Top NewsThe Ann Arbor School Board passed a resolution supporting...

The Ann Arbor School Board passed a resolution supporting a ceasefire in Gaza


In the United States, some unions, city governments, and city councils have weighed in on the Israel-Hamas war and issued statements in favor of a ceasefire — often over strong objections from some of their own members and constituents.

On Wednesday night, the school board in Ann Arbor, Mich., became one of the first public school districts in the nation to vote in favor of such a report.

Supporters of the resolution include Palestinian Americans and Members of the Jewish Board said the statement was an urgent moral imperative amid a humanitarian crisis.

But the vote — 4 to 1, with two members abstaining — split the University of Michigan and Ann Arbor, home to sizable Arab and Jewish populations.

In a crowd filled with cheers and jeers, some parents said they saw no role for the local school board in the conflict, despite their own desire for an end to hostilities in Israel and Gaza. They worried that singling out Israel for condemnation in a world full of wars and suffering could fuel anti-Semitism in the district.

A father said he plans to remove his children from district schools.

And many parents asked the board to focus on other matters, such as the search for a new superintendent and academic recovery following the pandemic.

“Turn your attention to the needs of our children,” said one parent.

The Israel-Gaza war has created major divisions in education, including universities and local school districts, especially in left-leaning areas like Ann Arbor.

In Oakland, California, there are few Jewish parents returns Their children came from public schools last month after the teachers held an unsanctioned, pro-Palestinian teaching session.

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And an after Public outcryAn elementary school in Brooklyn removed a classroom map that depicted a Middle East without Israel and labeled the country “Palestine.”

Last week, the Ann Arbor City Council approved its own cease-fire resolution. But in December, the University of Michigan blocked future votes on two student government resolutions related to the war.

University President Santa J. Ono said, “The proposed resolutions have created fear, anger and hostility on our campus,” said University President Santa J. Ono wrote. A letter to the community.

Rima Mohammed, who supported the statement as Ann Arbor's school board president, acknowledged that the cease-fire resolution was “symbolic.”

But the Israel-Gaza war is “certainly something that we have to pay attention to, especially as I believe that ongoing conflicts abroad can lead to an increase in racism and discrimination at home,” he said in an interview before the vote. “Arabs, Muslims, Jews, Palestinians, Israelis are all suffering.”

Mrs. Mohammed is Palestinian American and immigrated to the United States at the age of 5.

On Wednesday night, the school board, as scheduled, elected a new president, Torchio Feaster, who recused himself from the vote on the resolution.

It called for a “bilateral ceasefire in Gaza and Israel” and condemned Islamophobia and anti-Semitism.

It encouraged teachers in the 17,000-student district to facilitate classroom discussions about the conflict.

This became one of the most divisive elements of the proposal. Many established curriculum resources on Israeli-Palestinian issues are developed by advocacy groups and are highly controversial.

Marci Sugenik, a parent of three students in the district and an employee of the Jewish Federation of Greater Ann Arbor, said she “strongly opposes” the resolution because “our teachers don't deserve to have those conversations.”

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“There's a lot of bias,” he said. “There is misinformation.”

In the past, her children have been called upon in class to “represent the Jewish point of view” on issues, a role she doesn't think is fair. “Our children can be isolated,” she said.

Jewish school board member Jeff Gainer, who supported the resolution, is a retired middle school social studies teacher who once wrote his own curriculum on Israeli-Palestinian issues. He said he believes academics shouldn't try beyond their expertise.

Group trustee Ernesto Querigero, who sponsored the resolution, said he doesn't think teachers should avoid the issue, especially when students are discussing conflicts more on social media.

“We need to give students a place to talk about it,” said Mr. Querijero said. “Can we create a space that allows students to express their own opinions?”

The resolution was introduced by Ann Arbor High School junior Maleek Farha, 16, who said he wrote the statement with his uncle. As a Palestinian American, she said she supports teaching students about the conflict so her peers can understand that “the oppression of Palestinians has been going on for decades.”

He said most students get information about the conflict from social media and the news. But he rejected the idea, floated by many elders, that the war had divided his Jewish and Muslim colleagues, saying, “It never caused conflict between us.”

If so, the same cannot be said for adults. Wednesday's board meeting was adjourned several times to try to quell the boos and personal attacks from the crowd.

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Alain Delaquerrier Research contributed.

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