Here’s Why Activists Are Blocking an Israeli Ship From Docking Anywhere on the West Coast

A coordinated “Block the Boat” solidarity action will leave Israel looking elsewhere to unload its goods.

Amidst the terror Israel has unleashed on Gaza, activists on the West Coast have organized a Palestinian solidarity action that is not only politically symbolic, but economically hits Israel where it hurts.

2010_protestStarting Saturday, activists in Oakland, Los Angeles, and Seattle plan to block an Israeli ship from unloading goods at their city’s ports as part of a larger boycott, divestment and sanctions movement. These “Block the Boat” actions come as a response to the Palestine General Federation of Trade Unions’ call for supporters to “educate and build awareness among the labor movements of the U.S., and urge them to condemn the Israeli aggression and to boycott Israel.”

On Saturday, organizers in Oakland will march to the port and form a picket line in front of its gates early in the morning before the port workers, who are members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, are scheduled to begin their shift. Organizers are hoping to stop workers from unloading a ship owned by Zim Integrated Shipping Services, which is the biggest cargo shipping company in Israel and has ties to the Israeli government and military via stock ownership.

More than 1,000 protesters are expected at the Oakland action, said Reem Assil of the Arab Resource and Organizing Center, which is one of the more than 70 groups endorsing the event.

“Symbolically for Oakland we can say, ‘not in our name,’” Assil said. “We’re not going to be complicit and an accomplice to the ongoing genocide and massacres going on.”

Oakland organizers have coordinated with supporters in Long Beach, CA, and the ports of Tacoma and Seattle in Washington in hopes that Zim can’t reroute to another port on the West Coast like it did four years ago. In 2010, in response to Israel’s attack on a flotilla bringing humanitarian aid to Gaza, Oakland activists and port workers made history by being the first to ever block an Israeli ship in the United States. That ship, however, re-docked in Los Angeles a day after, and unloaded there.

“This time, we want to make sure there’s a disruption to Israel commerce all over the West Coast,” Assil said, adding that this would cause a sustained economic burden on the company.

The Oakland organizers’ biggest coordination efforts, however, have been with the labor movement. In fact, the event, which was originally scheduled for August 2, was postponed in order to do more outreach to the ILWU workers.

“We don’t want workers to be alienated, we want workers to be part of the fight,” Assil said. “And so we have spent the last few weeks really honoring that commitment and building with the workers themselves.”

Assil said Block the Boat organizers and active members of the ILWU have been flyering and talking to members about the Saturday action in terms of “worker power”—especially because they are currently under negotiation for a new contract.

But these negotiations have made the action this year more complicated than in the past. For one, ILWU is unable to take an official stand on the action. Also, during negotiations there is no arbitrator who can evaluate the port during the Block the Boat action and deem working conditions unsafe; this happened in 2010, leaving workers with no option of crossing the picket line.

This, along with a loss of double-time pay for workers, presents difficulties for a successful action. An ILWU port worker named Anthony, who is spreading the word about Block the Boat, said he responds to co-workers’ financial concerns by talking about the bigger picture.

Anthony said, “I ask them, ‘Are you okay with innocent people being killed?’’’

The ILWU, however, has a track record of taking a stand on social justice issues and not crossing community pickets, Assil said. Furthermore, the union’s historic fight against South African apartheid has been one of the major talking points organizers are using in an attempt to convey the Palestinian struggle to a largely African American workforce at the port. In 1984, ILWU workers made history when they refused to unload a South African ship, sparking other port workers to follow suit worldwide.

While Zim ships currently unload every Saturday in Oakland, Assil said the Block the Boat action is just the beginning of their long-term plan of educating and organizing port workers with the goal of permanently boycotting Israeli goods in the future.

“While direct actions are really amazing and they do cause one-day disruptions, we know that the real work of the boycott, divestment, sanctions movement is really to garner ground up support,” she said. “And part of that support has to come from the workers.”

