AFT Officers Echo Calls for Humanitarian Pause
WASHINGTON—American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, Secretary-Treasurer Fedrick Ingram and Executive Vice President Evelyn DeJesus issued the following statement:
“The war between Israel and Hamas is impacting our communities and our campuses. Educators throughout the United States have tried to create safe environments for our students in the wake of all of this. We are concerned about the violence and hate directed at Jewish and Muslim students. And we are concerned about the limitations on free speech at this time of high passion. We can and must both protect against antisemitism and Islamophobia—indeed, all violence and incitement—and protect free speech and academic freedom. One educator said, rightly, when asked what team we are on: We are on team humanity.
“As we have stated, any country attacked, as Hamas attacked Israel, has a right to defend itself and protect its citizens, but there are responsibilities to protect the lives and safety of Palestinian civilians in full compliance with international law attached to that right.
“We believe there should be a humanitarian pause immediately to put pressure on Hamas to release the Israeli hostages—most of whom are children and other civilians—and to secure much-needed food, water and fuel for Palestinian civilians. We also support setting up a humanitarian civilian corridor inside Gaza.
“We acknowledge that Hamas may very well not abide by any type of cessation of warfare, but within the framework of humanitarian concern, we urge Israel and the United States to do whatever is achievable to save and protect innocent civilians, especially Palestinian children caught in the crossfire.
“As the war continues, the Jewish settlers in the occupied Palestinian territories in the West Bank are increasingly inciting and harming Palestinian civilians. The Netanyahu government must put a halt to this immediately, and we urge the United States to insist that the Israeli government do everything to stop this incitement and violence.”
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The AFT represents 1.7 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.