Trending Topics:

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

ActivismNews
on 44 Comments
On Tuesday the Zim Piraeus tried to escape protesters by feigning departure, then returning to Oakland (screenshot from MarineTraffic.com)

Tracking the extraordinary adventures of the Zim Piraeus on Tuesday and Wednesday, as it tried to outmaneuver protesters in Oakland (screenshot from MarineTraffic.com)

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 MarineTraffic.com, 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.

Pickets reassembled when the Zim Piraeus snuck back into the Port of Oakland on Tuesday evening, Aug. 19 (photo: Henry Norr)

Pickets reassembled when the Zim Piraeus snuck back into the Port of Oakland on Tuesday evening, Aug. 19 (photo: Henry Norr)

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.

THIS IS HISTORIC!

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!

WE WILL SUCCEED, BUT WE NEED MORE PEOPLE, EVERYONE TO TAKE SHIFTS

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 Zim Piraeus n June (Photo: Sakis Antoniou/MarineTraffic.com)

The Zim Piraeus in June (Photo: Sakis Antoniou/MarineTraffic.com)

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​!

mabrukoakland

 

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: 

AF3IRM
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
BAYAN-USA
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 [email protected] 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:

 

 

Henry Norr
About Henry Norr

Other posts by .


Posted In:

44 Responses

  1. just
    just on August 21, 2014, 10:00 am

    HUGE victory… as I said before, I hope that many others will take to the trail that you blazed.

    ILWU local 10 is awesome! Congratulations to everybody in the Block the Boat coalition and affiliated organizations! Many thanks, Henry ;))

    • Susie Kneedler
      Susie Kneedler on August 21, 2014, 10:21 am

      Thanks, Henry, “richb,” and All for such huge work. And “just” says it all:
      ILWU local 10 is AWESOME!
      Congratulations to everybody in the Block the Boat coalition and affiliated organizations!

    • seafoid
      seafoid on August 21, 2014, 10:52 am

      I trust this will be fed back to the next Presbyterian conf, Rich

      • richb
        richb on August 21, 2014, 1:10 pm

        The exact same trolls came out of the woodwork as during the divestment fight. Told me we were winning.

    • AlGhorear
      AlGhorear on August 21, 2014, 2:36 pm

      @richb Good to know know that the @rblinne twitter account belongs to you. I read your tweets and I’m sure I retweeted you as well. There are currently 25 Zim cargo ships at sea and due to arrive soon in ports around the world. These are only the ships that have “Zim” in the name. Zim shipping lines has thousands of other ships that do not have “Zim” as part of the name. It would be amazing to see global mobilization to block the boats.

  2. seafoid
    seafoid on August 21, 2014, 10:51 am

    Huge respect for the still unionized Longshoremen. And you people of conscience.

    ” I kept thinking about my friends in Gaza and the infinitely greater challenges and burdens they face, and that kept me going. ”

    That keeps them going too. They know that Israel is insane and that there are people all over the world who support them.

    http://www.theguardian.com/theguardian/2012/sep/10/qe-pensions-baird-shapps-cdt
    ” • It should be clear from Robert Turner’s report on the outlook for Gaza (An early warning, 10 September) that the purpose of Israel’s policy is what it always has been: to make Gaza uninhabitable for Palestinians.
    Lyndon Pugh
    Brecon, Powys”

    http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/david/we-must-challenge-israeli-mindset-says-rugby-star-turned-blockade-buster
    “It was very interesting to notice the attitude of the Israelis towards us. They couldn’t comprehend why were doing this. What we were doing challenges their mindset and that is why it is such an effective tactic. They treat the Palestinians as if they are subhuman. They don’t think Palestinians deserve to live in a normal society, to be able to import and export and fish and farm. It’s great to be able to meet that mindset head on.”

  3. Gene Shae
    Gene Shae on August 21, 2014, 11:30 am

    Wow. All this effort. Disrupting international commerce, harassing dock workers.
    The ship is only 30% owned by Israeli interests.
    It is not Israeli flagged or owned.
    A Greek company named Costamare is contracted to manage and operate ZIM Piraeus
    The ship contained products from Spain and Turkey.
    What is the use of this? So silly

    • seafoid
      seafoid on August 21, 2014, 12:10 pm

      Send a message to Israel. And Greece too.
      Zionism is in the firing line.
      Fiduciary duty works both ways. Israel can fleece the Occupied Territories but Israeli business interests can also be fleeced.

