San Diego Community College District headquarters. Photo by Chris Stone

The Chancellor of the San Diego Community College District has expressed “sincere thoughts” to Jewish students and teachers offended by a local union’s condemnation of Israel and said the district will “foster an inclusive atmosphere.”

“We recognize that the opinions expressed by some groups, including the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Local 1931, are not embraced by many employees and students. Further, we offer our sincere thoughts to those who were offended by the resolution,” said Chancellor Carlos O. Turner Cortez in a message that was cosigned by the presidents of the district’s four institutions.

The message was sent last week, following news reports of the resolution by the local representing teachers and staff at the San Diego and Grossmont-Cuyamaca community college districts.

The resolution questioned the Jewish state’s right to exist, drawing immediate criticism from local Jewish organizations, which suggested the action would encourage antisemitism and lead to hate crimes locally.

Randi Weingarten, president of American Federation of Teachers, criticized the local union’s action, telling Times of San Diego, “I’m troubled by aspects of this resolution, which I have already conveyed to the local leadership, including its refusal to acknowledge the right of Israel to exist or to defend itself.”

Cortez noted that “the local and national leadership of the AFT are at odds on this matter, and the district does not engage in debates within the AFT.”

He said the district is “committed to fostering an environment where students and employees can engage in civil discourse” about what he called a “historically sensitive issue.”

Meanwhile, Local 1931’s retiree chapter scheduled a Zoom session led by the Anti-Defamation League on Sept. 30 focused on preventing hate crimes.

The session is open to active and retired members of the union.

The local chapter of the ADL is also working with San Diego State University after a spate of anti-Jewish vandalism on the campus.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.