June 6, 2021

Oakland and the broader Bay Area have once again achieved a historic Boycott, Divest and Sanctions Movement (BDS) victory for Palestine.

For a full day on Friday, June 4, 2021, after weeks of organizing, community members mobilized by the thousands to the Port of Oakland to block the Israeli ZIM-operated Volans cargo ship from unloading its cargo. In a tremendous show of solidarity with Palestine, dock workers in the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 10 honored the 6 simultaneous community pickets during both the morning and evening shifts, and did not work the ship. In a dramatic move as community members watched, the Israeli apartheid-profiteering ship—knowing that it could break neither our blockade nor the workers’ demonstration of solidarity—left the port of Oakland!

Elias Al-Jelda, member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU) in Gaza, stated: 

“It warms our hearts in the besieged occupied Gaza Strip and the rest of occupied Palestine that our comrades led by AROC, and with the solidarity of our fellow workers in ILWU Local 10, achieved this great #BlockTheBoat victory against ZIM in Oakland.  We call upon all dockworkers worldwide to intensify the boycott campaign against ZIM ships and all business profiting from apartheid Israel, in solidarity with our people’s struggle for freedom and justice in Palestine.”

The significance of this victory cannot be overstated. The #BlockTheBoat campaign has now successfully prevented ZIM, Israel’s largest shipping company, from unloading cargo in the Bay Area for seven years and counting. We have made it clear that there is consensus across social justice movements:  Entities that do business with, profit from, or are connected to Israeli apartheid are not welcome and will be boycotted!

“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,” said Jimmy Salamy, a Palestinian rank-and-file worker with ILWU Local 10. “Just last month, dockworkers in Durban, South Africa, and Italy also refused to unload Israeli ZIM vessels. Rank-and-file members of ILWU Local 10 stand against Israeli apartheid and with our brothers and sisters in Palestine.”

#BlockTheBoat is a concrete example of what powerful worker and international solidarity looks like. We responded to the call directly from Palestinian trade unions in Gaza asking workers across the world to refuse to handle Israeli goods, deal with Israeli businesses, or handle Israeli cargo. As a result of our movement and relationship building of #BlockTheBoat, port workers in Oakland heeded the call from Palestine! AROC’s International Week of Action now includes support from over 100 organizations, including the largest South African Federation of Trade Unions, COSATU, and actions in Vancouver, New York/New Jersey, Detroit, Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, and Seattle/Tacoma. 

The last few months of Palestinian resistance and global solidarity have ruptured Zionist hegemony and its ability to normalize Israel’s settler-colonial violence in Palestine, its partnership with US imperialism, and its role in global militarism. Our #BlockTheBoat victory offers an alternative narrative—one of internationalism, worker solidarity, community organizing, and victory!

“Workers’ struggle is worldwide…when the workers of the world figure that out, and realize that we have to band together to make change, then it’ll be a better world, including for the Palestinian people. Worker power, economic power, is real power—it’s more powerful than those bombs Israel is dropping.” – ILWU Local 10 President Trent Willis, Friday, June 4, 2021

Long live international solidarity!


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