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April 11, 2013

To Dock or Not to Dock

http://www.jewishjournal.com/blog/item/to_dock_or_not_to_dock1/

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Many odious entities enter Los Angeles every day--smog, D-list celebrities, hipsters from the East Coast that have had enough of the cold--but one such group is particularly disturbing: it is the host of ships that frequently enters the ports of Iran to conduct business with the Islamic Republic, and later docks at the Port of Los Angeles to, you guessed it, conduct business with the United States.

To be fair, many other American cities also join LA in currently allowing such ships entry, ranging from the Port of Oakland to Houston, Savannah, New Orleans, Miami, New York, and others. However, in LA at least, those most concerned have taken the issue to task with the person most responsible for enacting a tangible change on the ground: the future mayor of Los Angeles.

Today, 30 YEARS AFTER joined United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) and a host of concerned partners in California in calling for Los Angeles Mayoral candidates Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel to support denying docking privileges to shipping companies that access the Port of Los Angeles but also access ports in Iran, including OOCL (Hong Kong), Yang Ming (Taiwan), and CMA CGM (France).

The letter demonstrated a unified community voice, as it was also sent on behalf of the regional offices of the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee, as well as Sinai Temple, Beth Jacob Congregation, Young Israel of Century City, University Synagogue, and nationally syndicated radio talk show host Dennis Prager.

Councilmember Garcetti and Controller Greuel each received a letter authored by UANI CEO, Ambassador Mark D. Wallace and signed by leaders of the organizations stated above, as well as 30 YEARS AFTER. Here is a snippet of the text:

... The next mayor has an opportunity to put pressure on Iran to curtail its nuclear program by closing the Port of Los Angeles to any ships that have docked in Iran, have offices in Iran, or import and export into and out of Iran (with exceptions on humanitarian grounds).  Ocean transportation is critical for the import of raw materials required for Iran's nuclear program. Cutting off access to these raw materials would hamper Tehran's nuclear drive.

Several of the world's leading shipping lines routinely operate in Iranian ports and continue to do business with the Port of Los Angeles. This is contrary to the spirit of U.S. sanctions and President Obama's policy, and it needs to be stopped.  The National Defense Authorization Act, signed by President Obama in January, contains a provision that authorizes sanctions against any person who knowingly supports activity benefiting port operators in Iran.

In the 2010 Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act, Congress explicitly invited state and local governments and agencies to assist with the implementation of federal sanctions policy. Thus, local governments and port authorities can take action to ensure that ports under their control effectively bar shippers that make port calls at Iranian ports.

The undersigned ask for your commitment to ban all shippers docking at Iranian ports, operating offices in Iran, or importing and exporting into and out of Iran by: 1) confirming that this your policy; 2) asking the Los Angeles Harbor Commissioners to implement this policy and 3) only appointing individuals who support your policy to the Los Angeles Harbor Commission. 

We commend UANI on their excellent leadership and initiative, and look forward to hearing from the candidates regarding their stance on this vital issue. While it is complex on many levels, for companies that dock ships in both LA and Iran, the choice is rather simple: Either conduct business with America, or with Iran. But not both.

Want to know if your city's port authority currently allows entry for ships that have docked in Iran? Click here.

Founded in 2007, 30 YEARS AFTER is a non-partisan, non-profit 501(c)(3) organization based in Los Angeles with a chapter in New York, whose mission is to promote the participation and leadership of Iranian American Jews in American civic, political, and Jewish life. For more information, please email info@30yearsafter.org.

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