The other part has to come from community members. Assil advises anyone concerned about the U.S.’s role in killing innocent people to come to the Saturday action. She said the blockade will send a message to the Obama administration to end its support of Israel, as citizens are no longer willing to have atrocities committed against Palestinians in their name. But Assil said this action is more than just protesting U.S. militarization overseas.

“The police forces here in the U.S. are actually being trained by the Israel Defense Forces,” she said. “The police shootings of unarmed black civilians here in the U.S. is not much different than what the occupation forces are doing in Palestine. So we need to make those connections.”

As a Palestinian-American whose family members were active in the Palestinian struggle, Assil said another reason she will be blocking the boat is to inspire youth to recognize the importance of continuing the fight.

“Palestine is a long and hard fight. I know this all too well,” Assil said. “I flash back to when I was young saying, ‘Why do we continue to fight? The monster, it seems so big.’ But these are the moments when I truly believe the tides are turning and things are shifting, and the movement to free Palestine is growing. We have to seize this moment.”

Follow the links for more information on Block the Boat actions in Oakland, Long Beach and Seattle/Tacoma. There will also be solidarity actions in New York City and Miami

LANA DEL REY, MEGADETH, PAUL ANKA, CEE LO GREEN AND OTHER ARTISTS NIX ISRAEL CONCERTS

Israel's Apartheid Wall

Israel’s Apartheid Wall

 

Singer Lana Del Rey is the latest in a list of high-profile performers to postpone her scheduled performance in Israel, following the fighting that continues in the Gaza strip. Fans will remember that she was supposed to play her first-ever gig in Israel at Exhibition Ground in Tel Aviv on August 20. However, in a sudden move it has been announced that the show has been cancelled.

Del Rey joins CeeLo Green and Megadeth in the growing list of artists who have cancelled their shows due to the dangers rising each day in this Israel-Palestine war. Hopefully, sooner than later, some sort of resolve will be found, though in this current time it sure doesn’t seem like it.

Thrash metal band Megadeth and hip hop star CeeLo Green joined a growing list of entertainers Tuesday whose scheduled concerts in Israel have been canceled amid the Gaza crisis.

Los Angeles-based Megadeth was due to play in Tel Aviv on Wednesday, but on its website the group said it wasn’t able to secure a guarantee that it could make it.

Backstreet Boys have also cancelled their shows in Israel. The reunited Orlando, Florida based boyband had three sold out dates scheduled for the end of July, but have called off the shows as a result of the Gaza conflict.

The BSB cancellation follows in the wake of numerous other scrubbed shows cancelled due to increased violence. Israel has hosted a number of high profile acts this summer, including The Rolling Stones and Justin Timberlake. But escalating violence over the past two weeks has caused the recent cancellations of shows by Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Canadian crooner Paul Anka, veteran folk-rock band America, psychedelic rockers The Brian Jonestown Massacre and jazz musicians Chick Corea and Stanley Clarke.

Netanyahu asks U.S. congressmen to protect Israel from war crimes charges

aljazeera1

Photo: Getty –  Aljazzera

 

(JTA) — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly asked U.S. lawmakers to help Israel avoid war crimes charges stemming from the Gaza conflict.

Netanyahu asked a delegation of visiting legislators to help keep Israel out of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Rep. Steven Israel (D-N.Y.) told the New York Post in an interview Wednesday from Israel, the newspaper reported.

Palestinian Authority leaders met Wednesday with officials from the court to discuss the process of joining.

The Palestinians and other world leaders have charged that Israel committed war crimes by firing on civilian areas of Gaza during its operation. Experts have suggested that Palestinians in Gaza also could be charged with war crimes for firing rockets indiscriminately into Israel, most in civilian areas.

Netanyahu “wants the U.S. to use all the tools that we have at our disposal to, number one, make sure the world knows that war crimes were not committed by Israel, they were committed by Hamas. And that Israel should not be held to a double standard,” Israel the congressman told the Post.

150 + International Legal Experts: Israel Has Committed War Crimes

By Washington’s Blog
Global Research, August 09, 2014
Washington’s Blog
Region: Middle East & North Africa
Theme: Crimes against Humanity, Law and Justice
In-depth Report: PALESTINE

Should be Referred to the International Criminal Court

Netanyahu

Netanyahu

Legal Experts Say Israel Is Targeting Civilians and Inflicting Collective Punishment

The United Nations, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch all say that Israel has committed war crimes by targeting civilians.

