Education union ‘saddened’ by exodus of Jewish members
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Education union ‘saddened’ by exodus of Jewish members

NEU releases statement after at least 25 teachers from Europe's largest Jewish secondary, JFS, quit amid the union's stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union (NEU) . Credit: Mark Kerrison/Alamy Live News
Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union (NEU) . Credit: Mark Kerrison/Alamy Live News

The National Education Union is “saddened” to hear Jewish members have resigned from the organisation in protest at its stance on Israel and antisemitism, a spokesperson has insisted.

Responding to reports of a mass exodus of Jewish members from the union over recent weeks after joint NEU leader Kevin Courtney spoke at several pro-Palestinian protests, the spokesperson said they were “appalled by the recent attacks on the Jewish community.”

Jewish News revealed this week how at least 25 NEU members at JFS school in north-west London had quit the union, citing its continued allegiance with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, and a failure to adopt the IHRA definition of antisemitism.

There were similar scenarios at schools across the country, both Jewish and secular, with Jewish teachers and teaching staff resigned from the union in disgust.

“We are saddened to hear of Jewish members who have resigned from the NEU,” a spokesperson said.

“The NEU deplores all from of racism including antisemitism and Islamophobia.

“We are appalled by recent attacks on the Jewish community and will continue to stand in solidarity with all those facing racism and oppression.

“As members of the Trade Union Congress, Educational International and from decisions that are made at our own Annual Conference by members, our policy on the conflict is for there to be a just and long-lasting peace settlement between Israel and Palestine.

“The NEU values all our members and will be in touch with those members who tell us they are unhappy with our policy positions or feel they can no longer remain in the union because of our policies on Palestine to give a fuller explanation of our position. ”

Many of those leaving the NEU are believed to have joined the smaller BCSA Community union which has not taken such a pro-Palestinian stance, and has been more effective at dealing with claims of antisemitism.

Meanwhile the union also denied claims that comments made by Jewish members had deliberately been censored from its social media channels.

The spokesperson said:”The NEU has the biggest social media presence in the trade union movement and as such the sheer number of comments we receive means it has been necessary to automate responses to them including hiding comments.

“This is done through industry standard machine learning chatbox technology. Its use is clearly stated on our Facebook page and is fully in line with GDPR.”

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