Largest US teachers’ union considers anti-Israel agenda items at annual meeting

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Two anti-Israel agenda items were brought before the National Education Association (NEA)’s Representative Assembly during their annual meeting this weekend which was attended by President Joe and Dr. Jill Biden. While one of the measures was overwhelmingly voted down, another was sent back to committee.

The NEA is the largest union in the US, with more than three million members, and leverages tremendous influence over not just curriculum, but also the Democrat party. Biden’s presidential campaign pulled in over $232,000 from teachers unions, according to the Open Secrets website. The site added that the NEA and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) “account for practically all” political spending from teachers’ unions.

Additionally, teachers’ unions donated over $23.5 million from the NEA and over $14 million from the AFT to liberal causes, $43 million combined in political expenditures during the 2020 election cycle, according to Open Secrets. Both groups endorsed Biden’s campaign.

New Business Item (NBI) 29 referred to Palestinian terrorism as a “heroic struggle” against alleged Israeli “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.” The item included a cost of $71,500 to implement.

NBI 51, called for the NEA to “use existing digital communication tools to educate members and the general public about the history, culture, and struggles of Palestinians.” For a cost of $5,500, the measure demanded the NEA “recognize the existence and sovereignty of Palestine and Palestinian children and families,” and included the stipulation to place an article in the union’s publication NEA Today which would have recognized members’ efforts at “fighting for the rights of Palestinian children and families.”

NBI 29 was defeated by a margin of 77 percent to 23 percent, but the Representative Assembly adjourned before NBI 51 came to a vote, which sent it back to committee.

Kate Chavez, National Associate Director of High School Affairs for StandWithUs, an Israel advocacy group 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. We applaud the NEA for rejecting an approach that only fuels more division and hate, instead of justice and peace.”

The measures were put forward even in light of spiking antisemitic attacks across the US. The Jewish Affairs Caucus leadership said in a letter that the items, “could inadvertently exacerbate antisemitic sentiment, or anti-Arab sentiment, in the United States, and G-d forbid, lead to hate crimes of some sort.”

Last month, NEA affiliates in San Francisco, and Seattle passed anti-Israel resolutions. Hundreds of members of the NEA affiliate United Teachers of Los Angeles signed a letter opposing a similar resolution scheduled for a vote in September.

President Biden said Friday in his remarks to the assembly that the NEA is “one of America’s indispensable organizations.” He added, “If I didn’t support the NEA, I’d be sleeping in the Lincoln Bedroom alone-and that’s not where we sleep. We don’t sleep in the Lincoln Bedroom, I’d be sent down to it.”

Both the NEA and AFT endorsed Biden’s campaign for the president in March. “You deserve a raise, not just praise.” He added, “Over the last year, the entire country has witnessed the extraordinary dedication and resolve of the NEA members: teachers, professionals.”

The NEA and AFT were outed by the New York Post in May for their influence over the Centers for Disease Controls and Prevention, especially with regard to the CDC’s school reopening guidelines which were altered to nearly word-for-word to accommodate NEA and NFT suggestions.

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