release issued by the coalition on 27 August, the ship may have delayed its arrival to the Seattle port by 24 hours in an effort to avoid the expected protests.

According to the press release, the Zim Chicago finished offloading in Tacoma the morning of 24 August, but did not begin to unload in Seattle — a port only a short distance away — until the evening of the next day, 25 August.

“We know of no other reason for the ship to wait for an open dock except to avoid spreading the impact of our blockade to other ships, who might then ask for refunds because of delays,” organizer Ed Mast states in the press release.

Getting labor onboard

Elia says that while organizers are content with the victory they set out to achieve, they hope to build their coalition: “At this point what we want to work on is getting labor on board — getting the union to realize this is an issue of social and global justice.”

Meanwhile, down the coast in Southern California’s Long Beach port, organizers were moved to mobilize an action in the span of only two and a half days after witnessing Oakland’s action.

“Oakland was so amazingly successful and it really inspired a lot of people,” Garrick Ruiz of BDS-Los Angeles told The Electronic Intifada. “We in Los Angeles wanted to do something along the same lines and that’s when the larger coalition came together.”

The coalition included American Muslims for PalestineUS Palestinian Community NetworkInternational Jewish Anti-Zionist Network’s labor division, Global Women’s Strike, Jewish Voice for Peace – Los Angeles, Al-Awda (The Palestine Right to Return Coalition), ANSWER and BDS-LA.

Ruiz said that his group had done an informational picket on 13 August to gauge support of the action among the union, build a relationship with the rank and file members and provide information about the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Union’s call for US labor solidarity with Palestine and the efforts to blockade the Zim lines.

Ruiz said that the union as of now has been unresponsive to his group’s attempt to reach out by phone, mail and email.

But it wasn’t until the Oakland success that they decided to stage a picket line: when the Zim Haifa docked on 23 August in Long Beach, around 250 people rallied at the port until a union official sent workers for the morning shift home.

“We see this action as an important piece for building our movement, planning bigger actions and building solidarity with labor at the ports,” said Ruiz.

“In the big picture we called that demo in less than three days and everyone in that coalition put in an immense amount of work to make it happen. Now we’re stepping back to determine next steps.”

Ruiz said members of the coalition plan to attend a Labor Day parade on 1 September in Wilmington, Los Angeles to reach out to the ILWU and Teamsters unions.

And while the protests had been a direct demonstration against the devastating attack on Gaza, organizers are hoping to maintain pressure on ports and businesses contracting with Zim.

The movement to protest Zim is catching on in more cities. As a tool for activists and organizers, a new pastebin has been created that provides crucial information for tracking the activity of Zim vessels at various port cities across the US. There activists can see when and where Zim will be docking in their city.

Next up: a protest at Florida’s Tampa port is planned for 30 August.

Editor’s note: A previous version of this post identified Nada Elia as a member of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel and a current faculty member at Antioch University. It has been corrected.

Israeli Company Targeted by Oakland Blockade Imports Ammunition Into US (Truthout)

Israeli Company Targeted by Oakland Blockade Imports Ammunition Into US

Thursday, 28 August 2014 00:00
By Darwin BondGraham, Truthout | Report

TruthoutActivists in Oakland picketed the city’s busy port for five days starting August 16, preventing longshore workers from unloading the Zim Piraeus, one of 89 ships in the Zim fleet. Oakland, CA, August 16, 2014. (Photo: Alex Chis)

Israeli-owned shipping company Zim, the target of recent port blockades organized by Palestinian solidarity activists in California, is importing millions of rounds of small arms ammunition into the United States each year.

Pro-Palestinian activists in California stopped Israeli-owned cargo ships from unloading olives, wines and ceramics at busy marine terminals in Oakland and Los Angeles last week. Import records show, however, that Zim Integrated Shipping Services Ltd., the Israeli company that was the target of last week’s “port blockades,” is also delivering millions of rounds of Israeli-manufactured small arms ammunition to the United States each year. Zim also delivers weapons systems components for the Israeli and Greek governments to contractors in the United States for repairs and upgrades.

Activists in Oakland picketed the city’s busy port for five days starting August 16, preventing longshore workers from unloading the Zim Piraeus, one of 89 ships in the Zim fleet. The Zim Haifa was scheduled to dock in Long Beach on Saturday, August 23, but protesters there said they delayed its unloading, too. In Washington, protesters rallied at the Port of Tacoma where another Zim ship was scheduled to arrive on August 25.

Bills of lading for the vessels that docked in Oakland and Long Beach show mostly agricultural goods and building materials were carried in the ships’ containers.

But on August 15, just a few days before the blockade of the Zim Piraeus in Oakland, the Zim Constanza arrived at the Port of Savannah, along the Atlantic coast of Georgia, laden with millions of rounds of Israeli-manufactured 5.56-millimeter rifle bullets destined for sale in the United States. Records show that the Zim Constanza was also carrying 1.3 million rounds of 9-millimeter Luger bullets.The ammunition was destined for Federal Cartridge of Anoka, Minnesota. The company (which also operates under the name Federal Premium Ammunition) sells rounds of these exact specifications to the public, but also to the US military, and federal and local police agencies.

Lara Kiswani, executive director of the Arab Resource and Organizing Center, one of the groups involved in the port blockades, told Truthout she isn’t surprised by Zim’s ammunition shipments, but called the imports disturbing. “We already know that Israel trains local law enforcement, and that the US supports Israel militarily and economically,” Kiswani said. “This shows that Israel plays a role in the militarism and repression of our local communities, not only through trainings and sharing of repressive tactics and strategies, but also through its material support of weaponry and technology.”

