OAKLAND, Calif. (j. weekly) — An Israeli-operated cargo ship blocked from unloading its goods for four days in Oakland by anti-Israel protesters feigned a return to sea before doubling back secretly to port.
The standoff began Saturday when the Piraeus, operated by Zim Integrated Shipping Services, Israel’s largest shipping company, was scheduled to dock at Oakland Port. Hundreds of protesters organized by the Arab Resource and Organizing Center in San Francisco blocked the entrance to the port to prevent longshoremen from entering, ostensibly to draw attention to Israel’s operation in Gaza.
The ship remained at sea for a day, then docked from Sunday until Tuesday afternoon, when it left with its cargo intact, seemingly headed for Southern California. Instead it quickly turned around and docked at another terminal, where two dozen longshoremen worked overnight to unload the cargo.
AROC’s Block the Boat campaign had earlier declared victory, claiming in one statement that “workers honored our picket,” suggesting that union members sympathized with the protesters.
But a news release Monday from the International Longshore and Warehouse Union said the union takes no position on the Middle East conflict and was concerned only with protecting its workers from the “volatility associated with a large demonstration and significant police presence.”
Anti-Israel protesters had some success stopping Zim ships from unloading in Oakland twice before, in 2010 and 2012.
Demonstrators attempted to block a Zim vessel in Long Beach on Aug. 13 but failed to stop workers from unloading the cargo.
Block the Boat has called for protests in Tacoma, Wash., and Vancouver, B.C., with the aim of shutting down Israeli shipping to the West Coast.