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VANCOUVER—Activists from throughout the Lower Mainland gathered on the morning of July 19 at Deltaport in Vancouver for an information picket targeting a major Israeli shipping company, ZIM. The action was in solidarity with the aid flotilla to Gaza, which included a Canadian boat and was ultimately prevented from sailing to the occupied and blockaded Palestinian territory.
Returning delegates from the Canadian Boat to Gaza, the Tahrir, were among the participants in the picket. The Tahrir was stopped by the Greek coast guard.
"The Israeli government attacked our humanitarian flotilla with sabotage, threats of violence, and a great deal of political and economic pressure - that's ultimately why the Greek government shamefully agreed to enforce the Israeli blockade," said Irene MacInnes, a Vancouver member of the Canadian Boat to Gaza (CBG) who was among more than 30 Canadians on board the Tahrir.
"Our Canadian Boat and the Freedom Flotilla aimed to highlight the impact of the blockade of Gaza," added MacInnes. "While Gazans cannot travel or ship exports by sea, massive Israeli companies like ZIM are able to freely do business around the world despite their connection to the unjust policies that bring so much suffering to Palestinians."
ZIM is by far the biggest Israeli shipping company, and one of the 10 largest in the world, with 60 weekly services to 180 ports worldwide, including Deltaport. This year's Freedom Flotilla was a follow-up to a similar effort in May 2010, when Israeli armed forces raided a Turkish ship, the Mavi Marmara, killing nine activists.
Following last year's massacre, a number of Palestinian labour organizations issued a call for international solidarity, which read in part: “During the South African anti-apartheid struggle, the world was inspired by the brave and principled actions of dockworkers unions who refused to handle South African cargo... Today, we call on you, dockworkers unions of the world, to do the same against Israel’s occupation and apartheid. This is the most effective form of solidarity to end injustice and uphold universal human rights.” Dockworkers in the USA, Sweden, Turkey, India and South Africa have responded with support actions.
"We are calling for a boycott of Zim because Palestinian civil society has asked people of conscience to target Israeli shipping in the wake of the Israel's illegal sea blockade of Gaza and it's vicious and violent attacks on the humanitarian ships trying to connect Palestinians to the outside world," said Gordon Murray, a member of the Boycott Israeli Apartheid Campaign (BIAC).
"By flotilla and boycott and many other means, the global movement to dismantle Israeli apartheid is growing," said Murray.
A lone French flagged boat, the Dignity, from the Freedom Flotilla managed to get out of Greek territorial waters and sail towards Gaza. It was boarded and seized by Israeli commandos in international waters on July 19, the same day as the ZIM protest. The passengers and crew, including one delegate from the Canadian Boat to Gaza, Stephan Corriveau, were held by the Israeli military before being deported to their respective countries.
The Dominion is a monthly paper published by an incipient network of independent journalists in Canada. It aims to provide accurate, critical coverage that is accountable to its readers and the subjects it tackles. Taking its name from Canada's official status as both a colony and a colonial force, the Dominion examines politics, culture and daily life with a view to understanding the exercise of power.