America’s largest teachers union to consider resolutions condemning Israel

The resolutions add on to a growing number of American unions that have adopted statements in solidarity with Palestinians (AFP)

Umar Farooq

Middle East Eye  /  July 1, 2021

Union will debate resolutions calling for educating the public on the detention of Palestinian children and ending US ‘arming and supporting’ Israel.

The largest teachers union in the United States is scheduled to debate two resolutions this week, one condemning Israel’s “ethnic cleansing” of Palestinians and the other promoting the Palestinian struggle.

Both resolutions, which each received 50 cosponsors, will be debated on during the National Education Association’s (NEA) annual meeting from 30 June to 3 July.

One of the resolutions, New Business Item 51, would call for educating the general public on the oppression of Palestinians, including “the detention and abuse of children in the Occupied Palestinian Territory”.

“The NEA must recognize the existence and sovereignty of Palestine and Palestinian children and families and their human right to access a quality education and live freely as outlined in United Nations Declaration of Human Rights,” the resolution read.

The other resolution, New Business Item 29, if passed, would have the three million-member NEA call on the US government to stop “arming and supporting” both Israel and Saudi Arabia.

“The Arab population of Palestine has again risen up in a heroic struggle against military repression and ‘ethnic cleansing’ by the Israeli state and extreme nationalist forces in Israeli society. The NEA’s support of this struggle will weaken reaction internationally,” it read.

The news was first reported by the Washington Free Beacon.

Tania Kappner, a teacher in California and delegate attending the NEA convention, told Middle East Eye that the resolution could be “an important message sent by a union that represents millions of educators”.

“The NEA is a union that stands for civil rights and immigrant rights. We should support Palestinian rights, oppose the displacement of people from their homes, farms, and the area,” Kappner said.

American unions endorsing BDS

The resolutions introduced at the NEA annual meeting adds on to a growing number of unions in the American workforce that have adopted statements in solidarity with Palestinians, following Israel’s 11-day bombardment of Gaza in May, and the planned eviction of Palestinian families in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah.

The United Educators of San Francisco (USEF), a union representing 6,000 teachers in the San Francisco school system, voted in May to approve a resolution endorsing the Boycott, Sanctions, and Divestment (BDS) campaign – a non-violent and Palestinian-led initiative that encourages the censure of Israel’s violations of international law and human rights standards through various boycotts. 

Members of United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA), an affiliate of the second-largest teachers union, the American Federation of Teachers, also voted in support of a statement of the BDS movement, as well as a call for ending US aid to Israel.

A number of AFT members in May signed a letter addressed to the organization’s leadership, calling on it to “issue a public statement condemning the continued oppression of Palestinians by the Israeli state”.

A teachers union in Seattle, Washington also endorsed the BDS campaign in a statement earlier this month, and so did a statewide union in Vermont.

Unions in other fields, including hospitality and parcel services, have also issued similar statements in solidarity with “Palestinians in their struggle against oppression and injustice”.

Umar Farooq is a journalist based in Washington DC