On November 1, 2023 Critical Resistance (CR) was joined by thousands of people for our Abolition Means No More War: Free Palestine Now webinar with Angela Davis, Lara Kiswani of Arab Resource & Organizing Center (AROC), Stefanie Fox from Jewish Voice for Peace, and Nadine Naber of INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence.
CR’s Campaigns Director Mohamed Shehk started the event off grounding the audience in CR’s definitions of the prison industrial complex (PIC) and abolition, while also explaining some connections between the prison and military industrial complexes in the US and Israel. Angela Davis then started the conversation off, explaining why from the radical Black feminist tradition – which is also the political origins of PIC abolition, Palestinian liberation is fundamental. Angela Davis argued that:
“Principled solidarity is never transactional. […] Our resistance requires deep understandings and a capacity to embrace what might sometimes appear to be contradictions, and, of course, an awareness of an intersectional character of all of our struggles for justice and their indivisible connections.”
Lara Kiswani added that:
“Palestine solidarity also expands the terrain for social justice movements to unpack and challenge militarism, policing, surveillance – in the spirit of solidarity and collective liberation.”
Stefanie Fox insisted:
“We are also grieving Jewish Israeli loved ones. We have countless members who have family members who were killed or taken hostage. And that grief is real and human and profound, and we are holding that agony. And the thing that we are saying and showing clearly through our actions is that there is no contradiction between grieving both Israeli and Palestinian loved ones, and fighting with everything we have for Palestinian liberation. In fact, there is no other way to honor that grief.”
And Nadine Naber offered:
“May this be the time when we finally fuse decolonial abolitionist movement strands and hearts forever, without exception, everywhere, and stand against carcerality and militarism whenever and wherever they are practiced.”
The event was streamed on Youtube by Haymarket Books, and can still be viewed on their Youtube page here, or CR’s Youtube here. In less than a week, dozens of movement partners signed on as endorsers of the event. See the full list of endorsers on our event page here.
Now, Critical Resistance heeds the call from Palestinian trade unions to end all complicity with the Israeli war machine and to stop arming apartheid Israel. Shortly after the webinar, on Friday, November 3, CR members joined our movement partners AROC, Jewish Voice for Peace, Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) Bay Area, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (IJAN) and others in the Bay Area at the Port of Oakland and delayed a US military vessel from making its way to Israel transporting weapons through the Port of Tacoma in Washington.
We arrived at the port before dawn and sounded the alarm for hundreds to show up in protest of US military aid to apartheid Israel. We held down the port for nearly 10 hours, setting up pickets and blockades at the gates into the port and onto the dock. Swarms of militarized police showed up, first starting with dock security and the coast guard, followed by Oakland police, federal agents and Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE). Three brave people boarded the ship, clinging onto the ladder onto the ship for nearly five hours until they were removed. Protestors sang freedom songs and chanted while observing the safety of those aboard, and pleaded with the workers to walk off the boat and refuse to load weapons for Israel. One contracted worker heard our cries and walked off the job after the workers aboard held a meeting on the ship to deliberate their compliance.
Police violently broke through our peaceful blockade at one of the gates, harming a few protestors. In the afternoon, the ship left the dock once the protestors aboard were arrested. We continued to rally and make sure our people remained as safe as possible. In a few hours, we raised tens of thousands of dollars for a defense fund in anticipation of charges against some protestors, needs for after-care, and to pay the dozens of parking tickets the city of Oakland distributed to deter resistance. The three arrested were released that evening, but remain under military investigation for potential maritime law charges. Together we successfully organized press to cover the protest, blasted the news through out own people’s media online, and effectively warned our comrades in the Pacific Northwest to mobilize.
On Monday, November 6, thousands of people came out to the Port of Tacoma to directly confront the boat. For 12 hours in the rain, picketers prevented the longshoremen from loading weapons for their entire shift. Due to the picket, longshoremen could not get to work and US military personnel had to load the ship themselves. In addition to the pickets at the port, the Puyallup and Nisqually Water Warriors showed immense bravery and solidarity with the Palestinian people and confronted the military ship in canoes and kayaks directly from their waters.
Between both blockades from Oakland to Tacoma, we slowed down the shipment, cost the US military money, and drew massive global support for cutting the supply chain of weapons to Israel. Workers in Barcelona, Belgium, Greece and beyond have already vowed they will not handle ships containing weapons destined for Israel. CR continues to be inspired by the millions globally taking to the streets demanding an immediate ceasefire, and by the brave Arab-led and anti-Zionist Jewish organizing, solidarity from unions, and direct action to interrupt military aid to Israel, from the trade unions in the UK blocking an arms factory in Kent to protestors blocking entrances to the Colt gun factory in West Hartford, Connecticut.
This weekend, Critical Resistance will be joining movement partners with the No to APEC Coalition mobilizing for a counter summit in San Francisco to protest Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Forum. If you’re in the Bay Area this weekend, please join us!