2015’s First Resolution Calling for More Investment in Israel Passed by University of Georgia Students
The Student Government Association (SGA) of the University of Georgia on Tuesday passed the first college resolution this year calling for the school to invest more in its relations with Israel. The resolution was sponsored and composed by the local chapter of activist group Students Supporting Israel and is the third such resolution ever to be passed.
In the resolution, the SGA, which represents over 35,000 students in Georgia, supports the expansion of study abroad opportunities in Israel for both undergraduate and graduate students across all fields of study. The text asserts that “academic freedom and collaboration are crucial to the pursuit of knowledge,” but that the university currently offers “very limited options” for study abroad in the Middle East.
The resolution calls Israel “one of the most stable countries in the Middle East, and the country with the highest ratings in freedom, human rights, and democracy in the region.” It also argues that the Jewish state is a “global leader” in science and technology research, agricultural development and practices in sustainability.
Students Supporting Israel was founded at the University of Minnesota in March 2012 and the international movement now has 30 chapters across the United States and Canada. Ilan Sinelnikov, founder and president of the group, told The Algemeiner that Tuesday’s resolution is part of a pro-active effort to increase ties between the US and Israel while providing a counterweight to the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which has made its way across university campuses.
“We are not here to defend ourselves from the BDS movement, we are here to be pro-active and push our own legislation. However, when you hear about the BDS movement and what they do, so here is the other side,” he said. “In the past two weeks, four university student bodies have divested from Israel. We’re not trying to compete with the BDS movement, our goal is to be pro-active on our campuses and invest in relations between American universities and Israeli campuses.”
“We decided that by really pushing for the increase of student opportunities in Israel, and increasing the cooperation between American and Israeli universities, it’s gonna be a huge win for us on the campuses,” he added. “If we’re not divesting, we’re starting to invest in fighting for these relations on our campuses, between Israeli and American universities.”
Sinelnikov believes that studying abroad in Israel is the best way for University of Georgia students to learn about the Jewish state. He told The Algemeiner that the majority of the student body merely hear about Israel and most of them have never traveled outside of the country, let alone visited the Jewish state.
“So the more we have study abroad options in Israel, in the Jewish state, students can go and see firsthand how Israel is built, the structure, the people,” he said. “They can really kind of taste Israel for the first time and there is no better way to learn about Israel than being there.”
Students Supporting Israel says it is the fastest growing student organization in the United States.
The pro-Israel resolution can be read in full below: