Teachers’ union votes to blame Israel’s ‘racist government’ for Gaza war

The education secretary warned the motion may cause ‘hurt’ for Jewish pupils and parents


A striking teacher holds an NEU banner (Photo: Leon Neal/Getty Images)

Britain’s largest teaching union has voted to condemn “Israeli apartheid” and blame the Jewish state’s “hard-right, racist government” for being the main force behind violence in Gaza.

After an occasionally fractious debate held at their annual conference on Thursday, National Education Union (NEU) delegates overwhelmingly backed a motion that Education Secretary Gillian Keegan had claimed would cause hurt to Jewish children and parents.

The text adopted began by noting, “the eruption of deadly violence between the Israeli state and Hamas in October 2023” and efforts by the UK government to, “criminalise peaceful tactics of boycott, divestment and sanctions… and to stigmatise solidarity with Palestinians.”

Conference believes, it continued, “the siege of Gaza, and the collective punishment of its people, must end immediately” adding: “Israel’s hard-right, racist government is the main driver of conflict, violence and war”

Justice and freedom for Palestinians, it claimed, was the only long-term guarantee of peace.

Having adopted the motion, the union will now “reaffirm support” for the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and circulate educational resources to “increase understanding” of Palestine and Israel.

Arguing against an amendment that referenced the International Court of Justice’s ruling that Israel must take measures to prevent genocide, Peter Block said there had been an “avalanche of hatred directed against Jews”.

He drew shouts of “shame” after telling delegates that the conference, “has taken on the character of an anti-Zionist rally not quite of Nuremberg proportions but approaching it.”

Israel has mosques and Arab Knesset members, Block added, before condemning the motion as a, “glorification of Hamas.”

An amendment also supported by NEU delegates commits the union to campaign against for the abolition of the government’s Prevent anti-extremism programme.

Mat Milovanovic, who proposed the text, told attendees that he faces potential disciplinary action for failing to be politically neutral while at work.

“It shouldn’t be political to express grief and sympathy for 30,000 murdered people,” he said.

"Is that not a humanitarian instinct? Are we not allowed to show our students what is right and just?”

He added: “Prevent is not fit for purpose and must be abolished.”

Commenting on the pro-Palestine motion before the conference, Keegan said: “Teachers have a duty to remain politically impartial and to ensure all sides of contested views are presented fairly and without bias or prejudice.

"These proposals will cause significant hurt to members of the Jewish community and the thousands of Jewish children and parents in British schools.”

Former Education Minister Robert Halfon told The Times that the NEU should perhaps, “concentrate on teaching and education.”

He added: “No wonder some Jewish members have left the NEU. If this motion was passed the NEU would be an uncomfortable place for some Jewish members, especially after the horrific atrocities by Hamas from October 7.”

NEU General Secretary Daniel Kebede, who previously urged a rally to “globalise the intifada,” insisted there was a “real humanitarian disaster” in Gaza.

He told The Times: “I think that teachers are very nervous about having such discussion around such difficult subjects in school at the moment, and that will perhaps be made quite clear from some of the speakers at the conference. It’s a very sensitive issue. Very difficult.

“In our union, we’ve been very clear that we absolutely condemn the attack from Hamas and the taking of hostages.”

Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive