Teachers Unions Around The Country Keep Getting Caught Up In Pro-Hamas Activism

(Photo by ADAM GRAY/AFP via Getty Images)

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Brandon Poulter Contributor
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In the wake of the Hamas terrorist attacks on Israel in early October, several teachers unions and their affiliates have attracted scrutiny by expressing pro-Hamas sentiments.

Protests in favor of Palestinians and Hamas have erupted across the U.S. after the attacks on Israel, with many using imagery associated with terrorism and violent anti-Israeli rhetoric. Major teachers unions in the U.S. are affiliated with anti-Israel organizations, while teachers unions or their employees have explicitly justified Hamas’ violence. (RELATED: Ivy League Professor Who Cheered Hamas Violence Called Police Group A ‘Terrorist Organization’)

The National Education Association (NEA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) both formally endorse the work of Black Lives Matter (BLM) at School. BLM at School previously posted an anti-Israel pro-Palestinian resource kit for teachers in October following the Hamas terrorist attacks on Israel.

The resource kit for teachers and educators shows the “ways in which Israel seeks to improve its dismal world image.” BLM at School recommends over a dozen websites with resources for teachers to teach about Israel and Gaza with similar sentiments.

“This is part of a broader pattern. Teachers unions have made ‘social justice’ and identity politics a centerpiece of their teaching curriculum and philosophy,” Dr. Ian Oxnevad, senior fellow of foreign affairs at the National Association of Scholars, told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “This has been brewing for many years but increased in 2020-2021. This philosophy is built on ideas of ‘intersectionality’ and a neo-tribal matrix that places people in a paradigm of ‘oppressor’ and ‘oppressed.’ The Middle East conflict is one issue area for this approach, as teachers unions view Israel as a neocolonial upstart built upon an idea of racial superiority.”

BERLIN, GERMANY – OCTOBER 28: People wave Palestinian flags as they gather for a “Global South United” protest to demand freedom for Palestine on October 28, 2023 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

One of the websites linked to BLM at School’s Palestinian resource kit is called Decolonize Palestine, which says it’s a “myth” that Israel is a democracy. Another website it recommends is Rethinking Schools, a social justice teaching resource website, which recommends teaching about the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement that advocates for divesting funds and support from Israel.

“Palestinians are reminding us that decolonization is not a metaphor or abstraction, but requires real, daily struggle,” BLM at School’s website reads.

The Movement of Rank-and-File Educators, a caucus of the New York City-based United Federation of Teachers (UFT), recommended a pro-Palestinian website and cosponsored a pro-Palestinian rally also sponsored by the New York City Democratic Socialists, along with several groups that have justified Hamas’ violence like the Adalah Justice Project, on Oct. 20.

“We will be demanding Congress call for an immediate cease-fire, full access to Gaza from humanitarian aid organizations, and no U.S. military aid for war crimes. We condemn and mourn all attacks on civilians. A ceasefire is how we can prevent the further loss of life and genocide in Gaza. Register for the rally,” the Movement of Rank-and-File Educators said in a press statement.

The Oakland Education Association (OEA) faced backlash for several posts in October including one that called Israel an “apartheid state,” according to the San Francisco Chronicle. The OEA previously deleted an Instagram post that pledged “unequivocal support for Palestinian liberation,” according to KRON 4 News.

The OEA also called for the public to join them in a pro-Palestinian protest called “Stop The Genocide in Gaza” on Oct. 28.

“NEA/AFT willingly and continually supports radical ideologies while neglecting the basic needs of students,” Parents Defending Education senior advisor Michele Exner told the DCNF.

“As we have seen for a long time, teachers unions aren’t there to promote or advocate for students’ educational needs—they are there to echo radical, hyper-politicized viewpoints. Their extreme anti-Israel stance is no different,” Exner told the DCNF.

The University of Kansas graduate teaching assistants’ union, GTAC AFT local 6403, also sympathized with violence against Israel in a statement Oct 18.

GTAC AFT local 6403 responded that they would “forever and always” support Palestinians in an email to the DCNF.

“We refuse to stay silent in the face of deadly and inhuman injustices. Violence will necessarily continue as long as apartheid and settler colonialism exist. Palestinians must be free if we ever hope to see peace,” the union said in a statement.

The Kansas City chapter of the AFT distanced itself from the local union’s position but said they have the “right to free speech.”

“We unequivocally stand with the Israeli people against the heinous and inhuman attack by Hamas against innocent civilians. The unconscionable attacks on innocent people, including young people at a concert, babies and grandmothers, must be condemned in the strongest terms,” the AFT said in a Oct. 9 statement.

The NEA, AFT, The Movement of Rank-and-File Educators, UFT, BLM at School and OEA did not respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.

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