“Because of companies like Zim, because of the apartheid State of Israel and the US government, from Oakland to Ferguson to Palestine, we are seeing the same weapons being used to murder people, the same technology surveilling our movements, the same torture tactics used on our prisoners, and the same tear gas assaulting communities,” Kiswani said.

Bills of lading for the August 15 small arms shipment delivered by Zim show that the bullets were manufactured by Israel Military Industries Ltd., a weapons manufacturing company located in the city of Ramat Hasharon, north of Tel Aviv in Israel. Israel Military Industries supplies the Israel Defense Forces with many of its weapons, including missiles and artillery. Records show that the Israeli ammunition carried by Zim is being imported primarily by Federal Cartridge, but that several smaller companies in Tennessee and Washington State are also receiving small arms shipments delivered by Zim ships.

Federal Cartridge did not respond to a request for information for this article. It’s not clear, therefore, whether the Israel Military Industries ammunition Federal Cartridge is importing on Zim ships is destined for sale to the public, the US military or police agencies. Federal Cartridge is a subsidiary of Alliant Techsystems, the largest provider of ammunition for the US military. Alliant Techsystems also supplies the US military with missile and artillery ordnance. Local police forces in the United States are also major customers of Alliant Techsystems and its subsidiary Federal Cartridge.

A year’s worth of data reveals that a prolific quantity of ammunition manufactured by Israel Military Industries is being imported by Federal Cartridge on Zim ships into the United States. Several Zim vessels made at least 17 different trips between Haifa, Israel and the Port of Savannah over the last year, shipping ammunition for delivery to Federal Cartridge’s facilities in Minnesota. Most of the ammunition consisted of 5.56-millimeter rifle bullets, but in July, the Zim Tarragonaarrived at the Port of Savannah carrying 20 pallets, or 1.3 million rounds, of 9-millimeter hollow point bullets. Hollow point rounds expand on contact with human flesh and do greater damage than most other types of ammunition.

Maor Aharoni, a spokesperson for Zim, provided the following statement to Truthout: “As always, ZIM [is] striving to maintain its high level of service at all times, and especially at the current political environment. Delivering best service possible is our top priority, and we are working in full cooperation with local authorities where we operate to secure smooth operation to our vessels.” Aharoni did not address the issue of ammunition shipments.

Federal Cartridge’s contracts since 2007 to provide the US Navy with 5.56-millimeter rifle ammunition have exceeded $180 million in value, according to a government contract database. Last year, Federal Cartridge was selected by the FBI to supply 9-millimeter Luger ammunition to the agency.

Alliant Techsystems produces a trademarked law enforcement brand of ammunition through Federal Cartridge that includes a 115-grain, 9-millimeter bullet, the exact type of bullet the company is importing from Israel. Other federal agencies including the Drug Enforcement Agency and Immigration and Customs Enforcement purchase ammunition from the Federal Cartridge Company. Federal Cartridge did not return phone calls as of publication to explain whether or not it sells Israel Military Industries ammunition to military and law enforcement customers.

“These types of rounds are the same ones used in the Negev light machine gun that have killed and maimed Palestinian men, women and children during Israel’s past and current attacks on civilians in Gaza,” Jaime Omar Yassin, an Oakland resident who was involved in the organizing of the port blockade there, told Truthout. “If this ammunition is indeed being bought by federal agencies like the FBI and ICE, they will kill and terrorize mostly black and brown civilians in the drug war and the war against the undocumented here.”

Zim’s ships also haul weapons systems into the United States for repairs and re-export. For example, in January 2014, the Zim Rio Grande delivered a shipment of aircraft parts sent by the Greek Ministry of Defense to the Port of New York. The parts were imported by Integrated Procurement Technologies, a Goleta, California-based distributor of spare parts for aerospace weapons systems. The same ship offloaded another batch of military aircraft parts bound for Kellstrom Industries, a weapons systems reseller located in Florida.

On August 8, 2014, Lockheed Martin, the largest US military contractor, imported an amphibious vehicle manufactured by Plasan Ltd., an Israeli arms manufacturer. Lockheed has also used Zim ships to transport military aircraft components sent to its US facilities by the Greek Air Force.

Kiswani told Truthout that more boat blockades are planned beyond the West Coast: “So long as this repression continues, so too will our community organizing and resistance. Isolating Zionism is more important now than ever, and targeting Zim is one very tangible way of doing so.”

A Handbook for blocking ships (Free Palestine Movement)


A Handbook for blocking ships

Following are some suggestions for actions of this type, based on our experience thus far.  No doubt others can offer more, so as to expand the group knowledge.  We are not including information of a confidential nature, but only that which law enforcement and port management can reasonably be expected to anticipate.

1.  Points of blockage.  Until now, no group has tried to prevent a ship from docking at the port, nor does this seems likely.  The gates to the berths, through which there is entrance and egress, seem to be the best points, with the intention of closing access for the workers.  Sometimes/often a berth is accessible from a neighboring berth although it may be forbidden to use such access in normal circumstances.  Leave no stone unturned.

2.  The workers.  There is no more important relationship than with the workers, represented by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU).  Intelligence from inside, and especially real time intelligence, from workers and other personnel, whether they are working the ship or doing another job, is immensely valuable.  If possible have off duty or former workers on the picket line.  They can provide invaluable advice and information.

The workers also have the most to lose.  Always remember that they are losing wages by not working.  Many probably have no opinion about our issue and are often forbidden by contract from acting on such opinion in any case.  However, they can refuse to work when the work site is in turmoil.  This is usually determined by a union arbiter when the workers are under contract.  Otherwise, it is sometimes left to the individual worker.

