UESF Supports BDS!

by Deni

UESF Supports BDS! In a historic action last May, United Educators of San Francisco (UESF) became the first public school educators union in the United States to endorse the BDS movement against Israeli apartheid. The resolution (printed below) was passed by the delegate assembly on May 19. The incoming progressive slate of union leadership – Organizing For Union Power – supported the resolution. The reactionary Zionist (redundant?) Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC, which helped to dismantle the progressive CA Ethnic Studies curriculum) surreptitiously tried to push through an “alternate” resolution but they failed. (Yahoo!)

But a second resolution was soon pushed through, “condemning anti-semitism and supporting the rights of Palestinians and Israelis to live in peace”, trying to reinforce the idea that supporting Palestine is anti-semitic and that it’s a “two-sided conflict”. Of the 4 members who presented it, at least two were part of outgoing UESF leadership and very tied in to Democratic Party politics, pushing “moderate” conservative politics in general. (Full disclosure, I was a UESF member and Union Rep for 20 years). On June 9, the odious Zionist group Stand With Us sent a letter to SF superintendent of schools Vince Mathews with barely veiled threats expressing “concern” about the pro-BDS resolution and its “harm” to Jewish students.

On June 14, the Seattle Education Association (SEA) representatives passed a recommendation supporting Palestine and BDS, similar to the SF one, but also including support for End the Deadly Exchange Seattle, to end Seattle Police Department participation in trainings and activities with Israeli military and police.

There has been an effort by United Teachers of Los Angeles to pass a resolution in support of BDS (it was passed by chapter chairs). The assembly vote is supposed to be in September but there’s been an intense campaign to stop it by Zionist groups in LA and Zionist teachers who’ve said they’ll leave the union if it passes. (Is that a bad thing?) 

National teachers’ unions, especially the American Federation of Teachers with president Randi Weingarten, have traditionally taken a very pro-Israel position, walking hand-in-hand with the Democratic Party leadership. Yet many AFT-affiliated graduate worker unions — including the Graduate Labor Organization at Brown University and the Georgetown Alliance of Graduate Employees (GAGE) — issued Palestine solidarity statements.

A hopeful article in the May 26 issue of In These Times claims that “U.S. Unions Are Voicing Unprecedented Support for Palestine” citing an LA Roofers local, Unite HERE (hotel and restaurant employee union) locals in the south/southwest and Minnesota, and an 8,000-member New York Teamsters Local of mostly UPS drivers, that tweeted #SaveSheikhJarrah and #FreePalestine along with the message: “Solidarity with oppressed people across the world.”

At Google, members of the recently formed Alphabet Workers Union-CWA drafted a petition circulated by Jewish employees that called on Google to support Palestine and reject equating opposition to Zionism with antisemitism. 

All this activity was going on within the context of the deadly Israeli assaults in the West Bank and Gaza last spring. Let’s hope this pro-Palestine union organizing can continue to move forward. And even more, let’s hope for a Free Palestine!

Resolution in Solidarity with the Palestinian People 

Whereas, over 1,500 Palestinians from neighborhoods in Jerusalem are facing the threat of forced displacement and home demolitions by Israeli authorities, and children make up a large percentage of the families threatened with homelessness. 

Whereas, this pattern and practice of dispossession and expansion of settlements has been found to be illegal under international law. 

Whereas, many reputable international human rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch and the Israel-based B’tselem have designated these practices of Israel as “apartheid” and a regime of legalized racial discrimination perpetrated against the Palestinian people. The International Criminal Court has opened an investigation into these practices. 

Whereas, in response to Palestinian demonstrations against these illegal practices and the forcible displacement of families in Sheikh Jarrah, Israeli police attacked demonstrations in many instances, injuring hundreds including a raid on the Al-Aqsa Mosque, a place of worship. 

Whereas, since May 10 the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) has began an intense campaign of bombing and mortar fire on the territory of Gaza. At the time of writing nearly 200 people, more than a quarter of them children have been killed. Over 1,300 have been wounded, and 40,000 Gazans have lost their homes. 

Whereas, as public school educators in the United States of America, we have a special responsibility to stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people because of the 3.8 billion dollars annually that the US government gives to Israel, thus directly using our tax dollars to fund apartheid and war crimes. 

Whereas, since 2005 over 170 Palestinian organizations of civil society including educator unions have—modeled on the movement to end South African apartheid—asked the international community to join the campaign to boycott, divest, and call for sanctions against Israel. Since then many educators unions, including the largest educators union in Europe (the National Union of Teachers) and many national trade union federations throughout the world have endorsed that call. 

Therefore, be it resolved, that United Educators of San Francisco (UESF) express our solidarity with the Palestinian people and call for Israel to end bombardment of Gaza and stop displacement at Sheikh Jarrah. 

Therefore, be it further resolved, that UESF calls on the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden to stop aid to Israel. 

Therefore, be it further resolved, that UESF endorse the international campaign for boycotts, divestment, and sanctions against apartheid in Israel. 

Submitted to the May 19th Meeting of the United Educators of San Francisco 

Author: lagai

LAGAI-Queer Insurrection is one of the oldest radical queer liberation groups in the U.S. We publish UltraViolet, a more or less bimonthly newspaper, which is mailed free of charge to over 1500 people, including over 800 prisoners. Our website is www.lagai.org.

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