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Op-Ed: The UFT’s Democracy Said No to Endorsing MORE’s Ceasefire Amendment - We Must Respect That
A UFT delegate chimes in on the recent UFT humanitarian reso & against a proposed ceasefire amendment. Other Wire readers/subscribers respond to MORE’s ceasefire amendment and protest.
Editor’s note: The following post was submitted by a UFT delegate who has asked to remain anonymous. We’ve also added some reader feedback about a previous Wire post/email by two NYC educators who wrote in support of the proposed amendment.
At The Wire, we try to allow for a diverse range of opinions from NYC educators from the various caucuses, groups and activists in our union. It by no means we endorse a specific viewpoint.
We believe this issue has a multitude of serious implications, passionate and varying perspectives that should be shared without antisemitic or Islamophobic hate, through civil and democratic discourse.
Wednesday night, during the second UFT Delegate Assembly of the 2023-24 school year, MORE Caucus members attempted to get our union’s more than two thousand elected delegates to commit to language calling for a ceasefire in the war between Israel and Hamas. The Delegate Assembly debated this question and ultimately voted it down.
It’s worth giving some context of the events. MORE’s Ryan Bruckenthal put forward the amendment itself, which stated “Resolved the UFT joins the growing number of American unions calling for an immediate cease fire and end to the fight in the region.” Some members spoke in favor, citing the loss of life in the region. Others pointed out that the language was more divisive than it seemed, that it could come off as antisemitic or be seen as a victory for Hamas.
Indeed, when other unions have called for a ceasefire, such as CTU, they have predominantly done so on the condition of hostage release. MORE’s implicitly one-sided ceasefire amendment and corresponding petition did not. They called for an unconditional ceasefire, without any mention of Hamas first releasing hostages.
However any of us may have personally felt about the amendment, the highest representative body of our union voted it down. The Delegate Assembly is made up of thousands of delegates from every chapter in the city. When the vote came through, only 44% of voting delegates supported the amendment. More than 56% voted against.
It is our democratic duty to respect that vote.
Therefore, as someone who cares a lot about our union democracy, it pained me to see a small handful of MORE members storm out disruptively after we voted their amendment down. It pained me to see that MORE had co-organized to protest our own union’s democratically arrived at decision, meeting delegates outside with inflammatory signs using terms like ‘genocide’ and ‘apartheid’ in ways that most well-informed members would probably find misleading and antisemitic.
It pained me to remember that before the debacle at the DA, MORE had also disrupted the education of our students to call for a ceasefire, disseminating political propaganda to convince minors to walk out of school during the middle of the instructional day – a day which ‘happened’ to be the anniversary of Kristallnacht.
And it pains me that after the UFT’s own representative democracy has voted down MORE’s call for the UFT to endorse a one-sided ceasefire, I’m continuing to see articles and social media posts suggesting that the UFT shouldn’t listen to the binding vote of our own delegate assembly – that we should call for a one-sided ceasefire despite our membership declaring they disagree. That’s not how democracy works, and MORE should be ashamed to pretend that it is.
Here are some comments from readers/subscribers who also felt that the MORE caucus ceasefire amendment, and subsequent Wire post, was not representative of all:
“… Not one mention about the 240 hostages that were dragged to Gaza. These people were innocent civilians taken from their homes or concert where they just wanted to have fun. These communities wanted peace with the Palestinians and Hamas raped/ slaughtered / beheaded. I can go on. Do better with your biased reporting. So disappointed!!!!!!!!!” - Subscriber
“It's not the job of the UFT to intervene in Middle Eastern affairs and to interfere with a country defending themselves against terrorism. Why don't you focus instead on your job of educating students here and stay out of politics that don't concern you? The amendment didn't pass, for good reason.” - Subscriber
“I do NOT agree to demand a ceasefire. As a member of the union, I do not agree with the MORE amendment. There can be pauses, but no ceasefire until the hostages are safely released. Israel did not massacre the Gazans. Their leaders, Hamas, have brutally, barbarically tortured and killed innocent children, women and men- most of whom from the kibutzes were actually peaceniks who were protesting ultra-right extremists in the West Bank. Barbarians butchered the Israelis and then kidnapped survivors. Hamas is using their innocent Palestinians as shields so that they can perpetuate the myth that the Israelis are the guilty ones. Israelis did not build tunnels with weapons of destruction under their hospitals and schools.” - Subscriber
“If Hamas lets the hostages go and surrenders their weapons the war would be over. Why not pass that resolution.” -Subscriber
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