We Blocked the Boat!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – October 29, 2014

Bay Area Activists Declare Historic Victory Over Israeli Shipping Company

Pro-Palestinian Organizing Deters ZIM Ship from Docking at Oakland Port; ZIM Shows no Plan to Return

Watch short video documentary here.

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 against the Palestinian people, organizers deterred the container ship ZIM Beijing from docking at the Port of Oakland. The protest was organized by 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 (BDS) movement to isolate and weaken Israel.

Members of ILWU Local 10, the union which represents dock workers at the Port of Oakland, informed BTB organizers that the ZIM Beijing has 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 thePort of Oakland on October 25th, but changed course to avoid protests that had been planned by BTB.

This is the first time in history where 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 US 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, Seattle, and Vancouver, 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.”