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Anti-Israel Item Before Largest US Teacher’s Union Overwhelmingly Defeated at Assembly

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NEA Headquarters in Washington DC//WikiCommons

An anti-Israel item placed before the National Education Association (NEA)’s Representative Assembly was overwhelmingly voted down, with only 23 percent of representatives supporting it, while another was sent back to committee.

The largest union in the United States, the NEA has more than three million members, and exercises considerable influence both in national Democratic politics as well as over curriculum and other educational activities.

New Business Item 29 brought before the 8,000-member assembly employed virulent anti-Israel language that referred to Palestinian terrorism as a “heroic struggle” against alleged Israeli “military repression” and “ethnic cleansing,” and demanded the NEA “publicize its support for the Palestinian struggle for justice and call on the United States government to stop arming and supporting Israel.”

It cited a cost of $71,500 in order to implement its stipulations.

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Following strong opposition, including from Jewish members, the item was defeated by a margin of 77 percent to 23 percent.

The Cleveland Jewish News reported before the vote that the NEA’s Jewish Affairs Caucus had mobilized strongly against the item, with chair Patrick Crabtree saying, “I’m almost positive 29 is so divisive, it will go down in flames.”

The caucus also opposed NBI 51, which calls on the NEA to “use existing digital communication tools to educate members and the general public about the history, culture, and struggles of Palestinians.”

Citing a budget request of $5,500, it would have the NEA “recognize the existence and sovereignty of Palestine and Palestinian children and families,” including by placing an article in the union periodical NEA Today acknowledging members’ work “fighting for the rights of Palestinian children and families.”

The Representative Assembly adjourned before NBI 51 came to a vote, sending it back to committee.

These items, the Jewish Affairs Caucus leadership said in a letter, “could inadvertently exacerbate antisemitic sentiment, or anti-Arab sentiment, in the United States, and G-d forbid, lead to hate crimes of some sort.”

The items could also cause Jewish students to “feel uncomfortable” and put the NEA “at odds with the larger Jewish community,” the letter said.

Kate Chavez, National Associate Director of High School Affairs at the pro-Israel advocacy group StandWithUs, said after the vote, “We applaud the NEA Jewish Affairs Caucus and all members who spoke out and persuaded their union representatives to defeat this harmful motion by such a large margin.”

“NBI 29 promoted dehumanizing smears against Israel, while ignoring the crimes Hamas has committed against Israelis and Palestinians alike,” she said.

She added, “We applaud the NEA for rejecting an approach that only fuels more division and hate, instead of justice and peace.”

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