Editorial | Misguided activism at the Port of Oakland

Six weeks ago, we predicted in an editorial that anti-Israel protesters who delayed the unloading of an Israeli-owned cargo ship at the Port of Oakland would return.

We were right.

Last weekend, the same band of zealots stood before the terminal gates, and this time they succeeded in turning the boat away (see story, 4). With protesters physically blocking the gates to dockworkers and vehicles, the Zim Shanghai left for Southern California, its cargo still on board.

Once, it’s an aberration. Twice, it’s a pattern. And now “Block the Boat” organizers have called another action for Oct. 25. This is a pattern that must be stopped.

Anti-Israel forces in the Bay Area and elsewhere never rest, ever seeking ways to subvert the free flow of commerce and ideas between Israel and the rest of the world.

We have seen this year divestment resolutions passed at U.C. Berkeley. We have seen the Presbyterian Church endorse a similar measure. We have seen an insidious effort to eliminate all academic cooperation between Israeli and American universities.

And now this: a small but determined contingent of demonstrators actually preventing a ship — one that is only partially Israeli-owned — from unloading.

This is sheer madness. Through their misguided actions, these protesters impede free trade and adversely impact the economy. As we noted in August, officials estimate 73,000 Bay Area jobs depend on a fully functioning Port of Oakland.

Perhaps most offensively, these protesters arrogate to themselves the moral high ground, even as they disrupt commerce and prevent workers from earning their pay through gross intimidation.

Don’t be misled. This is not a protest against Israeli policies in the West Bank or Gaza. This knee-jerk protest against a cargo ship bearing an Israeli name seems, as one of our op-ed writers this week puts it, more anti-Semitic than “anti-Zimitic.”

We absolutely support the right of anti-Israel protesters to gather at the port, wave their signs and Palestinian flags and bellow as loudly as they please.

But when they block gates, stop workers from earning a living and play havoc with the smooth functioning of the port, they have crossed a red line.

They are not stupid. They easily follow international shipping updates and know when the next Zim ship will arrive in Oakland. Emboldened by success, they hope to replicate their deeds on Oct. 25.

We demand that Oakland police, the Port of Oakland and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union locals work together to forbid any protesters from blocking gates and shutting down the port.