Some 500 anti-Israel protestors arrived at the Oakland, California port early Sunday morning, hoping to block an Israeli ship from unloading its cargo. However, the ship did not arrive, and the crowd prevented workers from unloading a Chinese ship instead.
The protestors say they were protesting the recent Israel-Turkey flotilla incident, though they displayed great ignorance about what actually happened; one of them even compared barely armed Israeli Defense Forces troops with Somali pirates.
“My grandmother's Jewish. I'm not anti-Semitic," protestor Frank McClain told a local Oakland newspaper. "But what Israel's doing is murdering people. They staged a raid in international waters. If Somalis had done that, they'd be called pirates and we'd have punished and stopped them immediately.”
In fact, as videotapes have shown, Israeli soldiers warned the ships well in advance not to enter the waters under legitimate Israeli blockade; boarded the ship armed only with paintball guns and pistols in case of need; and were set upon and attacked as they rappelled down by lynch mobs armed with iron clubs, knives, and even their own pistols that the attackers took from them. Several of the soldiers were held captive for a while below deck. Ultimately, the Israelis were able to regroup, defend themselves, ward off the terrorist activists, tend to their wounded, and gain control of the boat that had been set on a near act-of-war course.
Nearly all of the nine dead were identified as members of Turkish Islamist organizations, most of them of a radical and anti-Western nature. Four of them had previously declared their wish to die as martyrs.
"Free, free Palestine! Don't cross the picket line!" the picketers shouted – and in fact, the longshoremen chose not to clash with them, for fear of “getting into fistfights,” a union leader said. No one was arrested.
The Israeli ship arrived only at 6 PM, more than 12 hours after the protestors, but by that time most of the latter had left. The local union decided not to order night shift workers to unload the Israeli ship, and it will be unloaded sometime on Monday. A Foreign Ministry official told Israel National News that the general practice is that ships that arrive towards evening are unloaded the next day, "such that the protestors did not actually accomplish much other than to block a Chinese ship... The police are planning to be on hand on Monday to ensure that all goes smoothly."
The Picture, Not the Facts
Asked about the fact that the anti-Israel protestors actually blocked a Chinese ship and not an Israeli ship, Israel’s Consul-General in San Francisco, Akiva Tor, said, “The protestors were basically interested in painting a certain picture, and they don’t generally get down to the exact facts…”
Proving the extent of this phenomenon, protest organizer Richard Becker actually said, "This is the first time [that] an Israeli ship was blocked from unloading in a U.S. port… We consider this to be a huge victory and a historic moment.”
Two pro-Israel protestors arrived on the scene in mid-protest, ensuring that not only pro-Arab scenes would be broadcast. "Israel is a democracy, just like America, and Israel is faced with a fight for its life," said Faith Metzer of El Cerrito. A third pro-Israel man arrived a bit later, after he saw the protest on television.