Oakland, CA

Demonstrators protest Israeli cargo ship that formerly shipped arms to US

Built in the Bay

(Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)

By Ian Firstenberg

(OAKLAND, Calif.) Hundreds of protesters marched in front of the Port of Oakland Friday morning aiming to continue blocking the Israeli cargo ship from docking.

Protesters chanted "Back up! Back up! We want Freedom, Freedom! All these Zionist attacks we don't need 'em, need 'em," as they marched around Middle Harbor Shoreline Park. The Arab Resource & Organizing Center (AROC) said they expected more than 500 people at the protest in front of Berth 30.

This comes after AROC and BDS organizer stopped the Zim Integrated Shipping Services Ltd, commonly known as ZIM, from docking in Oakland. ZIM is partially owned by the Israeli state.

"We wonder if doing business with ZIM is worth it to the Port of Oakland, employers at the Port and other shipping companies,” AROC executive director Lara Kiswani said in a statement. “We honor the workers here in Oakland and Palestine and are sending a clear message that profiteering from Israel’s apartheid and ongoing violence against the Palestinian people will not be welcome in the Bay Area.”

AROC helped organize a similar protest in 2014 and this was the first time a ZIM ship had attempted to dock in Oakland since those successful protests. In 2014, Darwin BondGraham writing for TruthOut revealed that ZIM delivers weapons system components for the Israeli and Greek governments to American contractors for repairs and upgrades.

These successful protests come in response to the extended Israeli bombing of Gaza that killed at least 240 people, more than 50 of whom were children, prior to the negotiated May 21 ceasefire.

The Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) movement aims to combat continued Israeli apartheid by boycotting Israeli goods, divesting from Israeli companies and sanctioning the Israeli government. The #BlocktheBoat campaign is another example of the effectiveness of BDS.

Despite the ceasefire, injured residents of Gaza are not able to get medical treatment.

Born out of the bloody Second Intifada, organizers in the West Bank and Gaza looked for another way to combat the horrifying conditions in these Israeli-controlled areas. BDS serves as the most effective and combative way to disrupt Israeli apartheid by, in short, hitting them where it hurts most, the pocketbook.

Especially in the case of ZIM, BDS serves as a crucial tool to push back against the continued Israeli and American exchange of arms. That exchange, along with the billions of dollars sent to Israel from the American government every year, allows for the continued dehumanization of Palestinians throughout all settled territories.

Following the ceasefire, a number of Israeli settlers, who are groups of Jews (sometimes Israelis other times Americans) that come to mixed areas in Israel and take homes that Palestinian families have lived in for generations.

In one instance that was widely circulated on the internet, a settler, from New York, told a Palestinian woman that despite him taking her families home, they would never get it back. The settler noted that even if he didn't take it another Jew would. That her family would likely never get their house back.

This is largely because of the legal structure in Israel that overwhelmingly sides with settlers. Often settlers make claims to land already lived on by Palestinians using supposed ancient artifacts, some of which are verified, some of which are not. The settlers then sue the Palestinians, claiming that the settlers have a true right to their home because of one artifact or another. The Israeli courts often rule in favor of the settlers.

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