CAMERA Education Institute Statement on Massachusetts Teachers Association (MTA) Webinar

Just two months after the Massachusetts Teachers Association voted in favor of a ceasefire resolution labeling Israel’s defensive war against Hamas as “a genocidal war on the Palestinian people,” the union has once again engaged in the demonization and delegitimization of Israel. On March 21st the MTA hosted a two-hour webinar titled “Context and Connection: Palestinian Struggle Against Anti-Palestinian Racism.”

The webinar claimed to provide a “framework” for understanding anti-Palestinian racism. In fact, the one-sided panel of radical speakers offered a recitation of crude anti-Israel propaganda. “Racism” in their definition is any attempt by the Jewish people to fulfill their right to self-determination and the state of Israel to defend itself from attack by Arab countries and terrorist organizations. Not surprisingly, the Hamas massacre of 1200 Israelis on October 7th was barely mentioned.

The webinar focused instead on claiming Israel, and even in one presenter’s words: the “so-called United States,” are settler colonial states and that anti-Zionism is not antisemitism. Intentionally disregarding major events in the Arab-Israeli conflict and manufacturing absurd historical claims, the webinar promoted a narrative of Palestinian victimhood at the hands of Israeli oppression. Presenters falsely claimed the people living in the mandate during the 1920s were “Jewish Arabs, Muslim Arabs, and Christian Arabs.”

The ancient, indigenous and continuous Jewish presence in the land of Israel, where only the Jewish people have ever established an enduring sovereignty and where vast archeological and historical evidence attests to the Jewish connection is never mentioned.

The speakers misleadingly stated that the many wars launched by Israel’s Arab neighbors “erupted” as if they came out of nowhere. They even redefined the Jewish people as only consisting of a religion ignoring Jewish ethnic and national identities. When an audience member asked whether Israel had a right to exist, the queried presenter was silent, seemingly unable to say yes, and a second injected that Oslo conferred the right and diverted their response to insisting that Zionism is “exclusionary”, ignoring the equal rights enjoyed by all its citizens, Jewish and Arab. A presenter then stated it is necessary to “separate the Israelis from Israel.”

Trafficking in antisemitic tropes, one presenter showed a slide of Jewish organizations’ logos and stated that the criticism of anti-Zionism as antisemitism is made by “Boatloads of pseudo-grassroots organizations” and “billionaires with lots of money to influence presidential elections.”

MTA Union President Max Page stated that the MTA would also be providing a webinar on “the rising tide of antisemitism” in the future. This is risible. The MTA in promoting antisemitic propaganda is in no position to explain antisemitism to anyone.Worse, the MTA has encouraged teachers to spread falsehoods and lies demonizing Israel and Jews in their classrooms. The MTA has proven itself to be an extremist, divisive organization fostering anti-Jewish prejudice in schools rather than providing historical and factual accuracy for understanding an ongoing conflict – and reducing bigotry.

The MTA needs to issue a full and factual retraction of the material falsehoods and defamation of the Jewish people disseminated to the public in its March 21st webinar;

The MTA needs promptly to provide a date and equal time and prominence for a public webinar comprised of knowledgeable speakers on the subject of Israel and the Arab-Israeli conflict to help repair the harm done to public understanding by the MTA;

Teachers, parents, students and all citizens of Massachusetts have reason to be profoundly alarmed by the influence the MTA can have on the Commonwealth’s public schools as well as the wider community. There needs to be swift action to signal rejection of the bigoted messages conveyed by the MTA and to ensure measures that prevent any such messages entering classrooms.

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