protesters walk down a street holding a large banner that reads "ceasefire now!" many are carrying palestinian flags.
Protesters call for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in downtown San Francisco, Oct. 28, 2023. (Photo/Aaron Levy-Wolins)

San Francisco teachers union says Gaza war harms ‘well-being of Palestinian students’ 

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The San Francisco teachers union has followed in the steps of its Oakland counterpart and passed a resolution calling for a cease-fire in Gaza and an end to U.S. aid for Israel.

The United Educators of San Francisco resolution, adopted on Nov. 16 by what it described as a “supermajority,” calls for an “immediate ceasefire in Gaza and a resolution to the ongoing violence, with the goal of ceasefire, the end of killing innocent civilians, suffering, and trauma for the people of Gaza; and the sharply escalating settler colonial violence in the occupied West Bank.”

The resolution also states that the “ongoing violence in Gaza has a direct impact on the lives and well-being of Palestinian students and their families, who deserve a safe and supportive environment for learning.”

It comes amid an investigation into allegations that an Oct. 25 physical attack on a Muslim girl by other students at a San Francisco middle school included Islamophobic hate speech, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

The union did not respond to a request for comment.

The resolution does not mention the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel in which 1,200 people were massacred and 240 people were taken hostage. It also excludes any reference to the spike in antisemitism against Jewish students in the San Francisco Unified School District since Oct. 7.

Tye Gregory, CEO of the Jewish Community Relations Council Bay Area, called the resolution “bigoted” in a post on X.

The union, which represents more than 6,500 SFUSD employees, said that public school educators “have a special responsibility to stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people because of more than $150 billion that the U.S. government has given to Israel since 1946, including [$]3.8 billion in aid to the Israeli military annually, thus supporting apartheid and war crimes” and “this money can and should be spent on public education, public housing, public healthcare and other public goods, not war and occupation.”

A similar but more strongly worded statement from the Oakland teachers union has drawn sharp criticism from families of Jewish students and talk of leaving the district.

As part of a nationwide action, San Francisco students at several public schools participated in an Oct. 18 walkout organized by the Arab Resource and Organizing Center, a San Francisco-based activist group known for its intense criticism of Israel.

In 2021, the United Educators of San Francisco voted to support the boycott, divest and sanctions movement against Israel and was said to be the first union of K-12 public school teachers in the country to do so.

Maya Mirsky
Maya Mirsky

Maya Mirsky is a J. Staff Writer based in Oakland.