Israel’s collective punishment of Palestinians is also a war crime.

Over 150 international legal experts – including two Former UN Special Rapporteurs on human rights situation in Palestine – have also signed a declaration stating:

Israel has targeted civilians

Israel has inflicted collective punishment on the Palestinians

These are war crimes

The matter should be referred to the International Criminal Court (ICC)

Indeed, a French lawyer filed a complaint with the ICC on July 25, 2014 on behalf of the Palestinian justice minister. The complaint alleges that Israel committed war crimes – citing Israel’s military occupation of Palestinian territories, Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip and the ongoing military operations there.

Numerous prominent British legal experts have also requested that the ICC investigate Israeli war crimes in Gaza, stating:

Reports produced by non-governmental organisations following preliminary investigations strongly suggest that crimes within the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court have been and are being committed. Supporting information is appended to this letter. Additional information, including from “States, organs of the United Nations, intergovernmental or non- governmental organizations [and] other reliable sources” (article 15(2)) is readily and widely available. Eye witness accounts have been documented, and “written or oral testimony” can be provided by victims and others (article 15(2)). There can be no doubt as to the “seriousness of the information” available (article 15(2)).

The United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, has called for “accountability and justice”. That call has been echoed by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, who has underscored the need for “real accountability considering the increasing evidence of war crimes”.

***

All the requirements for the initiation of an investigation pursuant to article 15 are clearly made out. The “information available to the prosecutor provides”, at the very least, “a reasonable basis to believe that… crime[s] within the jurisdiction of the Court ha[ve] been or [are] being committed” (article 53(1)(a)).

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu is worried … as shown by the fact that he has asked the U.S. for help in avoiding war crime charges.

Postscript: The ICC has said that it does not have jurisdiction over Israeli war crimes in Gaza, because the Palestinians have not yet accepted the ICC’s jurisdiction (perhaps because they are worried that Hamas has also committed war crimes). However, Palestinian leaders now appear ready to submit to ICC jurisdiction.

Articles by: Washington’s Blog

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Welcome to Occupied Gaza – Courtesy of the Israeli Government

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Harbingers

Frail, old men with weathered hands stand,
Alone, lost on the wide sandy beaches,
Each turning back his rusty mind clock
Piercing the veil of memories
When they were young, anxious and terrified,
Boy-soldiers in battle fighting for their lives,
Experiencing the gamut of fear and death
Watching friends died horribly,
Scarring their young minds.forever.

Blue beaches murmur waves
Splashing old, rusted war remnants.
A sea bird flaps wet beaches
Where the sea swells and crashes gently on wet sand,
Retreating back erasing all footprints.
The men stare the distance,
At blurred memories through tears.
Trickling down their cheeks dripping softly,
To merge with the sea like before.

They came to say good-bye to their friends,
To a confused past which has no answers.
The graveyard crosses watch in stony silence,
Stoically from tree shadows on soft meadows,
In eternal military formation fronted by small, flags,
Wind-shivering in the hush of silence.
Marching the stillness in quiet precision
Protecting the young soldiers buried there,
Frozen in time and death
The old veterans stand awkward, unsure with the dead.
Experiencing those familiar, dreaded, sick feelings
Of remorse, regret, blame, and fault for what happened
To their generation who gave so much for their country.
They have gathered one final time
To share history, blame and guilt for all eternity
Banding together as one, they embrace the moment,
Experiencing once more, this terrible place of
memories.

And the same salt sea air, still blows up from the beach
Once inhaled in panic by all the young fighting men
Mired in the beach mud conducting the senseless slaughter of children,
Trapped forever in the obscenity and vulgarity of war,
The pain returns for a moment, overwhelming them,
It hangs suspended, as real as yesterday, then drifts away and mellows away.
Now time, history, and denial blessedly blur the horror and inhumanity
Of what they did; of what was done to them.