Workers may not have a position on our issue, but many are strongly averse to crossing a picket line.  Furthermore, if they are in contract negotiations or are dissatisfied with management, they may welcome a legitimate excuse to cooperate with a port slowdown.  Some picketers have suggested doing some fundraising to try to help offset the loss of wages, and to volunteer to help with worker issues.

Learn to recognize who is a worker and who is management or other staff.  This is usually by means of a union sticker on the car, a photo of which can be circulated to the picketers.  No one should cross a picket line, but this applies more to workers than to other personnel.

3.  Communication.  We have nothing to offer beyond the obvious.  A text alert system is an excellent way to mobilize volunteers on short notice, but you can be sure that the Israeli/Zionist hasbara trolls will sign up, as well as the law enforcement authorities.  The usual social media are also extremely useful, especially if information is being disseminated regularly.  Our reports, information and narrative need to grab as much of the public attention as possible.  It is good to cultivate press contacts and issue press reports, but the local MSM will be there anyway, if the story is even modestly compelling.

4.  The picket.  Obviously, the number of picketers is of paramount consideration.  No need to tell you how to form alliances.  Although the actions are local, ask your contacts across the country and across the world and especially in Palestine to push whomever they know to participate.  Provide shuttles and transportation where possible.  Parking is often not permitted in the port area, so shuttles can be important.  Keep up the picket on all shifts until the ship leaves, and be ready to return at a moment’s notice if the ship tries to return while you are not there.  Monitor ship movements on a site like

Bicycles are also extremely valuable.  They can monitor all the gates and coordinate activity.  They can also be walked on the picket line, taking up space and making the line look bigger.  The same is true of signs, banners and flags, when the pickets are few.  Bullhorns also magnify the presence and are good for group communication.

Find out when the shift is and set up a good picket at least an hour earlier.  The picket needs to be loud and boisterous, especially when workers and their cars approach.  The purpose is to give a good reason not to cross the picket line.  However, if workers defy the line, we have to accept their choice.  It is not for us to put ourselves in their position.  

Maintain the picket until at least several hours into the shift, so that the workers are not called to come back when the picketers have left.  If workers manage to get past, it is sometimes useful to wait for them to break for lunch and then discourage them from returning.

You may wish to consider flyers for both the workers and the picketers.  Music and a live band are a great help.  Food and water is helpful, but many of us find it preferable to fast on the line so that less water is needed and there is less need to access toilet facilities, which may be distant.  Wear a hat and avoid overheating.

It is good to have a few people, and especially off duty or former workers, to try to talk to the workers in their cars as they approach.  Cheer loudly and yell “Thank you” when they drive away.

5.  Law enforcement.  Law enforcement is generally permitted to lie and use force to achieve their objective, but the public (we) also has rights.  It is a big advantage to have legal counsel present, perhaps from friendly members of the National Lawyers Guild.  Photo documentation can also be important, both for evidence and publication.

Our experience is that we will be allowed to express free speech rights in public areas and that the officers may try to clear a path for vehicles to enter and exit.  Obviously, we have no objection to exiting, but it is our understanding that the police have the right to clear an entrance path.  Our job is to convince the workers not to use the path.

Often, the presence of law enforcement is itself a deterrent to workers.  Remember that workers also sometimes find themselves on the picket line.  If they see a huge number of law enforcement personnel in formation at a gate, they might actually be less inclined to enter.  This can be encouraged by testing the limits.  Sometimes some of the uniformed officers will be kept in vehicles and pulled out only as needed.  Larger numbers are needed to form a path for vehicles when picketers are blocking the way.

These suggestions are just a start and by no means exhaustive.  Others will undoubtedly add plenty of advice.  Hopefully, the fact that a handbook is even motivated is an indication that this historic movement is just beginning to sweep the nation and the world.


Activist blockade delays Israeli ZIM ship another day at Port of Seattle (BDS Movement)

Activist blockade delays Israeli ZIM ship another day at Port of Seattle

header4After delaying work on the Israeli freight ship ZIM CHICAGO at the Port of Tacoma, local human-rights activists have learned that they also delayed the arrival of ZIM CHICAGO into the Port of Seattle for another full day.

The unloading and loading of ZIM CHICAGO in the Port of Tacoma was completed by 8 AM on Sunday August 24. Ordinarily the ship would have moved to the Port of Seattle within a few hours and been ready for a longshore work shift starting that same Sunday at 6 PM. However, ZIM CHICAGO spent a full day anchored north of Vashon Island, only docking on Monday afternoon. As a result, the longshore work shift to unload the ship began a full 24 hours later, on Monday at 6 PM.

There was plenty of room for ZIM CHICAGO at its scheduled berth in Seattle, but ZIM CHICAGO waited until there were no other ships in a berth that could handle up to three other ships at once.

“We know of no other reason for the ship to wait for an open dock except to avoid spreading the impact of our blockade to other ships, who might then ask for refunds because of delays. This would not be out of simple goodwill toward other shipping lines, but rather to avoid isolation from other shipping lines that might refuse to share berths with ZIM ships in the future,”, said Ed Mast, one of the blockade organizers. “A full day’s delay costs ZIM not only the extra running time money for fuel and staff, but also potential losses in cargo diverted to other ships, as well as credibility with customers that might start to distrust the irregular schedule, and credibility with other shipping lines that might refuse to share berths with ZIM at this and other ports.”

At 5:00 PM on Monday, over 100 protestors gathered at the Port of Seattle to blockade the gates through which longshore workers would enter to unload ZIM CHICAGO. An almost equal number of police had been called, and those police used aggressive physical force to push back the blockaders and open pathways for longshore workers to enter. One arrest was made, though no physical aggression was reported from the blockaders.

