The Los Angeles Teachers’ Union Should Stay Out of Middle East Politics

Aug. 11 2021

With current controversies raging over school reopenings, mask requirements, and vaccination mandates for teachers, United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA) will consider a resolution calling on the U.S. to end military aid to Israel, and supporting the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement (BDS). The editors of the Los Angeles Times urge the union’s leaders to reject it:

One thing is for sure: . . . the world is hardly waiting to hear what a California teachers’ union thinks of the [Israel-Palestinian conflict].

Many Jewish parents and students—though not all by any means—see BDS support as inherently anti-Semitic. . . . They question why a movement targeting Israel receives [union] support when other nations have less religious tolerance and worse human-rights records. A vote to support BDS would be seen as hostile and undermine these families’ confidence in their teachers. Favoring BDS also would probably erode public support for the union in a metropolitan area with the second-biggest Jewish population in the U.S.

[Moreover], support for BDS wouldn’t accomplish a thing. The union would be better off keeping its nose out of Middle Eastern affairs that don’t affect its members or the schools, and in which it has no expertise.

Read more at Los Angeles Times

More about: Anti-Semitism, BDS, Education


Syria’s Druze Uprising, and What It Means for the Region

When the Arab Spring came to Syria in 2011, the Druze for the most part remained loyal to the regime—which has generally depended on the support of religious minorities such as the Druze and thus afforded them a modicum of protection. But in the past several weeks that has changed, with sustained anti-government protests in the Druze-dominated southwestern province of Suwayda. Ehud Yaari evaluates the implications of this shift:

The disillusionment of the Druze with Bashar al-Assad, their suspicion of militias backed by Iran and Hizballah on the outskirts of their region, and growing economic hardships are fanning the flames of revolt. In Syrian Druze circles, there is now open discussion of “self-rule,” for example replacing government offices and services with local Druze alternative bodies.

Is there a politically acceptable way to assist the Druze and prevent the regime from the violent reoccupation of Jebel al-Druze, [as they call the area in which they live]? The answer is yes. It would require Jordan to open a short humanitarian corridor through the village of al-Anat, the southernmost point of the Druze community, less than three kilometers from the Syrian-Jordanian border.

Setting up a corridor to the Druze would require a broad consensus among Western and Gulf Arab states, which have currently suspended the process of normalization with Assad. . . . The cost of such an operation would not be high compared to the humanitarian corridors currently operating in northern Syria. It could be developed in stages, and perhaps ultimately include, if necessary, providing the Druze with weapons to defend their territory. A quick reminder: during the Islamic State attack on Suwayda province in 2018, the Druze demonstrated an ability to assemble close to 50,000 militia men almost overnight.

Read more at Jerusalem Strategic Tribune

More about: Druze, Iran, Israeli Security, Syrian civil war, U.S. Foreign policy