Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Editorial: We need to stay focused on the issues!

Saul Alinsky, one of the greatest organizers of the last century wrote, "The major premise for tactics is the development of operations that will maintain a constant pressure upon the opposition."

Yet, the California Faculty Association's recent resolution to "Call for A Halt to Violence Against All Civilians in Palestine and Israel" does the opposite and threatens to divide educators over foreign policy issues rather than uniting them over workplace issues. Yes, war is a terrible thing, but our union should be organizing educators. We should should be united fighting for education and better wages, hours and working conditions for educators. As Alinsky says, "Never go outside the experience of your people."

In response to the CFA resolution an SJSU educator recently wrote to the CFA leadership:

I have just heard about the resolution that the CFA board passed regarding civilian deaths in Israel and Palestine. I object very strongly to this resolution on a number of levels. First of all, while civilians are killed in all wars, and all death is tragic, there is a tremendous difference between those killed accidently, by recognized military forces, and those killed deliberately, as a matter of policy, by terrorist organizations. I am absolutely shocked that academics so blithely ignore this difference. My own best friend, a journalist, was kidnapped, beaten, and shot in the back and killed by terrorists in Basra, Iraq in August 2005. Is the crime of these terrorists the moral equivalent of warfare? Are they to be considered soldiers, and not criminals?

Secondly, this sort of resolution is very unuseful when campuses such as SJSU face a very high level of emotion over this issue. Recently, the consul-general of Israel, who had been invited to speak at SJSU, was shouted down by protesters and had to be escorted out by security. Is this the sort of atmosphere that is fostered by such resolutions?

I think our union's attention needs to be a bit closer to home right now. Union strength comes from uniting members around issues important to them in the workplace and setting aside issues that may divide them, that are not work related. Don't we have enough problems right here, right now? I think so! Should we really be dividing our constituents over devisive and perhaps wrong-minded matters of foriegn policy? I think not.

No comments: