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BCTF removes online presence of committee allied with pro-Hamas rallies

A BC Teachers Federation committee had been promoting anti-Israel rhetoric, according to Jewish groups who are equally concerned with a lack of Holocaust education mandate and resources from the union.
Clint Johnston, BCTF president.

The union representing over 40,000 teachers in B.C. continues to be in damage control this week, having removed the online presence of a committee that has shown support for pro-Hamas protests while also apologizing for failing to support Holocaust education.

Nico Slobinsky, vice-president of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs in Vancouver, and BC Teachers Against Antisemitism say the apology from the BC Teachers Federation (BCTF) issued on Wednesday falls short of meaningful action.

“We acknowledge the BCTF issued a statement on X (formerly Twitter), stating it has apologized and suggests it will do better. Our tradition teaches that a sincere apology needs to own the behaviour (and not blame it on one of their branches), include corrective action to repair harm, and a commitment to not repeat the offending behaviour. The apology failed to do all three,” wrote BC Teachers Against Antisemitism in a statement Thursday shared by Slobinsky to Glacier Media.

The BCTF appears to have stripped the online presence of one of their committees, or factions — the Anti-Oppression Educators Collective (the AOEC).

Slobinsky found that the AOEC was encouraging students and teachers to attend public rallies organized, in part, by Samidoun, a group whose members have praised the Oct. 7, 2023, attack by Hamas.

Prior to that attack, AOEC had published statements calling Israel a settler colonial nation and one that commits genocide against Palestinians.

Slobinsky alleged the anti-Israel faction BCTF is supporting comes with an unwillingness to implement Holocaust education. He said the union’s Teach BC website for teaching resources contains no materials on Holocaust education or antisemitism.

“In a move that its Jewish members find absolutely confounding, yesterday the BCTF also released its new anti-racism training program, called From Awareness to Action—Anti-Racism in the Union. It doesn’t contain a single reference to antisemitism, and it completely erases the history of discrimination against Jews in Canada, while documenting racism against almost every single other ethnocultural community — including Italians,” added BC Teachers Against Antisemitism.

The union’s apology on Wednesday stated: “The leadership of the BCTF has met with representatives of the Holocaust and Antisemitism Educators Association (HAEA) and apologized for the hurt and disappointment caused by a decision of one of our councils. We are taking action to support Holocaust education in B.C. schools.

“The BCTF stands against antisemitism. It has no place in our schools or union. Action is being taken now to support HAEA in their work and there is more to come. During the meeting, we agreed there is an urgent need to create and provide Holocaust and antisemitism resources.”

Glacier Media has reached out to union president Clint Johnson to provide him an opportunity to comment on the most recent concerns raised by Jewish groups. He did not respond by the time of publication.

Premier David Eby announced last October that Holocaust education will now be mandatory in high school.

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