San Francisco — The United Educators of San Francisco (UESF) voted to support occupied Palestine amid the escalating crises brought on by Israeli bombings, blockades, and illegal settlements. The situation reached a tipping point in the past weeks when Israeli settlers — backed by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and police — committed a pogrom that claimed the lives of more than 250 Palestinians, among them more than 60 children. The UESF union is made up of more than 6,200 members, and represents the City’s K-12 teachers and school employees.
Since much of Israel’s international trade goes through the United States, the union has endorsed the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign which aims to cut Israel off from US aid while the Palestinian people suffer. The statement also calls on President Biden to end aid to Israel, since the US gives Israel around $3.8 billion yearly in military aid, much of which ends up being used to kill Palestinian civilians.
In the resolution’s own words, “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…this pattern and practice of dispossession and expansion of settlements has been found to be illegal under international law.”
The United Nations has condemned Israel dozens of times in the past for its actions in Gaza and the West Bank, and most recently called on Israel to end the forced evictions in Sheikh Jarrah that became the flash point for mob violence against the Arab community both within Israel and in occupied Palestine.
Some San Franciscans criticize the resolution as being irrelevant to the purposes of education. In fact, the act of boycotting Israeli products is illegal in many states and in some cases public school teachers being fired for not signing away their right to engage in BDS tactics in support of occupied Palestine.
Mission High teacher Greg McGarry, a member of the SF Movement of Rank-and-File Educators (SFMORE), the caucus which authored the resolution, believes this to be an important first step:
“Organized labor must put its weight behind the Palestinian cause and support the BDS movement. Real, material labor solidarity actions helped to end South African Apartheid, and they are the most effective way to end the ethnic cleansing and occupation of Palestine. Now begins the hard work of making sure our leadership follows through and that the movement spreads throughout organized labor. The U.S. government and the U.N. won’t defund the Israeli war machine, so the international workers must do it, until all of Palestine is free.”
Photo Credit: “UESF Teacher Speaks in Support of Palestine” by Savannah Kuang