“Delay was always our victory condition, since delay costs money to ZIM and sends a message to Israel that it will be increasingly isolated as long as it maintains its regime of apartheid against Palestinians, “ said Nada Elia, another organizer. “They once again delivered us this victory before they reached the port and before we even understood it. We owe this success to the previous successful blockades against ZIM ships in Oakland and Los Angeles, as well as our own blockade in Tacoma. We plan to continue resisting business-as-usual for ZIM and other Israeli companies as long as Israel’s apartheid continues.”

The blockade actions at the Port of Seattle slowed down the entrance of longshore workers to the terminal where the ZIM ship was docked, though it is not yet clear whether or not the blockade caused actual delays to the start of unloading the ZIM ship beyond the 24-hour initial delay in docking.

The West Coast blockades of Israeli ZIM ships are part of the international campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel for its ongoing violations of human rights and international law, including Israel’s recent assault on the captive population of Gaza, during which Israel bombed schools, several hospitals, seven UN-­designated shelters, Gaza’s only power plant, and Gaza’s water purification system. More than 2000 Palestinians, mostly civilians, have been killed by Israel’s attacks over the past month.

Local activists are also responding to the Palestinian General Federation Trade Unions’ call for international supporters to take action in support of the people of Gaza. A letter signed by 93 Gazan civil society members, including teachers, doctors, and lawyers, demands three basic rights:
1) freedom for Palestinians to move freely in and out of Gaza;
2) unlimited import and export of supplies and goods, including by land, sea and air;
3) unrestricted use of the Gaza seaport.

– See more at:

Activists hope to block ship from Israeli company from unloading at Port Tampa Bay (WMNF Radio)

Activists hope to block ship from Israeli company from unloading at Port Tampa Bay


08/26/14 Seán Kinane

WMNF Drive-Time News Tuesday | Listen to this entire show:
Tags: Palestine, Israel, BDS, Block the Boat Tampa, Tampa, Port Tampa Bay, Port of Tampa


Bettejo Indelicato.
photo by Seán Kinane/WMNF News.

Local activists are taking the struggle for Palestinian rights to Port Tampa Bay. An Israeli ship, the Zim Alabama, is scheduled to dock there this week, but a new group called Block the Boat Tampa wants to stop it from being unloaded here. It’s part of the nonviolent struggle for Palestinian rights called BDS or boycott, divestment and sanctions.

WMNF’s Seán Kinane interviewed Bettejo Indelicato, who is helping to organize Block the Boat Tampa.

“In solidarity with activists in Oakland, L.A., Seattle and Tacoma, we are working to stop the unloading of an Israeli ship the Zim Alabama, which was scheduled to dock in the port of Tampa on Wednesday [August] 27th. We are holding an all day outreach at the docks hoping to outreach to workers and let them know why we are asking them not to unload the boat, to disrupt the service of the Zim. And we’ll have a presence there from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. with a rally from 11:30 to 12:30.”

Why are you looking at an Israeli boat in particular to stop it unloading? Tell our listeners what is it about Israeli companies you’re focused on.

“Well this is actually a part of a much larger movement: boycott, divestment and sanctions [BDS]. And it was a call from the Palestinian civil society in 1995 for the world to boycott Israel, much as it did in apartheid South Africa. The company Zim is an Israeli shipping company, the largest shipping company in Israel and one of the largest in the world. Their production, their money supports the Zionist state of Israel and the occupation of Palestine. So we are blocking the boat to stop Zim from unloading apartheid into Tampa.”

You’re using the word like apartheid and Zionist why you won’t define them so people know what you are talking about when you are using words like Zionists and apartheid?

“O.K., thank you. Because that’s always an issue that people might think we are anti-Semitic. We are not. Zionism is a political movement to steal the land of Palestine. And Judaism is a religion that has nothing to do with Zionism. Zionism has been working since the early 1800s looking to take over land for a Jewish State. When I talk about a Jewish State I will go into the Apartheid: residents of Israel who have Palestinian ancestry do not have the same rights, do not have the same access to infrastructures and social services than do the Israeli people. And in the West bank, apartheid affects every aspects of Palestinian life: travel, school, medical issues, villages being raided in the middle of the night, teenagers being arrested and taken away with their parents has no way to know where they are for sometimes months. So Apartheid is hell.”

And you have been to Palestine?

“Yes, I have.”

Where and when — and why you we’re there?

“I’ve travelled to Palestine with International Women’s Peace Service and we are human rights activists, a small group, with members from all over the world. We are located in the Salfit region of the West Bank which is a central farming area, but we travel to Nablus, Ramallah wherever we were needed. And in fact, the village we stay in Deir Istiya has been a quiet village since the second intifada and yet, just recently the entrances to the village have been bulldozed over. So the villagers have to take back roads that are dangerous and take a lot more time for them to get where they’re going because this senseless blockade of their village.”

Moving geographically back to Tampa — in order to affect what you are saying is the apartheid actions in the West Bank, you’re doing what you want to do here, which is stopping this Israeli boat from unloading its cargo — have you reached out to the docks’ workers and what do you hope their response will be?

“We have sent messages through the official channels. We are going to be at the docks today with some literature and hoping to talk to workers, let them know why we are out there; we don’t want to alienate them. We want them to understand we’re there for justice and that we are going to ask them to be in solidarity with their brothers and sisters in Oakland and other ports in the West Coast as well as the Palestinian civil society and the unions that have requested that unions around the world honor ‘boycott.’”

Describe what happened in Washington State, in Oakland, at some of these other ports where Israeli shipping companies have tried to come in. What’s happened with the activism there?

“In Oakland, activists were able to block the ship from being unloaded for four days which cost the shipping company a considerable amount of money. A large police presence alongside the activists made the workers feel that it was an unsafe situation for them to cross the picket line. In essence they honored the picket line. In Tacoma and Seattle, there’s been varying degrees of success. We know that one ship has just been circling around in Puget Sound not wanting to dock and have the difficulties that were present in Oakland.

