Anti-Israel protest prevents ship from docking in Prince Rupert

A tweet advertising a "Block the Boat" protest in Prince Rupert, B.C., targeting an Israeli-owned cargo ship.

A container ship owned by an Israeli company was prevented from docking Monday (June 14) in Prince Rupert, B.C. after about 10 anti-Israel protesters formed a picket line at an entrance to the port, the CBC reported.

The action was part of the “Block the Boat” campaign in which demonstrators seek to obstruct vessels with ties to Israeli shipping from docking or being unloaded to protest the recent fighting between Israel and Hamas.

The container ship Volans, owned by Haifa-based ZIM Integrated Shipping Services, was anchored in Prince Rupert’s harbour for most of the day Sunday, the CBC stated.

The ship was unable to dock as protesters set up a picket line at the terminal’s entrance, which members of the International Longshore Workers Union (ILWU) Local 505 refused to cross.

“We can’t deny that the world is an interconnected place, so the ship that unloads here has an impact on the lives of people on the other side of the world,” protester Francis Riley told CBC News.

After confirming that the Volans would not be unloading in Prince Rupert, protesters left the port area but promised to return if the ship attempted to dock again.

An earlier effort to prevent a vessel from docking in Vancouver failed, as The CJN reported on June 14.

On June 8, police formed a barricade at the entrance to a bridge to Vancouver’s port to prevent access to about 100 protesters who tried to stop the ship Northern Julie from docking. The container carried cargo for ZIM.

The ship unloaded its cargo and continued to China as scheduled.

Anti-Israel protesters prevented the Volans from docking in Oakland, Calif. earlier this month. ILWU members there also refused to cross a picket line set up by the “Block the Boat” campaign.

The ship then left for Prince Rupert.

“Given the victory in Oakland, we are hopeful that the ongoing inconvenience that we’ve caused to ZIM shipping lines and the costliness, how effective we’ve been in terms of political and economic impacts will continue through Prince Rupert as well,” Lara Kiswani, executive director of the Arab Resource and Organizing Centre, among the organizers of the campaign, said in a statement.

In a statement emailed to ILWU local 505 obtained by CBC, the International Dockworkers council said, “We would like to express our solidarity with the comrades who choose not to cross the picket line to defend such a noble cause.”

The CJN queried the ILWU’s office in Vancouver, asking whether the union has developed a policy on the unloading of ships connected to ZIM, or whether support from the local in Prince Rupert was part of an overall policy to refuse to cross a picket line – even if it is not connected to a labour issue but to a foreign, political one. No reply was received by deadline.

Protesters have criticized ZIM as an Israeli government entity but the company was privatized and restructured some time ago, according to the Jewish News of Northern California.

In a statement to The CJN, Israel’s Embassy in Ottawa noted that the government of Canada “has officially and continuously rejected the BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) movement against Israel, a movement motivated by anti-Semitism whose sole purpose is the destruction of the only Jewish state.

“Boycotts against Jewish businesses in the Land of Israel have not changed much since 1944, even before there was a Jewish state. Boycotts have nothing to do with justice, peace or human rights. The BDS movement focuses on Jews and the Jewish state alone while ignoring injustices taking place around the world.

“While we acknowledge the rights of the protesters to voice their opinions, those siding with this movement should be aware that their voices are joining those of the anti-Semites throughout history whose only achievements were to proliferate hate and suffering towards others.”

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