by Malaika H Kambon
“You may take the last strip of my land,
Feed my youth to prison cells.
You may plunder my heritage.
You may burn my books, my poems
Or feed my flesh to the dogs.
You may spread a web of terror
On the roofs of my village,
O enemy of the sun
I shall not compromise
and to the last pulse in my veins
I shall resist.” – Samih Al Qasim in “Enemy of the Sun,” poetry of Palestinian resistance
“The colonization of America in the 16th century remains the worst case of ethnocide ever recorded in human history… Dear citizens, the roots of terrorism lie there! There, in the heart of slavery.” – Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide
Beginning Saturday, Aug. 16, dock workers at the Port of Oakland honored the picket lines of thousands of people over a period of four days – and many months of organizing in solidarity with the people of Palestine – to block Israeli apartheid by preventing the docking and unloading of the Zim Pireaus liner anywhere on the West Coast.
On Tuesday, Aug. 19, the Zim Pireus left the Port of Oakland with its cargo untouched, unloaded, unremarked and unwanted. The latest word, however, is that the Israeli “Zim ship” cleared the Golden Gate but made a U-turn and is headed back to Oakland’s Berth 22. So are the activists.
If this subterfuge fails, several activists, including the Electronic Intifada, who are tracking the Zim’s faltering attempts to find a port from which to unload, the Zim will be on its way to Los Angeles, where it will doubtlessly receive the same “Unwelcome, go home” signals.
For four days Oakland forced yet another apartheid copycat to berth somewhere else. As did the international community led by the ILWU to South African apartheid, so does the international community to Israeli apartheid. The historic victories continue.
Israeli apartheid is being dismantled and crushed – one port at a time.
Palestine – just like Afrikan people in Haiti and the world over, just like all struggling people – will fight to the bitter end to be free!
On Saturday, speakers from the Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC) and the Arab Youth Organization (AYO) said so. As did Clarence Thomas, past secretary-treasurer of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, Local 10; Pierre Labossiere, co-founder of the Haiti Action Committee; and Lil De Consuelo, born in Puerto Rico and a volunteer for the Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA), to name a very few.
Several more speakers from many organizations agreed that international solidarity has a true face, and it isn’t the face of the U.S. and Israeli governments. The connections were made from Ferguson to the Gaza Strip: Crimes against humanity will not be tolerated.
National Lawyers Guild attorney Marjorie Cohn states in her article, “US Leaders Aid and Abet Israeli War Crimes, Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity”: “By sending vast amounts of military aid to Israel, members of the U.S. Congress, President George W. Bush, President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel have aided and abetted the commission of war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity by Israeli officials and commanders in Gaza. An individual can be convicted of a war crime, genocide or a crime against humanity in the International Criminal Court (ICC) if he or she ‘aids, abets or otherwise assists’ in the commission or attempted commission of the crime, ‘including providing the means for its commission.’”
Well, court is now in session.
Organizers tracked the Zim Piraeus, according to activist Mohamed Shehk, speaking with The Electronic Intifada, and realized that the boat was still at sea. It missed its scheduled 9 p.m. docking Aug. 15. It missed its 3 a.m. docking scheduled on Aug. 16. And it definitely wasn’t in evidence at Berth 57 at 3 p.m. on the same day.
The boat had been blocked. It had no place to go and nothing to do but to circle around in the Pacific Ocean all day long on Saturday.
It wanted no part of the 2,000 people who were standing at the entrance of Berth 57 at the Port of Oakland. Israel – like France so long ago in Haiti, like apartheid South Africa – wanted no part of the people’s court.
And more people were coming.
People came from as far away as Portland, Oregon, and Puerto Rico.
Students came from every college and university. Workers, community members and activists came, as did mothers, fathers and families with babies in strollers to make the historic two-mile march from Oakland’s West Oakland BART station to Berth 57 at the Port of Oakland.