“We need a lot of support. We need more than ever at least the understanding of the workers. And our action is from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. tomorrow with a rally 11:30 to 12:30. And the situation is fluid. Things are changing rapidly; the organization is just going on tremendously. But for more information and to date, please visit our Facebook page ‘Block the Boat Tampa’ and our event page will come up. We are working on a website which should be done by the end of the day (Tuesday).”

Picketlines Past and Present: Israel to South Africa (SF Chronicle)

Recap of 5 day Port of Oakland blockade of Israeli ship Zim Piraeus through eyes of 88 year old retired longshoreman involved in historic 1984 ILWU strike that sparked US anti-apartheid movement.

Israeli ship heads out of Oakland – again – after five days of extraordinary protest (Mondweiss)


Israeli ship heads out of Oakland – again – after five days of extraordinary protest




Update: It’s hard to keep up with all the twists and turns in the ongoing saga of the Zim Piraeus, the Israeli-owned cargo ship that’s been trying to unload and reload at the Port of Oakland since last Saturday. The report below reflected the situation as it appeared as of 5 p.m. on Wednesday. But just minutes after I submitted it, as I was about to head off by bike and BART for another night of picketing, word came through that the ship was again underway, headed west, with a listed destination of Vostochny, the largest port on Russia’s east coast and the eastern end of the Trans-Siberian Railway. After the escapade the ship pulled yesterday – heading through the Golden Gate and out to sea, then abruptly making a U-turn and steaming back to the Port of Oakland – no one can be completely sure that it’s really leaving, but that’s how things look right now (Wed., 6:15 p.m. PDT).

Five days after the Israeli container ship Zim Piraeus was scheduled to dock in Oakland for an overnight stop to unload and load cargo, it’s still been unable to complete its business in the Bay Area, thanks to continuing protests by demonstrators demanding justice for Palestine and the solidarity of many longshore workers.

Last Saturday, when the ship was originally due, it instead dawdled at sea to avoid more than 3,000 marchers who descended on the Port of Oakland prepared to set up a community picket line to dissuade longshore workers from unloading and reloading the Israeli vessel. On Sunday, when the ship finally headed into port, hundreds returned on short notice to the port to picket, and the longshore crews, members of historically progressive Local 10 of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, refused to work the ship.

Even with far fewer picketers showing up during the work week, the stalemate continued until Tuesday afternoon, when the Zim line tried to pull an astonishing stunt: with the help of the Israeli consulate in San Francisco and the local mainstream media, it put out the word that the Piraeus was giving up on Oakland and setting sail to Los Angeles.

Protesters were skeptical – some intrepid scouts had uncovered indications that Zim actually intended just to move the ship to a different berth in Oakland – but when online maritime tracking services showed the Piraeus actually pulling out of Oakland harbor, leaving its tugs behind, passing under the Bay and Golden Gate bridges, and heading out into the Pacific, the organizers of the Block the Boat campaign posted a victory statement on Facebook, and thousands of supporters began to celebrate what appeared to be an extraordinary victory.

But protesters nevertheless kept an eye on the ship’s path via sites like, and in the later afternoon something extraordinary became apparent: the ship was pulling an abrupt u-turn and heading back to Oakland! Evidently the whole maneuver was a trick intended to put the protest movement off guard and allow the ship to dock at a different berth, where the owners obviously hoped it would be unloaded in peace. In addition, they paid to bring a work crew originally hired to work a different ship to the Zim Piraeus’s new berth by bus within the port, just to make sure they wouldn’t encounter any pickets.


These tricks were only partially successful, however: word spread quickly among protesters, and scores of us hurriedly made our way back to the port to set up the lines again. The picketing went on through the evening and into the morning hours (I left around 1:30 a.m.). With scores of police – this time from the Alameda County Sheriff’s department, not the Oakland police – forcing open a path through our lines, some cars crossed our lines; others appeared to turn away as we chanted “Free, free Palestine – don’t cross the picket line.” It was clear that some work on the ship was going on, but there were reports that some workers were engaging in a slowdown, that some were prepared to leave after their midnight lunch break if we could maintain a sufficiently large and militant picket line. There was also a lot of confusion – the terminal in question has numerous gates, widely scattered, and though we eventually got picket lines up at all of them, it wasn’t entirely clear how to deploy our forces. And I know I wasn’t alone in suffering fatigue, boredom, and various aches and pains after long hours of marching in circles, with no idea of what exactly we were accomplishing.

Still – not to get too mawkish – I kept thinking about my friends in Gaza and the infinitely greater challenges and burdens they face, and that kept me going. And I think all of us who were there felt compelled to see this epic action through – to keep holding high the banner of justice and the flag of Palestine for the Bay Area and the world to see – whatever the practical effect. A few people counted to picket through the night, and more showed up in the morning, and reports suggest the results of their efforts were easier to see. Here’s a vivid e-mail report from one participant [Code Pink activist Toby Blomé]:

At 5:00 am this morning there were initially only 4 of us for about 45+minutes. We proceeded to Berths 22/23/24……eventually there were about 12-15 of us, but the main gate (number?) where ILWU were beginning to filter in after 6pm had a very wide entrance. It was very challenging to try to picket/block it as a small group.  We had some difficult confrontations with some aggressive drivers, and a couple of angry white macho teamsters actually got very physical with us, but ultimately it quieted down as more activists arrived, and what was initially very uncertain evolved into a beautiful and very strong and vibrant picket line. (About 25-30 people ?)

