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Massachusetts Teachers Union Hosts Anti-Israel Event

The Massachusetts Teachers Association is again coming under fire for its actions related to the Israel-Hamas war, as Jewish groups blast the union for holding an anti-racism program that boosts “antisemitic and anti-Israel falsehoods.”

MTA’s Anti-Racism Task Force was hosting a virtual webinar titled, “The Struggle Against Anti-Palestinian Racism,” on Thursday.

“It is often said that the issue of Palestine is ‘complicated,’ ” reads the program description. “For this reason, many educators do not feel confident to speak about it in their classrooms or with their colleagues. However, the idea that Palestinian history is more complicated than the history of other struggles against oppression means that anti-Palestinian racism too often goes unnoticed.

“A team of MTA rank and file members, along with Jewish Voice for Peace, have created a workshop to engage their MTA siblings in a conversation about questions such as: What is anti-Palestinian discrimination? How does Palestine fit into the larger framework of colonialism and imperialism? What are Zionism and anti-Zionism, and what are their histories? Why is anti-Zionism not antisemitism?” the description continues.

The MTA’s leader ahead of the program admitted that the union had gotten a number of emails and calls suggesting they not hold the workshop.

This program comes a few months after the teachers union’s leaders were slammed for a cease-fire resolution in the Israel-Hamas war, declaring that Israel’s government was carrying out a “genocidal war on the Palestinian people in Gaza.”

The Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston’s head also called out the MTA for the workshop and other recent actions.

“Jewish students, teachers, and community members who support nuanced and robust learning experiences and who want to grapple with difficult but necessary questions, are taken aback by some of the messaging from the MTA in recent months, which plays into familiar and dehumanizing antisemitic tropes,” said CEO Jeremy Burton.

“These actions have produced a critical mass of messages and actions that are exacerbating mistrust and discord rather than engendering trust and healing in schools across the Commonwealth,” Burton later added. “While it is our understanding this webinar does not represent the official position of the MTA, its framing and promotion by the MTA exacerbates tensions.”

MTA President Max Page defended the union hosting the workshop.

“I expect that there will be members in attendance who will agree wholeheartedly with what is presented; there will be members in attendance who could not disagree more,” Page said. “The task force hosting this event, and other committees in the MTA, will sponsor upcoming events on other important issues, including the rising tide of antisemitism.

“The particular viewpoints expressed in these individual workshops do not represent the official views of the MTA,” the president added. “Our member-led events will always be open to discussion and debate, and we urge our members to learn and participate.”

Page noted that he is Jewish, and his father was a refugee from Nazi Germany who lost 18 family members in Auschwitz.

“…It has been particularly difficult in recent months to be accused of antisemitism,” Page said. “I may disagree with views expressed at various events, and at times I will even disagree with actions or language in the actions our Board takes. But I will attend these events, listen and learn. I am proud to lead a democratic organization that wrestles with the world as it is, so we may build the world we all deserve.”

Source: https://www.bostonherald.com/2024/03/21/massachusetts-teachers-union-faces-heat-for-anti-racism-program-with-antisemitic-and-anti-israel-falsehoods/