AFT Resolution


WHEREAS, the American Federation of Teachers proudly represents educators, civil servants, nurses and healthcare workers; is a recognized leader in civil rights and social justice at home and abroad and in fighting for the rights of every child to have access to a quality public education, embodying a culture of rights for every man, woman and child regardless of race, religion, ethnicity or gender; and

WHEREAS, the AFT in its 50 years of international work has not been a bystander in the struggle for peace, tolerance and coexistence of cultures in the Middle East and around the globe; has never skirted its social responsibility to foster dialogue with honest and open discourse to help individuals see their shared humanity through the tenets of democratic trade union principles; has a longstanding belief that education is the most effective means to promote coexistence and tolerance; that all children should have access to rich and engaging schools; that we must have inclusive public education for every student worldwide; and that facilitating peace requires building bridges, not walls; and

WHEREAS, the AFT has empowered teachers and their unions in areas of the world that have undergone significant political and social change, including those in Egypt, Georgia, Honduras and Zimbabwe, where over 3,900 teachers were trained to promote human rights and encourage civic participation, to strengthen democratic principles and, to improve relations between teachers unions and community stakeholders; these teachers engaged with their governments in constructive dialogue to ensure their education systems fostered tolerance, inclusion and respect for human and workers’ rights; and

WHEREAS, the AFT has engaged with teachers and students from South Africa, the Philippines, Poland, Northern Ireland, Mongolia, the Republic of Georgia and Colombia to develop a rich bank of oral histories from democratic activists; these partnerships have facilitated an invaluable international dialogue, cultural exchanges, and have empowered youth activists; and

WHEREAS, the AFT has a long history of promoting peace, stability and workers’ rights in the Middle East, working with Education International, to define a framework to bring unions and educators together from Israel and Palestine on joint, cooperative and constructive projects; and

WHEREAS, the AFT through its history of work in the Middle East was introduced to the work of the Hand in Hand Schools Network in Israel, whose mission is to provide quality, integrated bilingual, multicultural public education for Palestinian and Israeli students. The Hand in Hand Schools prove on a daily basis the viability of inclusion and equality for all citizens of Israel; and

WHEREAS, the AFT is very concerned about the rising level of intolerance and racial inequity in American society:

RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers will continue its work of promoting peace in the Middle East, empowering teachers, and facilitating learning exchanges through its cooperation and participation in Education International's Middle East Committee to bring educators and union leaders from Israel and Palestine together, working for peace and equality within the context of a two-state solution; and

RESOLVED, the AFT will work with Israel’s Hand in Hand Schools network—where integration of religions and cultures is a goal—to provide a quality, inclusive public education that teaches democratic values and promotes pluralism and multiculturalism; and

RESOLVED, the AFT’s partnership with Hand in Hand is instrumental in strengthening approaches to integrated, bilingual, multicultural education and civic engagement and core educational best practices in our schools; and we will learn from each other how to promote tolerance and an appreciation for diversity in our schools in America and in Israel; and

RESOLVED, the AFT will engage local affiliates in the Hand in Hand partnership as a following to the lessons learned in the pilot project with Education Austin, to enhance a specific set of educational practices that match the respective organizations’ instructional goals. The partners will have a step-by-step plan to create tools and resources that can be shared and distributed across the Hand in Hand schools in Israel and in select U.S. schools, such as lesson plans on conflict resolution, multiculturalism, bi-nationalism and tolerance in schools.