The War President from America
Mounts the podiums to prattle the virtues of war,
Attempting to rewrite history, to deny war’s reality,
He exploits the moment for selfish means,
To justify his war as a noble cause, ignoring its brutality,
Thoughtlessly attempting to validate, substantiate, and authenticate,

War’s vicious crimes against civilization
Turning the senseless slaughter of innocents
Into a righteous cause, to be proud of and condone..
Turning war into a sound-bite of empty words
Of praise, blessing, glory, and accomplishment.
Something to be proud of, to revel in,
To relish with sacred, biblical rhetoric
From a shallow, self-centered political opportunist.
Whose meanings and oratory become quickly lost,
His words floating away with the wind, out of relevance, out of touch
Out of context, drifting, beyond the restive crowds.
To fall useless and disappear, in the cold, impassionate mud.
Falling deaf on the ears of the dead warriors
The ultimate, wasted sacrifice, from another generation

It is at this moment, the old veterans
Eyes mist up, overflow, and tears flow shamelessly

As they at last comprehend all their sacrifice, all their pain,
All their sorrow, all their suffering, all the death,
Did not change or alter a thing, was not a lesson learned
Nor an experience not to be repeated..
Realizing their friend’s painful, brutal, ultimate sacrifice
Was only a necessary evil of Mankind’s political process
Which has never changed, and never will,
For each generation brings anew to the world
Its own self-styled madness of universal death, tragedy and suffering,
In wars to be fought by the young, bright-eyed children of the world
Unknowingly raised as sacrificial lambs of slaughter,
To be killed and gone forever, for nothing.
That is why, all Veterans cry.

In this hallowed place of the dead
The lonely graves of war’s youthful victims
Who died for a thought,
an idea, for a cause
Promulgated by selfish, insane men in power
These war graves and cemeteries are Harbingers
Of the eternal, mindless death cycle of war.
Young men killed by politicians’ words and mindless acts,
Their promise and existence forever ended too soon.
Now, forever sleep beneath the green muffled grass
Sharing the earth with the youth and victims of past wars,
Too numerous to count, to numbing to contemplate,
The dead, as powerless and impotent as the now living
To change or alter, or detour the inexorable course of madmen,
They patiently wait for the next generation to join them.

Curtis D. Bennett 

The myth of Hamas’ human shields

 

The day will come… because it’s not about vengeance; it’s about JUSTICE

 

 

 

On ‘Human Shielding’ in Gaza: The Israeli army has tried to justify striking civilian areas

All fighting within cities and all bombardments of urban spaces, even the most “precise and surgical”, is a potential death trap for civilians. Consequently, the permeation of war into cities inevitably transforms their inhabitants into potential human shields.

For Palestinians living in Gaza today, simply spending time in their own homes, frequenting a mosque, going to a hospital or to school has become a dangerous enterprise since any one of these architectural edifices can become at any moment a target. One can no longer safely assume that the existence of masses of human bodies – even the bodies of children – in civilian spaces can serve as defense of the weak against the lethal capacity of the hi-tech states.

But since hi-tech states can and do kill hundreds or thousands of civilians, they have to provide moral justification for their action in order to preserve their standing in the international arena; they have to demonstrate that they are protecting the principles of liberal democracy. It is precisely within this context that we should understand the series of posters recently disseminated by the Israeli military through its Twitter account, Facebook and blogs.

The poster “Where do Gaza Terrorists Hide Their Weapons” is a paradigmatic example, where the subtext does the speaking: Houses, mosques, schools, and hospitals are legitimate targets because they are presumed to be weapon depositories.

The IDF Answer:  Hamas’ favorite hiding spot: civilian buildings 6:42 PM - 15 Jul 2014

The IDF Answer: Hamas’ favorite hiding spot: civilian buildings
6:42 PM – 15 Jul 2014

This is also the message in “When Is A House a Home?” which simply zooms in on one of the images in the previous poster, showing how Palestinians presumably hide rockets in civilian homes.

