In Oakland, Calif., protesters at the port on June 4, 2021, where they halted a container ship owned by the Israel-based Zim Integrated Shipping Services Ltd. in a campaign tied to the BDS movement.
In Oakland, Calif., protesters at the port on June 4, 2021, where they halted a container ship owned by the Israel-based Zim Integrated Shipping Services Ltd. in a campaign tied to the BDS movement. (Brooke Anderson via JTA)

BDS demonstrators protest for 45 minutes outside Romulus offices of Zim.

Anti-Israel protesters demonstrated outside the Metro Detroit office of an Israeli shipping company being targeted nationwide by protesters the afternoon of June 8.

In front of the Zim American Integrated Shipping Services office in Romulus, chants of “Free, Free Palestine,” could be heard, according to the Detroit Free Press. Large banners at the 45-minute rally read “#SanctionIsrael” and “Stop U.S. Funding of Israeli Apartheid.”

Zim is an Israeli shipping company and delivers goods to the U.S. and other nations. It’s unclear what type of goods Zim ships to Michigan, according to organizers.

The protest in Romulus was organized by several groups, including Moratorium Now of Detroit. It’s one of many that have taken place in Metro Detroit against Israel over the past month stemming from the recent 11-day conflict between Israel and Hamas. 

The rally is part of a broader effort nationally called “Block the Boat” that aims to disrupt the company’s shipping to the U.S. The efforts are in support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, which seeks to damage Israel’s economy over its policies toward the Palestinians and the West Bank.

On June 4, a group of protesters in Oakland, Calif., claimed victory at blocking a Zim boat from unloading after workers declined to cross the line of protesters to unload the ship’s cargo, reported the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. The coalition is now trying to block cargo ships from entering other ports across the U.S.

Along with Metro Detroit and Oakland, Block the Boat organizers have protests planned for New York City and Philadelphia. There were also protests in Vancouver and London. 

A voicemail seeking comment on the Metro Detroit protest from the vice president of Zim’s Midwest branch was not returned by press time.

The company did give a statement to the London-based Middle East Eye.

“Due to operational constraints and long delays in the Port of Oakland, and in order to meet schedule departures in the Far East, we will be calling on other U.S. West Coast Ports until further notice,” the statement said, not mentioning the protests.

Unloading of a ZIM ship at the Port of Oakland was also delayed by anti-Israel protesters in 2014. Longshoremen declined to load the ship out of safety concerns, taking no position on the underlying dispute, but unloaded the ship after safety was assured. 

The Jewish community in Metro Detroit has held two rallies in recent weeks in West Bloomfield in support of Israel and against antisemitism. 

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