SF, LA Teachers’ Unions Express Support for Israel Boycotts

June 4, 2021
The UTLA strike on January 22, 2019 in downtown Los Angeles, California.(Photo by Scott Heins/Getty Images)

Local teachers’ unions in San Francisco and the Los Angeles area have passed resolutions expressing support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

The Washington Free Beacon reported that on May 19, the United Educators of San Francisco (UESF) passed a resolution stating that they “express our solidarity with the Palestinian people and call for Israel to end bombardment of Gaza and stop displacement at Sheikh Jarrah,” called on the Biden administration to cease military aid to Israel, and endorsed the “the international campaign for boycotts, divestment, and sanctions against apartheid in Israel.” Consequently, the UESF is the first K-12 teachers’ union in the United States to endorse the BDS movement.

Also on May 19, a similar motion passed during 8 Area meetings for United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA). According to a June 1 statement from UTLA, the motions passed at some of the meetings, although which ones passed them and which ones didn’t was not specified. The statement also said that the motions then go to the UTLA House of Representatives, which doesn’t meet until September. “Motions brought by UTLA members at regional Area meetings are not the official expressed opinions of UTLA or its elected leaders.”

The statement later added: “As educators, it is our job to create nurturing, safe environments for all of our students. UTLA stands against racism, sexism, anti-Semitism, xenophobia, homophobia, Islamophobia, and oppression in all forms. We stand against both anti-Jewish hate and violence and anti-Arab hate and violence wherever they occur, and we denounce the recent attacks on Jewish people in Los Angeles.”

Jack Saltzberg, president and founder of The Israel Group, called the motion passed at the UTLA Area meetings “palpable” with “antisemitism and anti-Israel bias.” “The same teachers charged with teaching students facts about the Middle East are the same teachers who drafted a resolution against Israel without one word about Hamas and their efforts to kill Jews by firing thousands of rockets into Israel.”

Various Jewish groups and leaders have also criticized the UESF for passing their resolution. “This group of educators needs to go back to school to learn more about the double standards and delegitimization that #Israel faces at every turn,” B’nai Brith International tweeted, also calling the move “biased.”


Israeli Consul General to the Pacific Northwest Shlomi Kofman similarly said in a statement to The Jewish News of Northern California (the J), “This resolution is entirely biased, inflammatory, and factually incorrect and contributing to the heightened vulnerability experienced of Israeli and Jewish Americans, including students from our community in SF.”

Anti-Defamation League Central Pacific Regional Director Seth Brysk wrote in a May 26 letter to San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) Superintendent Vincent Matthews that the UESF resolution was loaded with “inflammatory and counterfactual assertions and rhetoric about Israel, including blaming the recent outbreak of violence solely on Israel and questioning Israel’s right to defend itself. There is no attempt to see the humanity of both sides to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, much less an acknowledgement of Israeli loss and pain from Hamas’s deliberate and indiscriminate attempts to bomb Israeli civilian centers.”

Brysk urged the district to distance themselves from the UESF resolution to ensure that Jewish and Israeli community members feel safe in the midst of a spate of antisemitic incidents. “It is critical that this divisive resolution will not find its way into any classroom, and that SFUSD will not tolerate any resulting discrimination or harassment.” A spokesperson for SFUSD told the J that they are staying neutral on the matter.

Following backlash over the resolution, UESF passed a separate resolution on June 2 “condemning antisemitism and voicing support for the rights of Israelis and Palestinians to live in peace,” the J reported. The resolution denounces airstrikes from both Hamas and Israel.

Amanda Hart, a spokesperson for UESF, said in a statement to the San Francisco Chronicle, “We believe our resolutions speak for themselves. We stand by our call for the boycott, divestment and sanctions of Israel and we unequivocally stand against antisemitism in all its forms.”

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