On Wednesday at a meeting of chapter chairs of the United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA), members voted to support a resolution that explicitly calls for the immediate cessation of the evictions in Sheikh Jarrah, the bombing of the Gaza strip, support for the Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment Movement (BDS), and an end to all US aid to Israel.
The resolution was overwhelmingly passed by several chapter chairs who, much like shop stewards, are campus representatives to UTLA. Whether or not the resolution will be passed along to the UTLA leadership or voted on by the rest of the membership is uncertain, but such resolutions anywhere within a union are a reason for celebration. Members of UTLA should organize to pass this resolution at all of their local chapters as a way of beginning a rank and file conversation about how to organize against U.S. imperialism within their union and the wider labor movement.
Below is a copy of the resolution in full created by the Harbor City area of chapter chairs:
“Moved, that UTLA express our solidarity with the Palestinian people and call for Israel to end bombardment of Gaza and stop displacement at Sheikh Jarrah.
Further moved that UTLA calls on the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden to stop aid to Israel.
Further moved that UTLA endorse the international campaign for boycotts, divestment, and sanctions against apartheid in Israel.
Rationale: Since May 10 the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) has begun an intense campaign of bombing and mortar fire on the territory of Gaza. At the time of writing nearly 200 people, more than a quarter of them children, have been killed. Over 1,300 have been wounded, and 40,000 Gazans have lost their homes.
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.
Many reputable international human rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch and the Israel-based B’tselem have designated these practices of Israel as “apartheid” and a regime of legalized racial discrimination perpetrated against the Palestinian people. The International Criminal Court has opened an investigation into these practices.
In response to Palestinian demonstrations against these illegal practices and the forcible displacement of families in Sheikh Jarrah, Israeli police attacked demonstrations in many instances, injuring hundreds including a raid on the Al-Aqsa Mosque, a place of worship.
Since 2005 over 170 Palestian organizations of civil society including educator unions have—modeled on the movement to end South African apartheid—asked the international community to join the campaign to boycott, divest, and call for sanctions against Israel. Since then many educators unions, including the largest educators union in Europe (the National Union of Teachers) and many national trade union federations throughout the world have endorsed that call. As public school educators in the United States of America, we have a special responsibility to stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people because of the 3.8 billion dollars annually that the US government gives to Israel, thus directly using our tax dollars to fund apartheid and war crimes.”