Approximately 6,000 teachers at the National Education Association’s Representative Assembly in Chicago and attending virtually approved one of three new business items pertaining to education and support of Palestinians in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
One item was rejected in an electronic vote, that Patrick Crabtree, chair of the Jewish affairs caucus of the NEA, called a “strong defeat.” That was new business item No. 1, which recommended NEA teach about Israeli persecution of Palestinians using sources such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and B’Tselem.
A second item, new business item No. 9, was referred to NEA’s executive committee by a “very close vote,” Crabtree said, adding it was defeated by less than 30 votes. That action likely killed the second item, which called upon teachers to elevate and highlight stories of Palestinian NEA members and students.
The third and final new item relating to Palestinians, new business item No. 13, was approved by the NEA assembly.
It reads, “NEA will support members who educate students and other members about the history, geography and current affairs of the Palestinian people. NEA will provide state affiliates with a clear protocol for members doing this work to utilize when they are under attack.”
Crabtree, who represents the state of Georgia but lives in Alabama, told the Cleveland Jewish News July 6, “I was unable to get to the microphone to speak to this new business item 13. The concern I had was, it was ambiguous and I wanted to address this, but I did not have a chance to speak to it.”
Crabtree said the ambiguity in that new business item was of concern to him – whether the item referred to the United States or Israel.
“I wasn’t quite sure what she was asking to do,” he said, adding proponents’ arguments in favor of the item didn’t align with the language of the item.
Crabtree said he is asking for Jewish organizations throughout the country to partner with local and state NEA affiliates to educate delegates in their states about Israel. About 20 members of the 70-member Jewish Affairs Caucus are delegates, Crabtree said, representing both Jews and non-Jews who are aligned with Jewish affairs.
Adam Teitelbaum, executive director of the Israel Action Network at the Jewish Federations of North America, released a statement July 6 about the NEA assembly.
“Jewish Federations are pleased that NEA once again prevented an anti-Israel agenda from passing at its national conference,” Teitelbaum said in the statement, emailed to the Cleveland Jewish News by a spokesman from JFNA, of which former Clevelander Eric Fingerhut is president and CEO. “There is still much to be done, and Jewish Federations and Jewish Community Relations Councils are doing important work to engage NEA members and teachers at the local level. We will continue to oppose this annual push by highly organized activists to make Israel a pariah, and will remain vigilant to ensure that educational activity regarding Israel and the Jewish people never swerves into antisemitism.”