A United Front in Tweets

Oakland Militants Successfully Block Unloading of Israeli Ship

A militant blockade in the Port of Oakland on Saturday 27 September prevented the Israeli ship Zim Shanghai from unloading for two shifts, forcing the vessel to leave the Bay Area completely unworked and divert to Los Angeles. This followed on the heels of a successful blockade of another Zim ship, the Piraeus, in mid-August. A further blockade is planned for 25 October, when the Zim Beijing is due to berth in Oakland.

The 27 September action was organized by the Stop ZIM Action Committee, a united front comprised of a number of organizations and individuals including the IBT, the Transport Workers Solidarity Committee and pro-Palestine activists. The call out was endorsed by the Palestinian BDS national committee and other groups. Before the blockade was set up, the committee appealed to the traditionally militant workers in Local 10 of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) to support the action and refuse to unload the ship. During the morning shift, rank-and-file support was so strong that only a single longshoreman took a job ticket to work the ship at the dispatch hall.

The same could not be said for the leadership of the ILWU. A press release on behalf of the union's International Officers alleged, incorrectly, that the ILWU has no position on the bombing and blockade of Gaza by Israel, and also that longshoremen and clerks were threatened by activists during the evening blockade. The press release was widely cited by pro-Zionist media, including in the Jerusalem Post. Morton Klein, President of the Zionist Association of America, used the press statement to call for arresting the “anti-Semitic” protesters in a letter to the Oakland Police Department.

This response to the ILWU leadership by the Transport Workers Solidarity Committee refutes these allegations, provides a useful description of what really happened at the August and September actions and exposes the negative role played by the officers of a union once well known for solidarity with the oppressed around the world.

A letter released by the united front committee after the event thanked “all the organizations and individuals who gave so generously of their time and energy, publicized the event to their networks, sent messages of support, endorsed the picket and brought friends and family to the picket line. Most importantly, we salute the longshore workers of ILWU Local 10, who stood aside, gave up a day's pay and respected the picket lines we put up.”

Organizing a disparate collection of activists of different backgrounds while also appealing to the organized workers movement was not an easy task. One key tool for mobilizing the maximum number of people in a changing situation was Twitter. Many of the tweets from the @StopZIMOak account were retweeted in the Bay Area and internationally, further building the action. The following selection gives a flavor of events:

We're organizing a picket of the Zim Shanghai starting September 27th. http://t.co/x3qODlDdHH #StopZIMS27 #BlocktheBoat @OccupyOakland

— Stop Zim Action Comm (@StopZIMOak) September 20, 2014

http://t.co/9Nv8UTVIrh Link to flyer for action. @freegazaorg #BlocktheBoat #StopZIMs27

— Stop Zim Action Comm (@StopZIMOak) September 20, 2014

Saturday 20 Update: Zim Shanghai just past Costa Rica at 15.9 knots. At that speed, on schedule to arrive @ Oakland Sat Sep 27. #stopzim

— Stop Zim Action Comm (@StopZIMOak) September 21, 2014

http://t.co/rDd7ct4qfC A map of the Port, showing the SSA terminal. Further updates closer to Sat. #StopZIM #BlockTheBoat @14fp

— Stop Zim Action Comm (@StopZIMOak) September 22, 2014

Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC) endorses 9/27 picket. http://t.co/11O9OFdExa #BlocktheBoat #StopZIM

— Stop Zim Action Comm (@StopZIMOak) September 23, 2014

Zim Shanghai update 8am Wed sept 24: Just south of Isla Santa Margarita, Mexico, lat 2346'; long 11159' 16.4 knots #stopZIM at Oakland.

