Daybreak outpouring of Bay Area picketers stops unloading of Israeli ship

on 62 Comments

If anyone had any doubts that the movement for justice in Palestine is growing by leaps and bounds, in numbers, breadth, and determination, check out what happened this morning in Oakland, CA:

• somewhere between 700 and 1,000 demonstrators from all over the San Francisco Bay Area made their way at 5:30 on a Sunday morning deep into the Port of Oakland to stage a spirited community-labor picket line in front of a berth where an Israeli freighter, the Zim Shenzhen, was due to dock;

• dock workers from Local 10 of the International Longshore & Warehouse Union refused to cross the picket line;

• under the terms of the ILWU contract, an arbitrator was summoned to the site, he upheld the legality of the dock workers’ refusal to cross the line, and the company was compelled to cancel the shift and send the workers home. 

Waving Palestinian and Turkish flags and chanting "Free, free Palestine – don’t cross the picket line" and "An injury to one is an injury to all – the Israeli apartheid wall will fall," the demonstrators blocked three gates to the berth for more than four hours. The turnout was all the more impressive because the BART, the Bay Area subway system, doesn’t even start running until around 8 a.m. on Sunday, and even after people got to the assembly point in West Oakland, we had to walk more than a mile to get to the berth. 

The event was organized by an ad hoc coalition of dozens of community and labor organizations. The main leadership came from Palestinian-Americans and other Arab Americans, with the Bay Area branch of ANSWER also playing a key role. The idea arose in response to a call issued in the wake of Israel’s attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla by the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions, which asked workers around the world to stop unloading ships carrying Israeli goods.

For veteran Bay Area activists, today’s victory echoed a historic milestone in 1984, when ILWU workers in San Francisco refused to unload a ship called the Nedlloyd Kimberley, because its cargo came from South Africa. Just 10 years later, Nelson Mandela was elected president, and apartheid – in its South African form – was dead.

With today’s day shift cancelled, most of the picketers have now gone home to get caffeine, food, and rest, but we’re not done yet: we’re going back to the site at 4 o’clock this afternoon to put up another picket line, in hopes that the ILWU workers will again refuse to cross the line and unload the ship. If you’re in the Bay Area, be there or be square – it’s your chance to make history. Just head for the West Oakland BART at 4 to march or get a ride to Berth 58. There’s more information here.

62 Responses

  1. Mooser
    June 20, 2010, 4:01 pm

    Amazing news from Oakland.

    Of course, any wide-awake Zionst supporter can see the only thing to do is make sure that any more demonstrations like this include a contingent of anti-Semitic provocateurs.

    • Pamela Olson
      June 20, 2010, 8:30 pm

      Or you can always threaten the organizers with Gitmo. After all, they’re effectively aiding terrorist groups with their activities, amirite? These scum politicos in NY tried to threaten the Turkish speakers from IHH with exactly that, got their visas revoked, and scared the crap out of certain American organizations who hadn’t quite known what they were getting into — what it meant to cross the American Zionist establishment.

      But it just shows their pathetic desperation. We’re so on the right side of history it’s not even fair.

      • MRW
        June 21, 2010, 2:49 am

        Well, Pamela, you dont fuck with the military, and you dont fuck with the unions in this country. So we’ll see how powerful that American Zionoist establishment is. Dont forget the Zionists only court the courtiers in DC. The unionists are beneath them … Zionist exceptionalism and all.

    • Seham
      June 20, 2010, 8:40 pm

      Beautiful video from the event

  2. azythos
    June 20, 2010, 4:24 pm

    “a contingent of anti-Semitic provocateurs”

    No sale. Or, This Time You Went Too Far.

    Everybody knows now that “Antisemitic” means either of the following:

    a. Cudgel to beat opponents of Zionism (when they cannot be murdered outright)

    b. The only unacceptable racism (while anti-Schwarze, anti-Arab, anti-Mizrahi, anti-Everythingelse is fitting, good and proper)

    No one swallows it anymore. Not even the eager helpers of the Shithole Propaganda-Abteilung.

    • monad68
      June 20, 2010, 4:40 pm

      Are you serious? I have to confront anti-semites all the time at the demonstrations I organize, it is disgusting. Antisemitism is racism, and it is wrong, just like Islamophobia or Zionism. Furthermore, if we tolerate antisemites, then not only are we corrupting our own principled stand for human rights but it’s essentially an “own goal” in the very serious war for hearts and minds we are currently engaged in.