    • just
      just on August 21, 2014, 12:16 pm

      “only 30%” is brilliant!

      perhaps it will become less “silly” to you real soon. Israel brand is toxic.

      Costamere will get the message.

      Spain and Turkey can and will find others to carry their wares.

    • Henry Norr
      Henry Norr on August 21, 2014, 2:30 pm

      Perhaps you could tell us, Gene Shae, what you have been doing over the last week to bring justice for the Palestinians. We’re always open to suggestions for more effective tactics….

    • Chu
      Chu on August 21, 2014, 2:39 pm

      Spain and Turkey would gladly look elsewhere if Israel’s junk is holding up their delivery of goods.

    • Shingo
      Shingo on August 21, 2014, 4:27 pm

      Cur the world’d smallest violin Gene,

      Germany, Spain and Turkey and any other country will regard Israel as a liability so this killed two birds with one stone.

      Enjoy your apartheid while it lasts.

      • Mooser
        Mooser on August 21, 2014, 5:02 pm

        “Enjoy your apartheid while it lasts.”

        Is it even “his” apartheid? Most of the militant supporters of Israeli intransigence here seem to be Americans, who can only benefit vicariously (in what possible ways, I shudder to think) from Israel’s slaughter in Gaza.

      • Philemon
        Philemon on August 21, 2014, 7:38 pm

        “Most of the militant supporters of Israeli intransigence here seem to be Americans…”

        Some of them sound more like ex-pat Israelis to me.

      • Mooser
        Mooser on August 22, 2014, 1:24 pm

        “Some of them sound more like ex-pat Israelis to me.”

        Well, gosh, wouldn’t you emulate the people you admire? They could pick that up in a much shorter time than it would take to master the modern Hebrew idiot. (darn you, auto-correct)

  4. globalconsciousness
    globalconsciousness on August 21, 2014, 11:48 am

    Congratulations!
    What you are doing is amazing resistance – something practical and tangible, something that I wish I could be doing, instead of just watching aghast, wishing and hoping for change.
    What an achievement! especially for an action in the US….

  5. globalconsciousness
    globalconsciousness on August 21, 2014, 12:16 pm

    Soros quietly unloads shares in Israeli Sodastream after some pressure…
    hope this is true..
    http://www.thenational.ae/business/industry-insights/economics/soros-fund-drops-shares-in-israels-sodastream

  6. Qualtrough
    Qualtrough on August 21, 2014, 12:17 pm

    Part of a long tradition, Harry Bridges would be proud. From his ILWU bio: “Thus Harry Bridges, who had seen the employer resort to fascist methods in San Francisco, frankly admitted, “I have tried during the term of my office, to have the ILA adopt such policies as will defend the democracy of the world, and oppose the fascist nations.” When a German ship sailed into San Francisco flying the swastika, the longshoremen refused to unload the cargo until the Nazi flag was hauled down. Again, during the Italian invasion of Ethiopia, dock workers refused to load war materials on an Italian freighter. While, according to Bridges, “the union was finally forced by the ship owners, with whom the union had a contact, to load this ship… our organization intends, in the future, to prevent all was supplies from being shipped to fascist nations, for war on defenseless or democratic people.”

  7. rws450
    rws450 on August 21, 2014, 12:33 pm

    Excellent report with images Henry!

    Zim has long zionist history and was there at start of Israel. There is good historical perspective documenting past (failed) efforts to challenge Zim:
    http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/08/13/israels-zim-line-and-san-franciscos-shame/

    The struggle and success in Oakland over past week suggests we are in new era.