We had lots of group dialogue and consensus processing amidst a very diverse group, with varying opinions, but ultimately we decided to continue to picket, even though many of the ILWU who were trying to enter were there to unload a different (“Hawaii bound”) ship.  We soon began to talk with the ILWU workers as they were attempting to enter….. Many were very sympathetic and pledged not to work on the Israeli ship. After a brief “hold up” and conversation with the driver/worker…..we would let them enter, after they reassured us that they weren’t working on the Zim ship.

Very soon after that an ILWU member with orange vest o n who seemed to have a lot of influence actually walked up to each car trying to enter, and “ordered” them to honor our picket line, and they “obeyed”….. I heard him give the verbal explanation re:  “health and safety risks”…

A large group of law enforcement officers stood to the side as observers, and watched the entire evolution of our picket…..never interfering throughout the morning.

The most beautiful part of the morning for me, was looking on the other side of the entrance, as the ILWU workers who were asked by there leadership not to cross the line were getting out of their cars and accumulating as a group, in orange jumpsuits….ultimately about 25-30 of them.

We eventually thanked them all and expressed much gratitude for their support… They had the most beautiful expressions on their faces, in response, and several of them clapped and smiled after we thanked them.

Later in the morning, I approached them and thanked them again while we were still picketing.  I told them that if any of them are under any significant financial burden by not working today, that they should give me their contact info, and we would raise some funds to help reduce any financial stress.  None of them expressed any need for help, and several raised their hands up and shook them as an expression of “no need”.. It was a really beautiful moment.

Later on, once we knew for sure that the ZIM ship had indeed left dock at that berth, we ceased our picketing.  As the ILWU workers got into the cars and started entering the gate to work on the (non-ZIM) ships, we thanked them and praised them for their support….many smiled and flashed peace signs to us as they entered. Another very beautiful moment!

In summary, I am extremely proud to be a part of this very important campaign. WE HAVE SUCCEEDED…..For 5 days we have prevented the Zim ship from unloading its cargo.


Apparently a few containers were unloaded last nite, but not many.

The especially beautiful thing about this BLOCK THE BOAT campaign, is that it is truly a broad collective of groups and people, with many varied life experiences and political perspective. But we are there together for one reason:  JUSTICE AND PEACE IN PALESTINE!


WHENEVER THEY ARE ABLE…..until the Zim is out to sea for good!

The effort even garnered some fairly decent coverage on at least one of the Bay Area’s major local TV stations.

Around 9 this morning the ship left its second berth, but instead of sailing out of the San Francisco Bay and on to its next destination, it headed further south in the bay, then simply stopped. We’re not sure what comes next – the suspicion is that it will soon return to port of Oakland, perhaps to its first berth, perhaps to finish unloading if that work wasn’t completed last night, perhaps to pick up containers it’s scheduled to haul on the next leg of its voyages.


The Block the Boat coalition, organizers of the Saturday march and the Sunday picket, are not involved in the continuing pickets, but many individuals and autonomous groups are prepared to continue the protest until the ship is finally gone. By the time it leaves, it will most likely have offloaded all of its Oakland-bound cargo and loaded up with new freight.

But all of us who participated consider the actions of the last five days, taken together, a victory of historic proportions: we’ve delayed the ship for going on five days; we’ve undoubtedly cost the Israelis hundreds of thousands of dollars, at least, in extra docking fees, crew wages, and so on; we’ve forced them to resort to transparent deception in their efforts to avoid us; we’ve highlighted the clear connection between the struggles of the Palestinians and those of disadvantaged groups in this country, notably the people of Ferguson, MO; and, most important, we’ve shown the world and especially the Palestinians that support for their rights and for the tactics of boycott, divestment, and sanctions, in a variety of forms, continues to grow, even here in the belly of the beast.

Here’s today’s statement from the Block the Boat coalition, plus a list of members organizations that demonstrates the breadth of the movement:

August 20, 2014

Longest Blockade of Israeli Ship in History
ZIM ship turned away from SSA in​ Oakland​!



For four days straight the San Francisco Bay Area community blocked the Israeli ZIM ship from unloading at the SSA.  And today, we salute the rank and file workers of ILWU local 10 for standing with us against Israeli Apartheid by honoring our pickets and letting the ship go from the SSA terminal yesterday afternoon!

Saturday we mobilized thousands of our community to show the world that Oakland does not welcome racism, apartheid or Zionism, from Ferguson to Palestine.  We flooded the streets and marched towards the Port only to discover that the ZIM ship decided to stay at Sea rather than dock and be confronted by the power of our numbers.  The ship attempted to dock and unload on Sunday, but within a half hour’s time hundreds of us organized community pickets requesting that workers to stand with us on the side of justice and not unload the Apartheid ship. And as ILWU rank and file always have, and as they did during South African Apartheid, they demonstrated their solidarity with the global fight against oppression and honored our picket. The following Monday and Tuesday saw both an organized call to action as well as autonomous protests determined to keep the ship from being unloaded.  These efforts coupled with worker solidarity continued the success of the weekend’s total blockade of the ZIM ship.

Tuesday we declared a historic victory for Palestine as Oakland held down the longest blockade of an Israeli ship.  Not only did we block the boat, but we also showed the world that racist exclusionary state of Apartheid Israel has no place on our port, and will soon find that it has no place on any port on the West Coast. After being blocked from unloading at the SSA Terminal, the ZIM ship was forced to leave and unload at another Terminal where it was met with protests by autonomous activists. This even further delayed the unloading of the ship.