IDFSpokesperson:  Infographic: In Gaza, when is a house a home, and when does it become a legitimate military target? 10:02 AM - 15 Jul 2014

IDFSpokesperson:
Infographic: In Gaza, when is a house a home, and when does it become a legitimate military target?
10:02 AM – 15 Jul 2014

The logic is straightforward: insofar as Hamas hides weapons in houses (illegitimate), Israel can bomb them as if they were military targets (legitimate). Within this framework, a single function (hiding weapons) out of many existing functions (home, shelter, intimacy, etc) determines the status of an urban site (in our case the house), so that the edifice’s form loses its traditional signification.

The question “when does it become a legitimate military target?” is merely rhetorical. Its real meaning is: “All houses in Gaza are legitimate targets” since all houses are potentially non-homes.

Not unlike colonial as well as other vastly asymmetrical wars, Israel’s legitimization for its indiscriminate bombing is premised upon a profound moral disjuncture between Israelis and Palestinians. In the poster “Israel uses weapon to protect its civilians. Hamas uses civilians to protect its weapons”, Palestinians are depicted as barbarians who ignore the elementary grammar of international law.

@IDFSpokesperson Hamas puts Palestinian civilians in the line of fire. 11:42 AM - 12 Jul 2014

@IDFSpokesperson
Hamas puts Palestinian civilians in the line of fire. 11:42 AM – 12 Jul 2014

 IDF     @IDFSpokesperson Hamas uses civilians as human shields. 10:47 AM - 11 Jul 2014

IDF @IDFSpokesperson
Hamas uses civilians as human shields.
10:47 AM – 11 Jul 2014

Israel’s warfare is, however, not only about the re-signification of architectural structures, but also about the transformation of human beings into collateral damage, subjects who can be killed without violating international law. This is the subtext of the poster featuring Israel’s Chief of Staff saying: “Even as we carry out strikes, we remember that there are civilians in Gaza. Hamas has turned them into hostages.”

Again, the logic is clear. All civilians in Gaza are being held hostage by Hamas, which is considered a war crime and a gross violation of international law governing armed conflict. This, then, provides legal and moral justification against the accusation that Israel is the one killing civilians. Presumed human rights violations carried out by Palestinians against Palestinians – taking hostages and human shielding – thus become the legitimization of lethal and indiscriminate violence on the part of the occupying force.

Hence, the use of human shields is not only a violation. In contemporary asymmetric urban wars, accusing the enemy of using human shields helps validate the claim that the death of “untargeted civilians” is merely collateral damage. When all civilians are potential human shields, when each and every civilian can become a hostage of the enemy, then all enemy civilians become killable.

In order for all this to be convincing, the Israeli military depicts the asymmetric context in which it unleashes its violence against a whole population as symmetric. This is carried out, for instance, through the poster “Some bomb shelters shelter people, some shelter bombs”. Here a radically disproportionate situation is presented as if it were balanced.

Tonight Israeli families huddle in their shelters as rockets fall across the country 9:52 PM - 10 Jul 2014

Tonight Israeli families huddle in their shelters as rockets fall across the country
9:52 PM – 10 Jul 2014

 

The residents of Gaza are bombed by cutting edge F-16 fighter jets and drones, yet they do not have bomb shelters, and they have nowhere to flee. Israel’s residents are bombed mostly by makeshift rockets, many of which have been intercepted by Iron Dome missiles. The majority of the population in Israel has access to shelters and can flee out of the rocket’s range.

These powerful images, spread by the Israeli military through social media, attempt to transform the very presence of civilians as suspect in the areas it bombards, regardless of the fact that the areas it bombs are urban centers.

The crux of the matter is that in the context of contemporary asymmetric warfare, the weak do not have many options. When there are no bomb shelters, people remain at home during extensive bombardment. And if, like in the case of the Palestinians in Gaza, fleeing is not an option – because all exits from the strip have been closed, or because the neighbour’s house is under the exact same threat as one’s own, or because one is already a refugee and does not want to become a refugee anew – staying put, which the high-tech states term “illegal human shields,” constitutes a form of resistance.

Neve Gordon