JFS staff stage mass exodus of education union amid Israel, antisemitism stance

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JFS staff stage mass exodus of education union amid Israel, antisemitism stance

Exclusive: At least 25 members of the NEU have quit, with one former rep saying he 'had no choice' because the union 'isolated me as a Jewish, pro-Israel, teacher'

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

JFS teaching staff have staged a mass exodus from the biggest education union over anger at its policies towards Israel and towards wider antisemitism.

Jewish News has learned that at least 25 members of the National Education Union, along with three official reps, at the north west London based school have quit since February.

In recent weeks dozens of Jewish teachers at schools across the country have also resigned from the NEU after leader Kevin Courtney spoke at rallies organised by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign at which there were open displays of antisemitism.

John Lopez, a former NEU rep at JFS,  told Jewish News: “I felt I had no choice to leave the Union which isolated me as a Jewish, pro-Israel, teacher.

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“I spent close to two years trying to get the NEU (starting with Brent Branch) to adopt the IHRA definition so Jewish NEU members can feel safer as well as writing letters with others to Educate magazine which were ignored.

“The NEU have chosen to align very closely with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign who do not support a two-state solution.

“Most recently they urged NEU members to join the PSC rally for Palestine which involved antisemitism and calls for the abolition of the Jewish State.

“The NEU claim they believe in freedom of education for all, but they didn’t call for Hamas to stop firing rockets at innocent civilians so Israeli children can attend school.

“The NEU have picked a side which is not only anti-Israel but indifferent to Jews. I am glad I am no longer part of this Union.”

There were also claims this week that Jewish NEU members who announced they were resigning from the union had their posts and comments on the organisation’s official Facebook page muted or removed.

On Jewish teacher said she was muted on an NEU Facebook page after writing “I wish to cancel my membership, with immediate effect.

“This is due to the unions continuous, and in my opinion bias, involvement with demonstrations that have unfortunately seen a rise of antisemitic attacks against one of the smallest UK communities.

“A teaching union should be impartial, as we are a professional body, who must represent these strong ethics and values in our schools.

“I do not feel comfortable being part of a union that encourages (although not necessarily intended) antisemitism.

“This is not why I became a teacher.  I expect my membership to be terminated immediately. ”

Jewish News has approached the NEU for comment.

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