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L.A. Teachers Union Will Vote On Endorsing “Boycott, Divest, Sanction” Against Israel
By: Eb=van Gerstmann, Evan, Forbes, June 7, 2021:
I am a professor and publish on constitutional and educational issues.
The Los Angeles Times has reported that the leadership of the United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) will vote this fall on whether to endorse the call to Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) the State of Israel. Three different chapters of UTLA have voted in favor of doing so. A copy of the proposed resolution from the Harbor City area chapter is here. UTLA is the second largest teachers union in the nation. Their San Francisco counterparts have already voted in favor of a similar resolution.
There is a question of why a teacher’s union is involved in this issue at all. But if such unions are going to get involved, teachers should set an example of accuracy and fairness, and not put forward a one-sided diatribe. The final language of whatever UTLA decides isn’t certain yet, but the San Francisco resolution misses the mark by a wide margin. Here are some examples.
The resolution references the “forcible displacement” of Palestinian families from Sheikh Jarrah, a neighborhood in East Jerusalem. It fails to mention that families whose situation precipitated the attack by Hamas have not actually been evicted. Their case is currently pending before the highest court in Israel. They have been refusing to pay their rent and face eviction for that, just as tenants would in any country.
The resolution states that “since May 10 the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) has began [sic] an intense campaign of bombing and mortar fire on the territory of Gaza.” Incredibly, the resolution fails to even mention that Israel was defending itself from an onslaught of thousands of rockets being fired from Gaza. Many of these rockets are aimed at schools and civilian populations where children live—it is hard to understand why a teachers union would not find that worth mentioning.
The resolution mentions a police raid on “the Al-Aqsa Mosque, a place of Worship”. One might think from this that Israel entered the Mosque and arrested worshipers. No such thing happened. The police clashed with violent protestors outside the mosque who were throwing rocks, seriously injuring at least one police officer.
The San Francisco and, if passed, Los Angeles resolutions are part of an unwelcome trend of educators elevating ideology above facts. As discussed in an earlier post, the San Francisco School Board voted to rename nearly a third of their schools based on rushed, shoddy research that came to bizarrely inaccurate conclusions about various historical figures. When asked whether the Board should consult actual historians, the Chair said: “Definitely not. What would be the point?” In that case, public outrage has caused them to put the decision on hold.
The teachers unions want to show solidarity with the Palestinians. It’s terrible thing when people suffer, including Palestinian people. But teachers and their representatives must first and foremost show solidarity with the truth, which these one-sided resolutions do not do. As noted, they fail to mention that Hamas attacked first and hard. When the teachers union condemns Israeli strikes on civilian targets, they don’t even mention the incontrovertible evidence that Hamas stores its weapons in schools, hospitals, and mosques. Again, one would think that this fact would be of special importance to teachers so it’s especially egregious that this goes unmentioned.
Critics of Israel firing back on Hamas often make it sound as though its defense system, Iron Dome, is an impenetrable shield that makes any counter attack unnecessary. In fact, early in the conflict Hamas penetrated Iron Dome by firing hundreds of rockets in clusters and firing clusters from different angles. The early attacks killed a dozen Israelis, nearly all civilians, including five year old child. Israeli counter attacks made that more difficult, lowering Israeli casualties. Furthermore, Hamas had about 15,000 rockets at the beginning of the conflict and had fired less than a third of those at the time of the recent ceasefire. Israeli strikes made it hard for them to keep firing at such a rapid rate and there is no reason that Hamas would have stopped firing had Israel not counter-attacked.
Teachers unions should also think about the consequences of their actions. They are giving Hamas exactly what it was looking for when it fired all those rockets at Israeli civilians—more condemnation of Israel. Those who jump on the BDS bandwagon when Israel defends itself only encourage more Hamas attacks and the inevitable casualties that result when Israel fires back.
The Israeli government is not above criticism, and criticizing them is not inherently anti-Semitic. But one-sided, often inaccurate, demonization of the one Jewish Nation in the world stokes anti-Semitism. And this is at a time when hate crimes against Jewish students are at an all-time high. If educators are going to tackle this issue, they should avoid simplistic, hate-stoking condemnations and do their best to truly educate.