Los Angeles teachers union votes to indefinitely postpone resolution supporting BDS

JTA – The head teachers union of Los Angeles voted on Thursday to indefinitely postpone a resolution in favor of boycotting Israel.

For months, the United Teachers of Los Angeles, which has about 30,000 members, has been debating a motion to support the BDS, or a movement to boycott, divest and ban Israel. The resolution was first raised in May in the wake of the conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. It has since been adopted by several local chapters of the Union.

According to a copy of the text of the resolution in the publication Left Voice, the resolution calls on the union to “support the international campaign for boycotts, divisions and sanctions against apartheid in Israel”. It declares the union’s “solidarity with the Palestinian people because of the $3.8 billion annually the US government gives to Israel, thus using our tax dollars directly to fund apartheid and war crimes.”

The Los Angeles union was far from alone in raising the issue of BDS this year. Teacher unions in San Francisco and Seattle approved the BDS proposals, while the National Education Association, the largest national teachers’ group, rejected a proposal supporting the Palestinians and criticizing Israel. (The other major national union, the American Federation of Teachers, never took up the BDS, which its president opposes at the national level.)

Proponents of such proposals say they are in line with historical support for oppressed people’s unions, while opponents say they greatly simplify a complex and divisive conflict, unfairly isolate Israel or Jews. are opponents.

On Thursday, the Los Angeles Teachers’ Union effectively voted not to vote on BDS. (The city council in Burlington, Vermont did the same earlier this month.) The union’s House of Representatives approved a resolution, which was put forward by the union’s board, “that Israel/Palestine from the May 2021 region meetings.” But the motions be postponed. For an indefinite period.” The motion for adjournment stated that the BDS was “an extremely divisive issue that would seriously damage the unity of the Union when we need solidarity in our ensuing contractual fight.” will be required.”

Because the meeting, held remotely via Zoom, focused on the adjournment motion, union members never actually debated the BDS motion. Instead, the debate about postponing the vote served as a proxy for the debate on whether to boycott Israel, and members echoed arguments that have become familiar in BDS debates across the country.

Those who supported holding a vote on the BDS saw it as a moral imperative to support Palestinian rights and oppose Israel.

Union member David Feldman said, “I think there is a general feeling that we are taking sides in a war, but as time goes on, people are realizing that this is an oppressed versus oppressed situation.” Is.” Referring to Israel, he said, ‘This is a situation of Jim Crow or apartheid. What makes this position in which we have to take a stand is that American taxpayers directly fund the money going there. “

Those opposed to the vote said engaging in the issue would only harm the union or even open it up to anti-Semitism claims.

“I have never seen a more divisive resolution than this,” said union member John Perez. “This proposal will be used by our enemies and they will strike us on the head until the Day of Judgment.”

More than once, union president Cecily Myert-Cruz has urged members to remain calm, or at least not interrupt each other, when debating the issue.

“We know it’s a heated conversation and people are going to speak up,” she said. “So I’ll just say don’t unmute ourselves for giving your comment.”

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