      Antisemites are evil evil creatures which corrupt and sabotage our movement and must be purged.

      • VR
        June 20, 2010, 4:46 pm

        Than be about the vetting process (with antisemitism) and no excuses for not moving full steam ahead. However, I am sure you meant this anyhow, right?

      • azythos
        June 20, 2010, 5:14 pm

        Exactly. Antisemitism is racism, as you so rightly say. It doesn’t need a special tag all of its own. The moment you see that special tag you should suspect that some dirty shenanigan is afoot.

        That said, I (and you, as far as I can tell) agree that none of the racisms should be admitted. Because racists, not only anti-this-o-anti-thats “are evil evil creatures which corrupt and sabotage our movement and must be purged”.

        Other people may have more open policies (of the Zionist kind, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”) which you and I don’t aprove, but our approval is not a necessary requirement. One thing is sure, yelling “Anti-Semitism!” sells less and less.

      • MRW
        June 20, 2010, 5:51 pm

        Give it a break, monad68. This is not the issue, and you are introducing disinfo into a far more important one.

      • Jeffrey Blankfort
        June 21, 2010, 1:03 am

        What is this nonsense about anti-semitism on this thread? Today there was an historic moment in the struggle for justice for Paletine in which I was thrilled to participate. It was the first protest among the many that I have been involved with over many years that actually meant something, namely that the Israeli Zim ahipping line not only took a financial hit when it was not able to unload its cargo, the prospect for this spreading to the other West Coast ports is very great and certainly it will be repeated when the next Zim ship shows up Oakland.

        Moreover, at 7 pm, as the afternoon successful picket came to an end, Clarence Thomas, the president of ILWU Local 10, the longshore union’s largest local, expressed his solidarity with the Palestinians and declared Israel to be a “criminal state.”

        Thanks to those courageous Turks on the Mavi Marmara the tide is beginning to turn against Israel. There is a new day dawning and Israel will be hard pressed to find another Red Sea division in its trick bag

      • MRW
        June 21, 2010, 1:14 am

        Ha! Jeffrey. I knew you would be there. I was looking for you in the footage. “Today there was an historic moment in the struggle for justice for Paletine in which I was thrilled to participate.”

      • MRW
        June 21, 2010, 1:17 am

        Once Israel loses California, it’s lost the country. It’s just a matter of time before it spreads. And Israel lost the common folk in California today.

      • Bart
        June 21, 2010, 8:32 pm

        Really? ~1000 San Francisco-ans, land of uber leftists and liberals, home of Nancy Pelosi, the most hated woman in all of congress = California? REALLY? California, where union greed has brought the state to inevitable insolvency? And the rest of us WANT to copy California?

        If you want to think that, Im sure you will. But its utter bunk.

    • MRW
      June 20, 2010, 5:56 pm

      Azythos is serious: “anti-Schwarze, anti-Arab, anti-Mizrahi, anti-Everything else” is UNACCEPTABLE.

  3. Les
    June 20, 2010, 4:28 pm

    Unless the 4:00 O’Clock shift breaks ranks and unloads the cargo, this story will not appear in the New York Times or likely be mentioned on NPR news.

    • Philip Munger
      June 20, 2010, 5:15 pm

      So far, it is just a local story, with the exception of a few blogs like here and firedoglake’s The Sentinel. Siun, at fdl will probably run a story on this action today at 6:00 p.m. Pacific.

      SFGate published their first report at about 12:30 p.m. Pacific Time. ADailyKos diary on it, posted early this morning is approaching 1,000 comments (993).

      The ship should be berthing very soon – within an hour or so, IIRC.

      • Philip Munger
        June 20, 2010, 5:16 pm

        should read 923 comments, not 993.

      • Sumud
        June 20, 2010, 5:57 pm

        Well that didn’t take so long Philip – 1011 comments, and counting.

      • Seham
        June 20, 2010, 5:28 pm

        It came through my google reader from Yahoo-Middle East News as well.

        link to

  4. Mooser
    June 20, 2010, 4:53 pm

    So the general opinion seems to be that the anti-Semitic provocateur trick would fail, either be vetted out before the demo, or not accepted as the representative, true feelings of the demonstrators?
    If so, that’s very good! Things have come a long way.

    • azythos
      June 20, 2010, 5:47 pm

      No “vetting” works 100%. Especially with a ruthless Zionist organization used to false-flag operations and intent on silencing everybody.

