San Diego college (illustrative)
San Diego college (illustrative)iStock

Jewish advocacy group StandWithUs (SWU) has denounced a California teachers union for passing a resolution condemning Israel that it labelled “disturbing” and full of "misrepresentations."

The resolution by the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Guild Local 1931, which represents teachers and staff in the San Diego Community College District, accused Israel of “continued human rights violations committed by the Israeli government during its 73-year occupation of this land” and of a “a 73-year pattern of disenfranchising Palestinians of their rights, property and the opportunity to live with dignity.”

It also said: “Let us be clear that condemning Israel for its ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, occupation, apartheid and war crimes is not anti-semitism.”

It further called on the White House and State Department to conduct a “prompt reassessment of military aid to Israel” and called for recognizing “the right of the Palestinian refugees to return” and to “ live free of colonization and occupation” while referring to Israel as “historic Palestine.”

StandWithUs called the resolution part of a recent pattern of “dehumanizing campaigns targeting Israel [that] are anything but harmless."

“StandWithUs is deeply disturbed by the bias and misrepresentations in the AFT Guild Local 1931 statement. Simply writing ‘We’re not anti-Semites’ does not eliminate the anti-Semitic nature and impact of this statement, which at its core denies Israel’s right to self-defense, and the Jewish peoples’ right to decide what constitutes anti-Semitism.”

With anti-Israel narratives underlying a surge in anti-Jewish hate crimes across the United States, “too many teachers and students now question if they are safe and welcome in the places where they work, study and live.”

SWU said that the union’s resolution “only adds more fuel to the fire.”

“Academic integrity and historical accuracy are crucial to public education and this statement ignores crucial evidence-based historical context," they wrote. "For example, terms like ‘ethnic cleansing’ and ‘apartheid’ misrepresent and dehumanize Israelis, incite hatred, and have no connection to the facts. While violence between Israelis and Palestinians has caused immense suffering for both peoples, the populations of both groups have increased dramatically since the conflict began and continue to grow.”

SWU noted that while the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism does not prevent criticism of Israel, it “acknowledges that for most Jews, Israel is a fundamental part of their ethnic and ancestral heritage identity and religious practice. Inflammatory hateful speech about Israel harms Jews around the world.”

“Sadly, the contents of the AFT Local 1931’s statement is a clear example of the definition and real-life forms of anti-Semitism outlined by IHRA,” said SWU. “If the union is going to address the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it should bring people together, humanize Israelis and Palestinians, support fact-based education, uplift diversity of perspectives, and promote mutual understanding.”