Attempts to rally support for BDS ahead of Education International World Congress

The resolution is still a compromise on Israel's part, but it is a less inflammatory proposal that will prevent the congress from devolving into anti-Israel political debates.

By HAYAH GOLDLIST-EICHLER
July 9, 2015 18:37
3 minute read.
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A demonstrator wears a shirt reading 'Boycott Israel' [File]. (photo credit: AFP/ MOHD RASFAN)

 
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The South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU) and the UK’s National Union of Teachers (NUT) have proposed anti-Israel resolutions to be discussed at the world congress of Education International, to be held in Ottawa, Canada, later this month.

Educational International describes itself as “the world’s largest federation of unions representing 30 million education employees in about four hundred organizations in 170 countries and territories.”

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According to the resolution submitted by SADTU, the congress, to begin on July 21, would vote on passages describing Education International as being “deeply concerned by the carnage targeted at the Palestinian children,” “noting the illegal occupation of Palestinian territories by Israel” and being “further convinced that the USA actions in the United Nations Security Council and General Assembly is giving Israel the guts to commit these heinous crimes against the Palestinians.”

The SADTU resolution further calls upon member groups to boycott all exports from, and imports to, Israel “in solidarity with [the] people of Palestine,” and to “lobby other countries to support BDS.”

According to the South African group, the congress should declare that its members “deplore the actions of the Israeli government, which does not merit exceptionalism to international human rights, norms, and standards,” and further take it upon themselves to call on the UN to “[reign] in the current Prime Minister [Benjamin Netanyahu] to stop inflammatory statements that destabilize the region.”

The NUT resolution, which condemns the attacks on seven UNWRA schools during last summer’s Operation Protective Edge in the Gaza Strip, made no mention of the stockpiles of rockets found on numerous occasions inside UNRWA schools, and also failed to condemn anti-Israel and anti-Semitic teachings that were revealed over the past year to be part of the curriculum at UNRWA schools.

Education International says it works to promote quality and equality in education, ensure access to education by all students around the world, and promote and represent the interests of teachers and other education employees on an international level. It also fosters solidarity and cooperation among member unions.



The Israeli Teachers Union has been working with Education International’s Advisory Committee to the Middle East – which includes representatives of the General Union of Palestinian Teachers, as well as SADTU and NUT – to present a joint resolution that would supersede all other resolutions on the issue of Israel and the Palestinian territories.

It would rely heavily on the resolution adopted at the last Education International congress four years ago.

That resolution called for “full implementation of UN Security Council Resolutions 242 (1967), which recognizes the 1967 borders, and 338 (1973), [which are] fundamental to the achievement of a just and lasting peace,” and also addressed the need for action on “the plight of Palestinian refugees.”

It called for a lift of the blockade on Gaza and a cessation of violence by both sides. It also called on Israel to remove the security barrier. It made no mention of the BDS movement or any attempt to call on members to boycott Israel or Israeli products.

Yossi Wasserman, secretary- general of the Israeli Teachers Union; Zipi Dvir, head of its international relations efforts; and Shlomo Yishai, a member of the union’s board and director- general of the Foundation for Professional Advancement, have been spearheading the Israeli input for the joint resolution.

According to Dvir, it involves a compromise on Israel’s part but is less inflammatory than the SADTU and NUT proposals, the goal being to prevent the congress from devolving into anti-Israel political debates.

According to Dvir, the head of Education International has asked SADTU and NUT to withdraw their resolutions in favor of the joint resolution.

The request came last week, but as of Thursday, the resolutions had not yet been withdrawn.

The international organization had also asked the Israeli Teachers Union to withdraw a resolution of its own, which includes a condemnation of the rocket attacks from Gaza, in particular those launched from hospitals and schools.

It also condemns anti-Israel and anti-Semitic incitement in educational textbooks used in the Palestinian Authority, and calls upon both Israelis and Palestinians “to educate all children toward tolerance, peace and mutual cognizance, emphasizing the vital key role of educators and teachers’ trade unions globally.”

Dvir said the union would acquiesce as soon as SADTU and NUT withdrew their own resolutions and the new joint resolution was submitted.

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