ADL Calls On California Governor and Union Leader to Help Ensure Fair Access to Ports

New York, NY, October 14, 2014 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today called on California Gov. Jerry Brown and Robert McEllrath, president of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), to exert leadership to ensure that California ports remain open for business to all ships, including those owned by Israeli firms.

ADL called on the ILWU to work with its local affiliate to urge demonstrators to express their views without disrupting commerce and interfering with American workers getting to their jobs.

A small band of extremist groups advocating the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel have been promoting rallies at California ports to disrupt the free flow of goods being carried on ships owned or operated by ZIM, an Israel-based company that is one of the largest carriers in the global container shipping industry. 

“The disruptive tactics of the demonstrators hurt other workers like truckers and reveal the lengths to which advocates of boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel will go to promote their anti-Israel agenda,” said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. 

While the protestors have not attracted a broad following, they have been able to prevent ships from unloading.  Therefore, ADL noted, “We believe the governor should take notice when protestors are permitted to mark the Port of Oakland as a place where anyone with a gripe against a country can impede the free flow of goods carried by ships from that country.”

Mr. Foxman added: “People are entitled to express their political views, but strong leadership from labor, political and civic leaders is needed to signal that demonstrators must express their opinions without halting the free-flow of commerce and the ability of American workers to get to their jobs.”

In letters sent earlier today to both Gov. Brown and Mr. McEllrath, ADL noted that a number of organizations working to prevent Israeli owned ships from unloading at U.S. ports are well-known for their virulent and extreme anti-Israel positions.  In some instances, their rhetoric goes beyond harsh criticism of Israel and calls into question Israel’s very legitimacy.  Some rhetoric has also veered into anti-Semitism

“The BDS campaign and the protesters’ exclusionist rhetoric about Oakland being ‘Zionist-free’ go well beyond mere criticism of Israeli policy, some of the rhetoric veers into exclusionist, anti-Jewish sentiment.” said Mr. Foxman. “The ILWU should publicly disassociate itself from their hateful rhetoric about Zionists and Jews and the goal of the BDS campaign that is far outside the scope of ILWU policy.”

ADL is the world’s leading anti-hate organization. Founded in 1913 in response to an escalating climate of anti-Semitism and bigotry, its timeless mission is to protect the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment for all. Today, ADL continues to fight all forms of hate with the same vigor and passion. A global leader in exposing extremism, delivering anti-bias education, and fighting hate online, ADL is the first call when acts of anti-Semitism occur. ADL’s ultimate goal is a world in which no group or individual suffers from bias, discrimination or hate.