From the use of tear gas to the training of police by Israeli military, Oakland feels firsthand the brutality of Israeli war-making.  And Palestine knows too well the role the US plays in facilitating the ongoing ethnic cleansing of the indigenous Palestinian people.  From the policing and militarization of our local communities perfected with Israeli tactics of repression to the billions that the US provides Apartheid Israel, the connections are clear and are made for us.  And over the last four days we showed the world that we stand shoulder to shoulder from Palestine to Oakland to Ferguson as we struggle bring down every wall, every Apartheid system and every racist state.

Palestine will be free.

Block the Boat was organized by a coalition of autonomous activists and the following organizations: 

Al-Awda New York
All African People’s Revolutionary Party (AAPRP)
American Friends Service Committee
American Muslims for Palestine
ANSWER Coalition
APEN: Asian Pacific Environmental Network
Arab Youth Organizing (AYO)
AROC: Arab Resource & Organizing Center
ASATA: Alliance of South Asians Taking Action
Bay Area Women in Black
Bay Area CodePink
Bay Area Latin America Solidarity Coalition
Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists Social Justice Committee
Black Organizing Project (BOP)
Black Organizing Leadership and Dignity (BOLD)
Black Workers For Justice
Catalyst Project
CodePink Washington
Committee for Open Discussion of Zionism (CODZ)
Communist Party of San Francisco
Critical Resistance – LA
Critical Resistance – Oakland
Critical Resistance – Portland
Descoloniza a Oakland/Decolonize Oakland
Free Palestine Movement
Freedom Archives
Friends of Deir Ibzi’a
Fuerza Mundial/Pueblos en Movimiento
General Union of Palestine Students – SFSU
Global Women’s Strike
Gray Panthers of San Francisco
Green Party of Alameda County
Haiti Action Committee
International Action Center
International Jewish Anti Zionist Network
International Solidarity Movement – West Bank/Gaza
International Socialist Organization
International Tribunal of Conscience for Camilo
ISM-Nor Cal
IWW Bay Area Branch
Jewish Against Genocide
Jews for Palestinian Right of Return
Justice for Palestinians
La Voz de l@s trabajadores/Worker’s Voice
Labor for Palestine
Lake Merritt Neighbors Organized for Peace
Malcolm X Grassroots Movement
Marcha Patriotica (Colombia) – California chapter
Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA)
Movement Generation
National Lawyers Guild SFBA Chapter
Noam Chomsky
NorCal Friends of Sabeel
Occupy SF Action Council
ONYX Organizing Committee
The Palestine-Israel Action Committee
Palestine General Federation of Trade Unions
Palestinian Youth Movement
Queers Undermining Israeli Terror
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network
San Francisco Green Party
School of the Americas Watch East Bay
Socialist Alternative – Bay Area Branch
Socialist Organizer
SOUL: School of Unity and Liberation
Southern Anti-Racism Network
Stanford Students for Justice
Stop the War Machine
Students for Justice in Palestine – Cal
Totally Radical Muslims
UAW Local 2865 (Academic Student Workers at the University of California)
US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation
US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott
US Palestinian Community Network
Veterans For Peace Chapter 69
World Can’t Wait Bay Area
Workers World Party
Xicana Moratorium

For real-time information, misinformation, and probably disinformation, follow #BlocktheBoat on Twitter. And if you’re curious about just what’s in all those containers the Israelis are trying so hard to deliver to Oakland, here’s a complete inventory – everything from pickles and used clothes from Israel to coloring for carpeting underlays from Ukraine:


Finally, here’s a good video by Peter Menchini that mixes footage from Saturday’s march, news clips from Palestine, and music by Lowkey:



– See more at:

Keeping apartheid at Bay (Socialist Worker)

Keeping apartheid at Bay

The boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against Israel reached the docks with a solidarity protest and action by union members in Oakland, reports Sid Patel.

_IGP3400-port blockade-a

PROTESTS BY Palestine solidarity activists delayed an Israeli-owned ship from docking in the Port of Oakland on August 16 and inspired port workers to refuse to unload the ship over the coming days, in an important victory for the Palestine solidarity movement. As this article was being published, the Zim Piraeus remained docked in the Port of Oakland, but with all its cargo still onboard.

The Block the Boat for Gaza action on Saturday, August 16, drew some 1,500 people down to the docks. It was organized by a coalition of over 70 groups, led by the Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC), as a response to Operation Protective Edge, the most recent massacre committed by the Israel Defense Forces in Gaza. The action was carried out in step with the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.

The Zim ship tried to evade protests by delaying its arrival from the morning, when the action was planned, to the afternoon. The coalition used its text alert system to shift the entire mobilization to 3 p.m. At that time, 1,000 people gathered at the West Oakland BART station and began the march to the docks. Popular chants included “When people are occupied, resistance is justified,” and “From Ferguson to Palestine, occupation is a crime.” The march picked up strength along the way.

Midway through the march, organizers using a vessel tracking website realized that the Zim ship was in a holding pattern dozens of miles away–in other words, its captain had backed down and had no intention of confronting the march at the dock. While it is highly likely that dockworkers would have respected the large picket lines put up by demonstrators, it wasn’t even necessary on Saturday because the Zim crew and its owners flinched.

The following day, the Zim ship did dock at the Port of Oakland, but organizers used the text alert system to mobilize over 100 activists to set up picket lines at the gates in front of the ship’s berth. Workers from International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 10 refused to cross the community picket lines, and the Zim ship’s apartheid cargo sat untouched for yet another day, extending the victory.

That was repeated on Monday, with a small number of activists picketing in the morning until an ILWU official reportedly told them no one would be working for that shift. The fact that the picket was small and the ship still wasn’t unloaded is a testament to the ILWU members and their commitment to social justice

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

THE BLOCK the Boat for Gaza action inspired solidarity organizing in New York City and at the Ports of Long Beach, Seattle/Tacoma, and Vancouver. It also generated press coverage in the Jerusalem Post, Al Jazeera and other widely read outlets. The Israeli political establishment is keenly aware of the political threat of the BDS movement, and effective direct actions like this will echo from port to port and country to country.

