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Top teachers union representatives to vote on anti-Israel measures

“I’m deeply concerned that the NEA is being used as a platform for extremism,” David Smokler, director of K-12 educator outreach at StandWithUs, told JNS.

Philadelphia City Hall with the statue of William Penn in the background. Credit: Trev Adams/Pexels.
Philadelphia City Hall with the statue of William Penn in the background. Credit: Trev Adams/Pexels.

At the National Education Association (NEA) Representative Assembly beginning next week in Philadelphia, which is expecting nearly 7,000 delegates, attendees will consider several new business items inspired by Israel’s war to defeat Hamas terrorists in the Gaza Strip.

Controversial votes that have caught the attention of American Jewish groups include denying a connection between antisemitism and anti-Zionism; supporting the BDS movement against Israel; and affirming the nakba, or “catastrophe” that Palestinians consider to be the creation of modern-day Israel in 1948.

“As a former educator and union officer, I’m deeply concerned that the NEA is being used as a platform for extremism,” David Smokler, director of K-12 educator outreach at StandWithUs (SWU), told JNS. “Teachers across the country should not be encouraged to promote hateful agendas or misinformation in their classrooms.”

Smokler stated that “the NEA should focus on standing up for all its members, fighting antisemitism and fostering critical thinking about controversial issues.”

A spokesperson for the NEA said its members and delegates to the annual representative assembly “are committed to educating and nurturing understanding in their students of every race, faith and background. NEA has a deep history that is steeped in civil rights and advocating for racial and social justice. Over many decades, the delegates of the NEA Representative Assembly have adopted resolutions expressing our union’s condemnation of war, terrorism, hate and violence. The vast majority of NEA delegates, members and our society want to see a peaceful and lasting solution to this conflict.”

To that end, CEO Roz Rothstein said SWU works “to keep educational institutions free from hatred and bias, and encourages critical thinking and respect for diverse perspectives. We will continue to support Jewish educators and allies in teaching the truth about Israel, especially at this critical time when disinformation is rampant and antisemitism is on the rise.”

The NEA is the largest union in the country with more than 3 million members. The conference is slated to take place from July 4-7.

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