An intersectional anti-Israel coalition called “Block the Boat” has stepped up its actions in America’s port cities after claiming victory by preventing an Israeli-based container ship docked in Oakland, California from unloading its cargo on Friday, June 4.
On Sunday, June 6, a group that identified itself as “the newly formed #BlockTheBoat NY-NJ coalition” announced that they had “made history by holding the first-ever protest/picket line for Palestine in the Port of NY-NJ!”
According to a Facebook post by Within Our Lifetime-United for Palestine, a member of the coalition, 500 people showed up at the Maher Terminal in Elizabeth, NJ at 6:30 am to convince dock workers to refuse to unload the Israeli ship after members of Oakland’s Longshore and Warehouse union declined to cross the protest line to carry out their job.
Despite a police presence and barricades designed to keep the protesters away from the workers, protesters broke through the barricades, taking the protest up to the front gate of the facility where they could interact with arriving workers.
The group, comprised of pro-Palestinian activities and their communist allies from the Marxist Workers World party — reported that two organizers were detained when they tried to hand out flyers to the union workers.
Nerdeen Kiswani, chairman of Within Our Lifetime-United for Palestine, led the protests through the police line. Kiswani said that Sunday’s protest was just the beginning. “We are just getting started. And we’ll be back,” stated the group’s Facebook post.
“ALL OUT this Wednesday at 4 pm in Staten Island as we finish our borough tour with a protest outside ZIM America Offices,” the group announced.
Other similar protests against Israeli cargo ships operated by the privately-owned Haifa-based Zim company, are scheduled this week for Detroit, Vancouver, Philadelphia and London.
In Oakland, the Zim ship The Volans, which had already docked in the port, turned back to sea after workers from the local Longshore and Warehouse union declined to cross the protest line to carry out their job.
While declining to comment on the protest, the company noted, “Due to operational constraints and long delays in the port of Oakland, and in order to meet schedule departures in the Far East, we will be calling on other U.S. West Coast Ports until further notice.”
The NY-NJ anti-Israel coalition is led by the Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC), a pro-BDS organization located in San Francisco whose lead organizer is Sharif Zakout. Zakout is a terrorist supporter and regularly spreads wild conspiracy theories about Israel. While at the University of California, Santa Cruz, he was a committee member of the local chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine, a group often referred to as “Hamas on Campus.”
Other members of the coalition include NY4Palestine Labor for Palestine, Al-Awda NY: The Palestine Right to Return Coalition, Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network, Jews for Palestinian Right of Return, American Muslims for Palestine-NJ Chapter and CUNY for Palestine Answer Coalition.