Police in Vancouver prevented anti-Israel protesters from obstructing shipping linked to an Israeli company.
Protesters supporting the movement to boycott Israel held a “Block the Boat” rally on June 8 at Woodland Park, south of the port area, to prevent the ship Northern Julie from docking at the Port of Vancouver. The container ship carried cargo for ZIM Integrated Shipping Services, based in Haifa.
The Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC), one of the rally’s organizers, urged workers to “show solidarity with Palestinian workers and with ILWU (the International Longshore and Warehouse Union) Local 10 and refuse to cross the community picket line.”
Rally organizers said that over three hours, “hundreds” of people “successfully blocked” the entrance to the port.
However, Vancouver police prevented demonstrators from crossing the bridge to the port, spokesperson Sgt. Steve Addison told The CJN. “The protest was peaceful, and though it did cause some traffic disruptions, operations at the port were not impacted,” he added.
A photograph of the scene taken by protesters and posted to Twitter shows police officers in yellow vests guarding the entrance to a bridge leading to the port. It shows the protesters on city property.
When it learned of the protest, B’nai Brith Canada said it informed the Vancouver Port Authority, the RCMP and ZIM itself “in order to facilitate a firm response to the attempted blockade,” the Jewish advocacy group said in a news release on June 14.
In the end, the protesters “were unable to gain entry to the port, and the Northern Julie was able to process its cargo without incident,” B’nai Brith stated. The ship departed Vancouver for China on Thursday (June 10) “as planned, and is currently traversing the Pacific Ocean.”
The Vancouver rally followed a similar protest in Oakland on June 4, where anti-Israel demonstrators prevented a container ship owned by ZIM from unloading.
“We have sent a powerful message that the Bay Area will stand strong against Zionism, apartheid, and any business that is complicit with Israel’s colonization of Palestine,” AROC said in a statement following its success in Oakland.
Similar protests have been promised at ports around the world.
AROC’s goal is “to impact apartheid Israel politically and economically by disrupting international commerce from the ZIM shipping line,” the group’s executive director, Lara Kiswani, told Middle East Eye.
B’nai Brith said it expects that Canadian ports “will remain open to international shipping, in full compliance with the law.”
ZIM did not respond to a request for comment.