By Ben Tinsley
COLLEGE STATION — To many members of Texas A&M’s “Aggie Students Supporting Israel” (ASSI) group, it was a nightmare.
The divisive Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement was trying to get a resolution passed at the University of Texas that would have called on the UT System Investment Management Company to pull investments from five companies UT BDS student supporters alleged facilitated the “oppression of the Palestinian people by the State of Israel.”
Many members of the Jewish student community at Texas A&M had long been aware of the BDS movement and its global campaign to increase economic and political pressure to promote the delegitimization of Israel.
“God forbid BDS or anti-Israel sentiment ever came to Texas A&M,” said Jonathan Rahmani, a senior exercise science major from Richardson.
“We realized we needed something — a resolution supported by the student body president, by senators and people in the executive cabinet who could stomp on this BDS. A preventative measure that’s protective instead of reactive. Something that says, ‘You can come here if you want, but we’re already here.’”
It was this concern that prompted ASSI members to consider positive, pre-emptive measures at their school. While students were positive no such anti-Israel sentiment existed on their campus, they wanted to make sure they had measures in place to combat it in the event anything like that ever made its way to College Station.
The goal of the resolution was the show it was in A&M’s best interest to support Israel, explained Dan Rosenfield, a sophomore communications major from Plano.
“This past legislative session was the 67th session and it passed April 22, the day right before Israel’s 67th Independence Day,” he said.
Thus was born “A resolution supporting the nation of Israel from the Student Senate of Texas A&M University.”
Jacob Arnett, 20, a sophomore economic major from Flower Mound, was the member of ASSI charged with composing a pro-Israel resolution that could be submitted to the Student Government Association for vote. The goal was to pre-empt any possible future anti-Israel resolutions.
This resolution as he composed it was fairly straightforward, calling upon Texas A&M University to increase academic cooperation with Israel and to expand study-abroad opportunities in Israel.
It was supported by student senators Joseph Hood, Alex Rose, Kasey Khoobiar and Michael Murtha, none of whom are Jewish “Aggie Students Supporting Israel,” members said.
Ultimately, the efforts of the BDS movement at UT were unsuccessful, but the pro-Israel resolution at A&M was quite successful and passed unanimously.
It was the first pro-Israel resolution in Texas and the fourth in the United States in 2015. Texas A&M followed the University of Georgia, University of Nevada-Las Vegas, and University of Nevada-Reno in this regard.
“I thought what was interesting was when we brought the resolution to the floor they were like, ‘Yeah, we’re going to pass it,’” Arnett said. “It was so casual, they knew they would pass it. It was obvious how pro-Israel our student government is.”