Nation's Largest Teachers' Union Will Debate Resolution Accusing Israel of 'Ethnic Cleansing'

The National Education Association will also consider recognizing Palestinian 'sovereignty'

President Biden speaks to a National Education Association conference / Getty Images
June 30, 2021

The nation's largest teachers' union will debate two resolutions aimed at boycotting Israel and recognizing a Palestinian state at a conference this week.

The National Education Association will take up the proposals at their multi-day annual meeting, which is set to begin Wednesday. One measure calls on the United States to cut material support and funding to Israel. Another would have the union promote Palestinian causes through a variety of programs at an estimated cost of $71,500.

Teachers' unions across the country have come out against Israel and Jews in recent months. Three local unions affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, the country's second-largest teachers' union, passed statements in June condemning Israel as an apartheid state. Federation president Randi Weingarten criticized Jews as being "part of the ownership class" dedicated to denying opportunities to others in an interview earlier this year.

The National Education Association is slated to debate more than 60 proposals at its upcoming meeting. One resolution, New Business Item 29, would "publicize" the union's support for the Palestinian authority.

More than 50 members of the National Education Association cosponsored Item 29, which says, "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."

New Business Item 51 calls for the union to "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 union will also debate measures on "decolonizing curriculum," creating a racial justice task force, opposing police unions, and sending a letter to the University of North Carolina calling for the school to grant tenure to Nikole Hannah-Jones, the controversial New York Times writer behind the 1619 Project.

Activists are criticizing the union for attacking Israel instead of working to close learning gaps caused by a year of remote learning—which teachers' unions supported—during the coronavirus pandemic.

"Over the past 15 months, students across the country have been shut out of schools, creating learning deficits that will haunt our kids for a generation," Nicole Neily, the president of Parents Defending Education, told the Washington Free Beacon.

"The NEA's inflammatory and divisive fixation on political issues is further proof that the education of America's students isn't a priority for the union," Neily said. "My heart goes out to the Jewish members of the NEA whose union dues are being used to promote anti-Semitic lies about Jews and Israel."

Teachers' unions are not alone in condemning Israel. Student governments at the University of Michigan, the University of Chicago, and Yale University passed resolutions that criticized Israel for defending itself from an 11-day Hamas strike in May.

All of the statements referred to Israel as an "apartheid" state, although Jewish and Muslim Israelis and Arabs are members of the Israeli government.