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Anti-Israel boycot fails against ship in Durban harbour

By Adriana Stuijt     Feb 6, 2009 in Business
The planned boycott of the Johanna Russ, a German-owned freighter and other ships with Israeli cargo bound for Durban harbour in South Africa, thus far is an utter failure. The port authority merely replaced the union workers with non-union workers.
The Israeli cargo was offloaded on schedule.
Moreover, the SA Transport and Allied Workers Union 's strike was declared unlawful by local port authorities: the union leader had failed to give 48 hours advance notice of such strike action, as required under the law.
The Johanna Russ -- which plies the East African coastline between Djibouti and Durban, which is South Africa's busiest harbour -- arrived at the outer anchorage of Durban harbour today.
See previous report here
There also were none of the promised protests at dockside -- however the union says they will be protesting on Sunday. see
The Jerusalem Post quotes Israeli diplomats as saying that ' the South African government and port authorities 'were more worried than us' about the boycott announced by SATAWU.
Randall Howard, general secretary of the union, had announced the boycott on Wednesday after union members had noticed an Israeli vessel in line to enter the busy harbour. He claimed, without providing any proof, that 'illegal Israeli settlements' were shipping goods and that their union members were 'unanimous' when announcing that they would refuse to offload it. However, dock workers soon were told that there was a legal impediment to the boycott -- strikes at the port require 48 hours advance notice.
And to circumvent any problems, port management instead organised non-union labourers to unload it.The union's actions have meanwhile also drawn considerable condemnation from Israel as well as from local South African Jewish cultural and religious groups.
Targeting Jews in their homes:
A protest rally is being planned in support of the 'boycott initiative' in front of the offices of the South African Zionist Federation in Johannesburg on Friday by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and the Congress of South Africa Trade Unions, the organizations also announced on Thursday.
Former South African minister Ronnie Kasrils, who is a communist party member of Jewish descent, as well as SATAWU's Howard are expected to speak at this event.
"Both are vicious towards the State of Israel," said Zev Krengel, national chairman of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies. Local police were alerted to the protest - and announced that they had not granted any permission for it.
"We don't protest in Muslim areas...'
Krengel said: "We're hoping that it won't be allowed to happen.' He said this was the first-ever scheduled anti-Israel protest meeting which was placed outside a Jewish institution, rather than at an Israeli or Egyptian embassy or in a public space. "We find it very provocative to come into our areas and protest. This is where we live. We don't protest in Muslim areas," he said.
'The local Palestine Solidarity Campaign issued a statement charging Israel with having violated numerous provisions of international law, and specifically accusing 'the South African Jewish community with aiding and abetting Israel's actions', he noted. "We find this statement quite repulsive," Krengel said.
"The South African Jewish community supports the right of Israel to exist as a sovereign state and its right to live in peace, he said. "This will only serve to increase the tension between the Muslim and Jewish communities of South Africa. It is both dangerous and counterproductive."
According to Krengel, the community will respond to the protests, if allowed by the police. "We won't do anything above the law," he said. Krengel said that at this stage he did not fear for the safety of the community.
"There is always a risk, but the South African government has always had a zero tolerance policy towards anti-semitism and we've always felt well protected," he said.
Globes, the Israeli business daily, meanwhile also reports that the Israeli Histadrut trade union intends to ask the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) for assistance with the planned boycott of Israeli ships by dockers in South Africa.
“The union (Satawu) in South Africa is against anything connected to Israel, and in the past even objected to a cooperation agreement we signed with the Palestinian transport workers union,” the paper quotes Israeli Transport Workers Union chairman Avi Edri as saying.see
Iran clerics call for Israel boycott:
Meanwhile, three Iranian clerics have asked Muslim nations to ban Israeli made goods.
In an interview to the “Al-Aalam” press agency, three Iranian Grand Ayatullahs, namely Makarem Shirazi, Mousavi Ardabili and Sobhani said 'the money that Israel earns from its foreign trade is used for Palestinian suppression and any purchase of Israeli made goods by Muslims is prohibited.'
Meanwhile, fruit growers in Israel have reported delays and reductions in orders from abroad since the military operation in Gaza was launched, due to various boycotts against Israeli produce.
Farmers say much of their produce is being held in warehouses due to canceled orders, and fear a sharp decrease in fruit exports to countries such as Jordan, Britain, and the Scandinavian countries.
"We export persimmons, and because of the fighting a number of countries and distributors are canceling orders," Giora Almagor, of the southern town of Bitzaron, told Ynet.
He said some of the produce had already been shipped while some was awaiting shipment in warehouses.
Almagor said a large number of cancellations came from Jordan. "The produce stays packed in warehouses, and this is causing us massive losses," he said. "The longer the fruit waits in storage after sorting, the more its quality decreases. We also have to pay for cooling the merchandise that should have already left, and the cost in considerable," he added.
Ilan Eshel, director of the Organization of Fruit Growers in Israel, said Scandinavian countries have also been canceling orders. "It's mostly Sweden, Norway, and Denmark," he said. "In Scandinavia the tendency is general, and it may come to include all of the chains."
Eshel says the boycott did not exist before the Gaza offensive was launched.
"It's getting worse, and more voices can be heard calling to boycott Israeli merchandise," he said.
More about Johanna russ, Boycott, Durban harbour, Anti-israeli, Anti-jewish
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