No blockade, Zim ship bypasses Oakland

A cargo ship partially owned by Israeli interests did not dock this weekend in Oakland, where protesters had planned to attempt another blockade.

As of midweek, the Zim Beijing was en route from the Panama Canal to the Far East, according to a spokesman for Zim Integrated Shipping Services, a company 32 percent owned by the Israel Corp.

Two weeks ago, Zim’s online schedule showed the Beijing due to arrive at the Port of Oakland on Oct. 25. A planned “Block the Boat for Palestine” protest was called off once it became clear the ship would not be arriving; a substitute march was held on Oct. 26 but received no mainstream local media coverage.

Maor Aharoni, a spokesman for Zim in Israel, said the Beijing not coming to Oakland “doesn’t have anything to do with the protest.” He added, “It’s common in the shipping industry to have itinerary changes due to commercial and operational reasons.”

Cargo containers due for Oakland could have been placed on another ship, as alliances between shipping lines are common in the industry.

The S.F.-based Jewish Community Relations Council issued a short statement regarding the situation.

“JCRC is continuing to work closely with public officials behind the scenes to convey our community’s deep concern about this outrageous situation,” the statement read. “Beyond the hateful nature of the ‘Block the Boat’ protestors’ rhetoric, this action stands to cause severe economic repercussions on the people of Oakland, and we will continue to cooperate with key players to minimize this detrimental effect.”

Although no vessels with the Zim name are scheduled to dock in Oakland through the end of 2015, according to the company’s website, Aharoni said Zim has not severed its ties with Oakland and has no plans to do so. A line on the website adds, “The services to some ports are operated by subcontractors.”

“Block the Boat” protesters staged two earlier blockades at the Port of Oakland. In August, the Zim Piraeus was offloaded by longshoremen, but only after it departed and did a U-turn; in September, dockworkers did not unload the Zim Shanghai, which eventually was offloaded in Long Beach. — j. staff