Immediately and concretely, the dockworkers were responding to Israel’s three-week attack on Gaza, which left more than 1,300 Palestinians dead, including 431 children, as well as 5,300 injured, including 1,870 children and 1,600 permanently disabled. Israel’s losses were of a different order: three civilians and 10 soldiers killed, 113 soldiers and 84 civilians injured. Gaza’s infrastructure was battered. 120,000 houses were damaged and 4,000 demolished. In the course of the operation, the Israelis are said to have dropped 1.5 million tons of explosives on Gaza — one ton for each inhabitant.Lovely stuff. I remember zionists complaining about Ronnie Kasrils condemning Israel and not saying anything about Zimbabwe. They don't have that singling out complaint in this case, not that it was or is ever valid. Another thing, back in the day, when goods from apartheid South Africa were being boycotted, South African businesses used to get their not so pariah chum, Israel, to re-label the goods and sell them on. Israel must have been very disappointed when that nice little earner closed down. But where do you re-route and re-label your goods when the people are sanctioning Israel, historically the worst of the sanction busters?
The dockworkers were also responding to — and respecting — the call and lesson of their own history. They remembered the importance of international support in the battle against apartheid. Initially, the international campaign had been little more than a small-scale irritant, reliant on the patient, sometimes lonely labours of grass-roots activists. An early success came when dock workers in various countries refused to unload South African goods. In time, the boycott grew and took a material toll on the apartheid regime.
South African trade unionists know this history well. That was seen last year when they turned away a Chinese ship carrying arms to the Mugabe regime in Zimbabwe.
Mike Marqusee's own website is here.