      The only way to take care of the problem is to kill the general idea, inposed on the public by the Zionists , that Jews and Zionism are the same thing. A very active presence in the Anti-Zionist movement of people who define themselves as “Jewish” is a good way to kill it. We’re far from there.

    • VR
      June 20, 2010, 5:50 pm

      Not necessarily Mooser, however the goal of getting to the underbelly of everyone’s motivations is an impossible task – especially with a contingency (antisemitic) which has been around for millennia, it is just no excuse for not moving forward with this agenda. There is no group that does not have some people with skewed views and intentions, you just vet them when you can.

  5. Mooser
    June 20, 2010, 4:59 pm

    Sorry, saw this on JSF and just had to note it here, just in case Witty needs a neat summation of his position:

    “Left Zionism is the belief that destroying a people and taking their homeland is something that can be done humanely and fairly through mutual agreement and dialogue.” -Gabriel Ash

    • MRW
      June 20, 2010, 5:57 pm

      Mooser, Witty is still reading Larouche.

    • VR
      June 20, 2010, 5:59 pm

      Now that is an apt definition Mooser, might be just as timeless as “shoot and cry.”


    • andrew r
      June 21, 2010, 12:31 am

      And I’m sorry for this, too, but I want people to feel what I feel.
      link to

      Stay to the end, trust me, the picture she put in there with no self-awareness whatsoever will floor you.

  6. maximalistNarrative
    June 20, 2010, 5:00 pm

    These people are calling for collection punishment against the Jewish people.

    It’s so interesting that those that decry the unloading of illegal ships in Gaza, promote the same sort of blockage on fully legal Jewish goods around the world.

    Double standard.

    • Sumud
      June 20, 2010, 9:49 pm


      ZIM shipping is a privately owned company.

      link to

      This action has nothing to do with collective punishment, or jews.

      • maximalistNarrative
        June 20, 2010, 9:56 pm

        And as I recall the Mavi Marmara was a privately owned vessel.

      • Sumud
        June 21, 2010, 12:08 am

        And what is that supposed to prove?

        I never reciprocated your argument and claimed the raid on the flotilla was a form of collective punishment on Turks or any of the 36 nations present (including Israel) on the flotilla.

        The blockade of Gaza however, is REAL collective punishment, and an abrogation of Israels’ responsibilities to the occupied population in Gaza, under the Geneva Convention.

        At sea privately owned vessels are considered the territory of the flag they fly. By attacking the Mavi Marmara, Israel declared war on Turkey, a member of NATO. You should be glad Turkey hasn’t exercise their rights and demanded a NATO response.

        And no mN, refusing to unload a ship isn’t a declaration of war.

  7. Philip Munger
    June 20, 2010, 5:38 pm

    Here’s a pretty solid statement against current Israeli policies, issued by the San Francisco Labor Council on the 14th.

  8. Philip Munger
    June 20, 2010, 5:48 pm

    Here’s a link to one of the videos that has been posted on the morning protest.

  9. MRW
    June 20, 2010, 5:58 pm

    As goes California, so goes the rest of the country.

  10. Rupa Shah
    June 20, 2010, 6:13 pm

    Wow! this is some news!

  11. Sumud
    June 20, 2010, 6:44 pm

    I’ve been looking into some background of the Zim Shenzhen and the company that owns it, Zim Integrated Shipping Services – Israel’s largest shipping company and the 10th largest in the world.

    link to

    It’s now a privately owned company after being fully privatised in 2004 but was formerly owned in part by the Government of Israel – and was founded in 1945 by the Jewish Agency.

    Looking at their website – conveniently they list a schedule by ship and port. Over the next 2 months 10 ZIM ships are scheduled to pass through Oakland. By comparison, 58 ZIM ships are scheduled to pass through the Port of New York:

    link to

    I really can’t think of a better candidate for a mass boycott, led by maritime workers unions and/or private citizens. According to their website they run 90 vessels to 544 ports (by my count) across the globe. Doing the bulk of their business outside Israel, they’re extremely vulnerable to international pressure like today’s action in SF.

    – – – – –

    Ironic tidbit from the wikipedia entry on ZIM Shipping:

    “1964 saw the completion of the ocean liner SS Shalom, which turned out to be a failure, marking the end of the ZIM passenger shipping era.”

