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September 24, 2021 3:01 pm
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Los Angeles Teachers Union Tables ‘Divisive’ Resolution Backing BDS Movement

avatar by Dion J. Pierre

Thousands of Los Angeles teachers converge on downtown, Los Angeles, in a UTLA pre-strike rally a month before the 2019 walk-out. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

On Thursday, United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) voted to postpone a resolution that would endorse the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, months after several local chapters adopted a similar motion and set the stage for a city-wide vote.

By a 95-35 margin, the teacher’s union approved an alternate resolution to indefinitely table the BDS vote and instead host voluntary educational forums about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Los Angeles Daily News reported.

“This subsidiary motion is based on the concern that this is an extremely divisive issue that would seriously damage union unity at a time [when] we need solidarity in our coming contractual battles,” declared UTLA’s House of Representatives in Thursday’s vote approving the alternative measure.

UTLA is one of the largest teachers union in the country and represents some 35,000 Los Angeles public school employees.

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The original resolution — proposed during the May conflict between Israel and Hamas — was vociferously opposed by L.A. Parents Against Antisemitism (LAPAA), a group formed to advocate against it and backed by the Jewish Federation of Los Angeles (JFLA), the Israeli American Council and other Jewish groups. The campaign’s petition amassed hundreds of signatures from city teachers and included a form letter for parents to send to their children’s teachers.

The JFLA said in a statement that it was “grateful that UTLA’s leadership has heard our community’s voices and the voices of hundreds of UTLA members who spoke out against the motion and stood strong against antisemitism.”

Jeffrey I. Abrams, regional director for the Anti-Defamation League Los Angeles, said it would have been “counterproductive and divisive” for the union to pass the original motion.

“In light of the spike of the recent spike in antisemitic incidents across the world, including here in Los Angeles, we are glad that the leadership of a body tasked with educating all children in our public school community,” Abrams said in a statement Thursday. “While we are heartened by messages of support from the Los Angeles Unified School District and other elected officials, as well as the defeat of a similar motion by the National Education Association this summer, we will remain vigilant to ensure that all the students receive a balanced education and not indoctrination.”

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