American Federation of Teachers President Calls for General Strike in Israel
Randi Weingarten, the president of the second-largest teachers’ union in the country, has taken a stand on Israel’s judicial reform, urging for a “general strike” following the passage of a law that limits the power of the Supreme Court.
“I’m deeply moved by the fierce protests for democracy in Israel,” Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, tweeted Saturday morning. “I stand in solidarity with the protesters. Workers have NO rights without democracy. The time is now to get off the fence & take a stand. If ever there was a time for a general strike in Israel, the time is now!”
The law, which passed with a vote of 64-0 after opposition lawmakers abstained, removes the Supreme Court’s ability to strike down laws deemed “unreasonable.” This is the first step in a series of judicial reform bills proposed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his allies, which have sparked widespread protests across the country.
“The push to undermine democratic consensus in Israel by a right-wing, extreme government must be challenged,” Weingarten stated in a press release. “We are encouraged by the Israeli public’s resistance and we pledge to do everything in our power to support the pro-democracy protesters and safeguard democracy in Israel.”
Weingarten’s comments on international judicial politics come at a time when students in the United States are grappling with learning loss due to the pandemic. Recent data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress reveals that test scores are at their lowest levels in decades. Math scores for 13-year-olds have dropped to their lowest point since 1990, while reading scores are the lowest since 2004. In the midst of this educational crisis, Weingarten’s union recently held a conference to educate teachers on incorporating LGBTQIA+ ideology, racial equity, and climate justice into classrooms of all grade levels, as reported by the Washington Free Beacon.
The teachers’ union has been working behind the scenes with the federal government to advocate for school closures during the pandemic. A report released by House Republicans last year revealed that the Centers for Disease Control allowed the AFT to influence school closure decisions. AFT-affiliated unions in Chicago, Washington, D.C., and other cities kept schools closed until February 2021 and beyond. Weingarten has claimed that she advocated for keeping schools open.
President Joe Biden has expressed his opposition to Netanyahu’s judicial reform in recent months, stating in March that he hopes the prime minister “walks away from it.”
“It seems that the current judicial reform proposal is only causing more division,” Biden said on Sunday. “Given the range of threats and challenges facing Israel right now, it doesn’t make sense for Israeli leaders to rush this.”
In response to Biden’s comments, Netanyahu emphasized the sovereignty of his country, stating that Israel “makes its decisions based on the will of its people and not on external pressures, even from our closest allies.”
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