Earlier this week, CODEPINK sent a statement in support of teachers at Venice High School in Los Angeles, California who are facing backlash for holding after-school discussions on a UTLA resolution endorsing the campaign to boycott, divest and sanction Israel. Given the overwhelming share of responsibility the United States bears for the carnage taking place in Palestine, we believe that educators have both the right and responsibility to promote civil discourse amongst teachers and compile resources for a rich teacher discussion on this topic. You can read the full letter in support sent to leaders of the Los Angeles Unified School District, leaders of United Teachers Los Angeles, and Venice High School teachers.
Dear Los Angeles Unified School District Administrators,
My name is Carley Towne and I am the co-director of CODEPINK, a national women-led, grassroots peace organization that calls for full equality between Palestinians and Israelis. On behalf of CODEPINK, I want to express our organization's support for teachers at Venice High School who are holding after-school discussions on a UTLA resolution endorsing the campaign to boycott, divest and sanction Israel.
These conversations are of utmost importance given the United States bears an overwhelming share of responsibility for the carnage taking place in Palestine. Every year, the United States sends $3.8 billion in military aid to Israel which has devastating consequences. In the most recent Israeli assault on Gaza, 253 people were killed, including 66 children. Given the United State’s complicity in the death of Palestinians, educators have both the right and responsibility to promote civil discourse amongst teachers and compile resources for a rich teacher discussion on this topic.
We understand that several stakeholders aligned with the Anti-Defamation League and Jewish Federation have written to you in hopes of suppressing much-needed debate amongst teachers about Israel/Palestine, arguing that the situation is too complex for teachers to discuss.
We disagree and write to express our whole-hearted support for Venice High School Teachers to continue holding after school discussions about the movement to boycott, divest, and sanction Israel, a social justice movement working to hold Israel accountable to International Law.
Teachers from Venice High School are not engaged in a one-sided debate on this topic. By creating a space for educators to discuss a growing movement for social justice, they are demonstrating the importance of free and open debate on the subject of human and civil rights.
For too long, supporters of Israel as an ethnocracy have tried to suppress voices for Palestinian human rights.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Carley Towne CODEPINK Co-Director