  8. Sycamores
    Sycamores on August 21, 2014, 12:41 pm

    Longest Blockade of Israeli Ship in History

    historic victory a real inspiration for others, not just in the US but all around the world.

    really impressive of all the orgs and activists standing together in solidarity with the Palestinians shows the world they are a formidable foe to injustice.

    equally impressed by the ILWU.

    after reading Henry Norr post

    Henry Norr says:
    August 19, 2014 at 8:36 pm

    OMG! The boat has turned around and appears to be headed back into the bay! I’m signing off and headed to the port. Wish us luck…

    http://mondoweiss.net/2014/08/demonstrators-temporarily-blocking.html

    i was compelled like others to follow the tweets and watched the progressed of the ship on Marine Traffic dot com.

  9. amigo
    amigo on August 21, 2014, 1:56 pm

    The blessing of jaysus on ye.( as they say in Dublin).

    I will pass this around.It really is heartening.

    I wonder when that ship will get another commission to sail to The Bay area.I wonder how many companies were p-ssed off waiting for their in coming goods.How many lines in Silicon Valley were shut down because this ship did not arrive “JIT”.

    Were the containers carrying “Perishable” goods.

    Or all those high tech gadgets one can only get from Israel.

  10. JustJessetr
    JustJessetr on August 21, 2014, 2:03 pm

    Any quotes from dockworkers and longshoreman? Until then, I see them as refusing to work under police escort, not as sympathetic to boycotters.

    http://www.longshoreshippingnews.com/2014/08/longshore-workers-return-to-work-at-oakland-terminal-after-safety-issues-resolved/

    SAN FRANCISCO, CA (August 19, 2014) – Longshore workers were able to safely enter the gate of an Oakland terminal on Tuesday night and work the ZIM vessel PIRAEUS. Unlike previous shifts over the last several days, the number of demonstrators and police at the terminal’s gate was small, and Longshore workers determined that the atmosphere did not pose a threat to their safety.

    In the past several days, the vessel has not been able to discharge its cargo due to the volatility associated with a large community demonstration. Volatility on the first day was caused by a high number of demonstrators, coupled with a large police presence at the scene. On the second day, the demonstrators’ numbers had dwindled, but the police numbered more than 100 and posed a threat of their own. Even at the request of the Union, the police refused to disperse.

    Melvin MacKay, president of ILWU Local 10 stated: “We will not work under armed police escort – not with our experience with the police in this community.”

    The community demonstrators’ were protesting ZIM Lines’ association with the State of Israel and its recent military actions in the Gaza Strip. The ILWU has taken no position on the issue, but must protect the safety of its members and will not put them between armed police and political demonstrators where the numbers clearly constitute a volatile situation. In 2003, several longshoremen were injured after being shot by police’ rubber bullets in similar circumstances.”

  11. amigo
    amigo on August 21, 2014, 2:04 pm

    ZIM ===Zionism Is Marooned.

  12. Kay24
    Kay24 on August 21, 2014, 2:11 pm

    Great work by these determined people. Every effort to Block, Divert, and Sabotage (BDS heh) Israel, is appreciated. There should be more efforts like this, that will irritate the heck out of the occupier, and will send a stronger message that they are going to be held responsible for the occupation and crimes against Palestinians, in ways they will never dream of. Good luck to all, and to those intending to do the same.

  13. Henry Norr
    Henry Norr on August 21, 2014, 2:12 pm

    I just came across a fabulous quote from a Port of Oakland spokesman, in a Tuesday local TV story about what happened Monday night:

    “Despite tremendous effort by our law enforcement partners… operations at the terminal were still not able to proceed last night due to insufficient labor reporting for duty,” [port spokesman Robert ] Bernardo said.

  14. Philip Munger
    Philip Munger on August 21, 2014, 2:28 pm

    The ILWU has been and remains the most progressive of major labor unions in the western USA and British Columbia. In Anchorage they are by far not only the most progressive of our labor unions, but the most active in asserting the rights of workers outside of their own affiliation. Individual members are active, outside of the union’s own involvement, in Palestinian, Native Alaskan and immigrant rights causes. Their ability to show up to protest or picket anti-union or anti-civil rights moves by employers on very short notice here is almost legendary. Unlike some of the Alaska labor unions, they are well enough indoctrinated by their leadership and shop stewards to not vote against their own interests in local, statewide and national elections.