Chanting “Block the boat, block, block the boat,” and “Hands up, don’t shoot,” in solidarity with Palestinian people and with African people in Ferguson, Missouri, fighting for justice for Mike Brown, murdered by police as he raised his hands and cried out in vain, “Don’t shoot,” the march in Oakland was met by a significant police presence at Berth 57.
The same genocidal U.S.-Israeli mentality that trained police terrorists in Ferguson, Missouri, and around the world tried to export more of their terrorism at the docks in Oakland.
Just as Kenneth Wade Harding was assassinated by police and bled out after being shot for not having a $2 train fare, Mike Brown was gunned down for walking in the roadway with his friend, just as 400 Palestinian children have been brutally murdered and 2,500 injured with assault rifles, bombs and 155-millimeter artillery, Haitian children are being killed in their homes and during demonstrations, and Israeli trained police “occupy” Ferguson, Missouri, as they do Oakland, San Francisco, New York and all over the U.S.
Undaunted, international solidarity prevented Zim Integrated Shipping Services from exporting more of their apartheid, more of their genocide, more of their crimes against humanity. On this day, using the Port of Oakland as a stepping-stone to further war and injustice wasn’t happening.
They were shut down. Their boat was not only blocked but was turned away. The message being sent is clear: Neither enslavement nor occupation can cause freedom to lose its focus, nor eliminate peoples of resistance.
Apartheid was sunk yet again at the docks of the Port of Oakland.
“Si yo tire sou nou, yo pran, si yo pa tire sou nou, yo pran.” (“If they shoot at us they are doomed, and if they don’t shoot at us they are doomed. They cannot win.”) – Chant of the people of Bel Air, Haiti, on March 4, 2005, taking to the streets just a few days after, in plain sight of U.N. troops and the international media, the official Haitian police killed, beat and tear-gassed unarmed demonstrators
The power of the people prevailed.
All power to the people!
Malaika H Kambon is a freelance photojournalist and the 2011 winner of the Bay Area Black Journalists Association Luci S. Williams Houston Scholarship in Photojournalism. She also won the AAU state and national championship in Tae Kwon Do from 2007-2010. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For global action now: Stop the Israeli massacre in Gaza!
Statement of the Transport Workers Solidarity Committee
As the Zionist genocidal war against the Palestinian people continues unabated, workers around the world are stunned by the death and destruction rained down on Gaza. Transport workers, because of our key position in the global economy, have the power to stop the wheels of the Israeli war machine, the power to stop it dead in its tracks.
In 2009, dockworkers in Durban, South Africa, refused to unload the Israeli ship Johanna Russ to protest what they called “apartheid Israel’s massacres in Gaza.” The South African Transport and Allied Workers Union then called on other unions to follow their exemplary solidarity action with the oppressed Palestinian people.
Then, dockworkers in Oakland, California, of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) honored a mass picket line of 1,200 port demonstrators against a Zim Lines ship protesting the Israeli army’s killing of humanitarian aid workers on the Freedom Flotilla to Gaza. In 1984, ILWU had boycotted a South African apartheid ship.
Saturday, Aug. 16, the date of the latest protest against an Israeli Zim Lines ship in the Port of Oakland, also commemorates the Tripartite South African government killing of 34 striking miners. Known as the Marikana Massacre, it has become a seminal event in the history of South African working class struggles.
The Palestinian General Confederation of Trade Unions has appealed to workers the world over to refuse to handle Israeli goods. The TWSC supports the action begun on Aug. 16 in solidarity with Palestinians and striking South African workers.
We call on the community to picket Israeli ships, planes and Zim Lines offices. If we can stop the Israeli capitalists’ profits, even for a day, we send a powerful message to the racist Zionist regime that we will not oil their bloody war machine. An injury to one is an injury to all!
The Transport Workers Solidarity Committee, led by Jack Heyman, chair, Brian Lewis, secretary, Robert Irminger, treasurer, and Steve Zeltzer, publicity director, can be reached at email@example.com.