Empty classroom
Empty classroom iStock

The UK National Education Union (NEU) sparked a fierce backlash after voting to boycott Israel at its annual conference.

Along with aligning itself with the BDS movement, the NEU also praised Amnesty International’s infamous anti-Israel report, “Israel’s Apartheid against Palestinians,” announcing it would promote it on its website with other reports attacking Israel, the Jewish Chronicle reported.

The NEU, which had previously voted to boycott goods from “illegal settlements,” voted at its 2022 conference to support “the call from Palestinian civil society for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions.”

After the vote, NEU General Secretary Kevin Courtney said: “We support the call for a just and lasting peace between Palestine and Israel that is consistent with international law and respects equality and human rights.”

He added: “The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights recently described the state of Palestinian human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory as ‘disastrous,’ stating that children continue to disproportionately suffer the consequences of military escalation and deprivation. We agree... World leaders must recognize this reality and bring to bear the human rights approach needed to end it.”

Backlash against the union came from senior politicians, teachers and leaders in the Jewish community, with MP Robert Halfon, the chair of the Education Selection Committee, calling the NEU’s position “horrific and necessary.”

“Why on earth the NEU should focus on Israel, when they should be keeping our children learning, is beyond most people,” he told the Jewish Chronicle. “Most decent teachers and support staff will want nothing to do with this.”

Board of Deputies President Marie van der Zyl pointed out that the NEU has a troubled history of anti-Israel positions.

“Last year, the NEU mobilized members to attend anti-Israel rallies where speakers subsequently claimed that Jews controlled the BBC, repeated chants threatening violence against Jews, and called for ‘resistance by any means necessary,’” she told the news outlet.

“And yet, at its 2022 annual conference, tackling antisemitism is relegated to tokenism while anti-Israel obsessives are indulged. The NEU fails to understand that convenient and selective anti-racism is no anti-racism at all.”

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