National teachers’ union to vote on several anti-Israel resolutions

Happy Fourth of July! While the rest of America is celebrating Independence Day, the national teachers’ union is conducting a day of business during its annual four-day Representative Assembly. This year, the meeting is being held in Philadelphia.

The National Education Association (NEA) Representative Assembly is made up of around 6,000 delegates in charge of adopting a budget, passing resolutions, and taking action on other NEA policies.

Here are some of the new business items the union will vote on, obtained by National Review.

New Business Item 6: “NEA will use existing digital communication tools to educate members and the general public about the history of the Palestinian Nakba.”

The Nakba, meaning “catastrophe” in Arabic, refers to the forced, violent displacement and dispossession of at least 750,000 Palestinians from their homeland in 1948 during the establishment of the state of Israel.

Educating about the Nakba is essential for understanding the Palestinian diaspora narrative and experience, including the ongoing trauma of our Palestinian American students today.

Teaching about the Nakba fosters critical thinking and empathy among students, promoting a deeper understanding of historical injustices and their contemporary ramifications.

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

New Business Item 7: “NEA will use existing digital communication tools to educate members about the difference between anti-Zionism and antisemitism.”

Rationale
Antisemitism and anti-Zionism are often equated, but are meaningfully different. Antisemitism is bias or action against Jewish people, while anti-Zionism is a political stance. NEA values the voice of members, and making this distinction clear will help protect that voice.

New Business Item 8: “NEA will use existing digital media resources to write and distribute an article educating members about the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, including how it is connected to the broader labor movement, legislative efforts to restrict speech in relation to BDS, and NEA members’ participation in the movement.”

Rationale
BDS is a Palestinian-led movement employing nonviolent action to pressure Israel to comply with international law. BDS is connected to issues that are important to education unionists such as free speech rights, labor movement organizing, and student activism.

New Business Item 9: “NEA will use existing digital media resources to communicate the Palestinian Trade Union call to action to ‘End all Complicity, Stop Arming Israel’ to NEA members.”

This call is for trade unions in relevant industries:

To refuse to build weapons destined for Israel.

To refuse to transport weapons to Israel.

To pass motions in their trade union to this effect.

To take action against complicit companies involved in implementing Israel’s brutal and illegal siege, especially if they have contracts with your institution.

Pressure governments to stop all military trade with Israel, and in the case of the US, to stop funding it.

New Business Item 29: “The NEA will use our existing media outlets to defend educators’ and students’ academic freedom and free speech in defense of Palestine at K-12 schools, colleges, and universities.”

Rationale
Educators, K-12 students, and higher education face McCarthy-style censorship equating support for Palestine with anti-Semitism. Encampments supporting Palestine have been viscously suppressed by campus administrations and police.

New Business Item 50: “The NEA will use existing media channels to publicize our opposition to spending billions of dollars in Federal funds to send weapons to the Israeli military that are used in genocide in Gaza.”

Rationale
U.S. provided weapons are being used by the Israeli military in the genocide against Palestinians in Gaza, while funds dedicated to public schools during the COVID pandemic are being ended leading to budget cuts and layoffs across the country.

According to National Review, “[i]f passed, the resolutions direct the NEA to abide by their provisions for a year, provided that the resolution does not violate existing NEA policy.”

This isn’t the first union assembly to include contentious new business items.

In 2019, the focus was on adopting a social agenda instead of student learning. New business items on teaching the concept of “White Fragility” in trainings and staff development were approved, but a proposal on the union “putting a renewed emphasis on quality education” was defeated. During the 2021 assembly, the union passed a new business item that embraced Critical Race Theory (and then removed the materials mentioning it from its website). During the 2022 assembly, “nearly half of the motions dealt with identity politics, social justice, and ways to promote the goals of the Democratic Party,” according to a California teacher who attended virtually.

We will see how many of the above resolutions get approved, but if past patterns are any sign, the union does not seem to want public education to be neutral ground.