Activists protested the docking of an Israeli ZIM ship at Port Botany on 11 November. The action was part of a broader call from Palestinian workers’ unions and professional associations, led by the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU), for international trade unions and workers to boycott Israel and businesses associated with an apartheid regime. This initiative, known as #BlockTheBoat, is an extension of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign.
ZIM, the Israeli shipping line, has faced allegations about their role in supporting the Israeli military by transporting cargo, including weaponry for the ongoing genocide against Palestinian people. These allegations have sparked widespread international protests.
Mehreen Faruqi, NSW Senator and Deputy Leader of the Greens, supported the trade unionists organising this action. Faruqi critiqued the Labor government’s double standards: “And let’s remember, Chris Minns is the same guy who tried to ban people’s marches for Palestine.”
“We lit up the Opera House in the colours of the inside, but he remains completely silent when it comes to the massacre and the slaughters of thousands of Palestinians.”
“We completely see through their double standards, their duplicity and their hypocrisy.”
Faruqi drew on the history of social justice movements, emphasising the role of trade unions in the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa and highlighting the need for trade unions to take a leading role in actions against Israel’s perceived apartheid.
Faruqi said that, “People can also see that this is happening, that you are gathering together, that you are using your people power not just because of the atrocities of the last month, but because of the occupation, because of the oppression, because of the violence, because of the ethnic cleansing that started 75 years ago with the Nakba.”
Dunghutti activist Erin O’Leary reiterated the commitment to the stopping support going to Israel, expressing the urgency of the situation. “We need to strike. We need to mobilise. We need to cut Israel off,” said O’Leary.
The sentiment against the alleged actions in Gaza is shared by Palestinian refugee Hamad Zaro. “I can’t believe I’m standing in front of an amazing crowd today asking that children need to bury their parents and genocide is bad,” said Zaro. Zaro emphasised the gravity of the situation and its emotional toll.
Upon learning of the protest, ZIM shipping company delayed the arrival of their boat to avoid clashes with protestors.
The organisers of this protest maintain that the presence of ZIM in any port is unwelcome and should be met with strong opposition with the ultimate goal to emphasise international concerns about Israel’s actions in Gaza and demand a ceasefire. The protest was a call to action encouraging individuals to join the movement and support Palestinians.