  15. ckg
    ckg on August 21, 2014, 3:24 pm

    I’m really confused. The SF Chronicle reports that the ship unloaded its cargo Tuesday night:

    (08-20) 18:17 PDT OAKLAND — A cargo ship targeted by protesters upset by Israel’s military actions in Gaza was unloaded overnight and left the Port of Oakland on Wednesday, a spokesman for longshore workers said.

    “All the work was completed” before the ship left port at 8:45 a.m., said Craig Merrilees, a spokesman for the International Longshore and Warehouse Union. By evening, it had departed through the Golden Gate, with its destination listed as Vostochnyy, Russia.

    Regardless, it’s still quite an accomplishment.

    • Henry Norr
      Henry Norr on August 21, 2014, 3:47 pm

      @ckg: There are many conflicting stories about how much of the cargo was offloaded. Some certainly was, but contrary to the statement of the ILWU spokesman, some of the longshore workers on the job insist that only a fraction of the containers originally scheduled to be unloaded had been taken off when the ship took off the second time. And definitely no new containers were loaded onto the ship – apparently there’s a stack of them still sitting at Berth 57, where the ship originally docked. Presumably some other ship will have to pick them up.

    • Henry Norr
      Henry Norr on August 21, 2014, 4:09 pm

      One more point, ckg: when we’re talking about the ILWU, it’s important to distinguish between the union officialdom on the one hand and the rank and file on the other. The officials publicly defended the workers who refused to cross the line on Sunday, on the ostensible but also real grounds that getting in the middle of a confrontation between the OPD and protesters could be a threat to their health and safety – remember that some workers were actually injured by “less lethal” weaponry the OPD used against our anti-war march in April 2003). The officials certainly never endorsed the refusal to work the ship, and according to some credible reports, some of them collaborated with the companies in getting workers there on Tuesday night. It was the rank and file – not all of them, but enough of them to create real problems in getting the ship worked – who boycotted the job and thus made the action the overall success it was.

      • ckg
        ckg on August 21, 2014, 4:38 pm

        Thanks, Henry!

  16. Henry Norr
    Henry Norr on August 21, 2014, 3:55 pm

    Another awesome video, this one apparently from the Block the Boat coalition itself (and therefore focused on the weekend actions, not on the follow-up picketing):

    http://youtu.be/RwyPKPULdZw

  17. gracie fr
    gracie fr on August 21, 2014, 5:46 pm

    In the aftermath of the “Missilegate” fiasco, the Wall Street Journal has mentioned that “US leaders believe that Israel’s actions throughout the military operation in Gaza, especially the actions of Netanyahu and the Minister of Defense, were very reckless” and that Israeli leaders cannot be trusted. What this means is that many believe that Netanyahu was pulling strings and using his leverage in the White House and the American Congress to manipulate the US government, John Kerry and the US ambassador in Israel.
    But best of all:
    Even the US Postal Service (USPS) has taken a number of undeclared punitive actions against Israel as the Hebrew Reuters’ page reported that the USPS allegedly refuses to send packages and letters to Israel because of the nature of the current security situation post-Gaza offensive. According to the websites, the USPS has received many complaints all across America for refusing to send letters and parcels to Israel…….
    https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/middle-east/13612-israel-and-goldstone-numerous-fears

  18. Pixel
    Pixel on August 21, 2014, 10:03 pm

    .
    Talk about David and Goliath.

    If I didn’t know any better and was just reading the headlines, I’d absolutely assume this feat was carried out by a sustained, coordinated effort of thousands of protestors over these days.

    But it wasn’t. After Day 1, there was only a rag-tag group of people hanging on by their passion, dedication, wits and fingertips.

    What you guys have done is TOO AMAZING for words. SERIOUSLY!!!!!

    “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can
    change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead

    • Henry Norr
      Henry Norr on August 22, 2014, 12:37 am

      Pixel wrote: “After Day 1, there was only a rag-tag group of people hanging on by their passion, dedication, wits and fingertips.”

      Not to get into too-fine academic distinctions, I’d say that’s a fair characterization of the situation on Days 3, 4, and 5, but not quite for Day 2 (Sunday), the first day the ship was in port, picket lines went up (after 6 p.m. or so), and the longshore workers didn’t go in. That evening we didn’t have the thousands who were there on Saturday for what was supposed to be a blockade but turned out to be just a march, but we did have several hundred people on the lines. Starting Monday, I don’t think there were ever more than 100 people out there at any one time, and often considerably fewer.

      The difference is partly that Day 2 was still the weekend and 2, 3, and 4 were work days. But it was also because the Block the Boat coalition, led by AROC, endorsed the Sunday picketing and, most important, used the impressive communications apparatus they’d put together over the previous couple of weeks of preparation (their own text-blast system, FaceBook pages, Twitter hashtag, and e-mail list, plus contact through all those sponsoring organizations) to call people out for it, whereas they did neither of those things for the counted picketing on Mon., Tues., and Wednesday. To my way of thinking, they had some sound political reasons to declare victory and back off, formally at least, after Sunday: I can’t speak for them, but I gather they wanted to go out with a clean if temporary victory for mass action. It seemed likely that the boat would get worked sooner or later, and better to avoid a situation of dwindling pickets, the workers crossing the line, and the Zionists and their friends in the mainstream media crowing about the failure of the whole campaign. (Of course, they’re doing that now, but with the five-day delay and all the to-ing and fro-ing, I don’t think it’s all that effective.) Plus it would have been hard to sustain all the infrastructure they’d put together for Saturday: security teams, legal observers, medical people, water-bottle distribution, etc., etc.

      As I say, all that makes sense to me. I do wish, though, that they hadn’t completely shut down the communications network. I think they could have sent out something saying, in effect, “Some people are continuing to picket at the port. The coalition has not endorsed this action, but if you’re interested, get on down to Berth 57 at 6 a..m. [or whatever].” If they’d done that, I’m sure we would have had more people on the lines, and it’s at least conceivable that the ship never would have been worked at all.

      But who knows what effect that really would have had. Overall, I give AROC et al. an enormous amount of credit for what they did do.

      One other point: I seriously doubt the “rag-tag group of people hanging on by their passion, dedication, wits and fingertips” could have done what we did Mon.-Wed. without the Internet and specifically without Twitter. Social networking affects political organizing in many ways, and not all are positive in my opinion, but this week showed some of the ways these technologies can be a huge help.

  19. Pixel
    Pixel on August 21, 2014, 10:09 pm

    .
    “… 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.”

    This isn’t sourced.

    I’d LOVE to know more!

    • Henry Norr
      Henry Norr on August 21, 2014, 10:21 pm

      re the absence of a source on the pretend departure to LA: I tried to link to the story at sfgate.com, an SF Chronicle site, which included a quote from the Israeli consul, but by then they had already removed the story. This is from the replacement story:

      Demonstrators scrambled to shore up their forces at the Port of Oakland Tuesday night after a cargo ship they had blocked from unloading as a protest against Israel’s military actions in Gaza set sail for Los Angeles then abruptly made a U-turn and headed back to Oakland.

      Despite the protesters’ efforts, longshore workers began unloading the vessel late Tuesday.

      Pro-Palestinian activists who had protested the presence of the ship Piraeus since Saturday put out urgent mobilization calls for demonstrators to head to the waterfront. Those calls came after online tracking databases showed the vessel heading under the Bay Bridge and back toward Oakland shortly after 6 p.m.

      Just three hours earlier, the Piraeus had left port with a reported destination of Los Angeles. It sailed through the Golden Gate and into the Pacific, then turned around and headed back to a new berth in Oakland.

      Protesters, some of whom never believed that the ship would head south, scrambled to meet the ship. About 30 marched slowly in a circle off Maritime Street, blocking the entrance to the port as longshore workers looked on from across the street.

      Chants of “Free, free Palestine” rang out as Alameda County sheriff’s deputies, who clearly outnumbered protesters, watched from a distance…..

      If you search Google News carefully enough, you might be able to find a story published between the first departure and the u-turn, but, as they say, that’s all water under the bridge now . :-)

  20. Pixel
    Pixel on August 21, 2014, 10:14 pm

    .
    “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. ”

    This offer is really something.

    Local 10 is really something.

    Any contact info. on who there we can thank?

Leave a Reply