    What the wiki doesn’t say is that the SS Shalom sliced a Norwegian tanker in half in fog in 1964, killing 19 on the Norwegian vessel. Accidents happen.

  12. Sumud
    June 20, 2010, 6:56 pm

    Track the Zim Shenzen here:

    link to

    It’s not far from port of Oakland, just passed under Golden Gate Bridge.

  13. Philip Munger
    June 20, 2010, 7:37 pm

    Here’s a cite from one of the recent comments at the DK article I’ve linked to above:

    The United States adopted two laws that seek to counteract the participation of U.S. citizens in other nation’s economic boycotts or embargoes (although these laws do not restrict the ability to engage in disinvestment campaigns.) These “antiboycott” laws are the 1977 amendments to the Export Administration Act (EAA) and the Ribicoff Amendment to the 1976 Tax Reform Act (TRA). The antiboycott provisions of the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) apply to all “U.S. persons,” defined to include individuals and companies located in the United States and their foreign affiliates, and prohibit them to participate in unsanctioned boycotts against other nations, punishable by fines of up to $50,000 or five times the value of the exports involved[18] or jail term of up to 10 years.[19]

    Conduct that may be penalized under the TRA and/or prohibited under the EAR includes:

    Agreements to refuse or actual refusal to do business with or in Israel or with blacklisted companies.
    Agreements to discriminate or actual discrimination against other persons based on race, religion, sex, national origin or nationality.
    Agreements to furnish or actual furnishing of information about business relationships with or in Israel or with blacklisted companies.
    Agreements to furnish or actual furnishing of information about the race, religion, sex, or national origin of another person.

  14. Richard Witty
    June 20, 2010, 8:34 pm

    It sounds fascistic to me, not to you?

    • Seham
      June 20, 2010, 9:18 pm

      I wish there was a mechanism in place to give Witty a thumb’s down for all his comments. I would use that feature, a lot.

      • Seham
        June 20, 2010, 9:22 pm

        The video posted is music to my Palestinian ears, I’ve played it over and over while I fold laundry.

        “free, free Palestine, don’t you cross the picket line” –catchy!

      • Frances
        June 20, 2010, 9:27 pm

        Ah, like a Youtube system? I wish we had a “Hide Comment” feature. I WANT to stop reading Witty, but I just can’t quit him.

      • azythos
        June 20, 2010, 9:42 pm

        BDS him.
        He’s deserved it.

      • Sumud
        June 20, 2010, 9:58 pm

        Though it isn’t practical to administer, I advocate a sin bin: 30 days cooling off (no commenting) after each lie – such as the one RW just admitted to on this thread:

        link to

        .. and 3 strikes and you’re out. Discourse and debate are harmed in the presence of obvious liars, we shouldn’t have to put up with it.

      • hayate
        June 20, 2010, 11:31 pm

        Actually, if people stop responding to these hasbarats, they’ll get bored eventually and post much less.

      • Sumud
        June 20, 2010, 11:40 pm

        I wish hayate ~ RW has, from what I understand, been haunting this blog for 3+ years. His need to defend atrocity seems pathological.

      • hayate
        June 21, 2010, 12:11 am


        Well, we probably shouldn’t be so tough on them, it’s not their fault that the poor things are hasbarats, it’s in the water….

      • Richard Witty
        June 21, 2010, 5:44 am

        At least it was just 24 hours, token. Definitely a hassle, probably causing more on the port to fail to unload, not crossing the picket line.

        Arbitrary BDS will be seen as ugly.

        Clarify the goal, clarify the means applied if you want it to be anything but fringe.

      • Chaos4700
        June 21, 2010, 9:12 am

        It’s official. Witty hates labor unions, too.

    • Chaos4700
      June 21, 2010, 9:12 am

      Oh, yes, indeed you fake liberal fifth column Zionist, labor unions exercising their right to strike sounds TOTALLY fascistic to me. Somebody needs to send in the Pinkertons to get rid of all those Communist infiltrators!

  15. hayate
    June 20, 2010, 8:59 pm

    Well done, protesters and dock workers.

  16. Siun
    June 20, 2010, 9:27 pm

    Just heard that all shifts honored the picket line …

    Unfortunately I heard the news too late to use in my usual post but will cover overnight, Phil.

    And cannot, as always, thank Mondoweis enough for the amazing work!