Zim Integrated Shipping Services is the largest shipping company in Israel and the tenth-largest in the world, so interfering with its operations does make an impact. Sharif Zakout, an organizer with AROC, explained the significance of the action:

Blocking the boat today set a good precedent. It may lead to other blocks. Every day or every time we’re able to delay that boat or keep it from even docking, we’re costing the Israeli state money, and we’re effectively organizing more people towards boycotting, divesting from and sanctioning Israel.

And we heard recently that companies like Starbucks had to say that they are not doing business with Israel. There are companies like Motorola, Caterpillar, PG&E and General Electricity that are losing money because people are becoming more aware about what’s going in Palestine and making the those connections.

So it’s a lot of small actions hopefully making big change in the long run. But really, it all comes down to building community and making those connections together with people who live in this area.

The action depended on the solidarity of the workers of the ILWU, which has a rich tradition of supporting struggles against imperialism and racism. The ILWU refused to handle cargo from apartheid South Africa in the 1980s, a direct historical reference point for today’s campaigns.

The Block the Boat for Gaza action highlighted the potential power the ILWU and other unions could wield in the fight against Israeli apartheid and occupation–but for such actions to spread will take further political education and engagement between the Palestine solidarity movement and the labor movement.

Speaking at the victory rally at the end of the march on Saturday, Clarence Thomas, a longtime leader of ILWU Local 10, said:

Many longshoremen have learned about Gaza and Palestine because activists have been leafleting the union hall. Many workers are now watching the ship’s progress and are very interested in the issue. But some of our members aren’t well informed about Palestine, so it’s important that the left reach out to them. And when they get the information, the rank and file will make the right choice.

Speakers at the victory rally drew the connection between empire abroad and repression at home, made all the more vivid by the images of military equipment and tactics deployed by local police against unarmed people of color protesting police brutality in Ferguson, Mo. The march and rally were infused with the sense that the struggle for Palestinian liberation is intertwined with the struggle for liberation by the exploited and the oppressed here.

The Zim ship may eventually offload its cargo in Oakland, but the now three-day-long blockade creates a new reference point for future organizing.

There are important strategic and tactical questions for the solidarity movement in the Bay Area that go well beyond a single or even a recurring picket of Zim ships–questions of selecting targets, reaching different audiences, growing the active base and sustaining mobilizations. The movement is preparing to develop its next steps in the aftermath of this big success.

Geming Lai contributed to this article.

Israeli ship is blocked from unloading in Oakland for four straight days (Electronic Intifada)

Electronic Intifada

Israeli ship is blocked from unloading in Oakland for four straight days


Activists blocked the unloading of an Israeli shipping vessel in Oakland, California on 18 August. (Daniela Kantarova/Flickr)


San Francisco Bay Area activists have not allowed a vessel from Israel’s largest shipping company to unload in the Oakland Port for four consecutive mornings.

On Tuesday, 19 August, at 6:45am, activists declared yet another victory against the Zim Line, which has been trying to make its way into Oakland since Saturday, 16 August.

Lara Kiswani, the executive director of the local Arab Resource and Organizing Center, told The Electronic Intifada that they are now waiting to hear if the Zim Line will leave the Port of Oakland today with the cargo it brought. “If not,” Kiswani wrote in an email, “we will continue to mobilize until it does.”

Organizers had initially planned a one-day action for 16 August, delaying the weekly, Saturday-scheduled offloading of the Zim ship by just one full work day.Saturday’s success was seamless: the Zim Pireaus avoided the Oakland Port completely, preferring to remain at sea south of Oakland rather than meet the thousands of protesters who had descended onto the docks.

But, fueled off the initial triumph, activists returned to Berth 57 at the Oakland Port the next evening, on Sunday, 17 August.

At 5pm Sunday, activists released an urgent call for supporters to convene at the port. Within thirty minutes of the call, hundreds of people returned to the docks. Workers with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) – Local 10 honored the picket line, and refused to unload the ship.

No one would cross

Leading up to Saturday’s action, organizers had worked hard to gain the support of workers with the local ILWU, whose contracts are currently expired. While many ILWU members are eager to lend their support to Palestine — as they did before, in 2010 — others were still concerned about missing a day of work in the absence of an internal contract agreement.

But Monday came, and the Zim Line sat at the Oakland Port: no one would cross the picket line, even though the numbers of demonstrators had thinned since the weekend — and as of Tuesday morning, the ship remained full of cargo. Because the union is out of contract, they are not obliged to defer to a port arbitrator to decide whether or not they must go to work as it is an internal decision.

On Monday, the ILWU issued a statement on their compliance with the picket line, maintaining that it was the “unsafe conditions” that led them to their decision:

The ILWU has taken no position on the issue associated with the demonstration, but in cases when unsafe circumstances arise at the point of entry, the union must protect the safety of its members in the workplace …

SSA [Stevedoring Services of America], after recognizing the safety situation associated with ingress to their gates, released all ILWU manpower at 7:30 p.m.

More actions to come

This is the first time that an Israeli ship has been obstructed from docking for more than one day due to protest.

Activists here are looking forward to the future. In September, an annual weapons convention held in Oakland, Urban Shield, will feature numerous Israeli companies, and the Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC) is already mobilizing against it.

While the port shutdown was in response to Israel’s current bombardment of Gazaand a direct appeal by Palestinian trade union groups, local organizations like AROC want the action to mark the first of many direct mobilizations against Israel’s decades-long control of Palestinians and US-supported colonization of their land.