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Major Teachers’ Union to Vote on Resolution Accusing Israel of ‘Genocide’

By Zach Kessel | National Review | July 2, 2024

National Education Association members will vote on several anti-Israel resolutions at the union’s annual “Representative Assembly” in Philadelphia this week, including the adoption of an official position holding that Israel is conducting a “genocide” in Gaza and that opposing the Jewish state’s existence is not antisemitic, documents obtained by National Review show.

Two items of business would have the NEA “use existing digital communication tools to educate members about the difference between anti-Zionism and antisemitism.”

The resolutions claim that the two are often erroneously conflated, characterizing antisemitism as “bias or action against Jewish people” in one document and “a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews” in another. Union members describe anti-Zionism as “a political stance” in the first resolution and “the opposition to any Jewish state in the Middle East” which entails opposing “the existence of the modern state of Israel.”

In order for an item of business to reach the floor, it must be sponsored by at least 50 of the 6,000 delegates present at the convention. If passed, the resolutions direct the NEA to abide by their provisions for a year, provided that the resolution does not violate existing NEA policy.

Multiple resolutions set to be discussed this week would have the NEA use its resources to promote efforts to end ties between the United States and Israel. One such campaign is the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, explaining to members the connection between BDS and “the broader labor movement” as well as addressing “legislative efforts to restrict speech in relation to BDS” and “NEA members’ participation in the movement.”

This resolution describes BDS as a project with the goal of “pressur[ing] Israel to comply with international law,” while movement founder Omar Barghouti has said that at least one aim of BDS — which calls for a Palestinian “right of return” as well as boycotts and diplomatic action against Israel — is the end of the “Zionist state.”

Another would allocate NEA resources toward communicating “the Palestinian Trade Union call to action to ‘End all Complicity, Stop Arming Israel’ to NEA members,” while one more resolution would use the union’s media channels to publicize its “opposition to spending billions of dollars in Federal funds to send weapons to the Israeli military that are used in genocide in Gaza.”

In a stated attempt to prevent NEA members “from supporting political representation that harms communities of color,” union delegates will introduce a resolution calling on the organization to “publish via electronic media the names of congresspeople who have” accepted donations or been endorsed by either the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) or the Democratic Majority for Israel (DMFI).

Also addressed in a proposed resolution is the “Nakba,” or “struggle,” the term anti-Israel activists used to refer to the events of 1948. While anti-Israel activists currently use the term to mean displacement of Palestinians, the “catastrophe” — the English translation of the term — initially referred to the Arab states’ defeat in a war that began after they invaded newly independent Israel in 1948. Moreover, many Arabs within Israel left at the urging of neighboring Arab governments, which then refused to take them in.

“In light of escalating violence in Palestine, educators are increasingly seeking to understand historical context,” the resolution reads. “Learning about the Nakba empowers educators to address related questions and support Palestinain American students, fostering a more inclusive learning environment that recognizes students’ backgrounds.”

At least one resolution submitted for consideration nominally addresses antisemitism, proposing that the NEA post the words “Stand up Against Antisemitism” and a Star of David on its website during January of each year. The item includes language reassuring union members that the “effort simply raises awareness in opposing antisemitism and is not tied to Israel and Zionism.”

David Smokler, the director of K-12 educator outreach at nonprofit organization StandWithUs, told NR that the NEA has taken a largely anti-Israel position since October 7 and that the resolutions are cause for concern.

“Multiple [New Business Items] call for the NEA to promote BDS in one way or another. BDS is a campaign of hate that has ties to Hamas and seeks to boycott Israel out of existence,” Smokler said. “Another NBI would direct the NEA to send out propaganda to all members that deny any connection between anti-Zionism and antisemitism. Israel is the indigenous homeland of the Jewish people, who have lived there continuously for over 3,000 years.

Denying Jews the right to self-determination in their homeland is antisemitic, full stop.”

Smokler pointed to public NEA statements since October 7 and accused the organization’s leaders of trying “to play both sides.”

In her first communication addressing the Hamas attack and its aftermath, NEA president Becky Pringle, after condemning the terrorism and calling for “a renewed sense of urgency in resolving this ongoing conflict” in response to Israel’s retaliatory war, argued that the U.S. is “long overdue for a serious conversation about the rise in both antisemitism and Islamophobia on campuses and across our soeciety.”

Pringle pointed at former president Donald Trump as the reason behind “the rise in antisemitism, racism, and Islamophobia.”

The NEA leader called for a ceasefire on December 8, a sentiment the union’s board of directors reaffirmed in February.

Smokler told NR that StandWithUs has “heard from many Jewish members who were irate” about the NEA’s decision to include in its antisemitism resources a document that does not describe the denial of Israel’s right to exist as antisemitic.

He also mentioned that StandWithUs will hold a counter-protest at the same time as an Educators for Palestine rally in support of the anti-Israel resolutions. StandWithUs and those involved with the counter-protest will urge NEA delegates to “vote NO on the antisemitic NBIs.”

National Review contacted the NEA for comment on the anti-Israel resolutions but did not receive a response.

Read the full article here.


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