U.S. and Canadian activists are planning a series of actions beginning on Saturday to shut down West Coast ports to prevent a commercial Israeli cargo vessel from docking and unloading goods. The actions come in response to a call from Palestinian and South African unions to hold Israel accountable for what they allege are violations of Palestinians’ human rights — particularly during Israel’s latest offensive in the Gaza Strip, an operation that has killed more than 1,900 Palestinians.
“Palestine is calling us to action! Palestinian laborers [and the] Palestinian General Federation Trade Union have called on workers around the world to refuse to handle Israeli goods,” said a leaflet calling for the actions, collectively called “Block the Boat.”
Saturday’s protest was set to take place in Oakland, California, with subsequent ones scheduled in the coming weeks for Seattle and Vancouver.
The action is part of a campaign launched by members of Palestinian civil society in 2005 for boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) to pressure Israel to end its occupation of Palestinian lands and to adhere to international law in its treatment of the Palestinian people. It is modeled after similar tactics that international activists used in the 1980s to pressure South Africa's former apartheid regime to accept majority rule.