By Marsha Feinland
Posted on September 26, 2014 by the Communications Committee
Editor's note: as this article is being posted on September 26, another Israeli ship, the Zim Shanghai, is approaching the Port of Oakland. Peace and Freedom Party activists are again joining many other organizations and individuals at the Port to oppose Israel's attacks on Gaza.
Author's note: I wrote this article after participating the events that it describes from Saturday, August 16 through Monday, August 18. I followed the subsequent events through emails and online accounts. I would like to note that while the Peace and Freedom Party was not an official endorser, sponsor, or organizer, we do take a strong stand on the issue. Many Peace and Freedom Party activists and registrants participated.
In response to the recent horrific attacks on Gazan civilians by Israeli armed forces, a coalition of left groups and individuals decided to initiate a "port action." A force of demonstrators could persuade the longshore union members to refuse to cross a picket line, and thus prevent a ship's cargo from being off-loaded.
Israeli Zim Line ships dock and deliver cargo at the Port of Oakland regularly. The action was originally scheduled for August 2. Fliers were distributed at the numerous demonstrations being held in the Bay Area against Israel's occupation of Palestine and the ongoing attacks on civilians. But at an organizing meeting a few days before the scheduled event a number of the major groups voted to reschedule the action to August 16 “in order to give time to build a stronger blockade (according to the International Socialist Organization [ISO]).” Some individuals and smaller groups, feeling strongly that the mobilization was already in gear, decided to gather at the West Oakland BART station on the morning of August 2 to carry out the mission as planned. When a critical mass did not materialize, they disbanded and joined the effort to build the August 16 action.
The call went out to assemble at the West Oakland BART station at 5:00 a.m. the morning of August 16 and then march to the port. The Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC) set up a place on their website for the action, including a phone number to contact to receive updates by text message. On the evening of August 15, people were notified that the action was postponed until 3:00 pm because the ship's scheduled arrival had changed. Some people who showed up early Saturday morning got the word to return later that afternoon.