Even Before Campus Protests, This Teachers Union Opened Its Doors to a Socialist Group That Praised Hamas

AP Photo/Charles Krupa

Protests are often like a bad car wreck from which one can’t look away, and the shocking display of antisemitism on college campuses over the past several weeks is one of the most gruesome Americans have ever seen.


But while the campus protests have opened many Americans’ eyes to the radicalization of college students and the bad actors trying to influence them, it’s important to remember that such ideological corruption doesn’t start — or end — there. Before taking hold of young minds, such ideas must be rooted in the very institutions that sanction these radical worldviews to begin with (even if not overt antisemitism, then at least the fundamentally violent Marxist ideology that acts as its proxy) and promote them as a legitimate means to an end.

Obviously, "Exhibit A" would be universities like Columbia, from which major donors are now considering pulling their funding.

But even before the recent campus protests began, there’s evidence that propagators of the same hate-filled rhetoric have found a place among other institutions generally considered to be “legitimate” — such as teachers unions.

In Oregon, for example, the state’s largest teachers union, the Oregon Education Association (OEA), has allowed a local chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) to use the union’s district office for its monthly general meetings.

As the name implies, DSA is dedicated to the abolishment of capitalism in America. Beyond tearing down the free market, however, DSA stands for an entire laundry list of other divisive views — not the least of which is its morally reprehensible stance supporting the horrific attack on Israeli citizens by Hamas terrorists in October 2023.


The organization has also produced an antisemitic “toolkit” with messaging guidance further explaining that Israelis living in the disputed territories “are not ‘civilians’ in the sense of international law” and that “(r)esponsibility for every single death falls on the (Z)ionist entity.”

The not-so-subtle message is that specifically targeting and murdering Israeli non-combatants, as occurred in October of 2023, is fair game.

As recently as March, several social media posts made by the group’s Salem, Ore., chapter — the one being allowed to shack up in the teachers union offices — proclaimed “From the River to the Sea,” a chant broadly acknowledged to mean that the state of Israel and its people should be completely erased from the region.

As the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) explains, “(T)his rallying cry has long been used by anti-Israel voices, including supporters of terrorist organizations such as Hamas … that seek Israel’s destruction through violent means.”

Ironically, the OEA promotes a pair of lesson plans developed by the ADL, titled “No Place for Hate” and “Building Insights to Navigate Antisemitism & Hate,” on its website.

So why on earth would the union’s leaders harbor the very organization spewing such hateful, racist rhetoric at their district office each month?


The reason isn’t actually all that surprising.

It stems from the shameful reality that union leaders are far more concerned with advancing their political and ideological self-interests than they are with truly doing the right thing. The anti-hate resources posted on the union’s website don’t mean anything when you consider that, as one former DSA member puts it, “(p)olitically, you’re judged by the company you keep.”

And as far as organized labor is concerned, DSA is good company. In addition to holding its monthly membership meetings at the union’s district office, the local DSA chapter recently hosted a “strike school” in which it promised to work closely with union organizers across the state to “restore labor militancy” among Oregon teachers.

But while union organizers may benefit from associating with DSA, it should come as no surprise that teachers themselves don’t always feel the same way.

At last count, nearly one in five teachers have left the OEA since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2018 that they could no longer be forced to pay union dues. And because the radical agendas that union leaders support with their members’ dues play a big role in teachers’ decisions to opt out, hosting groups like DSA is unlikely to reverse the trend.


Ultimately, if it’s true you’re judged by the company you keep, there’s little choice right now but to judge DSA and the OEA as one. After all, in Oregon, they’ve been sharing the same office.

The good news is that immediately after the Freedom Foundation first broke this story, the local DSA chapter abruptly changed its April meeting place from the union’s office — where it had previously been scheduled — to another location.

It just goes to show, shame still exists. It just needs to be called out.


Ben Straka is a research and government affairs associate for the Freedom Foundation, a nonprofit organization which works to promote individual liberty, free enterprise, and limited, accountable government.


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