BLOCK THE BOAT #BDS

END ISRAELI APARTHEID

***FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Wednesday, June 3, 2021***

Contact: 

Wassim Hage, (832) 704-7660, wassim@araborganizing.org

Mohamed Shehk, (408) 910-2618, mohamed@criticalresistance.org

Bay Area Activists Joined by South African Trade Unions in Protests to Prevent Unloading of Israeli-Operated Cargo Ships, Solidarity Actions Organized in Cities Internationally

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), the largest federation of trade unions that helped to topple apartheid in South Africa, has endorsed AROC’s action to #BlockTheBoat

Following the latest escalation of Israeli violence against Palestinians, an Arab community organization has halted efforts of Israeli shipping giant to return to business-as-usual in Oakland 

Oakland, CA – For weeks, the Arab Resource & Organizing Center’s (AROC) #BlocktheBoat campaign has mobilized communities to successfully prevent the docking of vessels operated by Israeli shipping company ZIM. Thousands have signed up to answer the call to action at the Port of Oakland in solidarity with Palestine and the international Boycott, Divestment, & Sanctions (BDS) movement. Following AROC’s calls for a community picket at the port, the ZIM-operated Volans ship has not docked in Oakland for 16 days after it was originally scheduled to dock on May 19th. The Volans ship is still at sea in the Bay Area, and will be met with massive protests if and when it decides to dock. 

Communities in numerous cities have joined AROC’s call for an international week of action from June 2nd – June 9th to protest ZIM and picket its ships everywhere. Activists in Los Angeles, Seattle, Houston, New York, Detroit, Philadelphia, and Vancouver have planned protests, while actions in Italy, Greece, and South Africa are also set to take place. Social justice organizations in port cities are being asked to amplify the #BlockTheBoat success thus far against Israeli apartheid in Oakland by organizing community pickets to prevent ZIM ships from being worked and unloaded anywhere. 

“We are sending a strong message that profiteering from Israel’s apartheid and ongoing violence against the Palestinian people will not be welcome in the Bay Area,” said Lara Kiswani, the Executive Director of AROC. “The largest South African trade unions that were instrumental in the fight against South African apartheid have now voiced their strong support for our protest in the Bay Area against ZIM and Israeli apartheid.” 

These actions against ZIM follow a call from labor unions in Palestine calling on workers and communities worldwide to boycott Israeli companies. On May 25th, the 10 unions representing Bay Area port workers, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Northern California District Council released a statement ‘in solidarity with Palestine and Palestinian communities across the world who are fighting for justice.’ #BlocktheBoat has received over 100 endorsements from labor unions, faith, and community organizations around the world, including the anti-apartheid Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), the largest federation of trade unions in South Africa representing 1.8 million people. 

“An injury to one is an injury to all. Just as ILWU Local 10 workers refused to unload cargo from apartheid South Africa in the 1980s, we honored community pickets asking us not to unload cargo from Israeli ZIM vessels in 2014.” said Jimmy Salamy, a Palestinian rank-and-file worker with the ILWU Local 10. “Just this month, dockworkers in Durban, South Africa and Italy have also refused to unload Israeli ZIM vessels. Rank-and-file members of ILWU Local 10 stands against Israeli apartheid and with our brothers and sisters in Palestine.”

Zim Integrated Shipping Services Ltd (ZIM) is Israel’s largest cargo shipping company, often dealing in Israeli manufactured military technology, armaments and logistics equipment. AROC first called on communities to block ZIM-operated ships in the U.S. in 2014. With the support of rank-and-file workers in the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 10, the AROC-led Block the Boat coalition successfully mobilized thousands to prevent the unloading of ZIM-operated vessels in the Port of Oakland. In a massive victory for advocates of Palestinian human rights, no ZIM-operated vessel has docked in the Port of Oakland since 2014, and many similar actions around the world have sprung up in the intervening years.

For real-time updates on status of Israeli-operated ship: text name and media outlet to (812) 562-5946

The Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC) is a grassroots organization working to empower and organize our community towards justice and self-determination for all. AROC members build community power in the Bay Area by participating in leadership development, political education, and campaigns.

Recognizing the diversity of experiences and interests within the Arab community, AROC devises a multi-pronged strategy to meet those needs while prioritizing the most marginalized sectors of our constituency to inform our work. AROC provides a centralized space for analysis, strategy, and formulation of concrete campaigns to organize for change.

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