ROMULUS — A “Block the Boat-Detroit” protest was held by some 100 Palestinian rights activists outside the ZIM American Integrated Shipping Services, LLC office on Tuesday.
Sahar Faraj, one of the main organizers with the Palestinian Youth Movement of Detroit, was joined by a line up of speakers from seven other organizations collaborating on the action.
Standing in front of a “Sanction Israel” banner held across the ZIM office main doors, Faraj addressed the crowd over a megaphone while wearing a Palestinian keffiyeh.
“ZIM is Israel’s oldest and most profitable shipping company. We are here to bring awareness to the workers here. That we are not to handle Israeli products or cargo. That this is complicit in Israeli apartheid.”
Why do we oppose them (ZIM)? Not just because it’s apartheid Israel’s largest shipping company, that is specifically is responsible for shipping white phosphorus (that’s used against) Palestinian workers, families and children — Danya Zituni, organizer with U.S. Palestinian Community Network.
Danya Zituni, a local member of the U.S. Palestinian Community Network, highlighted the brutality caused by weapons shipments ZIM’s services are engaged in.
“Why do we oppose them (ZIM)? Not just because it’s apartheid Israel’s largest shipping company, that is specifically is responsible for shipping white phosphorus (that’s used against) Palestinian workers, families and children. For those who don’t know, white phosphorus is a chemical weapon that sticks to human flesh and burns it down to the bone.
“ZIM is responsible for allowing Israel to commit horrific war crimes and the workers have a choice not to unload Israeli cargo. Detroit workers should respect the picket line called by Palestinian workers to not unload Israeli cargo.”
The demonstration was held in solidarity with protests in other U.S. cities and abroad. Last Friday, a protest organized by a San Francisco-based organization, the Arab Resource and Organizing Center, successfully shut down a section of the Port of Oakland, preventing a container ship from unloading the cargo.
These community actions are part of an ongoing international Boycott, Divestment and Sanction (BDS) campaign against Israel.
Abayomi Azikiwe recalled his experience as a young organizer in Detroit opposing the South African apartheid system and the connection to the resistance strategies being utilized against the apartheid occupation of Palestine by Israel
BDS is modeled after anti-apartheid South African resistance efforts that calls on the responsibility of consumers, laborers, business professionals and institutions to economically disinvest from goods and services that directly support the sustainability of the apartheid regime of Israel at the cost of Palestinian livelihoods.
Abayomi Azikiwe, longtime Detroit activist and organizer with the Moratorium NOW! Coalition in Michigan also took to the microphone to speak.
“This corporation, ZIM American Integrated Shipping Services, LLC is a criminal operation. It’s a criminal operation because they support a criminal system that has virtually enslaved the Palestinian people for the last 73 years.”
Video: Abayomi Azikiwe, Moratorium NOW! Coalition organizer, speaks to a crowd of protests on the importance of anti-apartheid resistance from South Africa to occupied Palestine. Rasha Almulaiki/The Arab American News
Azikiwe recalled his experience as a young organizer in Detroit opposing the South African apartheid system and the connection to the resistance strategies being utilized against the apartheid occupation of Palestine by Israel.
“Being an older person, I have been around for a longtime. In the 1980s when I was a graduate student and young worker in Detroit, we had a strong South African solidarity movement, the Anti-Apartheid Movement. And what did we do?
At the aegis of the liberation movements, the African National Congress, the South West Africa People’s Organization (SWAPO) directed us to give apartheid absolutely no space whatsoever. Every U.S. corporation that had investments in a racist apartheid system, we demanded that they withdraw investments.”
The event organizers handed out informational leaflets to attendees and on car windshields informing ZIM employees about the company’s complicit involvement in the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the importance of ethical disengagement.
The ZIM shipping company did not immediately respond to requests for comment.