  17. Shmuel
    June 21, 2010, 1:58 am

    The Oakland protest made Haaretz – video and all!

    link to

    • Shmuel
      June 21, 2010, 2:07 am

      And Yediot:
      link to

      And Maariv (Hebrew): link to

      Evidently, this is big news in Israel.

      • Shmuel
        June 21, 2010, 2:08 am

        Sorry, wrong link for Yediot:
        link to

      • MRW
        June 21, 2010, 2:24 am

        “Evidently, this is big news in Israel.”

        It should be. It’s a truism here that when stuff takes hold in California (usually in the world of protest, or lifestyle shakeups) it spreads. You lose California, you lose the nation. Takes time, but you do. Santa Barbara had a dinky little oil spill in 1969 (by comparison), but the protest spread across the country, and stopped offshore drilling for years. Even if Israel were to send massive amounts of protesters to the next dock stoppage in CA, doesn’t matter. The negative PR will only heighten and promote the issue; Israel loses by attempting to combat it.

        As Blankfort wrote, this was an historic day, and he understands what it means in the long term.

      • MRW
        June 21, 2010, 2:35 am

        And for “the president of ILWU Local 10, the longshore union’s largest local” to call Israel a “criminal state,” that will spread faster than wildfire. What will spread is the stating of it. Not the thinking of it, the stating of it. That’s the significance of his comment.

        The cap is off, and no amount of “anti-semitism” labeling, or boo-hoo-hooing, is going to stop it now. And there will be real anger if the union members are demonized.

        Israel has just reached the danger zone.

      • Danaa
        June 21, 2010, 3:13 am

        MRW, don’t quite celebrate yet, as tempting as it is. There’s still plenty of fire in that old, tired hasbara horse. And the hold they have on congress is still strong, as is the grip on the christian zionists, and the heart of corporate America.

        Alas, being the Cassandra I am doomed to be, I see much evil and mischief in the days ahead before the forces for the good really start making their mark.

        Most of all, I worry deeply about Israel’s actions – and reactions, especially if the diagnosis of collective insanity is right. I fear that there are fundamental differences between israel and south africa or even israel and the old soviet union, and those differences do not bode well. There’s something in the air in that part of the ME which causes me to fret on a good day, dread on a bad one.

        But I am counting on others being more optimistic than my programming allows me to be. Their optimism – and passion – like the demonstrators in oakland, may just make the difference.

        So, a cheer is due….

      • Sumud
        June 21, 2010, 3:22 am

        Oakland is scheduled to receive 10 ZIM ships in the next 2 months, but Los Angeles will see 32. That’s a huge population, and ships arriving almost daily. A big opportunity for protest.

        link to

      • MRW
        June 21, 2010, 3:32 am


        You’re absolutely right; I agree with you. HOWEVER. A dam broke with this. I’m not celebrating. I’m saying that a line was crossed. And as I pointed out, it will take time. But the talk-talk and the jaw-jaw will start. Tomorrow. Tonight.

        If Israel responds by going after the union members, it’s sunk. If it shows up at the next port of call in CA to protest heavily, it’s dead. This is akin to pasta medium-boiling under a lid; and the unions are the pasta.

      • Shmuel
        June 21, 2010, 4:00 am

        My home remedy for those dark clouds is a bit of Talmudic genius they may not have taught you on the beach in Herzliya: The task is not yours to complete, but you may not refrain from acting upon it. A biblical variation (more presentable in secular Zionist circles than nasty rabbinic luftgesheft), can be found in Kohelet (Ecclesiastes) 11:1.

        If the Zios decide to go that way (and I don’t doubt that they will – the hysteria is mounting), it will be another nail in the PEP coffin, and I hope that the historical irony of Zionist union-busting (the only thing missing for a near-perfect fascist analogy) is not lost.

      • Danaa
        June 21, 2010, 9:14 am

        Shmuel, thanks for the Talmudic wisdom – and the kohelet variant . Like Chinese pearls – one can never have enough of these. Feel free to send more my way – any time. Are those like apples, BTW? one a day keeps the psch-ops away?

        I guess I am paying the price now for being so unteachable – and barely reachable – back in them beach days. That’s the trouble with fun – can’t put it in a capsule and store for a rainy day. Unlike fine sayings….

      • Shmuel
        June 21, 2010, 9:25 am

        In terms of usefulness, they’re probably somewhere between apples and pearls. In terms of beauty, I think there’s a saying about that … oh, never mind.

Leave a Reply