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'Block the Boat' gets support from ILWU members at port... Oakland protests stop ship over Gaza attacks by Israel

Approximately 3,000-5,000 people mobilized in Oakland on Saturday, August 16, to support the ILWU (International Longshore and Warehouse Union) in its efforts to “Block the Boat,” an Israeli ship trying to unload in Oakland. The ILWU has a clause in its contract that workers do not have to cross a picket line if they think it’s unsafe, and community members mobilized in large numbers to ensure that standard was met.

The dramatic blockade of the Port of Oakland on August 16 was one of many actions across the world in support of the Palestinian people and in opposition to the Israeli occupation of Gaza. More than 3,000 people took part in the Oakland "Block The Boat" action. Corporate media tried to downplay the numbers.Initially called for a 5:00 am mobilization, the ship delayed its entry into the Bay Area so the mobilization was delayed until 3:00 pm. Meeting at the West Oakland BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit—a modern version of the “el”)—people from all walks of life joined the mobilization. This reporter joined them.

From the beginning of the march, the spirit of internationalism was present. Besides obviously talking about the Israeli invasion and occupation of Gaza, speakers tied this with oppression in South Africa, Haiti, the Philippines and even Ferguson, Missouri, USA. This political understanding was conveyed also by many signs carried by the protestors.

Especially inspiring was the presence of large numbers of younger people. This was no assembly of “gray hairs” from the Vietnam generation, although we were there in considerable numbers as well, but the leadership of the mobilization was provided by people in their 20s and early 30s. And, taking place in the Bay Area, this meant an incredibly diverse group of people!

After several speeches and teaching of new chants — “Block-block, block the Boat; block-block the boat” being most featured — the crowd moved off toward the Port of Oakland. The march was lengthy — about 45 minutes. Transportation was provided those who could not make it under their own power. But most people marched, chanted, sang, danced and generally had a good time along the way. Along the way, we traveled across an overpass over railroad tracks, and a passing Amtrak honked his horn in apparent support of our march. Thousands of passing cars on the nearby freeways also could see our large march.

Posters were part of the August 16 Oakland organizing.Along the way, we got word that the ship decided to not even enter San Francisco Bay because of our protest! We were quite happy at that. We continued on to the gates of shipping company, listened to speeches, talked, enjoyed the sun-shiny day, and enjoyed our victory. Later, we all marched back to the West Oakland BART station, although we were a little more spread out going back than we were in the beginning.

The mass media in the Bay Area did the usual terrible reporting on the march. Although there were easily 3,000-5,000 people, they reported there were over 100 protesters (KTVU, Channel 2) or “several hundreds” (Contra Costa Times). Although I did not get direct information at the time about what happened afterward, I later found out that the ship sailed into San Francisco Bay the next day, and docked in Oakland in the evening. A picket line greeted the longshore workers Monday morning, August 18, and the workers decided to not unload the ship. The ship left the Bay Area unloaded, and at last report, is headed toward Long Beach (Los Angeles Harbor), due to arrive August 23.

Block the Boat was organized in conjunction with several Bay Area unions. Substance photo by Kim Scipes.For two videos made by the SF Labor Video Project—one of the 2010 boycott of another Israeli ship, and one from the August 18 picket line (i.e., not the big march)—these are on You Tube: 2010 at www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Gp503j9WSk (with a lot of material from the 1984 San Francisco Longshore boycott of a Dutch ship carrying cargo to South Africa, for which I also helped mobilize community people to support); and for August 18, 2014 (with opening shots from August 16), see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PcJHlnq4YIo .

Kim Scipes is Chair of the Chicago Chapter of the National Writers Union, UAW #1981, AFL-CIO.

LOCAL: RAHM SPEECH DISRUPTED

Mayor Rahm Emanuel speech disrupted at pro-Israel event

Fight Back!

By staff | August 22, 2014

Chicago, IL - 150 protesters confronted the Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago as it rallied in support of the murderous Israeli war on Gaza, Aug. 21. Palestinian flags flew alongside a big cardboard sign that read, “Occupation is a crime, From Ferguson to Palestine.”

The Students for Justice in Palestine organized a die-in on the sidewalk in front of the Hilton and Towers hotel. Meanwhile, a dozen activists with Jewish Voice for Peace, the Anti-War Committee, and others repeatedly disrupted the speeches by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and an Israeli Defense Forces soldier who had participated in the attacks on Gaza.

Hatem Abudayyeh of the Chicago Coalition for Justice in Palestine and the U.S. Palestinian Community Network reminded the crowd at the end of the protest of the victory scored in Oakland, California when Palestinians and their supporters, along with the members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union stopped an Israeli ship from unloading at the docks.

Kait McIntyre of the Anti-War Committee urged people to come to court Aug. 26 at 9:00 a.m., 555 W. Harrison, to support those arrested at the protest against Boeing Company in July.



Comments:

August 25, 2014 at 5:03 PM

By: Margaret Wilson

Block the ship

Although I support everyone's right to protest. I think this is pretty one sided. Israel is supportive of the idea of having two countries as long as safety can be guaranteed for both the Palestians and Israel. My problem is that Palestine has many more soldiers and weapons than Israel and yet keep saying "Poor me". They openly deny Israel's right to exist and say the only mistake Hitler made was not killing all of the Jews. Jews are one of the smallest minorities (less than 1% of the world population) so I don't understand what Palestine is afraid of. Why can't both groups just "live and let live"!

August 25, 2014 at 11:04 PM

By: Kim Scipes

Blocking the Israeli ship

Margaret--I don't know where you get your information, but you are wrong. Israel doesn't want there to be an independent Palestinian state that it cannot control. It's true that Jews have been one of the, if not the, most oppressed people in the history of the world--but this has been mostly been by Christians, not Muslims. But Israel has taken this historic oppression, and tries to convince everyone that they're still being victimized when, in fact, they are doing the victimizing. For better or worse, countries of the world accept the 1967 borders for Israel, but Israel itself will not state what its borders are. In fact, it is colonizing the Palestinians. And if you think Israel is still at risk, they have over 3900 tanks--the Palestinians, 0. Israel has over 300 F-16s (paid for by you and me)--the Palestinians have 0. Israel has nuclear weapons--last report I've seen is over 300. Palestine: 0. So, even if the Palestinians are talking smack and threatening the Israelis with destruction, before you accept that--I don't speak Arabic or Hebrew, so I don't know if they are even saying this and I've heard both sides being claimed--the fact is that the Palestinians have no capability of destroying Israel. So, quit reading the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune or other sources of misinformation, and repeating their crap, and tune into DemocracyNow.org for good information, including reporting on the ground.

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