On the same day that thousands of rockets rained down on innocent Israeli citizens, photos and videos emerged of people dancing in the street. This time, those images were not broadcast from Middle Eastern cities but instead filmed right here in the United States.
The examples are well-known. A man in Boston holds up a phone showing a beheaded baby and makes an obscene hand gesture to the camera, recording his laughter. A hijab-wearing woman at a Democratic Socialists of America rally says she’s glad for the Hamas attack and does not consider herself an American. Students in Cooper Union lead a pro-Palestinian rally brandishing anti-Zionist posters, shouting anti-Semitic slogans, and terrifying Jewish students barricaded in the library as anti-Israel protestors bang on the doors.
These offensive messages are orchestrated. The people delivering them clearly have been propagandized to hate Jews. Many of their talking points have a not-so-surprising source: radicalized teachers’ unions.
Leftist support for Hamas is grounded in part in years of propaganda, denouncing Western values, from some of the unionized teachers indoctrinating American children. Those activist teachers belong to unions that exploit the profession and muzzle good teachers, while working to turn our kids into leftist activists.
Teachers’ unions support Black Lives Matter and introduced the group’s messages into our schools after George Floyd’s death. It should be no surprise, then, that just as BLM Chicago released an image of a Hamas parachuter with the caption, “I Stand with Palestine,” student activists cheer Hamas’s evil, too.
A BLM spinoff, BLM at School, called the violence a “direct result of decades of Israeli settler colonialism . . . occupation, blockade, apartheid and attempted genocide” of Palestinians. The statement’s language is reminiscent of a National Education Association (NEA) “new business item” from 2019 alleging “apartheid,” “gross human rights abuses,” and “atrocities” against Palestinians. BLM at School, including its BLM Week of Action, routinely receive the backing of the NEA and American Federation of Teachers.
Year after year, unions here and abroad spare no effort to denounce Israel and promote the Palestinians, whose leaders have never renounced their stated objective to annihilate the Jews and Israel. In 2022, for example, the NEA adopted a business item promising to “support and spotlight the efforts of our fellow teacher union colleagues within the Palestinian and Israeli teachers unions affiliated with Education International.” Education International includes 383 teacher groups from around the world; the General Union of Palestinian Teachers (an arm of the Palestine Liberation Organization) and the National Education Union of the United Kingdom are members. According to the Jewish Chronicle, dozens of Jewish teachers resigned from the National Education Union because of its stance on Israel: NEU leaders reportedly visit the radical GUPT and platform GUPT leaders who say that Israel has massacred Palestinians in a way “worse than the Holocaust itself,” and who have “praised murderers as ‘martyrs.’”
Teachers’ unions in America hold similar views. Two years ago, American Federation of Teachers affiliate United Teachers of Los Angeles backed a resolution condemning Israel. Around the same time, United Educators of San Francisco voted to support BDS—boycott, divestment and sanctions—against Israel, as did Seattle’s public schools. Randi Weingarten, head of the AFT, denounced Jewish critics of her stalling to reopen schools after Covid-19 shutdowns, calling Jews in America part of the “ownership class.” As author Marc Stern noted, had such words come from Louis Farrakhan or a Proud Boys member, they’d be correctly condemned as anti-Semitic.
Union officials may stand strongly against Israel and for Palestine, but most teachers disagree with the leadership, like the Jewish teacher in Los Angeles who said that she feared for her safety after the UTLA vote.
Still, the unions, which draw funding for their political activities from teachers’ dues, have no qualms in peddling anti-Israel views.
Teachers’ unions are among the nation’s most influential labor groups. They are famously successful at helping elect legislators who will codify radical union priorities into laws governing classrooms. It’s thus easy to imagine that more young people in America will embrace their ideas about Israel.
Photo by Michael Nigro/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images