— Stop Zim Action Comm (@StopZIMOak) September 24, 2014

Zim Shanghai still expected 2 arrive by 5am shift Sat 9/27. Check 4 further updates on Twittr, txt & Facebk on Fri9/26 at 5pm&11pm #StopZim

— Stop Zim Action Comm (@StopZIMOak) September 26, 2014

ALERT: Zim Shanghai is now scheduled to arrive TONIGHT, FRIDAY. Gather W.Oakland BART at 5PM. March/carpool to SSA. #BlocktheBoat #StopZIM

— Stop Zim Action Comm (@StopZIMOak) September 26, 2014

ALERT: Zim Shanghai arrival back to Sat. 9/27 AM. Critical picket is 5AM 9/27. Meeting today (5PM) still on. #StopZIM #Blocktheboat

— Stop Zim Action Comm (@StopZIMOak) September 26, 2014

Zim Shanghai passing under golden gate bridge right now, 3.49am, heading for berth 57 and #stopZIM welcoming party. #BlockTheBoat

— Stop Zim Action Comm (@StopZIMOak) September 27, 2014

#StopZim Zim Shanghai has stopped. 4.50am. Mooring to the west of Hanjin Chongqing. #blocktheboat

— Stop Zim Action Comm (@StopZIMOak) September 27, 2014

All but one longshoreman refused the jobs. Lines are holding. Gather at W Oakland BART for next shift at 4:30 pm. #Blocktheboat #stopzim

— Stop Zim Action Comm (@StopZIMOak) September 27, 2014

Big thank U everyone who made the first shift. SUCCESS! Now we need folk for the second shift to #BlockTheBoat #stopZIM 4.30pm WEST oak BART

— Stop Zim Action Comm (@StopZIMOak) September 27, 2014

Pickets tonight were successful. We urgently need you at Sunday AM shift at 5AM W Oakland BART. Please bring friends. #Blocktheboat #stopzim

— Stop Zim Action Comm (@StopZIMOak) September 28, 2014

More people needed for 5am shift Sun morning to #stopZIM but check twitter before you set off in case ship has gone #blocktheboat berth 57

— Stop Zim Action Comm (@StopZIMOak) September 28, 2014

Zim Shanghai update Sunday 12.24 am: Left berth 57 at 11.59pm, two tug boats in attendance. now in turning basin. #StopZim

— Stop Zim Action Comm (@StopZIMOak) September 28, 2014

Zim Shanghai going under Golden Gate Bridge NOW! 1.40am sun. Million $ question: will it turn round & come back again? If so we'll #stopZIM

— Stop Zim Action Comm (@StopZIMOak) September 28, 2014

The ship has left SF bay and is near the Farallones. No need to come to W. Oakland BART. Check back at 6am. #Blocktheboat #stopzim

— Stop Zim Action Comm (@StopZIMOak) September 28, 2014

We did it! The Zim Shanghai left with no cargo loaded or unloaded. We will continue to monitor the ship. #Blocktheboat #stopzim

— Stop Zim Action Comm (@StopZIMOak) September 28, 2014

Zim Shipping just wants to trade. So does Gaza, under blockade by Israel. Now Zim has a tiny idea of what it's like. #stopZIM #blocktheboat

— Stop Zim Action Comm (@StopZIMOak) September 28, 2014

Zim Shanghai update Sunday 3.30pm: Now well south of Salinas. Well and truly gone. Big thank you to everyone who came to #stopZIM pickets

— Stop Zim Action Comm (@StopZIMOak) September 28, 2014

http://t.co/sLh0rDpX2x The Liverpool Dockworkers salute the Zim Shanghai picket! #BlocktheBoat #StopZIM

— Stop Zim Action Comm (@StopZIMOak) September 30, 2014

http://t.co/8GEK6JsVjo Thank you to all of you who helped out or supported. It could not have happened without you. #BlocktheBoat #StopZim

— Stop Zim Action Comm (@StopZIMOak) September 30, 2014

Zim Shanghai update, Fri Oct 3rd: Now off coast of Oregon, 16.7 knots, heading for Vostochnny, FIVE days behind schedule because of #stopZIM

— Stop Zim Action Comm (@StopZIMOak) October 3, 2014