The American Federation of Teachers Executive Council, the body representing the union’s 1.72 million educators, higher education professionals, healthcare workers, and public employees, unanimously adopted an omnibus statement addressing the war in the Middle East and its impact on the United States. The American Federation of Teachers is a member of Education International.
The path to this resolution reflects significant input from and discussion with AFT affiliate leaders and rank-and-file members from around the country, including listening and learning sessions starting right after October 7, the day of the Hamas attack on Israel. It is a comprehensive statement that includes specific steps toward long-term peace in the region, and it addresses the effects of the conflict at home. The resolution calls for:
- A negotiated bilateral cease-fire, agreed to by both sides in this war and guaranteed by the international community. A cease-fire agreement must include the immediate provision of desperately needed food, water, medical care, clothing, emergency shelter, and other humanitarian aid to Palestinian civilians in Gaza and the release of all hostages abducted by Hamas from Israel on October 7.
- Reaffirming the AFT’s support for a two-state solution, with true self-determination for the people of Israel and the people of Palestine, noting both peoples have deep roots in that land and the right to live there in peace and with freedom.
- Condemning all forms of antisemitism and Islamophobia, and continuing the AFT’s work to ensure that our workplaces are safe, and free from fear of hate and bigotry.
- Ensuring the United States remains a place where all people are safe to express dissent—in their communities, and on their streets and campuses. The conflict should not be used as an excuse to wage political attacks on American colleges and universities, or as a pretext to undermine necessary efforts to increase diversity, promote equity and advance inclusion.
The resolution also condemns the obstacles the AFT sees toward peace, including Hamas, and the Netanyahu government’s policies.
AFT President Randi Weingarten said:
“Every day, we see the tremendous pain that Palestinians and Israelis are experiencing. Many of our members are deeply connected to people in Israel and the Palestinian territories, so they feel that pain personally; and many others, including the students we teach, are horrified and aggrieved by what has happened.
“The time for war is over, and the time for diplomacy must begin. We believe wholeheartedly that the path forward in the Middle East must end the decades of conflict and bloodshed by recognizing the rights of both peoples and affirming a two-state solution. Our work does not stop with a resolution: We will not shy away from continuing to listen to our members and our communities and endeavoring to move toward a lasting peace.
“Furthermore, we reject the toxic rhetoric that pits standing up to antisemitism and Islamophobia against the fight to preserve academic freedom and the free speech rights of students, faculty and staff: We can and must do both. Our institutions have an obligation to keep students and employees safe and to stand up against bigotry—and they must honor it.”
Global call for peace
Education International also continues to advocate for an end to the war between Israel and Hamas, the release of all hostages, and an end to indiscriminate violence. EI also reiterates its call for an immediate United Nations enforced and guaranteed ceasefire, the establishment of humanitarian corridors to prevent further humanitarian catastrophe and loss of civilians and genuine efforts towards sustainable peace.