Arts & Events

Press Release: Demonstration on Saturday to Block Israeli Ship at Port of Oakland

From Lara Kiswani
Friday October 24, 2014 - 10:58:00 AM

Oakland—On Saturday, October 26, 2014, hundreds of people from across the Bay Area will picket at Berth 57 in the Port of Oakland to block the Israeli owned ZIM Lines ship from unloading to protest Israel’s continued blockade on Gaza and its ongoing occupation of Palestine. Organized by Block the Boat Coalition (BTB), this protest follows the historic success of a similar BTB action in August in response to the Israeli bombardment on Gaza. The Zim Piraeus was prevented from unloading for four straight days and was ultimately forced to leave with most of its cargo still on board. 

Organizers have already claimed a partial victory for this protest. The Zim Shanghai, which was originally scheduled to arrive at the Port of Oakland on October 25, has gone off course, delaying its arrival for October 26 in a move that activists say is an attempt to avoid the picket. "In our last protest in August, ZIM unsuccessfully tried to wait us out by delaying its arrival," says Eyad Aburahma of Arab Youth Organizing. "ZIM is now attempting this again. It shows that our organizing is working, and we will be ready for it whenever it arrives." 

Although the Israeli assault on Gaza has stopped with a ceasefire agreement, organizers argue that protesting Israel’s ongoing occupation must continue. “While Israel is not currently decimating Gaza with bombs, it continues to hold it under siege, and is still expanding its illegal settlements in the West Bank, imprisoning and displacing Palestinians,” says Lara Kiswani, Executive Director of the Arab Resource and Organizing Center, an anchor organization in BTB. Activists see this action against ZIM as part of the worldwide Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign to isolate Israel, similar to the movement that helped bring down apartheid in South Africa. “We will continue organizing protests to build on the BDS movement against Israeli Apartheid,” added Kiswani. 

Organizers are also denouncing the central role the U.S. plays in supporting Israel as well as the relationship between Israel and the increased militarization of local police forces. “As the U.S. is sending more than $3 billion a year to Israel, police departments in the U.S. are regularly trained by the Israeli military on how to better repress and control our communities here,” says Aburahma. “Not only is ZIM shipping weapons and ammunition to be used against Black and brown communities in the U.S., but the outrageous military-style crackdown we saw against the people of Ferguson was in part informed by training the police got from Israeli law enforcement.” 

​The BTB actions are in response to the call from Gaza that was issued on September 5, 2014, by the BDS National Committee, the main trade and professional unions, women’s associations, and mass movements in Palestine, calling for “building effective direct action against Israel and Israeli companies, such as the inspiring Block the Boat actions [in August] that prevented Israeli ships from unloading in California and Seattle." The August BTB protest against ZIM in Oakland became a catalyst for similar actions to take place all over the country and world, including in LA/Long Beach, Seattle, Tampa, and Vancouver. 


Protesters will meet at the West Oakland BART Station on October 26 at 5:00am, followed by a march to Berth 57 at the Port of Oakland shortly thereafter. Carpools from the BART station to the port will be available for those who may not be able to walk with the march. Organizers will be available for interview before and during the action. 


There is a text alert system designed for sharing important action updates about the ship's schedule, and protest plans. Those planning to attend should text “join” to 510-346-5951. Those following the action remotely are asked not to sign up for SMS alerts, but rather to follow @BlocktheBoat on Twitter.